Everything is shipshape for a great wedding

A DREAM wedding venue is a must for any bride.

Deborah Langley has it. She will tie the knot on board HMS Trincomalee.

CHRIS CORDNER met Deborah and her future groom as they chatted to the Trincomalee team.

DEBORAH Langley can just picture it now.

She’s just walked up the red carpet, entered the room where she will take her wedding vows and said ‘I do’ in the most spectacular settings.

In fact, it’s very much the wedding settings of her dreams and she is finally starting to realise it’s not only a dream. It becomes her reality in a few short months.

In early September, Deborah, 44, and fiance Andrew Mullen, 39, will say “I do” on board HMS Trincomalee. Their story is a remarkable one.

A devastating health condition has left Andrew mostly confined to a wheelchair.

But as a thank-you to his “lovely princess” he entered her into the Bride of the Year competition run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography – and won.

Deborah has been there for him ever since he first developed the string of related conditions – degenerative spinal disease, facet joint arthritis, mechanical back pain and nerve damage.

Their wedding will be held in the Captain’s Cabin on board Trincomalee which was launched in October 1817, and remains the oldest British warship afloat.

The ship is 150ft long on her gun deck and once had a crew of 315 officers and men when she was in active service.

She has been licensed for weddings for 12 years and the superb team of staff make sure that a bride’s dream day becomes reality.

But that’s not difficult when the bride and groom take their vows against a background scene of Hartlepool Marina.

“It is a lovely vista and a spectacular cabin,” said Trincomalee Trust general manager David McKnight.

He added: “We are delighted to be involved with such a lovely and inspirational couple.”

It’s the finer details which make this a unique wedding day experience. David added: “We work closely with Cleveland Caterers and can offer a range of additions to the wedding party such as celebratory drinks.”

Between 20 and 40 weddings take place on board the ship each year and there seems to be no let-up in wedding parties wanting to enjoy the historical setting.

David said: “It is fair to say that many couples do hold back on getting married because of the financial pressures at the moment. But we seem to be seeing an upsurge for 2013-14. Bookings are strong.

“Two thirds of our bookings are local people but we also get some who perhaps have links to the Royal Navy or some sort of link to the ship.

“And then there’s just some who want to get married in a setting which is different, unique and charismatic. People are increasingly looking for an iconic event.

“But we are not complacent. We always make sure the ship is in good condition for a red carpet wedding, and we put the red carpet out on the gun deck.”

Wedding couples from as far afield as the south of England get married on Trincomalee, bringing guests from all over the world.

The ship’s wedding specialists Joan Lilley and Jen Hall make sure their experience is a magnificent one.

“They are always willing to go the extra mile to make it all turns out to be a fantastic day,” said David.

Bride-to-be Deborah said: “It has finally hit us that we have won this. It is very exciting and I can’t wait for it all to come true.

“There is something about the Trincomalee which is magical. Every time we drive past it, I can’t help but think ‘that is where I am going to get married’.”

Andrew chipped in: “I am sure it is going to be a perfect day. I really do want Deborah to have the day she wants.”

The couple have nine children between them with two still living at home – 13-year-old son Down’s Syndrome sufferer Shay Mullen for whom Deborah is a full-time carer and seven-year-old son Samuel.

Andrew added: “Our boys keep on saying ‘we are going to get married on a pirate ship’.”

Deborah adds: “They can’t wait for it to happen. They keep telling everyone about it.”

And within a little over three months, Hartlepool’s spectacular wedding venue will welcome a couple whose dream becomes a reality thanks to the Hartlepool Mail, Robert Usher Photography and a host of other sponsors.