A Gateshead couple are on cloud nine after winning a competition of a lifetime, where the stunning star prize was an exclusive all-expenses paid wedding day at Kirkley Hall near Ponteland in Northumberland.

The lucky names of Chris Laws and Gemma Wilson were drawn from a hat during a special ceremony hosted at the rural 17th-century Grade II building.

Chris, aged 32, works as a courier and Gemma, aged 30, is a stay at home mum. They unknowingly grew up together and attended the same secondary school.  Their relationship has blossomed over the past eight years ever since they got chatting over a drink in a local pub.  Chris popped the question last Christmas by jokingly going down on one knee and proposing using a Haribo wedding ring.

“When we entered the wedding competition, we never thought in a million years that we’d actually win. When our names were read out we were both speechless and in shock!” said Gemma.

Chris and Gemma have two beautiful children; Hallie, aged 4, and Grace, aged 14 months. They say that getting married will make their family complete.

Gemma, added: “When planning our big day, we researched various options like getting married abroad and looked at other wedding venues in the UK.  But when we saw Kirkley Hall we fell in love with the historic feel of the building and beautiful surrounding grounds. We imagined the fantastic pictures and memories that a venue like Kirkley Hall could provide.”

On their big day Chris and Gemma will have exclusive use of Kirkley Hall. The bride and groom will be joined by their guests in the stunning main hall, where the special room will be dressed to impress. After the nuptials have been said everyone will sit down to eat a delicious three-course wedding breakfast accompanied by a selection of hot and cold drinks. Then to round off a perfect day, Chris and Gemma will dance the night away at their evening reception, where an array of food will be laid on for their enjoyment. (The initial competition prize catered for 30 guests with Chris and Gemma being given the option to invite more people if required.)

Rachel Johnston, wedding planner at Kirkley Hall, said: “We are looking forward to giving Chris, Gemma and their friends and family a warm Kirkley Hall welcome, and to help them create their dream wedding day.

“Kirkley Hall offers an ideal wedding location with countless beautiful photo opportunities and a relaxed friendly atmosphere.  We also pride ourselves in working to people’s budgets and realising all of their wedding goals!”

Chris Laws, added: “We can’t put into words what winning this special day means to us as we were beginning to believe that it was something we were never going to achieve. It has always meant so much to us to be able to call each other husband and wife.

“Since news of our competition win, we have set a wedding date of the 21st September next year and have begun to plan all of the finer details for the big day. It hasn’t been too hard of a task because it’s something we have discussed and planned for so long. We are looking forward to chatting through our ideas with our wedding planner, Rachel.”

Chris concluded: “We can’t thank Kirkley Hall enough for giving us this opportunity.  This is something that would have taken us years to achieve on our own.”

Any couples looking for their ideal wedding venue are welcome to make an appointment to come and view Kirkley Hall and speak with Rachel Johnston about their wedding plans by calling 01670 841 235.

People can also download a brochure and fill in a contact form by visiting the official Kirkley Hall website www.kirkleyhall.co.uk/weddings/download-a-brochure