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Addingham man conducts wedding in German in Skipton's twin town

Mark Gregory (centre) with Natalie and Ramon at their wedding in Simbach, Germany on 20th April 2024.

A former pupil of Skipton’s Ermysted’s Grammar School has visited Simbach in southern Germany - to marry a member of the family who hosted him on a school trip almost twenty years ago.

Mark Gregory from Addingham was in Skipton’s twin town last weekend (20th April) to act as wedding celebrant for Natalie Seyfried and Ramon Bachmeier - and even conducted the whole service in German!

Mark first met Natalie in 2005 while staying with the Seyfried family as part of a school exchange trip through the partnership between Ermysted’s, Skipton Girls’ High and the Tassilo Gymnasium school in Simbach-am-Inn.

“It was really an honour to be part of Natalie and Ramon’s big day,” says Mark. “I’ve known the family for over half of my life now, and the couple had been following my work as a celebrant on social media. When they decided to get married, I was apparently the first person they thought of.”

Mark’s relationship with the Seyfried family almost never happened. In 2005, there had been a few more English students than German students taking part in the exchange, and the two schools had originally planned to put Mark and another pupil together in a single German host family. 

“A few weeks before the exchange, I received an email from Sina, the middle sister in the family, who was my age. She explained that she wasn’t taking part in the exchange and couldn’t come to England, but she and her family had discussed hosting me in Simbach anyway. Sina asked if I wanted to stay with them, even if it meant not having an exchange partner stay with me in England.”

Mark agreed, and spent just over a week with the Seyfried family in October 2005. Three years later, he returned to Simbach for a work experience placement at the Tassilo Gymnasium while studying A Level German - and returned again in 2011 to work as a foreign language assistant for six months as part of his university degree course.

Mark added: “Each time I came back to Simbach, I met up with the Seyfried family – even when I wasn’t staying with them. Sina was my age and Natalie was just a year older, so I got on well with both of them, and we often had nights out in the local Irish pub or in Lokschuppen, where Natalie and Ramon’s wedding reception took place this weekend. I saw them again in 2018 while I was living and working in Germany – so this weekend was my fifth trip to Simbach.”

The bride, Natalie, said: “Mark and I have been friends for a long time and have never lost touch, meeting up in different places. I have followed how successful Mark has become with his business and so when we started planning our wedding ceremony it was clear to Ramon and I that we wanted Mark to be our wedding celebrant.

“He made our wedding an unforgettable day. Everyone was delighted with his dedication and he found exactly the right words. And he did it in German! Wow! The fact that he even sang spontaneously in the evening at the request of the guests was just great! We couldn't have imagined a more beautiful ceremony and will never forget this special day thanks to Mark.”

Natalie’s youngest sister Ronja added: “I have known Mark since I was 8 years old and we shared a common hobby in music. I remember the many SingStar sessions we had together like it was yesterday, so to sing with him in front of all those people at Natalie’s wedding on such an important day was an honour that I can only describe as a ‘full circle moment’!”

Mark trained as a celebrant in 2020 following the death of his mother, Jane. He’d been encouraged to consider the career by a local funeral director after delivering his mum’s Eulogy. As well as officiating at weddings and funerals through his business, Mark Your Occasion, he performs as a live singer and hosts events, quizzes and games nights.

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