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28th Jun, 2022

Elopers reach out to Stratford residents to help celebrate their big day

Catherine Thompson 25th Sep, 2020 Updated: 25th Sep, 2020

LONG-DISTANCE lovers who are eloping to tie the knot in front of strangers in Stratford, said the decision was ‘fate’.

Anya Maltsberger from Texas and Jack Warren from Somerset are eloping to Shakespeare’s town to have an experience just their own, and to ‘create memories in a low-stress environment’.

The couple, who met on a medieval studies course in York in 2018, had a long-distance relationship for a year.

Now, united in Tewkesbury, the duo decided to go the distance and get married in a place they had been longing to visit.

They told the Observer: “It’s such a beautiful location with so much history to it. We’ve been wanting to visit it for months and when the opportunity to get married here came up, we grabbed it.

“Jack is a massive Shakespeare nerd. A few years ago, he had the option to do an MA in Stratford, but he chose York instead and we ended up meeting, so it feels like we’re coming full circle. Also, because of everyone re-arranging their cancelled weddings, most places were booked out – the fact that Stratford had a slot open felt like fate.”

After securing the slot at Warwickshire’s registration office in Henley Street, the couple reached out to the community on Facebook for witnesses.

And the post gained more than 100 responses.

The pair said: “We were absolutely blown away by the response. It was so moving, and it was people of all ages who wanted to be a part of it. I think people just need a bit of good news, and to be part of something happy when the world feels like it’s falling apart.”

The duo finally chose a couple keen to take pictures for their photography portfolio.

Amateur photographer John Sheehan said: “I had a look at the post and saw that it had received a lot of interest but dropped Anya a message anyway, not ever thinking I would be chosen. Shortly after, she got in touch to say that she would like me and my girlfriend Claire to be witnesses.

“We were understandably thrilled at the prospect, it’s like something from a Richard Curtis flick and we cannot wait for the big day.”

Anya and Jack revealed the decision to ask strangers was one influenced by their love of all things medieval: “Having community members witness weddings goes back to before even the Medieval Church took over the ceremony, and by asking strangers, we’re really asking a larger community, beyond us and our families, to confirm our relationship.”

And the excitement doesn’t stop there. The couple are planning a move down to Bath shortly after the ceremony, for Anya’s new job while Jack continues to study.

Jack added: “If the last year has taught me anything it’s to expect the unexpected. I think that if Anya and I can do long distance for a year and then being locked down together for another year, we can do anything. I’d like for us to make more memories, have more adventures and continue building a fantastic life together.”

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