Mark Wright and Michelle Keegans party was fresh start to show how strong they are

Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan are finally settled in their dream home after years spent creating their perfect pad.

When the couple threw their no-expense-spared lavish Marchella housewarming bash last week, it wasn’t just a way to show off their £3.5 million Essex mansion, it was also a “restart” for their life together, a source told new after the party.

“They’re really proud of the house and wanted to show it off, but they also wanted to show to the world that they are strong and it’s a restart for them,” said the source.

“They’ve realised they have to spend more time together and this house is going to do that for them. The party was a bit of a way to show people that and show how strong they are.”

The project has been a long and rocky road for the couple, who married in May 2015, and was made more difficult by battles with planners, personal health scares and the constant speculation that they are living separate lives.

But demonstrating that they’re finally settled in their plush new home – complete with its neutral-coloured decor, his-and-hers bespoke dressing room and cinema room – former Coronation Street actress Michelle and former TOWIE favourite Mark, both 36, went all out for their party with live performances by Olly Murs and comedian Russell Kane, as well as plenty of fizz and fireworks.

Mark described the five-bedroom house as their “dream home” and has been sharing every stage of its progress on his @wrightyhome Instagram page with his 570,000 followers – including celebrity fans Alison Hammond and Natasha Hamilton.

While the end result is undeniably impressive, fierce battles with the local council made the project a “nightmare” at times, our source said.

After knocking down an existing £1.3 million home on the plot, the couple submitted plans for a much grander mansion complete with home gym, outdoor swimming pool, granny annexe and sprawling gardens.

The initial plans were accepted, but Epping Forest District Council objected to design tweaks, saying they “would detract from the rural nature” of the area.

“Mark and Michelle have had so many nightmares with that house, it’s just a huge relief for them and that’s what the party was,” our source claimed.

“The house was one thing after another and it was getting way out of budget. They’ve spent millions and it’s now their dream home. Marchella was a huge celebration and a fresh start for them because they’ve been away from each other so much and she’s been away filming, which is hard.

"That along with the stress of the builders and everything, which Mark was dealing with, is a huge weight off their shoulders.”

On top of the stress of the build, Mark also faced a cancer scare at the end of 2021 after discovering a 12cm growth in his armpit, which tests later revealed was a fatty lump and not cancer.

Following his own scare, his dad Mark Snr then had to get a biopsy on a scab on his chest, which was luckily benign.

This follows a number of family members catching Covid earlier in 2021, which claimed the life of Mark’s uncle Eddie and put his dad in hospital.

Following the health turmoil, this summer the former Strictly participant said he needed to slow down, saying, “I’m always chasing my dreams and have probably been too driven. I need to make time for my family.”

Putting down roots close to friends and Mark’s family will help the couple find a better work-life balance, as well as put an end to long-standing rumours they rarely spend time together, our source added.

While they often post smiling snaps from their luxury holidays, Michelle’s hectic filming schedule and Mark’s presenting gigs have forced them to spend months apart during their marriage.

In the past, Michelle made it clear she wouldn’t sacrifice her career for her relationship with Mark, saying, “Are you seriously supposed to turn down work in case it impacts your marriage?”

As Mark spent a significant amount of their early marriage in California after landing a television presenting gig over there, Michelle took full advantage of her post-Corrie profile with parts in the likes of Brassic and Our Girl, which took her as far afield as South Africa and Malaysia.

Last year she spent time in Australia filming the BBC One drama Ten Pound Poms, prompting yet more speculation about the amount of time they spend apart.

The lavish Marchella event will no doubt have put an end to some of the unwanted comments and our source said Mark and Michelle are excited to be starting a new chapter – very much together.

“It’s like pressing the restart button from them both,” they said. “Michelle is dedicated to her work, but she’s going to be at home a lot more and they’ll be spending more time together. She loves the house so much and doesn’t want to leave.”

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