A COUPLE from Christchurch are among the finalists bidding to win a free wedding at a four-star hotel in the New Forest.

Balmer Lawn Hotel & Spa is offering one lucky couple a free winter wedding to celebrate the venue’s 1,000th wedding.

Christchurch couple Duncan and Emma are among ten couples vying for the free ceremony and impressed the judges after revealing they shared their first kiss at five before rekindling the relationship 36 years later.

Michael Clitheroe, general manager at Balmer Lawn Hotel, said: “Winter in the New Forest is a spectacular time of year.

“With ice-encrusted trees and swathes of frost-covered grass, it turns into a magical winter wonderland – the perfect setting for a winter wedding.

“We wanted to offer up a free wedding to celebrate our 1,000th, but we also wanted to ensure whoever won it was suitably deserving. Having heard a little bit about each couple, we’re now sharing the best entries with the public to help us make a final decision.”

The hotel invited couples to use 1,000 characters to outline why they should win, a bit of their back story and their favourite song as a couple, along with the meaning behind it, to help present their case.

Extra points were awarded to those who submitted a ‘Marryoke’ effort as part of their entry.

Other backstories of those who’ve been shortlisted include a romantic proposal that re-enacted the work colleague turned lovers’ first date rock climbing and a DJ who is hoping to celebrate the tenth anniversary with his better half by finally tying the knot.

The public now have the chance to read about each couple’s backstory – and their favourite love songs – and can vote to determine the competition’s winner.

The couples who come second and third will win a £1,000 discount off their wedding at Balmer Lawn Hotel if they were to book with the hotel this year.

Michael added: “We’re really excited about giving away a wedding and can’t wait to see who ends up as the eventual winner. It will be interesting to see who catches the eye of the public, and we’d like to wish all of the finalists the best of luck.”

The voting closes at midnight on Friday, January 24, before the lucky winners are announced the week commencing Monday, January 27.

Visit balmerlawncomps.com/winterwedding.