What started as a fun board game has turned into reality as a lucky Dundee couple won a £25,000 luxury wedding and honeymoon.
Bride-to-be Joanne Hodge (31) and her fiance, Brian McNicoll (34), were encouraged by a friend to enter a competition run by the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews in partnership with the Scottish Wedding Directory.
The competition, launched by the resort on the back of being voted Scotland’s Best Wedding Venue, has seen it partner with wedding experts to produce the star-studded prize which includes a luxury wedding at the resort, to be held on William & Kate’s fifth wedding anniversary: April 29 next year.
Couples were tasked with creating a video, and engaging online via social media, with their own “wedding in a box.”
Joanne and Brian were just two of the hundreds of entrants, all hoping to wed at the resort, and honeymoon at the equally decadent La Mamounia in Morocco, courtesy of We Love Weddings Abroad.
They live in Dundee with their two little boys, Zack (3) and Ethan (1). Following a romantic engagement in Florence in 2010, children and new houses took over, meaning a wedding was not quite on the cards for them just yet.
Joanne said she was “thrilled” to find out she and Brian were the lucky winners.
She said: “Finding out we had won was incredible, at first I just couldn’t believe it. We had so much fun taking part in the competition.
“I am overwhelmed to be able to say I am getting married at the Old Course Hotel next year, it’s not something I ever expected to happen to us! Plus, Brian is a really keen golfer, and it really is a dream come true for us both.”
As a child, Joanne loved to play The Game of Life, a popular family board game where players have to navigate the twists and turns of ‘life’
This memory, coupled with her creative instinct, led her to create their very own ‘Game of Life’ board game, complete with box and board.
The couple collated memories from the first time they met back in 2007 to the present day. The board game then came to life when they involved their friends and family.
As Joanne and Brian rolled the dice, they each had different ‘challenges’ to complete in order to win The Game of Life. Using social media, they asked their friends and family to vote which challenges each of them should complete as they moved along the board.
Brian added: “Some of the challenges our friends and family voted for us to take part in were crazy. My first was to ‘experience what it was like to be a bride’ – this meant everything from waxing (ouch!) to a bridal dress fitting.
“I went with my Dad for the fitting and we had a right laugh, so did all my friends! Joanne was challenged to face her fear of animals and this involved an extremely fun day at the St Andrews Aquarium.”
The couple also dressed up as Kate & Wills and had an iconic Swilcan Bridge photo taken, only to be accosted by pre-Open media, securing them an interview on Sky Sports and a ‘selfie’ with golfer David Duval.
The final challenge on the board saw Joanne and Brian take part in their very own traditional Scottish ‘blackening’, in which they were coloured bombed on Magdalen Green in Dundee, and raised £700 for charity.
The judges summing up explained just why the future Mr & Mrs McNicoll took the prize.
They said: “The number and standard of entries was incredible. We were blown away by just how much work people had gone to in their bid to win this incredible prize. It is fair to say it was an incredibly close run thing.
“There were probably a handful of couples who were ‘up there’ with a very good chance of winning, but it was Joanne and Brian’s outrageous efforts to engage with the competition, not only with friends and family but also on social media that really won our hearts. We all agreed they were the winners – and we are absolutely delighted for them.”
The £25,000 wedding not only includes the wedding reception and honeymoon, but also a bridal gown from Opulence Bridal, and three bridesmaid dresses from Romantica of Devon.
On the big day, Claremont Photography will be on hand to capture every moment, and Ancanthus Flowers will provide the wedding flowers. Guests on the day will enjoy the exact same menu that Kate & Will’s enjoyed at their very own wedding back in 2010, and a scrumptious cake and accompanying cupcakes will come from Pippa’s Kitchen.
Joanne added : “For the past few months we have been putting our all into the competition. Now we cannot wait to start planning our big day and speaking to all the partners involved. As you might be able to tell from our competition entry, I love a creative challenge and I’ve already got so many ideas for the big day!”