GILLIAN and Alan Sharpe tied the knot on Saturday in the shadow of the Anderton Boat Lift, the first wedding at the iconic attraction.

The couple held their wedding in the Lift View Marquee, and booked a boat to take their guests along the river and through the Lift on a bespoke trip.

Gillian, 37 and Alan, 43, from Tameside, held their civil ceremony in the marquee at the base of the giant boat lift and overlooking the River Weaver.

Gillian, who works for the Canal and River Trust as a development and engagement manager at Manchester Pennine and Potteries Waterways, said: “It is a fantastic place to get married, and we are delighted and honoured to be the first couple to be married here.

“We chose this venue for several reasons. I simply couldn’t see myself being married in many of the traditional venues, like a church, registry office or hotel.

“I wanted my day to be informal, quirky and somewhere with a ‘wow’ factor. I have always been in awe of the Anderton Boat Lift ever since my uncle used to work there as a boat lift operator.

“When I heard the Lift had got a licence for weddings, I knew it was the place for me.

“Alan is a freight railway operative, and loves the Lift’s incredible structural engineering and the fact it was the world’s first successful boat lift. It is hard not to be impressed by the sheer size and majesty of the Lift.

“My vision for the wedding was a happy, informal day with family and friends and it was everything that I hoped for.

“It was great to have had a boat trip as part of our big day. In keeping with the canal theme, I made wedding favours of wooden hearts, hand-decorated by me with traditional canal rose designs.

“Family and friends were given wildflower seeds to grow at home - a reminder of the wildflowers that decorated the wedding tables.

“Also, sparklers were given to guests at the evening event, which reflected beautifully against the river backdrop.”

Carly Graham, wedding and duty manager said: “This was a very special event for everyone and we are thrilled to have had our first wedding on site.”

The Anderton Boat Lift, built in 1875, is the world’s first successful boat lift and considered one of the country’s foremost pieces of high Victorian engineering.