A train driver couple from Essex have tied the knot with a tube-themed wedding party – complete with Oyster card drink tokens and a service information welcome board – to celebrate how they met and pay tribute to the bride’s late father, who worked on the underground for 40 years.
Melissa and Phil Clarke, aged 31 and 49 respectively, from Basildon, met at work in 2016 when Melissa worked on the platform and Phil was a train driver, and since having their first date at a Harvester, the train enthusiasts have had two children together – Mia, five, and Max, four.
The pair’s wedding was initially booked for September 2020 but, after two postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic, Melissa’s father, Stephen Quick, died in November 2021 before he could watch his daughter walk down the aisle.
The couple were finally married in a small ceremony on July 4 2022, before their bespoke tube-themed wedding party with 100 guests in October – complete with an iced wedding cake topped with models of the couple wearing their orange high-vis jackets and train tracks around the edge.
The colour scheme for the entire wedding matched the jackets, including the flowers and even the groom’s suit and tie, and the party also featured drink tokens made to look like Oyster cards, a service information board as their welcome sign, and biscuits that resembled the London Underground symbol.
Melissa even had a London Underground-themed hen do, where she and her friends wore sashes with the colours of London’s tube lines.
“My dad would have loved the tube theme because it was his whole life,” Melissa said.
“He literally worked in the underground from when he was 16 to when he was retired.”
Melissa became a qualified mainline train driver in April 2022, having worked on the railway for eight years in various roles, from a ticket officer to a platform worker.
She explained: “I’ve always been interested in trains, but I didn’t always want it as a job, but as I got older, I took more of an interest.
“It’s definitely a career for life now.”
Melissa, originally from Romford, now living in Essex, met her husband Phil, 49, a train driver for a freight company, when she was working on the platforms as a train dispatcher in 2016.
After confessing her feelings to Phil, the pair started dating and had their first date at a Harvester in Essex in July 2016.
She said: “We just saw each other around work, and we just started out as friends really, and I made the first move.
“With him being older, he didn’t really know if it would work or whether I’d be interested.”
She added: “We just started off as friends, and then I told him I was interested and he asked me on a date. And that was that.”
After dating for two years and having two children together Phil proposed in October 2018.
Melissa said: “We went to our favourite country park and just went for a walk with the kids and our dog, and when we were sat under a tree, he proposed.”
The train-driving couple were meant to get married in September 2020 but it was postponed twice due to the pandemic.
The couple’s big day took place two years later, on July 4 2022, with just a few close friends and family at Bromley Registry Office.
Sadly, all of the postponing meant that Melissa’s dad could not see her walk down the aisle as he passed away in November 2021, aged 60, from complications with his diabetes.
Melissa said: “I just said, ‘You know what, let’s just get married’.
“So, we got married quietly in summer and then had a big wedding party with around 100 guests in October.
“Originally, I wasn’t going to have a hen-do because it was all very last minute.”
She added: “I said to my friends that I’m not that bothered, but they arranged a surprise one for me.
“And we went to a bar in London called Cahoots, which is basically modelled on a tube station, and everything is train themed. Because my friend knows I’m into trains, they arranged it there.
“She made everything tube-related like the sashes and a hat, and it fitted well with our wedding.”
In October 2022, they threw a tube-themed wedding party in Ingrebourne Links Golf and Country Club in Rainham with all the decorations, besides the cake and large welcome sign, made by Melissa.
She said: “My dad worked on the underground for 40 years and it was kind of a tribute to him.
“I know I wanted to do something different, and I think that because Phil and I both like trains, we’re both train drivers, it was just very apt for us and showed off our personality more than just doing what everyone else does.”
She added: “The welcome sign was like a service information board you see every time you walk into a station.
“The cake topper on our wedding cake had me with my dress on and Phil with a suit on, but then I put high-vis on top because we wear them as train drivers. We put tracks around the cake as well.
“The drink tokens were like Oyster cards, and I also had biscuits made as the underground sign as wedding favours.
“All of the guests loved it and thought it was brilliant.”