Olympians Keri-anne Payne and David Carry had overseen every last detail of their stunning Scottish wedding, which took place on in glorious sunshine in the groom’s hometown of Aberdeen.
The Team GB swimmers had planned for the special day “in the same way that we’d approach a major competition” – Keri-anne said that it had been “a great distraction” while training for London 2012 – but neither was prepared for the overwhelming emotions of the day.
“When Keri-anne walked down the aisle, I could barely see her through my tears,” admits David, who is used to the pressure of competing in 400m freestyle races.
“I’m not the emotional type, but just seeing Keri-anne look so happy and beautiful, it was a very, very special moment.
“A picture of that moment is in my mind and I hope it always will be.”
Open water swimmer Keri-anne, who came fourth in her London 2012 race, described the day as “perfect.”
“It was absolutely better than anything I’ve ever done in the sporting world.”
The 25-year-old made a beautiful bride in a floaty Peter Langner gown with sweetheart neckline.
David wasn’t the only athlete in tears. Rebecca Adlington, Keri-anne’s best friend and bridesmaid began crying as soon as she arrived at the church. Gold medallist Victoria Pendleton became emotional when she saw David’s reaction to Keri-anne.
“My bridesmaids all started crying and I was like ‘don’t do this now, I don’t want to cry when I’m walking down the aisle,” laughs Keri-anne.
The service had special meaning to the couple as it was held in Craigiebuckler Church, Aberdeen, where generations of the Carry family have married.
“The wedding really was a personal reflection of the two of us,” says David.
There were more London 2012 swimmers in the church including Ross Davenport, who was one of David’s ushers, Robbie Renwick, James Goddard, Sophie Allen, Michael Rock and Dave Davies.
There were references to the couple’s Olympic achievements throughout the day and while the congregation was waiting for Keri-anne to arrive, the organist played the Chariots of Fire theme tune, to much laughter.
When the service began, Reverend Kenneth Petrie also alluded to the couple’s careers. “I don’t need to tell you about commitment,” he told the couple. “You know about that through swimming mile after mile. Swimming has taken you all over the world, to the top of your profession and now you need to take that commitment to your married life.”
The couple exchanged wedding bands from Jamieson & Carry jewellers in Aberdeen, a store that has been in the Carry family since 1908.
There was another personal touch when bridesmaid Lucy Abbott, Keri-anne’s school friend from South Africa and daughter of the bride’s first swimming coach, sang A Happy Day, which she had written especially for the couple.
Victoria Pendleton described the wedding as “lovely.”
“It’s been quite light-hearted at times, which is their kind of style,” she told HELLO!.
Strictly Come Dancing star Victoria became friends with the couple as her fiancé Scott Gardner, was formerly a sports performance scientist for British Swimming.
“David and Keri-anne are an absolutely wonderful couple, so perfect together,” she added Victoria, whose own wedding will take place next year.
“We went out with them last week and chatted about wedding-y things,” she said.
After the ceremony, wedding guests boarded buses taking them to the reception in a marquee in the grounds of David’s parents home in Aberdeenshire.
The newlyweds walked into the reception accompanied by the sounds of a pipe band from Robert Gordon’s College, where David was once a pupil. Guests sat at tables named after destinations that had been key in the couple’s lives, including London, Beijing and Pretoria – a nod to Keri-anne’s roots. She was born in South Africa to British parents but moved to Manchester with her family when she was 13 after she was talent-spotted by British Swimming.
“This whole wedding is a big thank you to everybody who has helped us on our journey,” David told HELLO!. “Not only in swimming, but throughout our lives.” David’s father Peter is a former British champion skier, while his mother Jean was a county table tennis champion.
In his speech, Keri-anne’s father, xxx, mentioned his daughter’s first coaches, who were among the guests, as well as former Olympic swimmers Steve Parry, Adrian Turner and Graeme Smith [check] who had been like her “big brothers”.
Keri-anne and David, 30, who began dating in January 2005, say that dating a fellow swimmer is beneficial. “We both understand the sacrifices that need to be made,” says Keri-anne.
David, who proposed at their Manchester home on 28 June 2010, is a double Commonwealth champion. He also has a silver European Championships medal and was seventh in the men’s 400m freestyle final at London 2012.
Both say that they can never get used to watching the other one race. “Now I know how my parents feel when they watch me swim,” says Keri-anne, who was the first person to qualify for London 2012. “When I watch David, I always lose my voice, I go absolutely bonkers.”
“I was incredibly proud of him making his dream and reaching the Olympic final.”
When Keri-anne swam in the Olympics, David watched the 10km event on the Serpentine alongside Prime Minister David Cameron. “I get so much more nervous for Keri-anne’s races than I do my own,” he says. “I might be swimming in front of however many thousands of people, but I am always in control of what I’m doing; I’ve practised it so many times.”
“When Keri-anne swims, the emotionless task-related attitude goes out the window and the butterflies start.
“And seeing the thousands of people who had come to see her was unbelievable. To make matters worse, I was sitting next to the Prime Minister pretty much the whole way through!
“But it was so nice to have him there and he was genuinely interested. It actually helped calm me down as I had somebody to speak to.”
Keri-anne had won silver at the same event at Beijing 2008, but was disappointed with this result in which she was just four seconds behind the winner.
After the race, David broke through the officials to go and hug his fiancé. “Actually it was Clare Balding who helped me through. She said ‘you really must go and see her,’” he recalls.
How does she feel about the result now? “I’m still disappointed about the result,” she says. “I’ve not really had time to sit and reflect; that will come after the wedding. But I’m pleased with the performance, there wasn’t any more I could have done.”
Keri-anne did sport a small black eye after the notoriously gruelling race, which thankfully cleared in time for the wedding.
The wedding was a chance for the couple and their Team GB teammates to let their hair down after London 2012.
The couple had chosen a ceilidh for the evening’s celebrations. Their first dance was to the Grand March, which meant that the rest of the wedding party could join in. “We’re so grateful to our parents and family, so having them in our first dance was really important,” says David.
“Plus, it’s fair to say that I’m not the most blessed of dancers.”
They were quickly joined on the dance floor by their fellow swimmers, who were a lively bunch. “They have got a huge amount of energy,” says David with a smile. “We work so hard that when we come together and celebrate, we really make the most of it.”
“We’re in the pool every day and have to watch our diets, but this is an evening where it doesn’t matter if we are feeling a bit rough the next morning.”
Rebecca Adlington, who scooped two bronze medals at London 2012, was among those on the dance floor. She is Keri-anne’s best friend, who the bride met when she first moved to England. “We first met each other on training camps, and while we don’t see each other all the time, we know we can depend on each other,” says Keri-anne, adds that they had also fitted the wedding in around the swimming season.
“I’m just so happy for Keri-anne and David,” Rebecca told HELLO!. “I just loved today.”
The wedding celebrations also included a fireworks display as well as an after party, organised by David, in a barn adjacent to his parent’s home. “We wanted people to keep enjoying themselves for as long and as much as possible,” said the groom. The partying continued until the small hours and was followed by a Sunday barbeque at the house the next day.
David had also been in charge of arranging their honeymoon, a surprise for Keri-anne. They first drove to the Falls of Fleugh, to watch leaping salmon. “It’s my favourite thing to do in Aberdeen,” said Keri-anne. They then drove past Balmoral and through the Scottish Highlands to Inverlochy Castle on the west coast.
When they return, the couple will both reflect on their futures. “I’ll be getting back in the pool – that’s the only thing I know at the moment – but I’m not really sure what the future holds,” admits Keri-anne.
“It’s quite an exciting time. Other doors are being opened and it’s deciding which one to walk through.
David also remain undecided. He is not sure about another Olympics, but the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is tempting. “I’m swimming better than I have ever done and am currently ranked number one in the Commonwealth in my discipline,” he says.
Keri-anne would also consider the Glasgow competition. “Even if it was just for the crowd, that would really tempt me to go. When I was in my race, I could have said ‘I’ve had enough of being punched in the face’ but I heard the crowd and thought ‘no I’m giving it all I’ve got.’
Before they think about returning to the water, the couple had a few days to focus on being Mr and Mrs Carry and reflect on their special day.
“It went so smoothly,” said Keri-anne. Adds David: “It was just such a happy, happy day.”