Guests at a barbecue had the shock of their lives this weekend – when the hosts announced that they had just got married.
The secretive couple had kept their wedding quiet from their own children – and even the bride’s parents.
Melanie and Chris Richardson, who run the Temple Hotel, in Matlock Bath, hatched their plan for the surprise nuptials just six weeks ago.
Chris, 57, said: “We’ve been together 16 years and never tied the knot, but we were talking about it and decided it was the right time. We decided that we wanted to surprise everyone.”
The couple then set about turning their annual summer barbecue into a wedding reception.
Chris said: “We hold a party every year as a thankyou to our family, friends and customers. We then booked ourselves into Bakewell Register Office on the same day.
“We invited 100 guests, but as far as they knew they were just coming to a garden party. Nobody knew except for us, right up until an hour before we got married. It was very much subterfuge.”
On Saturday morning, Melanie and Chris told hotel staff they were going to get more supplies for the party, before grabbing their sons Daniel and James and bundling them in the car to be witnesses.
Chris said: “We got to Bakewell and the two boys were still none the wiser. It was only when we got into the register office that we said to them ‘we’re getting married’.”
Meanwhile, back at the party, Melanie and Chris had left envelopes for guests containing the revelation.
Chris said: “After the wedding, we nipped into the Peacock, in Bakewell, for a celebratory pint, before heading back to the party.
“We got back to a hero’s welcome, it was brilliant. We had a wonderful day, everyone was so brilliant and it just went perfectly.”
“Melanie’s mum was a little bit shocked, but delighted. She said, ‘I can’t believe it, I’ve only come dressed for a flipping barbecue’.”
“We really wanted a relaxed gathering, which is what we got. Someone said it was the first time they’d ever gone to a wedding reception in their jeans.”
The couple, who have run the Temple Hotel for five years, planned to spend a few nights in North Yorkshire as a honeymoon.