Love was in the air over the weekend when this Wigan couple got engaged during the town’s annual Pride parade.
Craig Harris got down on one knee for partner Craig Stonehouse during last weekend’s festivities, in front of stunned friends who had no idea of the romantic plan.
The parade coincided almost perfectly with the couple’s second anniversary, which they celebrated a week earlier, presenting Mr Harris with the perfect opportunity to propose.
The moment had been months in the planning, but a stormy weather forecast the day before put the entire Pride parade at risk of being rained off.
Luckily, the day went ahead as planned, with the heavy showers not enough to dampen the spirits in the town centre.
A relieved Mr Harris said: “I was thinking, if Pride gets cancelled, it’s not going to work!
“But in the morning, when I found it wasn’t called, I thought ‘great’.
“So I planned to do it in Mesnes Park on the steps of the bandstand, but Craig was running late.”
Instead, Mr Harris, 41, managed to coerce the marchers to the Face of Wigan sculpture, which was decorated with a rainbow mask.
There, he would pop the question in front of a photographer as well as family and friends who they had been marching with.
Mr Harris said: “When I asked, he stood there in a bit of shock, and for about 90 seconds he didn’t say anything. So I said ‘you know you need to say something!’
Fortunately, Mr Stonehouse eventually managed to get his words out, having been stunned into silence by the moment.
Mr Harris, who is also the managing director of Wigan’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), did away with tradition by presenting Mr Stonehouse with a vintage watch, more than 50 years old, instead of a ring.
“Everybody started clapping, there was drag queens there, our friends and family, people from Pride and Youth Pride, so it was really nice to look around and see them all clapping,” he said.
Mr Stonehouse, 33, said: “As much as it was a shock, we had always discussed that it was going to happen some day.
“Anyone you ask about me will tell you I’m one of the loudest people you’ll ever meet.
“However, I hate being the centre of attention. So to have that in front of that amount of people, I nearly died!”
He added: “Obviously I knew I was going to say yes, but I just couldn’t say it, I was speechless.
“But it was lovely for everybody to be able to celebrate it, in a perfect setting on a perfect day.”
The couple may only be in the early stages of planning their big day, but they already know that they want to tie the knot in early August, mirroring their anniversary and engagement dates.