A BRISTOL bridal party can give a hitchhiker’s guide to Ponteland after transport troubles threatened their big day.
Bride and groom Kate Smith and Craig Nicholson had been planning their dream wedding for two years since Kate moved from her native Weston-super-Mare to join Craig in West Denton.
And on Saturday, March 24, friends gathered at St Mary’s Church in Ponteland to see the happy couple tie the knot.
The guests were there bright and early after travelling from Bristol to stay in nearby holiday cottages and the local Diamond pub. The groom certainly got to the church in time, and the bride and her father arrived just a little late for the 1pm ceremony.
There was just one problem — Kate’s mum Nita, sister Kimberly and niece and nephew Jenna and Bradlee Durston were nowhere to be seen.
Unknown to those at the church, the VW Campervan hired to take them there had broken down and the mother-of-the-bride, bridesmaid, flower girl and pageboy were stranded in a country road.
Kimberly said: “We can laugh about it now, but it was awful at the time — we thought we were going to miss my sister’s wedding.
“Everybody was at the church for one o’clock, all ready — the groom, my family, lots of friends from Bristol and Weston and all of Craig’s family and friends, a lot of them who we had never met, and we weren’t there.
“We were supposed to be there for 1pm, but we didn’t leave my sister’s house in West Denton until 12.55pm because the cars were late. Kate and Craig had arranged them as a surprise, but they had got lost.
“There was a white old fashioned Herbie Beetle for my sister and my dad, and a white VW Campervan for me, my mum and the children.
“When we left it was decided that my sister would go in front and we would follow.
“We were driving there and all of a sudden there was a spluttering sound as we drove down the dual carriageway. As we came off onto the country road the car smelled a bit.
“I looked at my mum and she looked at me and then the van pulled over and the driver said the gearbox had gone.
“As she was saying that I could see my sister’s car disappearing in the distance.
“We didn’t know where we were or anything and none of us had any phones.
“We had no choice, but to stand in the lane and try to flag people down.”
Fortunately, the group didn’t have to wait long for help as four cars pulled over in a matter of minutes.
Kimberly, Jenna and Bradlee got into a silver Toyota Rav4 with a couple, while Mrs Smith secured a lift with a mother, daughter and dog in a dark blue Renault Estate.
The dog was relegated from the back seat to the boot and the teenage daughter moved into the back to make way for the smartly dressed hitchhiker to sit in the front.
Kimberly said: “We must have looked a bit funny. I had my hair done and was waving my bouquet, my mum had a big hair piece and the children were done up in their outfits and it was just a case of standing in the road and waving, hoping people would stop.
“Four people pulled over to offer to help us, which was really nice. People were really pleasant.
“I thought my mum was going to cry when we broke down, my heart was racing and the two children didn’t have a clue what was going on, but people were so helpful.
“We would have been stranded without them and we just want to say thank you.
“We were in such a rush that when we pulled up at the church we said thank you, but we didn’t get anybody’s names to send a card to them or anything. They really saved the day.”
Thankfully, the group did make it to the church in time.
Kimberly added: “I think people did find it all amusing when we told them about it after the wedding and we had a lovely day in the end.
“It is funny now, but if it hadn’t been for those people who stopped to give us a lift, it would have been awful.”
All guests managed to make it on to the reception at Kirkley Hall, before the bride and groom set off for their honeymoon in Cuba.