THREE couples are making the ultimate romantic gesture in Oxford today but for one pair there is more than a hint of deja vu.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Register Office in Oxford will hosts the Valentine’s Day wedding ceremonies and one couple are remarrying six years after they divorced.

Secular marriage venues are now more popular than ever, while there has been a steep decline in church weddings - READ OUR STORY HERE

Here are the happy couples preparing to tie the knot today. And it's second time around for our first pair

Marina Lupton and Steve Tomkins, from Barton


The couple were not to be kept apart for long, following their last wedding in July 1990.

That ceremony took place at St Mary’s Church, Barton, but 18 years and six children later, Marina said work commitments took a toll on their relationship and they separated in 2008, divorcing five years later.

The 53-year-old explained: “He was working away and I was working nights and it became difficult. But we stayed in touch because of the children and were always civil.

“In 2015 I decided I couldn’t live without him. I’d known him since I was 17 and he was 27. I just rang and told him I was coming home.”

Marina took the lead when it came to tying the knot again with Steve, 62.


“I’d been going on about us getting married again so I just rang the Registration Office and booked it. Then I told Steve: ‘I’ve got some good news and some bad news. We’re getting married. The bad news is now we’ve got to pay for it.’”

Following the ceremony, the couple will be joined by 200 guests for a party at Oxford City Football Club.

Bianca Samoila and Yasar Pekgoz

This happy couple are also set to marry in the Dexter Room.


Mrs Pekgoz to be describes herself as a romantic and wanted her partner to remember the date of their civil ceremony forever.

She said: “I’m a bit sneaky and was responsible for picking the date.

“I thought if I picked Valentine’s he could never forget.”

The 37-year-old, an intensive care specialty doctor at the John Radcliffe Hospital, met her partner, 38, through an online dating app in 2014.


She added: “Destiny brought us together. I’m Romanian and he’s Turkish. On the app there was a picture of him with a stethoscope.and I knew I had to meet him."

The couple's first date was in Oxford and 12 months later Mr Pekgoz, a surgeon, was proposing at the Sheldonian Theatre. Today’s civil ceremony is set to be followed by a 'big frilly wedding' in Romania in 2020.

Fran Wheare and Chris Whalen

Musical sweethearts Frand and Chris will marry in the same room before a non-religious blessing in the Bodleian Library on Saturday.

There will be 16 guests today, but more than 90 are expected to join them for the blessing and a reception at Wytham Village Hall.

Fran 37, and Chris, 35, were introduced by a mutual friend four years ago and they played together with Oxford's Sol Samba band.


She explained: “I had only just moved to Oxford and was trying to meet people. I worked with Katherine who was in a band with Chris. She suggested we meet and we hit it off straight away.”

Fran, a senior development executive at the Ashmolean Museum, and Chris, a consultant at Torchbox in Charlbury, will enjoy a short break in Paris after the wedding before a September honeymoon on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

Superintendent Registrar Alicja Gilroy said: “We feel that Valentine’s Day is an extra special day and we always find that couples come in with that added extra sparkle.

“We’re really pleased that they’ve chosen the Dexter Room as their venue.”


The Dexter Room is by far the most popular wedding venue in Oxfordshire, averaging more than 400 ceremonies per year.

As well as marriages and civil partnerships, the council’s Registration Service oversees the registration of births, deaths, citizenship and naming ceremonies among its many duties.

The registrar added: “I travel in on the train and it’s always lovely to see people holding cards and gifts with a real smile on their face. It’s a day full of romance and there’s still a tradition for showing how much we love one another.”