The date is set, the venues are booked – and now we just need you to decide which of these four loved-up couples deserve to win a dream wedding.
The Star has joined forces with a host of top Sheffield bridal businesses to give one lucky couple a £15,000 wedding day - now YOU vote for our winners.
After reading so many heartwarming stories, we have amended the rules and shortlisted not three but four couples who all deserve the chance to tie the knot in style on Friday, October 3.
First couple on the shortlist are Couple Number 10, Carrera Murray and Jonathan Hampsey, of Abbey Lane, Beauchief, Sheffield. Carrera, aged 29, who runs her own coffee business, and self-employed safety and hygiene supplier Jonny, 28, have been together more than a decade and have two daughters – nine-year-old Tyra and Sienna, three-and-a-half months. The pair are desperate to finally say ‘I do’ after so long as an item.
Next on the shortlist are Couple Number 20, Diane Eyre, 37, and 47-year-old Alec Smith, of Castle Avenue, Rossington, Doncaster. Alec, a project manager for a development company, and Diane, a sales assistant, met in 2006 when Alec would buy a daily cheese and ham sandwich from the sandwich shop where Diane was working. Eventually, they arranged to meet up for a drink and the rest is history.
The third couple on our shortlist are Couple Number 30, Angela Traynor, 50, and 48-year-old Anthony Taylor, of Glebe View, Chesterfield. Anthony, a retired chief engineer in the Merchant Navy, and Angela, a practice manager at an accountancy firm, first met and fell in love in the 1970s. Five years ago, they found each other again through Facebook and rekindled their love more than 30 years on.
The final couple in with a chance are Couple Number 40, Sophie Raynor, 27, who works in marketing at Sheffield University, and 30-year-old Neil Hawley, who works for Sheffield Homes. The couple, of Cemetery Road, Dronfield, began their romance with a ‘few cheeky vimtos and a snog in The Leadmill’ and haven’t stopped laughing with each other – and probably at each other – since.
On October 3, the winning couple will get married in the beautiful, Grade-II listed Victorian pavilions at Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens off Clarkehouse Road. After a photo shoot worth £1,249 in the gardens with city photographer Lloyd Siddall, the just-married Mr and Mrs will be whisked away to the elegant Whirlowbrook Hall for a three-course wedding breakfast and afternoon tea for 40 guests. The venue will also host an evening buffet for 80 complete with DJ.
Even the wedding dress is taken care of, as the bride-to-be will win a totally bespoke wedding gown to the value of £900 from up-and-coming young designer Kelly Marie Redhead. The 23-year-old graduate was a finalist in the Best Student Designer of the Year category in the Bridal Buyer Awards 2013.
See page 10 to find out how to vote.
MEET OUR COUPLES AND DETAILS HOW TO VOTE BELOW: CARRERA MURRAY AND JONATHAN HAMPSEY (Couple number 10)
We first met when we were 15 passing each other in town a few times. Then, three years later, when I was 18, I was working in a bar where we met again, writes Careera.
Jonny told his friends he’d marry me one day before we’d even spoken – never mind started dating!
He would come into the bar where I worked a few times a week until he finally got the courage to ask me on a date – although his courage was actually his friend asking my cousin for my number for him! I agreed for him to have it – which isn’t like me, as I never give my number out – and we started dating!
I still remember our first date at the restaurant BB’s – we go back each year for our anniversary. Two years ago, Jonny took me away on a spa weekend and proposed. He even took our daughter and dog as he knew I wouldn’t want to leave them all weekend and that it would make it special for me!
We have now been together for 10-and-a-half years and have two beautiful daughters together – one who is only three months old!
We want to get married more than anything and make our little family official and have been saving since we got engaged!
We have been through so much together – parents divorcing, family bereavement, giving birth etc – and as a couple we’ve survived and grown stronger and helped and supported each other!
We feel we deserve to have our happy ever after and this would be perfect to help us finally let our family and friends see us get married!
They’d all be so happy!
DIANE EYRE AND ALEC SMITH (Couple number 20)
We met in September 2006. I was working for a company in Sheffield and for lunch I purchased my regular cheese and ham sandwich from a sandwich shop on the same road, writes Alec.
One day, I noticed a new female member of staff, who I thought was gorgeous. She had a bubbly personality and was very talkative.
At the time, I thought she was out of my league and she would never look twice at me. As the weeks passed by, we chatted more and gazed into each other’s eyes at every opportunity.
I was noticing that, although there was always a queue at lunchtime and three members of staff, I was always served by Diane – she later confessed that she had requested to the other staff members that she should be the only one to serve me. She named me her cheese and ham man. I noticed that my sandwiches were getting fuller, to a point that my work colleges were comparing their smaller sandwiches and making comments like ‘she must fancy you’, which gave me a massive confidence boost.
We arranged to meet up for a drink after work and met in a pub down the road and we felt an instant spark between us. We had so much in common and within a week were in love.
We moved in together in January 2007 and, through hard times with ex-partners and family, we stayed together. We are soul mates and our love for each other is so strong.
We are engaged and have discussed marriage. However, due to work commitments and finances and house moves we have been unable to plan the type of wedding we want.
ANGELA TRAYNOR AND ANTHONY TAYLOR (Couple number 30)
My mum, Angela, and stepdad, Tony, first met and fell in love in Liverpool in the 1970s. They were aged 15 and 17 and spent everyday after school and every weekend together, writes Angela’s daughter Lyndsey Traynor.
My mum used to love going around to Tony’s parents’ house for his mum’s apple pie, which she made every Sunday. Unfortunately, they felt they were too young to settle down and a couple of years later went their separate ways. Both eventually got married, and sadly divorced from their partners. Tony had three beautiful daughters, and my mum had me and my two brothers.
However, Tony never forgot my mum, and would still visit my grandparents at their house in Liverpool for years after my mum moved to Sheffield for work.
He was working as an engineer in the Merchant Navy when, one night, a dreadful storm hit their ship and he was thrown against an engine, suffering terrible injuries to his spine, forcing him to retire early. He never forgot the girl who got away and began to search for her online.
Then, five years ago, they found each other again through Facebook and it was as though no time had passed at all. They fell back in love after almost 30 years apart, and when, three years ago, Tony asked my mum to marry him, she, of course, said yes.
They planned to have a destination wedding last year, but this had to be postponed a few months before due to financial reasons and Tony’s health.
I’m entering them in this competition as a surprise because I know they would absolutely love to get married this October after almost 35 years, with all of their family and friends around them.
SOPHIE RAYNOR AND NEIL HAWLEY (Couple number 40)
Not exactly the most traditional love story, but one of a more modern nature, writes Sophie.
I met Neil on a night out when I was 20. We had gone to the same school, so I knew who he was, but, to be honest, I wasn’t his biggest fan – you see, he was a bit of a lad about town if you get my drift! A few cheeky Vimtos and a snog in The Leadmill later you could say that I had changed my mind. So, we proceeded not to speak to each other for three years.
A Facebook message, consisting of ’Ayup Blondie, fancy a catch up drink’, landed in my inbox in 2009 and was swiftly followed by a very traditional and classic Sheffield date involving visits to The Frog and Parrot, The Forum and Bungalows and Bears.
Despite being described as ‘manoeuvrable’ and being forced to kiss him when I was dropped off home at the end of the night, from then on we were a couple and have not stopped laughing since.
We bought a house together six months later and have been happily cohabiting for four years – even though I don’t wipe the taps properly(?) and he constantly leaves the iron on the kitchen side.
We aren’t a soppy romantic couple, no kissy Facebook profile pictures here please – we laugh and we have fun and we take the mickey out of each other constantly. So when Neil proposed in January this year at Chester Zoo – just by the spectacled bears – I was completely taken by surprise.
It would be lovely to start our marriage in two beautiful places, surrounded by the people that we love the most in the city where it all began, maybe not a traditional story but a fairy-tale ending nonetheless.
HOW TO VOTE
Vote for your couple to win The Star’s £15k wedding by filling in the coupon you will find on page 10 of The Star on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.
Or you can vote, as many times as you like, by text.
Text STA (space) WEDDING (space) the number of the couple you want to vote for (space) your name, house number and post code and send to 61500
Voting closes Monday, February 10, 2014, 10am.
Texts cost £1 plus your usual network rate.
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