When Sofie James's boyfriend Dave Griffin told her he had to go away with work the night before her 30th birthday, she wasn't happy.

She was upset that he wouldn't be there when she woke up to watch her open her presents, and the couple "had words" before he headed out.

But what Sofie didn't know what that Dave had been telling a little white lie. Well, actually, it was a pretty massive one.

He spent the weeks leading up to her 30th birthday planning a surprise wedding, putting everything in place for the day of her dreams without her having any idea.

And he managed to pull it off, with Sofie finding out about her wedding day at 6.30am that morning - just a few hours before she was due to walk up the aisle.

Sofie had absolutely no idea

She quickly discovered that 80 guests – including all her friends and family – had been in on the secret.

Sofie, from Rhyl, North Wales, says: “Dave really had planned the perfect day, down to the last detail. He had tracked down my old school pals to be my bridesmaids, he had ordered a white Bentley.

“He had even found my dream wedding dress – with a little help from my mum.

“I had absolutely no idea at all, though I did become a little suspicious because he was spending so much time out of the house.

She thought she was just having a 30th birthday party

“Apparently at one point I actually said to him: ‘Anyone would think you’re planning a wedding!’ but it was just a quip. I didn’t think that for a second.

“The night before the wedding, Dave announced he was working and would be away overnight, and I was really cross because of course it was the night before my birthday.

“I realised he wouldn’t be there to see me open my presents and we had words before he left. Little did I know the next time I would see him; I’d be walking down the aisle!

“I have a reputation as a control freak and of course I had no control at all over my own wedding – but I couldn’t have wished for anything better. It was a fairytale.”

All her oldest friends were in on the secret

Dave and Sofie met in their local pub in October 2011. Two months on, the couple moved in together and their son, Evan, was born in August 2012.

The couple got engaged and began making plans – which never progressed.

Sofie says: “We started off full of excitement, looking at wedding venues and dresses.

“We wanted to save up before we set a date, and somehow it just kept getting pushed further into the future. Every time we got some money together there was something else more pressing.

The couple started planning their wedding but other things just got in the way

“Our friends got married and I was a bridesmaid once, Dave was best man three times, and it made me really long to get married. We went to so many weddings and I’d watch the happy couple making their vows and I was so happy for them – but I really wished it could be me too. Yet I was starting to think my turn might never come.

“The years went by and I just thought we’d never get around to it. I thought I’d be single for good.

“I always said I’d never get married after turning 30 too. I felt that was too old.”

With no wedding booked in the diary, Sofie decided to throw a party for her 30th birthday in June 2019.

Earlier in the year, she booked a local venue, Nant Hall, in Prestatyn, North Wales, and began inviting guests. But her plans went on the back-burner during a busy spell at work.

She said she didn't want to get married after 30

Soon after, Dave had a dream in which Sofie’s late grandfather, Terry, appeared to him and urged him to marry her.

Dave, 38, says: “It might sound crazy but when I woke up, I knew I had to marry Sofie.”

Dave decided to plan a surprise wedding – to coincide with Sofie’s 30th birthday party.

He says: “I set up a secret WhatsApp group with all our friends and family and I spoke to the venue and booked a wedding instead of a birthday party.

The couple's little boy looked adorable

"I told Sofie I’d sort out her party; we only needed to order a few sandwiches and book a DJ, and so she agreed, because she was busy at work.

“I was spending more and more time out of the house, making plans, but I just kept fobbing Sofie off telling her I was working late or I was sorting out a hiccup with her birthday party.

“At one point, she actually said to me: ‘You’re spending so much time planning my birthday. Anyone would think it was a wedding!’

“But it was just a quip and she left it at that.”

Sofie’s mum, Carolyn, also managed to lure her out on a ‘girly shopping day.’

The whole family had a great day

Sofie says: “Mum had had a busy time on the family farm and so I thought I was doing her a favour, agreeing to a day of shopping and pampering.

"We passed a bridal shop and I spotted a dress I loved.

"Mum said: ‘Ooh go on, try it on. This might be the only time I ever see you in a wedding dress.’

"I went in and tried it on and then thought nothing of it – because I knew there was no chance of me getting married."

The night before the wedding Dave told Sofie he was working overnight – to give him chance to make the final preparations.

Sofie says: “I was a bit cross that he was working the night before my birthday and he wouldn’t be there to see me open my presents in the morning.

“We had words before he left.”

Sofie and Dave couldn't look happier

But at 6.30am the following morning, Sofie answered the door in her pyjamas to find her mum and best pal on the door-step – complete with a wedding photographer.

Sofie says: “Mum handed me a large white box and a card which said: ‘On Your Wedding Day.’ I saw the camera and I just burst into tears – it all slotted into place.

“Inside the card, I was told I was getting married at 1pm that same day.

“Everything was planned. In the box was the wedding dress I’d tried on months earlier, with mum. They had even bought me a pair of bridal pyjamas! I was booked in at the beauty salon, where I work, to have my hair and make-up done.

Sofie even got to wear the dress of her dreams

“When I arrived at the salon, it was all decorated with flowers and drapes, and some of my old schoolfriends were waiting there – I was amazed. Dave had tracked down everyone from around the UK who was special to me.

“I had five bridesmaids plus my best friend, Simone, as maid of honour. Our son, Evan, was page-boy.

“I had a white Bentley too. Dave really had thought of everything.

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“When I got to the venue, there were 80 guests waiting – everyone had been in on the secret except for me.

“I have no idea how Dave managed to keep it all a secret for five months – it was a fairy-tale day and a dream come true for me.

“It took seven long years to become Mrs Griffin – but it was well worth the wait.

"I can’t wait to see what he has planned for our first anniversary.”