Published: 10:01, 28 July 2016
Ashford United FC’s Ryan Palmer is to appear on the TV programme Don’t Tell the Bride tonight.
Childhood sweethearts Ryan, 25, and Maria Palmer, 23 , met at North Kent College in Dartford seven years ago.
The pair tied the knot on Monday, April 11, in a unique wedding. Camera crews, friends and family filled the college sports hall for the special day, with a light up disco floor and decor making it almost unrecognisable.
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It may have been transformed into the ultimate American prom, but Ryan kept in keeping with the lessons of love theme using chalkboards and desks as props and even letting the college’s catering students cook up the wedding breakfast... in the style of school dinners.
Don’t Tell the Bride follows a groom over the course of three weeks as he tries to organise his wedding with a budget to £14,000, but he is not allowed to have any contact with his bride until the day itself.
The Nuts and Bolts’ star striker said he hadn’t even proposed to his long term girlfriend before he was called out of the blue last September by the former BBC show, which has recently moved to Sky1.
He said: “I didn’t even decide to go on the show. Maria applied about six months before thinking it was a joke, forgot about it and never told me.
“I then got this phone call at work from Don’t Tell the Bride.
“It was crazy. Just the day before Maria was talking about weddings and the next thing I was having an over the phone interview about getting married and being short-listed for the show.”
The left winger, who has recently re-signed for United, said the pair first laid eyes on each other at a bus stop, before he finally decided to pluck up the courage to talk to his future wife in the college canteen.
Stood in front of a vending machine, 16-year-old Maria thought the schoolboy was asking her for money - before he pulled his phone out and asked for her number.
Ryan was studying Level 3 Sport Development Coaching and his soon-to-be sweetheart, Maria, studied Early Years.
But while the wedding build-up was filled with ups and downs – not least Maria’s dress – Ryan said they wouldn’t have had their wedding any other way.
He added: “If it wasn’t for the show, we wouldn’t have been able to get married for another 10 years.
“It’s something we’ll always remember, and being on the TV means we’ll be able to look back on our big day forever.
“A huge contributing factor to how special our wedding was, is when my old tutor and now close friend James Butterfill, Curriculum Manager of Sport, accepted my request to read out my vows and hold the ceremony in one of my former classrooms.
"It was great for him to be able to host the ceremony and read out mine and Maria vows. James has seen both of us grow over the years and it was great he was such a special part of our marriage ceremony.”
VIDEO: The couple will appear on Don't Tell the Bride tonight on Sky1 at 9pm
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