She said Yes!
Oh my. What a morning. It’s took me this long to stave off the adrenaline shakes enough to be able to type this post. So now we can tell you about Mr and Miss X.
Our Mr X isn’t Doug/Marcel/Pierre – he is Darren McLeod from Stalybridge…and what a top bloke he is. His lucky lady is Rachel Hepworth. Here’s why he was selected as the Surprisal winner. Last year, he worked hard and saved up in order to pop the question after eight years together. Both have children from previous relationships – Darren’s daughter Ella and Rachel’s son Callum. Impressively, he booked a boutique hotel in the Lake District for a romantic weekend break, along with a sumptuous dinner as the setting for the deed. Right before they were due to go, they got a stomach-churning phone call informing them of a sudden death in the family. End of romantic weekend. No refunds. They both returned home with Rachel being none the wiser about what Darren had planned. He’s The Man. We just had to pick him.
After weeks of planning, this was the order of events on Valentine’s Day morning:
We had spoofed a Groupon offer so that the night before, Darren and Rachel had stayed at the Great John Street Hotel with a champagne breakfast planned for Valentine’s morning at Australasia, Manchester. Unbeknown to Rachel, we had prepped the venue with hidden cameras including James Bond style surveillance in floral table centrepieces, provided by David Wayman Flowers. During this evening, we also borrowed Darren for a bit of filming – we took him to The Hilton Deansgate to ask Rachel’s son, Callum for permission to marry his mum in a tear-jerking display of family bonding.
The Wreck My Dress team were then up bright and early – ok early – at 5am. We set up a stage in the middle of The Avenue in Spinningfields in Manchester City Centre along with a great big balloon arch. We set up Basecamp in The Alchemist. Caffeine-fuelled preperations began (thanks Pret A Manger) which included prepping and briefing fire eaters, stilt walkers, the Chinese dragon people, dove handlers (I don’t know what the correct term is, I just made that up), and dancers.
Mike and Chelsea broadcast their breakfast show from the studio and at 7:30, hot-footed it (read: got in a taxi), across Deansgate and set up Surprisal broadcasting HQ in designer shoe store, Oliver Sweeney. The Manager here was unbelievably cool. He was completely chilled whilst he watched the chaos going on around him, not once flinching over the complete hijacking of his rather exquisite store!
In between announcing the location of the Surprisal to the Manchester public and reading the travel and weather, Mike, Chelsea and Matt changed into their top hats and tails and got to work practicing their rehearsed performance which was vaguely reminiscent of a dance-off between the Mary Poppins dancing penguins.
We sent a madman of a taxi driver to pick up Darren and Rachel for their champagne breakfast, who then proceeded to take them on a scenic jaunt round Manchester – even stopping to pick up extra passengers, Corrie star Simon Gregson and his wife Emma. To give Rachel her dues, she didn’t even flinch!
Once at the restaurant, Darren excused himself to use the bathroom – when in actual fact, he was covertly legging it across the Avenue to broadcasting HQ, where we stripped him (calm down, not like that), dressed him in a rather dapper James Bond-esque suit and fixed him up a large brandy for his nerves.
Meanwhile, in the restaurant, unsuspecting Rachel was stunned by a staged explosion in the kitchen, followed by a fire alarm. She was quickly ushered out of the restaurant through Grand Pacific and out onto the Avenue where hoardes of Mancunians had gathered to watch the spectacle. She was then ‘crowd-controlled’ by a jobsworth policeman, played by Key 103 DJ, Adam Catterall.
Rachel seemed somewhat bemused to find the waiter who had just served her in Australasia, all of a sudden start dancing in the middle of the Avenue to her favourite song – Drake’s Hold On We’re Going Home which was being performed live on stage by Sam Gray. The waiter, who was really our dance choreographer, Deano Cammack was joined in a flashmob by loads of dancers including Mike, Chelsea and Matt plus the little stars from Little Stars Stage School.
Then came “Run VT” as the video of Darren asking for permission from Rachel’s son, Callum to make the proposal. This was the point that Darren, who was hiding behind the stage, started to well up and gave us all a proper bottom lip wobble.
Darren then emerged from behind the stage, and on bended knee said “There were a million and one things I wanted to say to you, but I just want you to know I love you more than anything else in the world…will you marry me”? Cue massive “Awwww”s from the crowd and an emotional “Yes” from our wonderful Miss X which was clarified by PC Adam Catterall to an explosion of confetti cannons and release of a basket of white doves.
Friends and family – many of whom had been in on it but forced to keep the secret – cheered and congratulated the wonderful couple, whilst everyone else started a conga with a Chinese dragon, stilt walkers and mascots – as you do!
Not wanting the party atmosphere to end, we all piled in to our basecamp at The Alchemist to enjoy breakfast cocktails (and coffee for the sensible ones) at 9:30 in the morning – well I guess it was 5pm somewhere, therefore totally acceptable! We were also treated to a bit of an impromptu gig from Sam Gray.
The reverb from our morning’s shenanigens was resounding throughout Twitter and Facebook – with #Surprisal hitting Manchester’s top trending hashtag on Twitter and pics of the event being streamed continuously on Spinningfields big screen, Screenfields. Seems us Northerners are a bunch of romantic softies after all!
Our video producer, Bez from Sitcom Soldiers – God bless his heart – has been locked away in the production suite all weekend, putting together the most amazing video of our Surprisal which we will reveal early tomorrow morning….