Laura met Mike in the oh-so modern way – online. While he was attracted to her genuine and down-to-earth personality, Laura says, "I fell in love with Mike's beautiful blue eyes and I'm not going to lie, the picture of him in his TA uniform was definitely a plus. I've always liked a man in uniform... who doesn't?!"

When Mike proposed in 2015 it wasn't a surprise as he'd asked Laura to go ring shopping the week before. "It was so much fun as I got to personally choose my engagement ring," Laura remembers. When the time came to pop the question, Mike took Laura on a romantic walk to Reculver, the beautiful church ruins on a cliff face, wine and glasses in hand. Despite being nervous he asked Laura to be his wife in the traditional way – on one knee – albeit in a puddle.

During the first 2020 lockdown, an amazing group of local wedding suppliers got together to make one couple’s big-day dreams come true. Inspired by the incredible nurses, care assistants, doctors and other health professionals who risked their lives daily to help the fight against Covid-19, the Sussex NHS and Carers Wedding Competition offered the grand prize of a wedding day worth in excess of £30,000. Laura is a radiographer working for Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, specialising in breast cancer care, so the couple decided to enter. In the October/November 2020 issue of Your Sussex Wedding we announced Laura and Mike as the winners of this awesome competition when Laura commented, “It still hasn’t sunk it. The Sussex wedding team have brought some sparkle and magic into our lives and we can’t wait to start planning our perfect day together. Every person who entered the competition is a superstar, and it makes me proud to be part of the NHS family.” As media partners of the competition, we’re delighted to give you the lowdown on the much-anticipated big day...

Chair covers "Although we didn't get to choose our venue as it was part of the competition prize, we couldn't have been offered anywhere more perfect. We'd never have been able to afford a such a fairytale location as Cottesmore, so it was a dream," Laura says. Its mix of modern and rustic styles along with stunning décor, a beautiful entrance and courtyard complete with fountain, really appealed to the couple. "I particularly loved the relaxed homely feel," Laura remembers. What's more, as the pair share a love for the great outdoors, having a lush countryside feel to the venue was important to them, so Cottesmore's vast grounds with visiting deer and lake made it perfect. "We were even treated to a drive in our very own golf buggy for pictures, which was so much fun," Laura tells us. As there's ample accommodation on site, many of their guests decided to stay and the couple were able to start the party early with a lovely family meal the night before.

Pink flower

The pair decided to feature a rainbow palette to pay homage to the NHS' work throughout the pandemic. They chose three different hand-painted floral designs on ceramic hearts as their wedding favours. These were personalised with Laura's favourite saying as a blessing to everyone given how important these things have become over the last two years: "live, love, laugh."

Placenames

The pink floral place names were designed to match the invitations and the mirror table plan tied in too bordered with various hues of pink and white flowers. Mirrors featured further in the centrepieces, as giant Martini glasses filled with coloured glass pebbles and flowers sat on top of them. "They were classy and elegant but girly. We went for rose gold and pink in the reception room as we didn't want to overthrow everything with too much blue," Laura explains.

Big day bake

The big-day blooms featured gorgeous loose bouquets of pink and white roses with plenty of greenery and Laura's favourite flower, blue sea thistles. The buttonholes were single pink roses with a thistle and foliage. The ceremony room featured a semi-circular display of blue and pink flowers in mirrored vases offering a modern and elegant feel.

Tableplan decorated with flowers

Fresh flowers also decorated the elegant and simple wedding cake. They opted for Laura's favourite red velvet, white chocolate and fresh raspberries with buttercream, as well as milk chocolate with chocolate orange cream. "The tasting with Clare's Cake Boutique was such a personal experience in Clare's own garden," Laura reminisces.

Light up mr & mrs letters The reception space looked glam backlit with blue lighting, and a Mr & Mrs sign lit up the dancefloor as did its built-in sparkly LEDs – a dream come true for Laura.

Regent Landaulette Another of the bride's visions was brought to life in the form of the white vintage 1920s Regent Landaulette personally chauffeured by Brooklands Wedding Cars' owner, Paul.

A hot buffet of two homely cooked meals was served as the wedding breakfast – chilli con carne with rice or vegetable lasagne; plus a selection of cold meats, salmon and prawns, salad, chips and potatoes, and pasta.

For dessert a mouth-watering choice of chocolate mousse topped with hazelnuts and apple crumble with custard was available. In the evening, the venue put on an impressive buffet spread of sandwiches, chicken drumsticks, a cheese platter and spring rolls. This was paired with a sweetie cart featuring Mike’s favourite: fizzy peaches.

Bride

The bride wore Christina by Carolyn Anne's Bridal Shop, a customised A-line dress with a heart-shaped lace cutout detail on the back – fitting since she was the soon-to-be Mrs Hart. Laura says, "I always had reservations about bridal dress shopping, due to the fear there wouldn't be any samples in my size and embarrassment of trying to imagine dresses without trying them on. However, this couldn't have been further from reality when I was welcomed and looked after by Lea at Carolyn Anne's Bridal. I only had to try on five dresses before I'd found the one."

Couple walk through garden

L. Guess Jewellers in Rustington donated a £500 voucher as part of the competition prize and Laura felt like a kid in a candy store as she shopped there for her accessories! As her something old and borrowed she decided to wear a pearl necklace with heart clasp, which had been in her mother's family for generations. "I managed to match the exact colour of the pearls to a pair of pearl earrings surrounded by Swarovski crystals, giving my elegant overall look a touch of vintage," Laura shares.

Lace shoes Due to an old ankle injury Laura wasn't able to wear heels and so opted to wear a pair of ivory lace trainers with a hidden platform – "Mike is over six foot so I needed a bit of height for the pictures," she explains.

Groomsmen The groom and groomsmen all wore matching navy suits with waistcoats, accessorised with deep blue satin ties. Meanwhile, the bridesmaids were dressed in ocean blue A-line dresses with corseted backs and lace detail. The flowergirl wore an ivory princess-style dress with blue flowers in the netting and a blue bow at the back.

Laura and Mike had a personalised humanist ceremony written by celebrant Jacqueline Cale. They both declared their own words of love during a particularly romantic moment and overall enjoyed a relaxed ceremony. Since the bride has an Irish background, she was keen to include her heritage and was able to incorporate a Celtic hand-binding ceremony.

As emotional as it was, there were moments when they had to try not to giggle as their dog Baxter, who was the ring bearer, kept growling to get their attention despite being perfectly looked after by pet chaperone Ali.

Ring bearer As emotional as it was, there were moments when they had to try not to giggle as their dog Baxter, who was the ring bearer, kept growling to get their attention despite being perfectly looked after by pet chaperone Ali.

Bride and bridesmaids During the ceremony a violinist played the couple's choice of music: Ave Maria as the bride entered and He's A Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean as they exited as newlyweds. "Having a live violinist was wonderful. He was such a talented musician and breathtaking to listen to," Laura tells us.

During the drinks reception all assembled were entertained by a steel pan duo, which was thoroughly enjoyable. As Laura says, "It's not your everyday sound and they had an amazing array of songs, which happily for me included a lot of Disney!"

Wedding singer Jason Allen performed during the wedding breakfast. While blues and swing are his preferred genres, he went above and beyond to incorporate plenty of Disney classics and musicals numbers, leaving with a standing ovation. In fact, Laura and many other guests struggled to get through the meal as they were too busy singing along!

Lady applies blue facepaint to young girl Other entertainers on hand to wow guests throughout the day included magician Adam Smith, caricaturist David Groves and Ruby Lemon glitter face paint artists. Laura says, "Adam is just amazing. Words cannot describe how alive and professional this man can be when he performs magic. He left our guests pondering how to explain his tricks. When it comes to David, we'd never thought someone with such an innocent face could produce such hilarious artworks. Seeing peoples' reactions to their paintings was priceless! And, originally I thought the glitter would just be a hit with the kiddies, but everyone was getting in on the act. What was even more entertaining was seeing adults arriving for breakfast the next morning still covered in it. Definitely proof of a good party!"

Tattooed magicians hands perform a card trick DJ Trevor from Night and Day Entertainment provided some fab tunes and guests danced the night away to choreographed lighting sequences. The magic mirror also went down a storm thanks to its fun props and funny pictures. The newlyweds were delighted to be presented with a copy of each photo in a guest book that each person had signed. Laura and Mike were honoured with a first dance song performance from their band Electric Feel – Shut Up and Dance by Walk The Moon. The night ended with a terrific bang in the form of a pyromusical to Take That's Rule the World and a five-minute firework display, which the duo pressed the button to start.

Caricaturist sketching a family portrait

Laura remembers, "The whole day was a fairy tale. We were extremely nervous at the beginning but once the ceremony was over the nerves were replaced with pure happiness and bliss. We were so grateful and honoured to share our special day with all our friends and family, which was only due to the kindness of the NHS Sussex Wedding Team.

Celebrant performing ceremony with bride and groom

Laura remembers, "The whole day was a fairy tale. We were extremely nervous at the beginning but once the ceremony was over the nerves were replaced with pure happiness and bliss. We were so grateful and honoured to share our special day with all our friends and family, which was only due to the kindness of the NHS Sussex Wedding Team.

First dance "The whole thing was a dream and the planning was extremely enjoyable, something that'll stick in our memories forever. We got to meet everyone involved in the NHS Sussex Wedding Team and got to know them on a personal level. We got to hear how they've struggled and coped through the pandemic and are forever grateful for this team of professionals for coming forward and selflessly donating their expertise and time to the competition and cause."

Laura and Mike's contact book

Accessories

Lottie Loves Prints

Bridal shoes

Bride's and bridesmaids' dresses

Carolyn Anne's Bespoke Bridal
carolynannesbespokebridal.com

Cake

Clare's Cake Boutique
www.clarescakeboutique.co.uk

Caricaturist

Groves Caricatures
www.grovescartoons.co.uk

Celebrant

Ceremonies by Jacqueline Cale
www.jacquelinecale.com

Children's wedding dens

The Sleepover Society
thesleepoversociety.co.uk

DJ & magic mirror

Night and Day Event Entertainment
www.nightanddayevententertainment.com

Fireworks

Firework Crazy
www.fireworkcrazy.com

Flowers

Bella June Flowers
bellajuneflowers.co.uk

Glitter artist and balloon modeller

Ruby Lemon Events
rubylemon.com

Hair stylist

Occasion Hair by Megan
www.occasionhairbymegan.com

Illuminated letters

JPC Events Ltd
www.jpcevents.co.uk

Jewellery

L. Guess Jewellers
lguess.co.uk

Magician

Adam Smith Professional Magician
www.adams-magic.co.uk

Make-up arist

Ellis Beauty
ellisbeauty.co.uk

Personalised gift

Pet chaperone

Pet portrait

Laura Quiggan Pet Portrait Artist
www.facebook.com/petandwildlifeportraitsbyQuiggsie

Photography

Daniel Thomas Photography
daniel-thomas-photography.co.uk

Pre-wedding facial treatment

The Blissful Beauty Company
www.facebook.com/Theblissfulbeautycompany

Rings

Stationery

Steel pan duo

Rebekah and Graham Steel Pan Duo
www.rgsteelpan.com

Suit hire

Dickies Suit Hire
www.dickies-suit-hire.co.uk

Toastmaster

Toastmaster Lawrence Mckenna
www.facebook.com/lawrence.mckenna.92

Transport

Brooklands Wedding Cars Sussex
www.brooklandsweddingcarssussex.com

Venue décor

Akoya Bridal and Event Services
www.akoyabridalandeventservices.co.uk

Venue, catering and drinks

Cottesmore Hotel Golf and Country Club
www.cottesmoregolf.co.uk

Videography

Neil Collins Films
neilcollinsfilms.com

Violinist

All Things Strings
www.allthingsstrings.co.uk

Wedding planner

Yours Truly Wedding & Events
www.yourstrulyweddingevents.com
Tweet
Share on Facebook