Nicola and Steven were one of five couples to win an all-expenses paid for wedding courtesy of Apex Hotels and Operation Recuperation. The initiative was set up to reward NHS staff working at some of the hardest hit hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nicola and Steven’s was the fifth and final wedding after other Apex Hotels properties in Bath, Edinburgh and London hosted four ceremonies earlier in the year.
Like many NHS front line workers, Nicola and Steven had to put their lives on hold during the pandemic, including having to delay their dream wedding. Nicola worked nights as a Theatre Practitioner at Nine Wells hospital in Dundee, allowing her partner Steven to fulfil his role as a Deputy Store Manager at Asda Milton of Cragie. Managing their workload was one of many challenges the couple faced during a gruelling 18 months.
Nicola said: “I’m not going to lie, it was tough during lockdown, but as front-line workers there were a lot of people relying on us. I work alongside a great team of surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists at the hospital. We all love our job, but the long night shifts certainly took their toll. We all turned up and did the best we could under difficult circumstances. In between there was all the home-schooling to do, as well as weekly Zoom calls with the family and coming up with activities to keep the kids entertained.”
Nicola and Steven met in 2005 while both working at Asda in Livingston. They got engaged eight years later on Christmas Day in 2013. The couple planned to get married in 2021 but had to put their dream wedding on hold as the pandemic hit.
Steven said: “It’s been a while coming, but we both felt now was the right time to tie the knot. We’ve already got four beautiful kids so had the luxury of taking our time. When we heard about Operation Recuperation and Apex Hotels giving away free wedding packages, we jumped at the opportunity. To be honest we didn’t think we’d win. I’ve never won anything in my life so when we got short listed then finally won the wedding, it honestly was a dream come true.”
The couple tied the knot at a beautiful ceremony in the City Suite of the Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa in Dundee on Saturday 12th November, surrounded by their closest friends and family, some of whom who had travelled as far as Germany and France. It was exactly the intimate, family focused wedding they had both wished for.
Nicola was given away by her eldest son Kieran and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a three-course meal before the evening reception in the City Quay Suite. The couple’s first dance was the aptly named ‘About Time’ by Etta James, before local DJ Flex Disco got the party started with some of his greatest hits and family favourites.
To show their appreciation for the Dundee couple, local suppliers got together to provide a range of free wedding services. This included DJ Keith Ramsay from Flex Disco, Sparkle Magic Events who supplied a stunning set of chair covers and table centres, a three-tier wedding cake made by JM Bakery, Flower Arch and Urns by Louise from Basketcase, flowers by Dawn Falconer from Forget Me Not Florist and a set of unforgettable pictures by Paige Anderson.
Nicola said: “The wedding was perfect. We were bowled over by the level of service, the venue and food, everything. It was more than we could have wished for. We all had a lovely day surrounded by our best friends and family. We’re so grateful to Apex Hotels and Operation Recuperation for such a wonderful gift.”
Steven said: “We had an amazing day. I was cool, calm and collected until the moment I saw our daughter Katie as a bridesmaid. Then when our son Kieran and my father-in-law gave Nicola away, the tears started rolling. It was an emotional moment. Thanks again to Apex Hotels and all the fantastic suppliers who made this such a perfect day for us.”
Michael Stott Commerical Director, Apex Hotels said: “I can’t think of two more deserving people than Steven and Nicola. They have both worked tirelessly during the pandemic and it has been fantastic for Apex Hotels in partnership with Operation Recuperation, to give them something back.
Steven and Nicola are the fifth and final of our wedding winners, and I’d like to thank Operation Recuperation, our dedicated staff and all the generous local suppliers who have made these weddings so memorable and special.
It has been a privilege to get to know all those brave front line NHS workers and we wish all of them the very best and many happy years together.”
Rachel Sherwood, founder of Operation Recuperation said: “Had someone told me back in March 2020 when I started ‘Operation Recuperation’ that we’d end up gifting entire weddings to NHS staff, I would never have believed them!
I’m so grateful to Apex Hotels for their generosity and compassion. Helping not just one but five NHS couples have their dream wedding day is a gift that literally changes lives and it’s wonderful to see that Nicola and Steven were able to get married at Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa in Dundee.”
Apex Hotels started its partnership with Operation Recuperation in 2021, gifting 10 overnight stays at its hotels across the UK to nominated NHS workers as a well-deserved break. Following the overnight stays, the partnership went on to offer five NHS couples a free wedding at one of Apex’s nine hotels located across five UK cities.