Throw it back to May 2021, we teamed up with Hello! Magazine and a whole dream team of wedding suppliers to give one lucky couple a chance to win their fairytale big day. Chosen from hundreds of entrants, Charlene & Dominick were crowned the worthy winners of their dream wedding worth £50,000.

Their love story touched the hearts of many and on top of Dominick's busy NHS job, at the height of the pandemic Dominick also volunteered to deliver food and care packages to health workers on the hospital’s Covid-19 wards. Worthy winners indeed.

We caught up with Charlene to hear all about their story and join their wedding planning journey from proposal to the big day itself.

Read the full Hello! article here

Photography: Hello! Magazine | Rafe Abrook Photography | Rosie Kelly Photography

Meet the couple - Charlene & Dominick

Hi Charlene, huge congratulations on winning the competition, can you take us back and tell us how you and Dominick met?

We both worked in the same department store, that’s when we actually first met- As the months went on, I knew he liked me, he would probably say I flirted first but he was the one who kept on coming down to my side of the department store when he didn’t need to. 

Nothing actually progressed relationship wise for the first year or so, we just became really good friends. 
As the friendship grew, we both started falling for each other and one day I said  ‘D if you want to be with me you better with me-all in’. I don’t really remember his response but we pretty much became boyfriend and girlfriend after that and a year later we welcomed our daughter Jaya on Christmas Eve. 

Popping the question

Can you tell us about the proposal...

Dominick originally had plans to do a really romantic proposal at the Christmas light display in Blenheim Palace, with the help of my sister & our daughter, but with the lockdown tiers in place the event was cancelled and he started to get creative. 

Fast forward 13 years later, we are having our first lockdown Christmas, and Dominick has prepared a Christmas breakfast for us (a coffee and a Christmas cracker on the table). I just wanted to get on with preparing for Christmas dinner, whilst Dominick was adamant that we pull this ‘cracker’ first.

I had a lot to do so I wasn’t really interested in “cracker-pulling”, but eventually I gave-in and pull the cracker with him -POP!

A box flys out of the cracker and I still didnt think anything of it. He goes to pick the box up and I turn around and there’s my Prince Charming on one knee looking up at me. It was literally was one of the best days of my life. 

Charlene & Dominick's-Big-Fat-Indian-Carribean Wedding

Once my friends and family knew about the engagement the wedding planning got started straight away, it was as if everyone was just waiting for this moment. It was going to be Charlene & Dominick's-Big-Fat-Indian-Carribean wedding. 

That sounds incredible, how did you come to enter the competition?

One day, one of my friends messaged me the link for the Hello! Magazine Wedding competition and said ‘This looks amazing, let’s enter you and Dominick in for this.’ Without hesitation I said yes! and we had a group of us girls sending in entries for the competition.

A few weeks later we had our first zoom meeting with Rosie Nixon and Chrissie Reeves (no pressure) Is this actually happening? We couldn’t believe that we were talking with the Hello! Editor in Chief and the co-owner of The West Mill. It was a great interview and they made us feel so comfortable. We were told that we would get a call back if we were to make it to the next stage.  

We called on our friends and family to pray with for us as we progress through the competition, everyone was so supportive and said that our love story would win, this gave us a lot of hope. On the 8th of April we got an email to say they wanted to speak with us again. At this point we were so excited! It meant that we had got through to the next stage. 

It had always been a dream to have my wedding in a magazine and now I can say 'dreams can come true.'

How did you find out you were the winners?

So, on the 13th April we were back on a zoom call, we didn’t really know what else they would be asking us as we had said everything in the last interview. The zoom meeting started and it pretty much went straight to  ‘We are announcing you two the winners!’. They loved our story from very start and that’s what helped them make the decision. 

Up until today, we can’t even express how we felt or how we feel, it’s still so surreal. But we do know this is a dream come true. It may sound cheesy but growing up seeing the royal weddings in magazines.

Let the Wedding Planning begin

The most exciting part about everything is having our close friends and family witnessing our wedding day in the most perfect setting. 

The West Mill Venue is such a gem! We got the chance to visit the grounds last year. We have so many reasons to love this venue from the rustic Mill House look, to the ease of using the whole venue for different parts of the wedding procession, it really is the perfect venue for us and our guests.  

The Dream Team

Venue & Catering @thewestmill
Photography @rosiemaykelly
Florist @nadiaditullioflowers
Styling @taraknott_
Stationery @rosepress
On the day stationery @pollyandmeuk
Cake @rubylouscakes
Band @distractionsband
Videographer @jason_lynch_weddings
Dress @halfpennylondon
Makeup @hairandmakeupbysaskia
Hair @edwardjameshair
Wedding bands @katedawsonjewellery
Accessories @lillie.rose.bespoke
Shoes @freyaroselondon
Bridesmaid dresses @maidstomeasure

We're over the moon for you, are you excited about working with all the suppliers?

The wedding suppliers that we are working with are actually the dream team of suppliers, we haven’t finished with all the details with each one yet but from the initial stages of introduction and having some one-to-one planning time with them has been amazing.

They really take on board what we wanted and have also given us ideas of what we never thought we could have. It truly will be a spectacular wedding. I already have my dress and it’s just beautiful. 

Fantastic... so what's next on the list?

It’s short of 6 months left to the wedding day and we have dates confirmed for meeting with the rest of the suppliers. All our ideas have been shared last year so it’s just mainly the confirmations and finalising bits that need to be done. Oh! And the hen and stag parties need to happen which we can’t wait for too.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of Charlene & Dominick's wedding planning.

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