A HAMPSHIRE couple has been chosen as one of ten finalists who could lift the veil to a free wedding.

Rachael Bailey, 29, and fiancée Beonard Kola, 35, entered a competition offering couples the chance to win a wedding at the award-winning Balmer Lawn Hotel in the New Forest.

From the New Forest themselves, the rules of the contest were to submit their favourite song as a couple and why.

The parents-of-three chose the song Photography by Ed Sheeran due to strength they gained from the lyrics when their now four-year-old son Alfie got meningitis when he was five weeks old.

The pair spent six months by Alfie's side while he recovered in hospital.

This inspired judges at the hotel, which is holding the competition to celebrate their 1,000th wedding booking, to choose them as one of ten couple finalists.

Rachael, who is a cleaner, said: "When Beonard proposed, it was unexpected. He was very nervous and actually wrote me a letter.

"He read it out loud then got down on one knee. I felt thankful that I had finally found a man who loved me as much as I loved him."

The wedding would include catering for 50 people, arrival and toast drinks, three-course meal, a glass of wine per person, tea and coffee, and a light buffet in the evening.

She added: "We would love to win for our children and to become a family unit to enjoy a special day - after all the hard times we have had with our son. Things are finally starting to look up.

"This would mean the world to have everyone in the local community supporting us."

The winner of the competition will receive a wedding worth £5,000, while the second and third runners-up will be granted £1,000 off if they book their wedding with them.

Balmer Lawn Hotel have scooped awards for New Forest Business of the Year award and the Totton College Award for Training and Development.

To vote by the Friday January 24 deadline, visit https://www.balmerlawncomps.com/winterwedding/.