IT’S almost time for a celebration and our happy couple can’t wait.
The weeks are fast passing by as we head towards the big day for Bride of the Year Deborah Langley, 44, and her groom-to-be Andrew Mullen, 39.
But what would a wedding be without a party - and a party means balloons.
Chris Cordner was there as Andrew discussed details with balloon shop owner Anthony Carlton.
TWO months to go until they say I Do.
And then it’s time to celebrate in a style befitting a top-notch wedding.
Our happy couple are ready to do just that after winning the Bride of the Year competition run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography.
Andrew spent time at Crafty Balloons in Elwick Road where shop owner Anthony Carlton has been based for about 18 months.
However, it is more than seven years since he went into business as a specialist balloon retailer.
He formerly was based at Blackhall where he ran Rainbow Crafts for six years and then decided to transfer to Hartlepool.
He said trade had come into his town business by word of mouth and business was good, with work such as handling prom contracts with a Hollywood theme.
His area of clientele covers Middlesbrough, Billingham and Seaham as well as Hartlepool and he has now added a line of sweets to his product. “It goes down well for sweet parties,” said Anthony.
Groom-to-be Andrew said: “The importance of balloons are that they signify a celebration and a party after the wedding itself.
“We are planning to have the balloons in the area where we have our party afterwards. We shall be looking to have a celebration of what has happened to us.”
Our happy couple came up with the colour scheme for their big day some time ago and Anthony is doing his bit to make sure the balloons are a definite match for it.
“They have thrown me a challenge but it has been an enjoyable challenge,” said Anthony.
“It is important to me that a customer is happy.
“When they have a colour scheme, I will go through catalogues and I will ask the couple where they got it from.”
He said the in-colour this year was “Cadbury’s”.
And the in trend for balloon designs was bubbles and arches.
He said interesting orders in the past had included supplying a school’s prom night with a Hollywood theme, and one with a casino theme complete with all the details such as poker chips.
“I have a whale of a time,” he admitted.
Anthony has spent many years in the retail business - even before he joined the balloon business. But he is now a trader himself and is delighted to be involved in the Bride of the Year competition.
He said: “I was asked if I fancied doing it and I think it is great publicity.
“Job satisfaction for me is making sure the customer is happy at the end of the day. I will give 110 per cent to make that happy.
“I like to come away from a job knowing that it is the best I could have done.”
And Andrew is certainly an admirer of Anthony’s hard work, saying: “He has done his absolute best for us and he has worked really hard.”
Deborah won the Bride of the Year competition after she was entered for it by Andrew.
In early September, the couple will say “I do” on board HMS Trincomalee.
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 – and won.
Deborah has been there for him ever since he first developed the string of related conditions – degenerative spinal disease, facet joint arthritis, and nerve damage.