This month it’s the turn of our lovely bride and groom, Ross and Emma, to take the spotlight. The Lula Mai team already know their story pretty well from the application they made for The Big Day.
We judged and chose our couple on many different criteria, including: The length of time together, ability to cope with pressure, commitment and compatibility, the story, the likelihood of remaining a married couple, future plans, approach to the application form and attitude to the possibility of winning. Emma and Ross ticked all the boxes and our decision was unanimous.
We recently spent an hour chatting to them so we could hear their tale first hand and share it with you.
Third time lucky
Emma and Ross first met 10 years ago, when they were just 19 and 22. Ross had been training at RAF Cranwell with Emma’s sister, Sarah, who invited her sisters to the graduation ball. When Ross first set eyes on Emma that evening, his first thought was “God, please let her be single”! Emma, on the other hand says, “I remember thinking he was skinny and a bit geeky”!
They spent the evening of the ball together and met up a few times in the next couple of weeks but life prevented their relationship developing further, with Emma in Oxford and Ross working in Lincolnshire. When Ross was posted to Oxfordshire, Emma was ironically moving up north to study. So for a while they lost touch.
When they next met up, they both happened to be single and dated for a few months. Yet, once again, it just wasn’t meant to be. Ross was doing month-long trips overseas with little Internet or phone contact possible and Emma had already committed to move abroad with work.
“It seemed to be a case of ‘right person, wrong time’”, says Ross. “There were more than enough chances to say ‘this doesn’t make sense’ but something just kept on bringing us back together.”
Their third chance came at Christmas in 2010. Having just returned to live in the UK, Emma suggested meeting up and told Ross she thought they’d made a mistake by not being together. Little did she know that it really was their last chance; Ross had set a personal deadline of the end of that year for them to finally work it out, or he would move on for good.
Emma moved in with him two weeks later and they haven’t looked back since!
Supporting each others’ passions in life
The early days of life as a military partner brought challenges for Emma. Ross was away for up to 10 hours a day, while she was at home in their tiny flat, working for a non-profit news website where she had little face-to-face contact with people. She decided to make a huge change, and follow her true passion of helping women and families by training as a midwife.
“That really sealed the deal for us”, she says, “I couldn’t have done it without Ross’s support”.
Emma then found work as a maternity support worker, before being accepted onto a three-year training course. Although she fits part-time work caring for elderly people in around her studies, the financial pressures of her studying full-time for three years meant that their wedding plans were a long way off.
Ross meanwhile is based at RAF Brize Norton, carrying military passengers and freight worldwide. The schedules and inevitable last minute nature of military life mean that Ross and Emma’s time together is still rare. “You get used to going to events on your own”, says Emma.
They’re looking forward to moving into married quarters next year, which will be the first time they’ve properly set up a home together.
We thought we didn’t stand a chance of winning
It was Emma who saw the competition on Facebook and thought she’d give it a go, inspired that it involved telling their story. “You’ve got to be in it to win it!” she says. Ross warned her not to get her hopes up and they truly thought they had no chance of winning.
When the call came, Emma says she’d never been so shocked in her whole life. Away visiting friends, she was a couple of hundred miles away from Ross. When they got the news, each of them jumped in the car and met in Oxford. Next came a couple of crazy hours phoning friends and family at before Lula Mai announced them as winners the following morning.
The Big Day means so much
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re so grateful to Lula Mai and all the suppliers”, says Ross. “We could have had a very small wedding but it was so important to have friends and family there that we had originally decided to save for a few years first. But we’re 30 and 32 now so it’s great not having to wait”. He adds, “This simply wouldn’t have been possible without The Big Day”.
Giving something back
Both Ross and Emma both feel a huge sense of responsibility as winners of The Big Day. Emma says, “We’re representing the military and emergency services, and the day is such a team effort by all the suppliers, showing their support for everyone in the services and all that they do.”
Ross says, “I’m not daunted by public speaking, it’s part of my job, yet speaking to everyone at the Lula Mai supplier event was nerve-wracking because it was so personal. Having all these great people with us on this journey is amazing.”
The couple feel they have been incredibly lucky to receive so much that they want to give something back. Instead of asking their wedding guests for gifts, they’ll be giving people the chance to donate to two charities that reflect their careers and passions: The Royal British Legion is the UK’s leading Service charity, providing care and support to serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans of all ages and their families; Hamlin Fistula UK supports the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in its care for women from all over Ethiopia who have suffered complications and life-changing injury in childbirth, many of whom have travelled for weeks, even months, to seek treatment.
Emma and Ross are a truly lovely couple who are clearly made for each other. We really can’t wait to see them enjoying their Big Day next April.