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Monty Don gave wife Sarah 48 hours to prepare for secret wedding following her 'tormented' divorce

The Gardeners' World star discussed his boat proposal and surprise wedding with divorcee Sarah


Monty Don and Sarah Don pictured in 2016
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
15 December 2023
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Monty Don has opened up about his relationship with his wife Sarah for the first time in-depth, from their "complicated" meeting when she was married to her first husband, to his bold proposal and secret wedding plans.

During Kate Thornton’s Podcast White Wine Question Time, the Gardeners' World star reminisced about his marriage, dropping the bombshell that he only told his wife about their wedding 48 hours before they exchanged vows.

Monty Don and his wife Sarahw pictured at the Edinburgh International Book Festival© Shutterstock
The Gardeners' World star revealed on the White Wine Question Time podcast he only told his wife 48 hours before they exchanged vows

Monty admitted that his secrecy was so she couldn't get cold feet after wavering when he proposed.

"We were in Scotland, in the Hebrides, and we were on some remote islands. I rode her out to sea and the sea was quite calm. I said, 'Will you marry me?' and she said, 'I'm not sure'. I said, 'Well, we’re not rowing back until you do,' and we sat in the boat and after about a minute or two, she said, 'Oh, okay alright'. 

"I rowed back and then when we got back to London a couple of days later, I didn't tell her, but I booked the registry office for later that week because I thought, I don't want her to change her mind!

"I then told her we were getting married I think 48 hours before we were due because she had agreed, but we hadn't set a date."

Monty Don and wife Sarah at the Hay Festival party in 2010© Richard Young/Shutterstock
Monty proposed to the divorcee in 1983 and got married the following week

They tied the knot at Finsbury Registry Office in front of an intimate guest list, before heading to L'Escargot in Greek Street for their wedding breakfast.

A rare photo taken in 1983 shows the newlyweds standing outside a set of wrought iron gates, with Monty rocking a black spotty tie while his new wife wore an unconventional blue outfit – perhaps deliberately steering clear of traditional bridal white to mark the fact it was her second wedding.

View post on Instagram
 

In an honest chat about the start of their relationship, Monty admitted they found themselves in "an extremely difficult, unhappy, tormented setup" after she decided to leave her husband to pursue a romance with him.

"When you first met, she was married, and she describes leaving quite a wealthy husband for you, quote, 'a penniless student'. So, she gave it all up for you, Monty and she saw something in the potential of you as a couple to such a degree that you ran away to the Yorkshire Moors and hid out while the dust settled," Kate probed him.

"It was obviously complicated," he replied, describing it as "intense attraction at first sight" when he saw Sarah, who had married her husband aged 19, five years before they met.

Sarah Don and Monty Don at the GQ Hay Festival Dinner in 2017© Jabphotography/Shutterstock
Sarah was married when she met Monty aged 24

Monty said neither of them acted on their feelings at first, with both parties trying to "behave well, resigned." One year later, they spent more time together while her husband was away for four months, and he said that's when Sarah decided to end her marriage before any affair happened.

"To cut a long story short, she decided that she absolutely didn't want to have an affair or be duplicitous in any way, and she chose me. It was for about six months an extremely difficult, unhappy, tormented setup because he obviously was not very happy with that arrangement. 

"He completely reasonably felt betrayed and very, very, very angry. I don't want to belittle any of that, but at the same time, we both just felt that we had met our life partner. We had just met the person that we meant to be with, and it was a terrible pity that she had got married," Monty candidly confessed.

WATCH: Find out more about Monty Don's life

In the past, the TV star has given fans a few rare insights into his marriage, which he said had been marred by ill health. While Monty has battled depression and childhood cancer, Sarah was left bedridden after giving birth to their daughter Freya, which resulted in a slipped disc that prevented her from walking for a year.

Speaking about the impact their combined health woes had on their marriage, she wrote in their book The Jewel Garden: "When it came down to it, Montagu was a loony and I was ill all the time," adding that she was "peripheral" to Monty while he wrote his book The Prickotty Bush.

White Wine Question Time

READ: Inside Monty Don's 40-year marriage with rarely-seen wife Sarah

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