Couple set to be the first to marry on St Annes beach - with the town mayor as celebrant

St Annes beach is set to host its first wedding ceremony – and the couple getting hitched are eager to make it a celebration of the town as well as their own big day.

By Tony Durkin
Monday, 25th July 2022, 3:45 pm

Louise Wiltshire and Shaun McGilloway are planning to tie the knot at a ceremony on the sands on Saturday, September 10 – and the celebrant will be the current town mayor of St Annes Karen Harrison.

The couple are also using local caterers and a local photographer and after the afternoon ceremony, plan to invite guests back to their St Annes home.

"We love St Annes and we can’t think of anywhere else we’d rather hold the ceremony,” said Louise, who runs the Crafty Cottage arts crafts and furniture shop in St Andrew’s Road South.

Louise Wiltshire and Shaun McGilloway are to be married on St Annes beach in September

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"We both moved up north in the late 90s, separately, and have known each other for about 20 years.

"I went to St Annes performing arts college until its closure and Shaun was working at the former Pontins while living here.

"We got together in 2014 and moved to St Annes, where we both run successful businesses and try and get very involved in the community.”

The ceremony will bring back fond memories of the couple getting engaged at a beach hut at St Annes

Shaun runs a booking agency and is also entertainments manager at the Ruskin Hotel in Blackpool.

His romantic gesture for their engagement means Louise knows exactly what area of the beach she wants to provide the setting for the wedding ceremony.

"The beach huts,” she said. “They have a special significance, as, having had a dad who was in the forces and growing up all over, I had never seen beach huts before I arrived here and seeing them made a lasting impression.

"Shaun remembered that when he proposed and we got engaged in a beach hut he had hired and set up. St Annes is home for us and the beach and beach huts in particular are especially significant.” Under wedding regulations, a celebrant ceremony can be held anywhere, subject to permission for its use, but a wedding is only legal once a licensed ceremony has taken place and Louise and Shaun have that planned for later.

Celebrant Karen Harrison is the current town mayor of St Annes

"Louise and Shaun are a lovely couple – full of fun,” said Karen. “It’s very much their day and I’m so proud to be invited to perform this first for St Annes.

"Fylde Council has to give permission for the beach to be used, as they need to ensure such a ceremony doesn’t interfere in any way with the regular enjoyment of the beach, but I’m delighted that permission has been given. We hear all the time about people going abroad to be married on a favourite beach, so why not here?”

Louise added: “Karen has been an integral part of helping us achieve our dream of making our home town a big part of our day.

"All our vendors are local, from the photographers to the hire of a couple of beach huts to use for bridal preparation, to local artists creating personalised St Annes wedding favours.

"I think the fact we have this permission can only be good for the town, to show that you don’t have to go abroad to get married, that you can do it here and experience all the beauty our town has to offer."