CHRISTMAS has come early for friends and family of a Solihull couple who staged a surprise wedding at their daughter’s christening.
Rebecca Lyon and partner Russell Jeffcoat were celebrating the christening of their daughter Penelope at The Parish Church of St Mary and St Bartholomew in Hampton-in-Arden on Friday (December 18) when they announced their plans to get married – right then and there.
Having secretly enlisted the help of Rebecca’s mother, Joan Rowe, and Vicar Duncan Ballard, the pair revealed to shocked guests that after 11 years together, they would tie-the-knot that afternoon.
Penelope was born prematurely – weighing just 2lb 13oz – and had to spend her first month in Heartlands Hospital’s neonatal unit.
Now a happy seven-month-old baby, Russell and Rebecca decided to celebrate both Penelope’s health and their love for each other while surrounded by a small gathering of their closest friends and family.
Rebecca’s sister Rowena Lyon said she was in complete shock when she heard the couple’s plan.
“When the vicar said he had an important announcement, I thought he meant they had set a date for next year,” Rowena told The Observer.
“It then suddenly dawned on me they were getting married now and we were the wedding party.
“They had even prepared a surprise ‘star’ role for all the family – one sister and sister-in-law were official witnesses, the other sister and brother-in-law lit the candles.”
Rowena even had to re-purpose the christening flowers into a wedding bouquet for Rebecca to carry while walking down the aisle in a simple black dress.
She added: “I can’t believe they managed to keep it a secret from all of us.
“My mother’s been avoiding me for weeks, and I had just guessed she was helping look after the baby – it never dawned on me that she was actually off buying rings or was just terrified of letting something slip.
“It was the perfect occasion for Rebecca and Russ – low key surrounded by family and friends.”
The newlyweds set off the same afternoon for a three-night honeymoon to Butlins with three children – Penelope, Zach and Florence – in tow.
“After 11 years together and the traumatic birth of Penelope they realised their love for each other without the fuss of a big wedding,” Rowena said.
“It was the perfect day.”