Secret wedding reveal at slimmer’s 50th

Chorley couple Tracy Pilkington and Geoff Brownley married in secret. Photo by Marc Hitchen

Chorley couple Tracy Pilkington and Geoff Brownley married in secret. Photo by Marc Hitchen

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Guests at a Chorley mum’s birthday party were gobsmacked when she came out wearing a wedding dress – having secretly tied the knot weeks before.

Tracy Pilkington had decided to keep quiet about her nuptials to long-term partner Geoff Brownley, even taking her wedding ring off when out in public.

“Even after the wedding, I had to keep quiet for a few weeks and take my ring off whenever I was in public”

Tracy Pilkington

The mum-of-four, who works as a cook, wanted her marriage to be intimate and low-key, and also wanted to see the looks on people’s faces when she shared her big news at her 50th birthday bash.

She and Geoff, her partner of 10 years, got engaged four years ago, and started planning their secret wedding at the start of this year.

“We just wanted it to be about us,” Tracy explained. “We’ve both been married before and just wanted this time to be a small affair.

“We had 19 guests, which was enough, but we didn’t tell a lot of people.

“My two youngest daughters only found out a few weeks before the day, when they started asking questions when I went to a wedding show.”

The couple, from Coppull, wed at Chorley Registry Office on July 18, followed by a meal at the Malthouse Farm.

“I was wearing my wedding dress at the restaurant and got a few looks,” Tracy said. “We were frightened that we’d see someone we know. We saw someone from Geoff’s work, but it wasn’t too bad.

“I just really wanted to be able to tell everyone at my 50th birthday, so even after the wedding, I had to keep quiet for a few weeks and take my ring off whenever I was in public.”

More than 100 people attended the bash at St Mary’s Club in Chorley on September 5, and Tracy said Geoff was more worried about that than their wedding day.

She added: “I went in a normal dress and then once the cake came out and my daughter did a speech, I came out in my wedding dress and announced that we were married.

“Everyone was gobsmacked and a few people were put out, but it wasn’t about anyone else, it was just about us making a commitment to each other.”

As well as the surprise coming off and celebrating her milestone birthday, Tracy was also marking a personal achievement at her party.

She’d been battling with weight problems for years, but she, Geoff and her four daughters all signed up to Slimming World together, and the family has shed a few stone.

Tracy was 17 stone at her heaviest, and is now down to just under 10.

Dad-of-one Geoff, 60, a warehouse manager and driver, has lost nearly three stone.

“He didn’t want to join initially, but I encouraged him and made all of his meals so that he’d stick to the plan,” Tracy said. “We’ve never looked back.

“It’s a learning curve for us both, and we do struggle sometimes.

“Thyroid problems run in my family so my metabolism’s no good, but I’m learning to control it.

“I try to go to the gym five times a week, but it’s been difficult recently with the wedding and party planning!”

- Slimming World meets at Coppull British Legion every Monday at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.