A YEAR ago a wedding for up to 120 guests seemed like a distant dream for teenage sweethearts Matthew and Laura Hemming.
But, after winning the Oxford Mail’s Win Your Wedding competition, they said their vows on Saturday at a packed ceremony in the grand Eynsham Hall, near Witney, a day short of three years since IT worker Mr Hemming hid a ring inside the wrapper of a chocolate egg to propose.
Financial pressures and the birth of their son Albie in 2012 meant turning the proposal into a wedding had to wait – until they decided to enter our competition and beat 40 other couples to scoop the £14,000 prize package.
Speaking after the ceremony, groom Mr Hemming, 26, said his bride shed a couple of tears as they were married.
He said: “We could never have afforded to come here. So to come here and have a big do like this is really something. The prize of a lifetime has turned into a day we will always remember.
“It was a beautiful day filled with family, friends and festivities, beautiful sunshine and a wonderful location.”
And his 24-year-old bride Laura (nee Wilkinson), a nursery nurse, said they had been able to invite 80 people to the ceremony and another 40 to the evening event.
She added: “It is a dream come true.”
The couple, from Ascott-under-Wychwood, both went to Burford School but met seven years ago as teenagers while working at the Co-op in Milton-under-Wychwood.
Mr Hemming said Easter weekends would always be special for them now.
Underneath his wedding suit the groom wore a Batman T-shirt and his two bestmen wore Spiderman and Captain America T-shirts, while the fathers of the bride and groom wore Iron Man and Superman shirts.
Mr Hemming said he had seen the idea on the internet and thought it would be a fun thing for the men to wear under their formal attire.
Thousands of votes were cast for the competition’s 10 finalists in the Win Your Wedding competition.
Mr and Mrs Hemming enlisted friends and family, started a Facebook campaign, and put posters up in the local shop to help bag the prize.
Jamie Leach, a friend of the Hemming family, and Kate Harvey tied the knot at Oxford Town Hall in May 2012 after becoming the first to win the contest. And in June last year Oxford Mail Bride and Groom of the Year 2012 Paul Smith and Helen Cross wed at Holy Trinity Church, Headington.
Contributors to the wedding prize
Venue – Eynsham Hall
Photos – Rob Wheal Photography, Thame
Bride and bridesmaids’ dresses – Blossom Bridal, Witney
Men’s suits – Keates Menswear, Witney
Flowers – Riche de Fleurs, Witney
Wedding cake – Cake Sweet Cake in Kidlington
Stationery – Love Wedding Print, Botley
Other dresses – Poshfrocks, Oxford
Decoration – Stylish Centrepieces, South Oxfordshire
Hair and make-up – Hair and Makeup by Sonia