Chris and Emma first met at primary school in Southend
A newlywed couple have made history in Southend by becoming the first to get married in a UK casino.
Chris Verrall, a corporal with the Queen's Royal Lancers, wed his partner Emma Doman at Maxims in Westcliff after winning a competition in a local paper.
The all-expenses paid ceremony took place at the only venue of its kind in the country to hold a licence to host a wedding ceremony.
"It's a real fairytale, I feel like a proper princess," said bride Emma.
The casino on Western Esplanade became the first in the UK to be granted a wedding licence in November 2009.
"We think it's possibly a first for the world," said general manager Jimmy Howard.
"We know they do have weddings in Las Vegas, but those are separate entities from a casino-licensed area.
"We know this is the only casino in the UK that has a license to hold weddings inside the casino area and we're pretty sure that's a worldwide exclusive."
Corporal Verrall's childhood sweetheart Emma said they had never expected to win the competition, let alone make history.
The casino was granted a wedding licence in 2009
"I don't think anyone was expecting us to actually win it," she said.
"When we did it came as a massive shock and everyone was so happy because they knew how badly we wanted to get married.
"So everyone was over the moon and really happy for us."
Corporal Verrall, who learned of the competition win whilst on a tour of duty in Afghanistan earlier this year, told BBC Essex the venue was well suited to such an occasion.
"A lot of people have a said 'in a casino would it work?' But if you were to see it and what Maxims have done, I would definitely recommend it."