A BRIDE paid an emotional tribute to her late father as she tied the knot on Valentine’s Day.
Leiza Bates and John Mahoney were married at Hartlepool Register Office yesterday after a real-life cupid’s arrow decioded their big day.
As reported in the Mail on Thursday, John threw a dart at a calendar and the pair were delighted when it landed on February 14.
But instead of wearing a traditional white gown for the ceremony, Leiza wore a long black dress in tribute to her father Martin, who died three years ago aged 66.
Leiza, 37, wore the same dress to her fathers funeral.
Wheelchair-bound Leiza said: “I felt like it would be appropriate to wear this for my wedding, it felt right.
“It felt as though he was part of the wedding, like he was here with us.”
Leiza Bates and John Mahoney have been together for seven-and-a-half years and fell in love immediately when they met in a Hartlepool pub.
Only three months after they met in the Headland’s New Inn, 39-year-old John popped the question to Leiza in November 2006.
After their lunchtime ceremony, the wedding party moved to the Harbour of Refuge on the Headland for a reception.
Leiza, who suffers with a twisted spine and has two sons aged 19 and 16 from a previous relationship, said: “John is my soul mate and I knew from the second I saw him that he was the one for me. I knew I’d marry him and that we’d be together forever.”
After the ceremony she said: “I was really nervous beforehand but I just couldn’t wait to get married to the man I love.”
The happy couple were married by registrar Sarah Loynes, 28, from Hartlepool, who was performing her first wedding ceremony.