Lancashire couple share their wedding day with royals

James Jebson and Gemma Sykes
Image caption James Jebson and Gemma Sykes will wed on the same day as Prince William and Kate Middleton

While much of the country is watching the royal couple wed, one Lancashire bride will only have eyes for her own Prince Charming.

Gemma Sykes and her fiance James Jebson, will marry on the same day as Prince William and Kate Middleton, at a wedding venue with royal connections.

On Friday the royal couple will be at London's Westminster Abbey.

Ms Sykes and Mr Jebson will wed at The Inn at Whitewell which has been visited by the Queen and other royals.

Ms Sykes works for Lancashire Police and her husband-to-be works for the prison service, they have known each other for about eight years after meeting in Preston through mutual friends.

Nicknamed "Groomzilla"

Mr Jebson popped the question on Christmas Day two years ago, he said, never realising that it would become a date chosen by the royal couple.

"We were all around the dinner table, giving out presents and James said he had one more extra one, I didn't realise he was going to pop the question until he got on one knee," said Ms Sykes.

Mr Jebson added: "We booked the venue 18 months ago and were gobsmacked when the date was announced for the royal wedding, especially with it being a Friday, we didn't think it would be the same day as ours."

Ms Sykes was at work when the royal news broke and has since found that as her big day came closer, the media attention on the royal couple added to the excitement of her own wedding plans.

Image caption The wedding venues for the couples on 29 April

Just like Prince William, groom James Jebson knows nothing of the details of his bride-to-be's wedding dress but he has been in charge of making most of the other wedding arrangements.

Mr Jebson has been nicknamed "Groomzilla" by Ms Sykes over his tenacity for ensuring that their venue in Lancashire's Forest of Bowland area, the best men, photographer and guests all know what is expected of them on 29 April.

"I've been really enjoying the planning part, down to the last detail, it's been like a military operation," he said.

Las Vegas

The Lancashire couple are due to wed later in the day and said they would not mind if guests wanted to watch the royal couple beforehand.

Unlike the Westminster Abbey location, the traditional country inn is expecting about 120 guests rather than the some 1,900 invited by the royal household.

The Lancashire couple have even been sent a letter wishing them "luck and happiness" from one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting after they contacted the palace.

Media attention from as far away as Australia has also followed the couple because of the significance of the day.

The bride-to-be has stuck with some of the traditions of getting wed.

"My something old is my nanna's wedding ring, my wedding dress is my new thing and will have a little bit of blue ribbon on it, but I've not got anything borrowed yet.

"The colour of the day will be pink for the flowers, lots of little pink gerberas," she added.

No details have been released where Prince William and Kate Middleton will honeymoon, but the couple from Lancashire are heading to Las Vegas, Mexico and New York before they return to work next month.

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