Sunday 25 June 2017

Love is in the air...on a high wire

Chris Bull and Phoebe Baker during rehearsals to take their vows in England's first high-wire wedding at Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset.
Chris Bull and Phoebe Baker during rehearsals to take their vows in England's first high-wire wedding at Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset.
Chris Bull and Phoebe Baker after rehearsals to take their vows in England's first high-wire wedding at Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset.

A couple will take their love to new heights when they say their vows in England's first high-wire wedding.

Chris Bull, 37, and Phoebe Baker, 25, will stand 80 feet above the heads of their guests at Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset.

Their registrar, a ringmaster, will conduct the ceremony from the ground using a megaphone in front of 100 wedding guests on Friday.

Mr Bull and Miss Baker, from Hanham, Bristol, will even be able to exchange rings in the air thanks to a rope pulley.

The couple have spent a year planning their wedding, which has involved collecting specialist equipment and setting up their 260ft-wide rig.

They will legally marry in a small ceremony in the caves at Wookey Hole before taking to the high-wire for the main event.

Speaking at their rainy wedding rehearsal today, Miss Baker, a seamstress, said the couple would be making history.

"It has been a dream for both of us ever since I met Chris and he taught me to walk on the wire," the bride-to-be said.

"It is a tradition for high-wire walkers but it hasn't been done in England ever.

"It only ever rarely gets done when two high-wire walkers get together so we really wanted to carry on the tradition.

"We wanted to do it here in our home country of England."

Mr Bull, who has 15 years of professional rope-walking experience, began teaching his fiancee the skill only four years ago.

She started with a low wire then moved on to higher wires, including a training trip in Belgium with acclaimed wire walker Denis Josselin.

"I want to carry on the tradition," Mr Bull added. "It is something I have always dreamed of but I never thought I'd find a wife to agree.

"I want to celebrate our love up in the air, I think it is a real statement of freedom.

"Although getting married is a commitment and a responsibility, I think this is something to embark on together."

Mr Bull, who lives in an original 1930s showman's caravan with his bride-to-be, popped the question when they were in Burma.

The couple met at a circus show, in which Mr Bull was a performer and Miss Baker a costume-maker.

After the official ceremony and high-wire walk, the newlyweds will celebrate with a cabaret-style reception performed by friends.

"This is a day we're going to remember fondly for the rest of our lives and we're so pleased it will reflect us as a couple," Mr Bull said.

Miss Baker has made her own wedding dress, which is specially adapted to be worn with a safety harness.

Her tight-rope walking shoes have been adorned with lace for the special occasion to match her outfit.

"My mum suffers from vertigo so she's still a little bit worried," Miss Baker said.

"We're not sure if she's going to be able to watch on the day. We agreed to wear safety harnesses at her request and she is fine about it now.

"I've been collecting lace for years and I've made my dress. It shouldn't be too hard to walk in.

"I do have a small train but I have made it so I can put it to the side when we walk on the high-wire then let it down later."

The couple approached Wookey Hole Caves owners after reading the autobiography of Gerry Cottle, a circus owner.

They spent nine months collecting the necessary equipment, then arrived on site to erect the rig earlier this week.

Daniel Medley, joint owner of the attraction, said: "We have held several weddings at Wookey Hole in the caves themselves but never any as ambitious and unique as Chris and Phoebe's.

"We're up for pretty much anything here and if we can create a really different, special wedding day which people will remember for years, then we will."

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