A FAIRGROUND family followed in the footsteps of an ancient tradition, when a bride-to-be trod a path of gold to the altar.

People travelled from all over the country to attend the wedding of Stephanie Culine, from Spennymoor, County Durham, and Elliot Russell, on Sunday.

It was a big day for the family, who formerly worked in the fairground trade, as coaches brought 750 fairground people from all over the country to attend the marriage service and reception.

Like every other bride in her family, Stephanie followed the tradition of walking up the aisle on gold.

Before the ceremony, she slipped some gold sovereigns into her shoes - the same coins that her grandmother walked on at her wedding.

St Andrew's Church, Spennymoor, was packed for the service.

Speaking after the ceremony, her father, Spennymoor town councillor John Culine, said: "The sovereigns have been kept in the family and used many, many times. All the brides in our family have worn them.

"I couldn't afford to be nervous about the wedding, because I've got five daughters.

"There were 250 people at the wedding, and there will be coaches from all over the country bringing another 500 of them to the reception tonight.

"They are all fairground people. That was our original trade many years ago."

The family history in entertainment has been traced back 500 years, when their ancestors worked as silent street entertainers.

Stephanie's great-great-grandfather was a clown and strongman, who married a rope dancer. Her great-grandfather was a knife-thrower, and her great-grandmother a high-wire acrobat.

Stephanie's grandmother, Freda Culine, who died earlier this year, spent most her life immersed in the colourful world of the circus and fairground, and was know as the Grand Old Lady of Spennymoor.

Despite the Bohemian history, a traditional wedding ceremony was held yesterday.

The Reverend Canon Neville Baker, who conducted the ceremony, said: "With the exception of the sovereigns in the shoes, it was a traditional wedding, a lovely service."

A reception for the couple, who live in Manchester, was held at the Ramside Hall Hotel