Colin and John met in 1996 in a popular gay bar in the East End of London. Twenty years later to the day after that first meeting, they got married. Colin shares their love story with us, and tells us about their no proposal' engagement.
'When I first met John I thought he was a really friendly, smiley guy who, as a fellow Northerner (I am from Lancashire and he is from Yorkshire), had a very similar outlook on life as me; he also enjoyed the same things as me, like going to pubs, the theatre, walking, and holidays.
At first I think we were both a little wary about getting into a relationship too soon after meeting each other. We had both recently moved to London and were enjoying going out and meeting new people; and we had also both just come out of long-term relationships. But we got along so well, that we realised fairly soon that what wemight develop into a more permanent us...
During the first 10 years or so we lived apart more than we did together but we saw each other practically every evening. After 8 years together I relocated to Leeds and we got together only at weekends and during holidays. When I moved back to London after three years up north we decided to buy our first flat together which represented a new stage in our relationship.
I had never really thought seriously about getting married as I felt everything was fine as it was, but John wanted to and eventually I agreed. I must say that many of his initial reasons for wanting to get married were practical rather than romantic, but that's not to say that we didn't also want to take the opportunity to celebrate our relationship and to make a public statement about our commitment to each other.
It didn't quite sink in at the time that by deciding to get married (and it was a joint decision rather than a proposal made by either one of us) we had actually gotten ourselves engaged. There was no engagement celebration or exchange of engagement rings; in fact we hadn't even talked about whether or not we wanted to exchange wedding rings on the big day. So I bypassed that discussion and secretly ordered matching gold wedding bands and, as John's birthday was coming up, I decided to wrap his up and give it to him along with his other birthday presents.
John was really surprised by the ring as our approach so far to the wedding planning had been very pragmatic and low key. He wanted to wear it straight away, but I insisted we put the rings away as there were, with still five months to go before the ceremony.
I think that after giving him the ring the reality of what we were doing kicked in and we started to tell people, to seriously plan for how the day would be and to get quite excited about the event.