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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lisa Maxwell reveals her wedding plans

Lisa Maxwell wants her wedding to be as unusual as the proposal – which was HER asking: “Will you marry me?”

The TV presenter’s partner Paul Jessup ­accepted. And delighted Lisa, 48, announced their ­engagement on Loose Women the following day.

The couple, who have a daughter Beau, 12, will tie the knot in a countryside setting this summer.

In an exclusive interview with The People, Lisa said: “There’s a lot of tradition attached to a ­wedding, lots of rules and etiquette textbooks you are supposed to buy. We’re not going to do any of that. We want to marry and celebrate the fact we love each other. I don’t care about the rest.

“I want something that is true to us and isn’t swamped by people’s nerves because they don’t know what to wear or how to behave.

“We want to get married in our local church in the Cotswolds but it will be very small. We might only have 25 guests.”

Lisa would like her mum Val, 70, to give her away but admits she still hasn’t ironed out the details.

She admitted: “I would like my mum to give me away, if she wants to – she has supported me through everything. But I haven’t even had the chance to ask her yet.

“If it’s too much pressure and she just wants to enjoy the day it will be my best friend Shane Richie doing the honours. With either of them by my side it will be the perfect day.

“Beau has asked if she can be Paul’s best man and we are going to reinvent some of the ­traditional roles to suit our closest friends.

“I care more about my guests ­being happy than I do about being able to say I had the perfect dress, perfect flowers. I want the day to be full of laughter and I want people to look back and say there was a lot of love at our wedding.”

Lisa’s eyes twinkled as she said: “We both have lots of ideas about how to put our stamp on the day.

“There’s a song I love called Walk Between the Raindrops by Donald Fagen. I’d love to have it playing as I walk down the aisle.

“It’s a fantastic jazzy piece of music. I can just imagine it on the organ with everyone swaying in the pews. We’ve even talked about how funny it would be to go to church by tractor.

“I don’t know what I’ll wear but it won’t be a joggers and wellies day.

“I think it’s important that Paul fancies me at our wedding. I want him to see me and think, ‘She looks ­gorgeous.’ Paul thinks I look my sexiest in jeans and a white shirt. So I could do that.

“If I do wear a dress it will be very tailored and simple. I have no desire whatsoever to wear a big white dress. I know most brides want to be the centre of attention at their wedding but I don’t crave that. It has to be about me and Paul.


“After the wedding ceremony we’d like to have a party in our garden. I’d like it to feel like a festival with camping for our friends and family.

“I know it’s not traditional but proposing to your partner and then announcing it on national TV isn’t traditional either, even in a leap year.”

After announcing her engagement to her partner of 15 years on Wednesday, Lisa and her Loose Women co-stars celebrated in a champagne bar.

The actress, who starred in The Bill for seven years before joining the ITV show as a presenter, told me she was touched by her pals’ ­reactions. Andrea McLean, 42, and Denise Welch, 53, recently revealed their marriages ended in heartbreak.

Lisa said: “I feel so lucky to have chosen the right man. God knows it’s a minefield out there. I’ve seen friends go through unhappiness all my life. And I’ve been in dysfunctional relationships.

“But I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to end a marriage. You can never judge a friend in that situation. All you can do is be there for them and offer support. All of my co-stars are friends to me. We share a lot. When I announced the news on the show it must have been difficult for Andrea.“But she was so generous. She was the one who said to me, ‘You’re not going home without a glass of champagne.’ They were all so happy for me. We sat there and had a good old chinwag about all the good stuff. It really felt like a celebration.”

Lisa, who decided to pop the ­question just last week, beamed when Paul, 43, walked into their kitchen. She introduced him as her fiancé and told me: “Most of the time Paul is the one who reaches out to me and makes a loving gesture. So I felt owed it to him to be the one to propose.


“I was crying all that day. It was a surprise to me that a moment which I’d thought I didn’t care about became so important.

“Those four words – will you marry me – do funny things to you. I’m very good at saying lines and I’m very good at faking things. But trying to say that got me in a place where I almost couldn’t say it. I was quite emotional when I finally got the words out.

“We both know that in a few years Beau will be off doing her own thing and it will be just us.”

Lisa met Paul, creative director of the Great British Teddy Bear Company, in 1997.

She recalled: “All I did was wiggle my bum at him in a ­nightclub, the oldest trick in the book. He fell for it and we’ve been together ever since.

“But our relationship hasn’t ­always been easy. We’ve been close to splitting up several times. We have this love and understanding ­because we have had bad times and put in massive effort when the relationship has been tough.

“We nearly split up when I was on The Bill ­because I was working so hard. It was six days a week and 14-hour days. You lose sight of reality and your priorities get completely screwed.

“I didn’t put Paul and Beau first. Then after I suffered two miscarriages in 2008 I emotionally shut down on every level. I was unreachable.”

Eyes filling with tears, Lisa told me: “Whenever Paul reached out to me I just told him to stop ­making a drama out of this.

“I don’t tend to deal well with emotions. I don’t embrace them and I try to stay in neutral because that is where I feel safest.

“I never gave Paul that chance to say, ‘I have lost something too’ and talk about what had happened to us as a couple. That really hurt him.

“He could have walked away then. I must have thought he would, otherwise I wouldn’t have made such a drastic change in 2009 – quitting The Bill.

“But he has stuck by me and, thank God, loved me enough to teach me that you can have happy and sad times, and that’s all right.”

Two years ago the couple bought a “broken old house in the Cotswolds” to do up.

The swing in the garden has “Beau’s Swing” engraved on one side and “A Pair of Old Swingers” on the other. Lisa said: “I have never believed that ­marriage is necessary to raise children. I think it’s the love in the family that counts.

“But I have always wanted to be Paul’s wife and to have the same surname as my daughter.

“There are very few maybes left in our ­relationship because we have been together so long.

“I’m confident that I’m going to stay ­happily married to Paul for the rest of my days.”

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