It's wooded bliss as happy couple branch out

In days gone by tradition dictated that newlyweds presented their guests with sugared almonds as favours.

But for one couple who made their vows amid the canopy of a Yorkshire woodland, a nearby attraction offered the perfect vehicle for thanking family and friends for their good wishes.

After watching Melanie Obeney and Steve Bruzzese tie the knot yesterday wedding guests were treated to a spin on the Northcliffe Woods miniature railway.

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The happy couple made their inaugural journey as newlyweds on the little trains – accompanied by 13 bridesmaids – before guests were invited to sample the delights of the railway run by Bradford Model Engineering Society.

Earlier, friends and family perched on bales of hay as the bride and bridegroom were married in a unique wedding which saw the couple literally tying the knot and jumping the broomstick.

Their close friend, Al Dix, who conducted the ceremony, bound the couple's wrists together with coloured cords in the tradition of handfasting – which is thought to be behind the phrase "tying the knot" – before they exchanged rings.

The ceremony also saw the newlyweds jumping over a broomstick, symbolising their first leap into a new life together.

"We are not religious so we wanted to do something that was symbolic but not religious; we have taken more traditional folklore," said Mrs Bruzzese, speaking before the big day.

"It does not have the religious element but it still has all the symbolism – the commitment and the bonding we are making towards each other and the fact we are making a leap into a new life together."

For the handfasting, the pair chose yellow, green and blue cords which, among other traits, represent joy, prosperity, health, tranquility and devotion.

Northcliffe Woods in Shipley, near Bradford, offered the perfect setting for the wedding of the couple who live nearby and who hold the beauty spot close to their hearts.

"It's where we go to do all our walking and talking," said Mrs Bruzzese. "We wanted to get married somewhere that was really personal to us and somewhere that meant something to us."

Mrs Bruzzese, 38, who grew up in Barnsley, fell for the woods after returning to Yorkshire around nine years ago and as a member of the Friends of Northcliffe, has helped to support the site. "I am really passionate about that woodland, it's so beautiful," she said.

"I have always found it a very peaceful place. It's where we always go. It's very special because it's also where we do our walking and talking, that's our relaxation. That's where we work things through.

"We love the miniature railway and we have always wanted to have a go on it so when we were planning the wedding we desperately wanted to involve it in the wedding. The volunteers do a wonderful job, they are so lovely."

Mrs Bruzzese, who is training to work with children under five, added: "Northcliffe is not only special because of the wildlife but because of the miniature railway it is quite unique. We wanted to support the volunteers and for it to be part of the romanticism of the day.

"We thought it would be fantastic fun for me and my bridesmaids to have a railway ride through the woodland with our dresses on. We love watching the mini trains, they are really cute. We just wanted to thank them and have that as part of the whole celebration."

The couple met when they both worked for a photography company in Cheshire but it was to be a number of years before Cupid finally pointed his bow in their direction in 2008.

Just 10 months later Mr Bruzzese, a civil servant, dropped to one knee just after the pair had watched the sun set in southern Italy and proposed.

Mr Bruzzese, 42, said: "It took a while for us to get together but it was worth it in the end. The great thing about Mel is that she just always has everyone else's best interests at heart. She is always thinking about how other people are feeling. That's just her best quality – how compassionate she is to other people's needs."


Bradford Model Engineering Society which runs the miniature railway at Northcliffe Woods is one of the oldest of its kind in the country.

Founded in 1908, the society boasts around 155 members, whose ages range from under 10 to over 90 years old.

Publicity officer John Hawkes said: "To the best of my knowledge and belief no-one has done this on the railway before. We were absolutely delighted. We always like to do things to promote Northcliffe Woods because we are there and when Melanie approached us we thought it was a great idea."

Members of the society build and run steam, petrol and battery electric powered locomotives in various rail gauges.

Volunteers from the society run two miniature railways at Northcliffe Woods, the smaller being a raised oval track some 440ft long, the other more recently constructed about 2,000ft long with through line, station line and sidings.

Both railways carry passengers on Sunday afternoons throughout the summer months.