Their dream wedding seemed a million miles away, but Ross Gardiner and Ciara Kelly are celebrating after winning the Oxford Mail’s Win your Wedding competition.
The Eynsham couple were overjoyed to win the exclusive wedding package at The Oxford Belfry Hotel after collecting the most tokens from their Oxford Mail.
The young couple’s lovestory began four years ago after crossing paths at the Eynsham Carnival in 2010.
Roofer Mr Gardiner, 25, said: “It’s quite weird actually. I was doing the shirt race at the carnival. I got to the end and she was there and I thought: ‘She’s mine’.”
Romance followed before Mr Gardiner decided to ask the most important question of his life.
Driving back home together after Miss Kelly’s two-week Egypt holiday in January 2011, Mr Gardiner took a detour off the M25.
Against a backdrop of a full moon at about 2am, he got down on one knee, proposing to beauty therapist Miss Kelly, 22, with a gold diamond cluster ring on the roadside.
Nine months later, son Cory, now aged two, came into their lives.
Mr Gardiner said: “She means the world to me. We have a little family and a house and she means everything to me.
“She’s the mother of my child and having this wedding, it’s the last piece of a jigsaw for us.”
“We are going to be together forever now. My little boy has got his mum and dad now and we are one big family.”
The pair had struggled to scrape together the cash needed for their wedding.
They had been saving their pennies in their “pot of dreams” which they now plan to smash open to pay for their Cancun honeymoon.
It all became possible after grandmother Marline Turner, 80, saw the Oxford Mail’s wedding competition.
Mr Gardiner added: “Ciara was over the moon when she found out we had won because she did not think we had any chance.”
The pair’s wedding package includes a breakfast and evening buffet for 50 guests, flowers, wedding cake and a bridal guest room.
While Miss Kelly is hoping to add a photobooth and candy cart to the wedding celebrations, Mr Gardiner is content with his bride-to-be.
He said: “I just want Ciara to be happy.
“That’s all I’m looking for, to see her face on the day.”
Miss Kelly said: “I would never be without him. He has changed me completely. I have a lovely family now.
“When people found out I was pregnant they said we wouldn’t last and we have proved everybody wrong.
“We are stronger now and nothing is coming between us.”
The Oxford Belfry general manager Julian White said: “We are delighted to be offering Ciara and Ross the opportunity to have their wedding here.
“It is the most special day of their lives and we will do all we can to make sure their celebration is everything they hope it will be, and more.
“We have a fantastic wedding team here and a gorgeous location which will delight their family and friends.
“They can even get married outside in our pretty stone gazebo, in the landscaped courtyard.
“The team here are looking forward to discussing wedding plans with Ciara and Ross, and together with our valued suppliers who are helping us make this day possible, it will be a day to remember.”
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