MORE than one quarter of the 20,000 votes cast in this year’s Win A Wedding competition were hand cut by the winning couple, who splashed out nearly £4,000 on copies of the Adver to win.
Daniel Harper, 33, and Leanne Warner, 25, both of Pasteur Drive, were crowned winners of the £10,000 wedding package at the ceremony in the Swindon Marriott Hotel yesterday.
The couple, who met six years ago through colleagues at a private hire taxi company in the town, had a neatly planned strategy to win the coveted prize.
Daniel, who is a duty manager for Network Rail overseeing developments at Reading train station, bought 5,500 copies of the newspaper at a value of £3,575 in an effort to swing the votes in their favour.
Leanne and two friends then spent four days hand cutting and stamping the vouchers from the paper ahead of the September 7 voting deadline.
The couple also had 6,000 flyers printed and posted through letterboxes around Swindon, and it seems their efforts have paid off with an August 2014 wedding lined up, to include a £1,000 dress from Hazlewood Bridal Boutique.
“We are shocked and relieved,” said Daniel, shortly after the announcement. “We have been trying to do what we needed to do to win. I have promised a lot of friends at work I would donate some money to charity if they voted, so I need to follow that through now.
“My thumbs are so sore from all the cutting we had to do with the vouchers in the paper. We got a stamp with our information on in the end, just to avoid having to handwrite every one,” said Leanne.
Leanne said the wedding will be a vintage affair, with Christ Church a possible venue for the ceremony.
In their entry, the pair said the money they would save from winning the competition would be used towards saving for a deposit on a house.
The couple have officially been engaged for just two months after Leanne went away on a friend’s hen party.
After picking her up from the train station Daniel took Leanne home and proposed the moment they got inside the house, though the idea of marriage has been floated for the past three years.
The couple have two children together, Charlie, three, and Alfie, two, and Shannon, nine, who is Daniel’s daughter from a previous relationship.
The award formed part of a larger wedding fayre at the hotel, organised by Love to Plan, a wedding planning company based in Swindon.
With 22 stalls at the events, approximately 500 people took advantage of the event according to Love to Plan owner Natalie Lovett.
“This is our second time at the Swindon Marriott and it has proved very successful. We have had a lot of people coming in with positive comments,” she said.
Jill Chatfield, owner of Hazlewood Bridal Boutique, said: “These fayres are massive for us. It’s nice to get the face to face with brides and help them to feel relaxed.”
Katie Aldridge, a self-employed make-up artist based in Swindon, said: “These fayres and recommendations from other clients are the life blood of wedding businesses.
“They are very important for touching base with people and getting your name out there. I like to meet clients first though, because even though it’s only make-up, you’re the first person they will see on the morning of the big day, and you need to connect well.”