MEET the winners of the Oxford Mail Bride and Groom of the Year 2012 competition.
Paul Smith and Helen Cross, who live in Headington, were one of 10 engaged couples in the final of our competition to win a wedding package worth more than £5,000.
Friends, family and Oxford Mail readers voted to choose the worthiest winners of the generous prize.
When the votes were counted, Mr Smith and Miss Cross were declared winners.
On hearing the news, Miss Cross, who is 39 and works as an office manager, said: “Oh my God, that’s fantastic, I can’t believe it. I feel quite choked up.”
The couple have been together 15 years and have twin daughters, Sophie and Hannah, aged two, who are set to pay a pivotal role in their parents’ big day, as flower girls.
Miss Cross said: “We have been wanting to get married for some time but our priority was to have children and we weren’t sure that we could have children, so we put a lot of our energy into that. Then I fell pregnant in 2009 with Hannah and Sophie, and the focus was on bringing them up .
“We thought it would be nice for them to be part of our special day.
“Paul proposed on Christmas Day.”
The prize includes a wedding dress from Witney boutique Proposals, a wedding bouquet courtesy of the Flower Shop in Yarnton, hair and make-up by Brothers Hair and Beauty Spa in Oxford, and a vintage chauffeur-driven bridal car from Nostalgia Travel.
The groom’s and best man’s outfits will be catered for by Keates of Witney, while the mother of the bride will receive an outfit from Poshfrocks in Oxford’s Little Clarendon Street.
Photography is provided by Wallingford’s Dirophotographic, the wedding cake comes from Cakes For All UK in Great Bourton, personalised wedding stationery is courtesy of Minuteman Press, chocolate place settings from My Little Wrapper Chocolate Bars, a wedding night stay at Oxford’s Randolph Hotel, and a contribution to the honeymoon from Great Experience Travel of Witney are also included.
Miss Cross said: “Everything just costs such a lot of money that it takes the pressure off us to have that in place.
“It means the money we have tried to set aside can be invested for the girls later on and it’s not going to eat away at our savings.”
Mr Smith, a telecommunications engineer, said: “I’m ecstatic, it’s still sinking in. It means everything to us and it’s just a great help along the way.”
The couple plan to get married at Holy Trinity Church, in Headington, on June 29 next year, with a reception at the Hawkwell House Hotel, in Iffley.