Couple say “I do” for real at wedding photo shoot
An invitation to model as bride and groom for a photoshoot has ended in the happy couple tying the knot for real.
Annabelle Rose and Mark O’Shaughnessy from Durham have been together for four years. Annabelle responded to a plea on social media from our marketing department for two models to pose as bride and groom for a campaign to promote the work of the registrar office team and the town’s licensed wedding venues.
Annabelle said: “We had originally booked our wedding for November 2025 so we could save up but then we started questioning whether it was worth spending so much on having a big do. It’s the second chance of a happy marriage for both of us, we have two children, two dogs and a settled life. It seemed a lot of pressure and money to put on one day when we would just be returning to our normal lives.
“Whenever I broached the subject of us just running off to get married Mark had reservations, so we carried on with the 2025 plan.
“I saw the advert looking for models and just answered it on a whim as it sounded fun. When I was talking to the council’s marketing team about the photoshoot I just said, “I wish you could marry us for real” and they said “We can!”
“Since then it’s been a whirlwind. I had already had some bridal appointments but because I had so much time to think about it, I couldn’t make a decision on ‘the’ dress – with the clock ticking I found the perfect dress for just £50 in a sale at Butterflies Bridal Outlet in Stockton and thought ‘that will do’ as there wasn’t time to be indecisive.
“We bought our rings just before Christmas and Mark sorted out his suit.”
Mark said: “I didn’t want Annabelle to regret not having a big day. We had a lockdown baby so missed out on a baby shower and other celebrations and I didn’t want this to be another missed chance but this suits us perfectly.”
The wedding took place in the newly refurbished Pease Suite in the Dolphin Centre: one of three council-owned properties which is licensed for marriages.
The registrar team also perform ceremonies in hotels and other licensed properties in the borough.
Mandy Porter, cabinet member for resources, said: “Our registrar team do a great job making sure everyone’s wedding day is special. Weddings can be stressful but the team is skilled at working with couples to help plan the ceremony and are always on hand to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
“It is a lovely story that what started as a photoshoot for Annabelle and Mark has turned into their big day and I wish them all the luck for their continued future together,”
Straight after the wedding, Annabelle and Mark were hosted at DC Bowl at the Dolphin Centre for afternoon tea and bowling before heading to the covered market for a reception.
The couple initially wanted to keep the ceremony a surprise from loved ones but when they were given the opportunity to invite friends and family to the covered market to toast their day and listen to their favourite band, Cousin Matthew, they jumped at the chance.
The couple were joined at the reception by children Taylor, 14, and Ellis, 2.
Annabelle said: “Although we initially aimed to keep it under wraps, the questions started pouring in, especially with ongoing hen-do preparations. Mark cleverly slipped in a boys’ night, passing it off as his stag celebration in between Christmas and New Year. While our wedding wasn’t originally envisioned this way, all the pieces are effortlessly falling into place, creating the perfect unconventional celebration for our special day!”