Former England footballer Neil 'Razor' Ruddock marries girlfriend of nine years, Leah Newman

Former England footballer Neil 'Razor' Ruddock married his girlfriend of nine years, Leah Newman, in a romantic ceremony covered exclusively by HELLO! magazine in September 2013. The sports star turned TV personality and model Leah tied the knot at private country house Eastwell manor in Kent in front of their two daughters Pebbles and Kizzy. And Razor told HELLO! in an exclusive interview the couple waited a long time to get married so their children could be part of the day. "We'd waited a long time for this day, so it was important to me that we took our vows seriously and really took in what we were saying to each other," Razor revealed after the stunning ceremony. "Leah looked so beautiful, I couldn't take my eyes off her. For those few minutes, it was just me and her."

"We wanted it to be a very traditional, romantic day, but one that reflected our personalities and our humour, because we do laugh so much," added Leah. "I think it’s one of the main things that has kept us together and so strong as a couple." After a week of dodging downpours, the couple were blessed with glorious sunshine for the lunchtime ceremony, which took place outside, in Eastwell Manor’s ornate walled Italian Maids Garden and Gazebo, the beauty of which had, thanks to the expert eye of luxury wedding events team Essential Couture, been enhanced by stunning wedding flowers in ivories and soft pinks, embracing the fairytale theme of the day.

The groom had insisted to hello! that he "never gets nervous" but, as he waited for his bride at the altar with his best man Lee Hanning by his side, Razor began to look a little anxious. Twenty-five minutes after the service was due to begin, there was still no sign of his wife-to-be. "“I was glancing at my watch thinking, ‘Where is she? What’s happened?'" he said. "Then I heard her laugh. Leah’s got the loudest laugh ever and I love it. I knew she was close then and I could breathe a sigh of relief."

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Leah was dressed in a fairytale lace gown by Pronovias, set off by glittering jewels from Tresor Paris and sparkly Christian Louboutin shoes. In a break with tradition, Leah’s friend, celebrity hairdresser Shane O’Sullivan, acted as bridesman while her stepfather Clive Macgregor escorted her through a pretty courtyard to where her father was waiting to walk her up the aisle. "My dad is my dad and I wanted him to give me away, but my stepdad brought me up and it was important to me that they both played their part in my special day," said Leah. "They get on so well, which is brilliant," she added of the two men.

After making her way over the wooden bridge that crosses the lily pond, to Pachelbel’s Canon in D played by harpist Rebeca Jones, there was a technical glitch as the bride struggled with her dress. "Sorry, nearly there," she giggled. "It’s not easy, you know." As she reached her groom’s side, Razor, dapper in traditional tails, looked proud as he whispered: "You look so beautiful," before turning to the congregation and announcing with a smile: "Done well, haven’t I?"

Razor’s mum Joyce and Leah’s mum Sandie then joined them at the altar to act as witnesses. As all four wrapped their arms around one another, the warmth and affection in which both families hold each other was clear to see. "My mum adores Razor and won’t hear a bad word about him," said Leah. "He and I used to bicker but if I moaned to my mum she’d always take his side – it drives me mad," she added with mock despair. "My mum cried the first time I introduced her to Leah because she thought she was so beautiful," confessed Razor. "She’s so happy I’ve settled down with a girl who’s so gorgeous, inside and out." The affection continued as Razor summoned his TV personality pal Rylan to the altar, in readiness for the exchange of rings. The pair, who are the first to admit their friendship seems unlikely, struck up a close bond when they were on Celebrity Big Brother together in 2012.

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The day was all the more poignant because three years ago, Razor came perilously close to losing Leah after she suffered near-fatal complications while giving birth to youngest daughter Kizzy. Due to undiagnosed issues following the birth of Pebbles, Leah suffered horrendous internal injuries when she had Kizzy and lost three-quarters of her blood. "They brought me in to say goodbye to her,” said Razor. “She was in intensive care and so white I thought she was gone. I was slumped on the floor in pieces. I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t even seen our baby girl and thought I was saying goodbye to her mum. Everyone thought it was the end. “Luckily, there happened to be a specialist at the hospital that day – the No. 1 man in his field in our area – who saved her life. We were told later that if he hadn’t been there, we would have lost her. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever gone through. Even now I shudder to think about it."

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Later, as they sat side by side at the wedding breakfast at their own intimate top table for two, the couple couldn’t stop smiling as they took in the scene around them. “That was the highlight of the day, walking into the marquee and seeing all our families and friends there, looking so happy for us and having a great time,” shared Razor. For Leah, a standout moment was the surprise laid on by Lee and Helga, who’d secretly booked opera singing waiters Andy Searle and Rory Campbell of Encore Entertainment.

After the couple cut their cake – an eight-tiered masterpiece with caramel, pink velvet and Bailey’s fi llings from Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium – they took to the floor for their first dance, to Barry White’s Just the Way You Are. “We played it in the car the fi rst time I took Leah to meet Mum,” explained Razor. “It has always been special to us.” After changing into a short gold sequinned dress, the bride rejoined family and friends as first tribute band Ultimate Beatles then DJs Kudos Music got the dancefl oor heaving.

“Everyone was coming up saying it was the best wedding they’d ever been to – and obviously we’d have to agree,” said an over-the-moon Razor. “People used to ask, ‘Why is it taking you so long to make Leah your wife?’ But we had our reasons. We wanted our little girls to be old enough to enjoy our special day and they did, they had a ball. For us, it was the right time and the perfect day. You can’t ask for more than that.”

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