No: 'I realised Mark would make the best husband and father'
Colleagues Mark and Denise Duffield-Thomas wed last August after their friendship blossomed into love.
Now the winners of the Ultimate Job in Ireland are on permanent honeymoon, trialling the world's most romantic escapes for Thehoneymoontesters.com. And though it wasn't love at first sight, Denise (30) reveals she inevitably fell for her best friend.
"Mark and I met when we worked together for a charity in London. I was 23 and thought I was a woman of the world, and he was 19, chubby and cocky. For me, there was absolutely nothing there -- except thinking: 'This kid is kind of fun'.
"Nonetheless, we became close friends and would chat on the phone all the time. We even joked about getting married one day -- we had so much fun together.
"Still, there was nothing romantic going on. I've seen people try the 'friends with benefits' thing and it never works.
"Gradually, though, I got the impression Mark had a crush on me -- but because he never said anything and I had no interest in him in that way, we carried on just being friends.
"At the time, I was doing a lot of internet dating and would tell him all about my love life. I told him things you would never even tell a boyfriend. In retrospect, it must have been very frustrating for him!
"I remember the exact moment I fell in love with Mark. I had injured my arm, so when he was around at my house I asked him to brush my hair. It was a real light bulb moment; I saw him in the mirror brushing my hair really gently and realised he would make the best husband and father.
"Suddenly, I went from thinking 'This guy is lovely' to 'I want to marry this guy'. A couple of weeks later, he invited me to a party at his house. On the way, I bought two bottles of wine and made the first move!
"In the beginning, I discounted Mark as boyfriend material. Ultimately, though, our relationship is stronger because we got to know each other without the pressure of dating. Now I get to travel the world with someone who's both my best friend and husband."