Bradwell couple are the first to say ‘I do’ at Great Yarmouth’s town hall
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013
It has been the scene of angry debates as some of Great Yarmouth's biggest issues have come under the political spotlight.
But today it was only delighted applause that rose from the seats in The Supper Room at the resort's newly refurbished town hall as rings were exchanged and life-long love and loyalty pledged.
Much to their surprise Julie and Martin Snell, of The Buntings in Bradwell, became the first couple to tie the knot in the landmark building more used to adversarial wrangles than family accord.
And to mark the occasion they were presented with a celebratory bottle of champagne by town hall staff, happy that the newly-decorated rooms were getting the use they deserved.
'It was just lovely,' said Julie, 45, a salon assistant at Palmers in Yarmouth. 'The staff couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. They have made today really nice and relaxed which is all you really want.
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'I was hoping it would be a surprise for Martin on his 40th birthday but there were things he needed to sign. He kept asking me to marry him and when I decided I was ready I thought it would be really nice to hold it on his birthday.'
Their big day - although a first - had all the traditional trimmings like whimpering babies, romantic songs, fascinator-wearing guests and a nervous, fidgeting groom.
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Mrs Snell, who had changed her name by deed poll before the wedding, said she was shocked to find out that theirs was the first wedding to take place at the town hall.
The couple met three years ago at Gorleston's Ocean Room. They have seven children and two grandchildren between them. They and their 44 guests enjoyed a sit down meal at the Star Hotel after the ceremony. The honeymoon will be a short break in Bournemouth.
David Helsdon, town hall events manager, said everything had had a special buffing and polish before the occasion.
'We are genuinely very excited,' he said. 'It is great opportunity for us to bring in more revenue, we are already starting to see birthday bookings and conferences. It is a public building and the refurbishment has been very good, in my opinion it is being used as it should.'
Jane Beck, director for customer services, said a previous wedding licence had lapsed around 15 years ago but with the £2m refurbishment and the closure of Ferryside in Gorleston they hoped to offer more choice to couples.
The bride wore an aubergine gown and carried a bouquet of ivory roses. Readings were given by her siblings Mark Smith and Karen Funnell.