A couple gave a whole new meaning to 'til death do us part' by having a Halloween-themed wedding – dressed as Frankenstein's monster and his ghoulish bride.
Jamie and Brad Smythe, both 44, first met at school, aged five, but lost touch after graduation – tying the knot to other people – only to fall in love after their respective marriages ended, when she messaged him about a 5k sponsored race for veterans which he had posted about on Facebook in 2017.
Online messages led to a first date, then, after decades apart, romance followed and chemical engineer Brad proposed to Halloween-superfan Jamie, a practice manager at a veterinary clinic, outside a haunted house on October 26, 2018.
Brad and Jamie (PA Real Life/Collect)
A year later to the day, the couple, of Kingsport, Tennessee, exchanged vows in an intimate ceremony – before celebrating with a spooktacular reception – dressed as Frankenstein's monster and his bride and arriving flanked by an army of zombie bridesmaids and skeleton groomsmen.
“In everyday life, I dress completely normally. In fact, because of my job, you'll usually find me in scrubs. But every Halloween, I go all out, so Brad and I decided to incorporate my love of fancy dress into our wedding."
“We'd asked our reception guests to come in costume, so we had things like a Mad Hatter from 'Alice in Wonderland' and a 6ft 4in Dorothy from the 'Wizard of Oz' – but they had no idea we'd be dressed up too."
Brad and Jamie (PA Real Life/Collect)
“Brad was Frankenstein's monster, I was his bride and we made our entrance by walking through this huge styrofoam crypt that I'd made."
“I also made skulls and mummy heads for the centerpieces, and there were black candles and fake tombstones everywhere. It was such an incredible day."
Jamie, who has two sons, Gage, 15, and Cale, 10, from her previous relationship, first met Brad, aged just five, at primary school.
A 6ft 4in Dorothy poses with a zombie bridesmaid (PA Real Life/The Modern Heart/themodernheart.com)
“We weren't in the same circle at all, so we weren't really friends."
After graduating, the pair lost touch, growing up and marrying other people.
But in 2017, both marriages ended and, single again at the same time, Jamie noticed his Facebook post about a fundraising race and, despite not having spoken to him in years, she sent him a message, asking how she could sign up.
Guests in spooky attire dance the night away at Brad and Jamie's wedding (PA Real Life/The Modern Heart/themodernheart.com)
“From there, we started chatting more and more," she said. “He asked me if I wanted to meet up, but at first I was a little unsure. I never ended up doing the race, which we laugh about now."
Eventually, Jamie agreed to meet Brad and in November 2017 and they enjoyed their first date at a go-karting track.
“As soon as I saw him, all my worries disappeared. We hadn't spoken in years, but you'd never have known it to look at us. We had so much in common and it didn't feel awkward at all."
Jamie and Brad's wedding guests (PA Real Life/The Modern Heart/themodernheart.com)
Their relationship flourished and, after six months, she introduced him to her sons.
“I didn't want to rush into things and introduce them to somebody until I was sure," she said.
Then, in October 2018, he surprised her by getting down on one knee and asking her to marry him in the most unlikely setting.
Jamie and Brad's wedding decorations (PA Real Life/The Modern Heart/themodernheart.com)
“I've always loved Halloween. It's my favorite holiday and I wish it could be every day."
“It's so much fun getting to wear a costume and be somebody else for a night. I love the silliness of it all."
“Knowing how much I loved it, Brad took me to Orlando, Florida, to an amazing haunted house at Universal Studios. There were all these actors wandering around, jumping out on people and stilt-walkers in creepy costumes."
Jamie, Brad and their wedding party (PA Real Life/The Modern Heart/themodernheart.com)
“As we were leaving, at around 1am, he stopped by one of the performers for a photo, then suddenly got down on one knee and pulled out this beautiful ring."
“I'd seen it and fallen in love with it during a trip to Saint Thomas – one of the Virgin Islands. Little did I know, he'd secretly contacted the jeweler when we got home and ordered it for me."
As her thoughts turned to wedding planning, there was only one theme Jamie had in mind for her special day – October 26, 2019.
Jamie, Brad and their wedding guests (PA Real Life/The Modern Heart/themodernheart.com)
“I wanted to have a small ceremony, but then go all out for a huge Halloween reception," she said.
One of the first things Jamie did was contact a local make-up artist and arrange to have herself, Brad, eight bridesmaids, eight groomsmen and her sons all painted in a horror-themed look.
“I was getting married over Halloween weekend, so I wanted to get the make up artist sorted before she got booked up," she said.
The crypt-style entrance at Jamie and Brad's wedding (PA Real Life/The Modern Heart/themodernheart.com)
Next, she organized the ceremony itself – an intimate affair with just immediate family.
She had planned to wear a traditional white gown, but ended up falling in love with a lacy grey number just days before the wedding, so changed her mind.
“I had normal hair and make-up to say my vows," she said. “We wanted a really small, simple wedding, so only had immediate family. The reception was a different story. We had about 150 guests and we'd encouraged them all on the invitations to dress in Halloween costumes."
Jamie in fancy dress (PA Real Life/Collect)
After the ceremony, Jamie and Brad went to a nearby hotel for their reception.
“I'd booked a couple of rooms out where we could all get changed and made up into our Halloween looks," she continued. “The make up artist was amazing and did us all as zombies, skeletons and other spooky things. I got changed into a more gothic dress and put on my Frankenstein's bride wig."
“Brad had his face painted all green like Frankenstein's monster. The guests had no idea we'd be doing it. The DJ played 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson, which was blaring out as we made our grand entrance. Everybody stood up and cheered."
Jamie and Brad's cake (PA Real Life/The Modern Heart/themodernheart.com)
From the black four-tiered cake to homemade tombstone decorations, nods to Jamie's love of Halloween were all over the reception.
To get the party started, the newlyweds and their wedding party all took to the dance floor to perform the Monster Mash.
As she approaches her first anniversary, Jamie continues to look back on her unforgettable day with pride – and hopes to mark it with a yearly Halloween party, although she is unsure if she will be able to do so this year due to the pandemic.
Jamie and Brad after getting engaged (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I was so touched by how involved everybody got. I think my loved ones know that, when it comes to me and Halloween, there's no such thing as too much."
“Everybody looked fantastic in their costumes and it was so funny to look around my reception and see it filled with witches, mummies, skeletons, zombies – and of course, my devilishly handsome Frankenstein's monster husband."
“It may not have been the most traditional wedding, but it was dead romantic."