'Now we're sure we're making the right choice'
Retail worker Helena McConkey (35) and fiancé Mark (31), from Dublin, are due to tie the knot next summer.
And after taking part in a pre-marriage course last month, bride-to-be Helena says she's more convinced than ever that Mark is the one for her.
"Mark popped the question last Christmas morning -- and it was a total surprise.
"We're together over five years, but to be honest, I didn't think he was the marrying type -- and I didn't necessarily feel we needed a bit of paper to be happy either. Now though, we can't wait to tie the knot.
"Mark and I have always enjoyed each other's company, talked things out whenever there's a problem and already have a joint bank account.
"He's a good communicator, affectionate and caring towards me. But with all the planning for wedding -- the dress, the flowers, the reception, doing the pre-marriage course allowed us to step back and really think about the commitment we're making to each other.
"We talked to a counsellor about everything from what we expect from each other to having children and finances.
"The best advice we got was not to live in each other's pockets -- to keep our own friends and interests -- and arrange a weekly 'date night' after we get married to keep the spark alive.
"If we weren't getting married in a church, I don't think we would have done a pre-marriage course -- but I'm glad we did.
"I definitely don't have cold feet -- if anything, it made me realise how much I want to spend the rest of my life with Mark."
Pre-marriage course, €140 group session or €240 private session, from Access Counselling. See www.accesscounselling.ie