Former Strictly Come Dancing star Pasha Kovalev and his long-term love Rachel Riley surprised fans earlier this month when they announced that they had tied the knot. The couple, who are expecting their first child in December, eloped to Las Vegas for their surprise wedding – just a few months after Rachel admitted that she didn't feel the need to get married. Let's take a look at the couple's love story…
How did Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev meet?
The Countdown maths whizz and her long-term boyfriend met in 2013 after being paired together on Strictly Come Dancing. Rachel, 33, was married to her university sweetheart at the time, but found love again with Pasha, 39. The couple started dating the following year in 2014 and confirmed their romance after months of speculation in September, attending Julien MacDonald's show at London Fashion Week together.
The couple married in Las Vegas
Who was Rachel Riley married to before?
Rachel's first husband was Jamie Gilbert, her Oxford University sweetheart whom she split from in November 2013 after one year of marriage. During a candid chat with Alastair Campbell for British GQ, Rachel has previously said that Strictly was not the reason for their split. "At that time, I was doing Countdown and The Gadget Show, so I was living in Essex," she shared. "I was filming in Birmingham and in Salford, and then filming Strictly in Borehamwood, with a bit of It Takes Two in London. I was getting three hours' sleep a night, trying to fit in all these things. All you want to do at that time is the dancing because you know you've got to do this thing in a few days."
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When asked if Strictly had contributed to the split, Rachel replied: "No. I'm still friends with my ex-husband. He's great, he's a brilliant guy. We were together since I was 19 and it wasn't right. What Strictly did give me was distance because I was away from home in Birmingham, Salford, Borehamwood. It was the emotional distance that I needed to break away."
Rachel and Pasha met on Strictly in 2013
What have Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev said about marriage?
Rachel has previously admitted that she didn't feel the need to ever get married again. "I am in love now. I don't feel I have to get married. I don’t think I need that pressure anymore," she told Radio Times in 2018. "I don't worry about getting married or whether he is taking a long time in the morning or whether he has done the dishes. That does not really bother me in the long term. I feel settled." She added: "I don't feel the need to do it again. If I'm with someone and I'm happy, that's enough."
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The Countdown star is due in December
When did Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev marry?
The lovebirds shocked fans by announcing that they had secretly tied the knot in Las Vegas. The couple eloped to Sin City in June, sharing a photo after their ceremony where Rachel ditched tradition and stunned in a red and white mini dress. She carried a bouquet of red and white flowers to match. "Introducing the new Mr and Mrs Kovalev… we both said yes!" Rachel wrote on Instagram. A few days later, the newlyweds enjoyed a short minimoon in Barcelona. The couple took in the city's iconic sights, including Park Guell, and also dined at a vegan restaurant.
What has Rachel Riley said about Pasha Kovalev's family?
The Oxford graduate has been learning Russian for years so that she can communicate with her husband's family, previously saying on The Jonathan Ross Show: "I am learning Russian, I'm doing it with an online app, it's really homemade with Clip Art from the nineties to explain stuff. It teaches you how kids learn. My spelling is absolutely appalling but you pick it up as you go. The first thing I learnt was [the Russian for] 'Give me a kiss' and then from the app you learn things like 'I open the window with a crowbar.'"
Rachel continued: "Pasha's friends are mostly Russian and they were brought up in Soviet Russia and now they've come to mostly the States. We go on holiday with them and his mum and his brother as well. The first time I met the boys, I spoke no Russian at all. It's really disconcerting, a bunch of thirty-something boys talking and giggling and drinking and I have no idea what they're talking about."
Although Pasha and Rachel's mothers can't communicate, the families do go on holiday together, with Rachel quipping: "We've had them together on holiday and the mums just get together and they just look at cat videos on YouTube. The universal language of cat videos."
Rachel is learning Russian for her boyfriend
When is Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev's baby due?
The famous mathematician announced her pregnancy in May 2019, sharing a photo of herself cradling her baby bump as she posed in front of the famous Countdown letters board. The conundrum spelt out "R TINY MATE" – an anagram of the word 'maternity'. "Pash and I have a conundrum for you. You have till December to work it out! We're over the moon excited," Rachel wrote.
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