In July 1995, a very special couple said “I do.” Despite the doubters that disbelieved they had any chance at a happy future together and to function as a married couple, Maryanne and Tommy Pilling have defied the odds. They are a wonderful example of true love standing the test of time, even when people didn’t support their decision to get married years ago.
Twenty-two years after they wed, Maryanne and Tommy are still going strong. They live next door to Maryanne’s mom in Essex, with her sister and her family residing just a few houses down. They don’t argue; they love each other unconditionally.
But once upon a time, this fairy-tale almost didn’t come true. Maryanne, 46, and Tommy, 59, both have faced significant challenges in their lives. They both have Down syndrome and have dealt with their fair share of mean and rude people.
This love story began at a local training center for people with learning difficulties. They dated, and it was adorable how sweet and innocent their relationship was. Maryanne would gush about Tommy. But after just 18 months of dating, Tommy knew Maryanne was the one – and asked her to marry him. He even proposed with a toy ring he bought from a vending machine. But first, Tommy asked Maryanne’s mom for permission to marry her daughter.
Maryanne’s mom gave her blessing, but sadly, others didn’t approve. Maryanne’s sister Linda Newman told PEOPLE that their mom received “a lot of flak” for supporting them getting married. But considering how many marriages today end in divorce, theirs is a love story that has withstood the tests of time and negativity.
“Their relationship is so special because it is pure; they don’t understand bad emotions of hate.”
So in July 1995, Tommy and Maryanne shared a beautiful church ceremony surrounded by friends and family who showered them with love. Maryanne’s mom had taken Tommy to a jewelry shop to buy a “proper ring,” Linda said. She told the New York Post that ever since she was a little girl, Maryanne dreamed of having a big white wedding.
“That’s exactly what she had. It was a beautiful day.
When they walk down the street holding hands, they make a statement but in a good way.
Some people stare; they assume people with Down syndrome and learning difficulties can’t get married.
But we also get so many lovely messages from people who are inspired by their story.
People worried about their own children or grandchildren with Down syndrome get hope from Maryanne and Tommy’s story. I hope that their children can also fall in love and live happily ever after.”
You can tell in their wedding photos just how truly in love they were–and remain so yet today. It was the start of a beautiful marriage between two kindhearted people. Linda has even shared their blissful story on Facebook and Instagram.
“They love one another dearly, respect one another and are completely honest.”
Maryanne gushed to PEOPLE about Tommy, married life and her wedding. It was an incredible day for her.
“My wedding was the best day of my life. I was shocked when Tommy proposed, but I didn’t have to think twice about saying yes. Tommy and I never argue. I love my husband very much. He is my best friend.”
Watch how their sweet love story unfolds and a special dance they shared.