Wimbledon tennis star Marcus Willis and his bride Jenny Bate invited HELLO! to their fairytale wedding in November 2016. The couple, who met nine months before the wedding and fell in love at first sight, married in a candlelit ceremony in the Cotswolds. To add to their joy, the bride sported a neat 22-week-old baby bump beneath her wedding gown. Their baby was later born in March 2017. Marcus and dentist Jenny captured the nation's attention when she was seen cheering him on against Roger Federer on Wimbledon's Centre Court. Ranked at No. 772 at the time, Marcus had defied the odds by not only qualifying for the tournament but making it to the second round.
"It was the best day of my life," Marcus told HELLO! in November 2016. "When Jenny walked up the aisle I probably had the same face as when I first met her – my jaw dropped open. She always looks gorgeous, but she was absolutely angelic. I'm so happy to finally be able to call her my wife." Jenny added: "It was perfect, magical. Everything fits into place and I feel complete contentment. Everything before I met Marcus doesn't feel like my life. Now I can't wait to be Mrs Willis."
Marcus Willis and his bride Jenny Bate share their wedding pictures in HELLO!
Just months before the big day, Marcus had been on the verge of quitting the professional circuit, but Jenny persuaded him to keep following his dreams. "Meeting each other turned our lives around," said Jenny, who was divorced and bringing up her two young sons alone when she met Marcus in February in London bar, Mahiki. "Neither of us was in a good place but we were willing to plod along. It's amazing when you meet someone who turns it around."
The pair chose the romantic setting of The Slaughters Manor House for their civil ceremony in front of 80 guests, followed by a blessing in St Mary church in nearby Lower Slaughter. Jenny chose a beautiful white and ivory lace Self-Portrait gown with a silk train, teaming it with a custom-made veil. She says she only bought the gown two weeks before the big day. "Finding a dress was a nightmare," she explained. "I thought, 'If it all goes wrong I'll wear my mum's wedding dress.'"
A string quartet played the Wedding March as Jenny followed her bridesmaids into the hotel's chapel. Marcus, in a bespoke lounge suit by Savile Row tailor Alexandra Wood, stood nervously with his best man, tennis pro Joshua Milton. Jenny's sons Hugo, four, and Auby, three, were ushers. "My heart was racing," said Marcus. "When I saw Jenny, I froze. She looked absolutely stunning. I had tears in my eyes but I held it in pretty well. I did cry a bit afterwards. It was emotional." Jenny added: "My eyes were fixed on Marcus. When he turned, our eyes met and I welled up. It was the moment I'd been waiting for since waking at 5am. Suddenly, I didn't have a care. I thought, 'This is where I want to be, with the person I want to be with. I'm the happiest I've ever been.'"
As dusk fell, the party made its way to the church, where the bride and groom walked hand-in-hand up the aisle for their blessing. As the choir sang Ave Maria, bell-ringers heralded the newlyweds. "It was so romantic because it was dark, the candles were lit, the kids played in the aisles and sang along," Jenny recalled. "People cried throughout the service because it was so lovely." The party returned to the hotel for a champagne reception and were treated to a falconry display.
The newlyweds shared their first dance to Can't Help Falling in Love. "It's a song we both love and it feels relevant to us - fools rush in and all that," laughed Marcus. "That first dance is a moment neither of us will forget." Their guests soon got into the spirit. "Even people who are usually tame were spinning around on the dance floor," said Jenny. "At one point all the boys had their ties around their heads, Rambo-style. Everyone was merry. I was the only sober one apart from the
kids. I was on cloud nine."
Now the pair, who live with Jenny's sons in a converted barn near Stratford-upon Avon, are looking forward to the birth of their first child together next March. "It's not just Marcus and I who have met each other and gained everything we have from it, it's our families, too," revealed Jenny. "My boys have a daddy and they're so happy. Throughout the day people said they had never seen me happier. My cheeks are still aching from smiling and laughing so much." Marcus added: "It's hard to believe we have known each other less than a year – it feels like we've been together forever. I'm crazy about her and it's nice to be married but it doesn’t change things. We have a lifelong commitment but we always did. It feels amazing to call her my wife. I want to rewind and do it all again."
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