Couple opt for Norfolk beach blessing
It is a far cry from the luxurious stretches of Bondi Beach or a Caribbean island; but a bride and groom were all smiles as the sun shone for their wedding blessing on a north Norfolk beach.
Bride Sasha Blackmore, 32, and groom Lewis Neal, who is in his 30s and works as a civil servant, are now in Australia on their honeymoon, but the couple opted for somewhere much closer to home for their blessing – Eccles-on-Sea beach.
The couple, who live and work in London but have been frequent visitors to the Norfolk coast for many years, decided to mark their wedding in the county they have come to call home.
Sasha has been coming to Eccles, where her family owns a house, since she was five-years-old so she and Lewis decided the village had to play a special part in their big day.
Sasha, who works as a barrister, and Lewis's wedding took place on Saturday morning at what is now the parish church in Hempstead, which is next door to Eccles.
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However, in the afternoon they joined with guests and Stalham Brass Band on the beach at the site of the old St. Mary's Church, Eccles, which succumbed to the North Sea hundreds of years ago, and whose remnants are only visible on the beach on rare occasions, for a blessing of their marriage.
Sasha said: 'Everything was better than any of us hoped for. The lack of wind made the beach perfect, the sea was blue as was the sky. The temperature allowed sleeveless and shawls. Most people really did think it was beautifully romantic.'
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In total there were around 140 people gathered on the beach to watch the service and hear the band play, and even some unexpected guests.
Mikeen Costello, Sasha's mum, said: 'At one point there were some people on quad bikes who came along and, rather than roaring past, they stopped, switched off their engines and stayed to watch all of the ceremony, which we thought was lovely.'
Tim Thirst, director of music for Stalham Brass Band, said: 'It was a very joyous occasion and in some ways felt very surreal.
'The weather and scenery were such that we could have been thousands of miles away on a Pacific island. It goes to show how picturesque our beaches in Norfolk are.
'We felt privileged to be part of this unique occasion, performing the specially arranged music and of course 'I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside' was part of that repertoire.'