PROPOSING to the woman of your dreams in a circus tent with a rose in one hand a bucket on your head may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
But that’s exactly what clown prince Henrik Fries Neumann did in front of a packed audience at a circus in Denmark last year went he went down on one knee to propose to his sweetheart Noeleen Breen, aka Silly Tilly from Strangford.
Noeleen had a feeling Henrik, aka Jarl, was up to something during their routine and after he proposed she asked the audience what she should do. With echoes of “yes” reverberating around the tent she readily accepted and planted a smacker on his lips.
Last Thursday, the couple officially tied the knot during a wedding ceremony in Downpatrick and the professional clowns believe they will have the perfect marriage as Noeleen doesn’t speak Danish and Henrik hasn’t a word of English.
Dressed in full clown regalia, the newly weds and their very colourful wedding party lit up Scotch Street on what was an otherwise dull and dreary afternoon.
There were balloons, cream pies, giant smiles, colourful costumes, more kisses and, it must be said, the odd inquisitive look from passers-by. One man in particular, who had just left a local pub, stopped to watch what was going on and his face was a puzzled picture as he tried to process the shenanigans in front of him.
A special clown celebrant was flown into Downpatrick for last week’s wedding ceremony with Noeleen and Henrik joined by their parents, family and friends.
The location of the ceremony was not made public, while the venue for the wedding reception held later in the day was also a closely guarded secret. All Noeleen would confirm was that the event took place in a big tent and there would be 150 people attending, with almost half of them clowns.
Noeleen, who gave up a career in teaching to become a professional clown and graduated from circus school in 1991, said many people have a keen interest in Silly Tilly and her romance with her Danish clown prince.
She explained this was why the happy couple landed in Scotch Street last week so local people could wish them well and be part of their special day.
And with many keen to know where the couple would spend their honeymoon, Noeleen said it was being put on hold for now as they wanted to get married ahead of the International Clown Festival which takes place in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, in April.
“Weddings are not laughing matters; they are very serious affairs and just because we are clowns does not mean we feel different to any other couple on their wedding day,” she continued. “We are having a great day and looking forward to being together.
“It will be a perfect marriage as my husband does not speak a word of English and I don’t speak a word of Danish. We have never had an argument and I know we will be very happy together.”
“We are delighted to be married and to share this special day with others,” said Noeleen. “I have attended a number of clown weddings in the past but this is the first time I have been one of the main characters,” she joked.
On a serious note, Noeleen said her wedding day was everything she hoped it would be, with the hours “flying in” since the couple tied the knot at 11am.
She added: “There are a lot of people who are very interested in everything that Tilly does around the town so we decided to spend a short time today to let them get a glimpse of what was happening as we could not invite them all to the wedding.”
A beaming Henrik, with a little help from his wife, said he was a “very happy man” before planting another kiss on the blushing bride’s lips.