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EVERY bride is the centre of attention on her big day – even more so when she arrives at the church in a ribbon-trimmed TANK.
Melanie Garner, from Terrington St Clement, Norfolk, was thinking of a more traditional form of bridal transport for her marriage to Army engineer James Taylor.
Her mother suggested a military vehicle and local collector, Shaun Mitchell, of West Lynn, Norfolk, was happy to help by providing an armoured personnel carrier.
Shaun suggested an armoured personnel carrier 432 would be the most comfortable vehicle for Melanie, her father, Kevin, and attendants Susannah Evans, Jemma Carter, Chloe Evans, Angelica Taylor and Liam Golden to ride in.
Melanie, 26, said: “Shaun, the man who rented it to us said that they had never done a wedding before but they thought the 432 would fit the bill.
“My husband’s in the armed forces and he was going to dress up in his uniform, but he didn’t want to stand out from the other guests.
“This was a way to maintain the army theme without him feeling too self-conscious.”
Wedding guests had no idea that the bridal party would be rumbling up to church in an army vehicle, as the couple had kept the plan quiet.
Melanie said: “There were quite a few people around looking at the 432, we hadn’t told the guests so it was a surprise, but I’m sure they heard it coming.”
The couple didn’t need any special permission to take the 240 horse power, 15-tonne vehicle on the road, although Melanie did say that navigating the narrow streets of the housing estate where she lives took some skilful driving.
She said: “We did ask whether we’d need permission from the police or the council, but as the roads are wide enough they told us we didn’t need to call any one.
“Driving on the main roads was fine, but they had to be very careful on the estate where I live as it can get quite narrow there.”
With its 7.62mm machine gun and smoke grenade dischargers, the armoured personnel carrier is a far cry from the plush limousines that usual ferry brides to their big day venue.
But Melanie insists that the ride – with six other people – was quite comfortable.
She said: “Even with our big wedding dresses we still had a good amount of room, although it was noisy, bumpy and you struggled to hear yourself think at times.
“It was a good experience but I’m not sure if I’d do it again.”
The couple enjoyed a brief honeymoon before returning home to enable James, 26, who was shot in the arm during an operation in Afghanistan in 2009, to undergo further treatment at the Headley Court military rehabilitation centre in Surrey.