A COUPLE whose parents both married at a historic manor house will tie the knot at the same venue after winning a competition to mark its reopening.


Emma Cowen and Andrew Smith, from Peacehaven, were chosen to be the first couple to have their wedding at Southover Grange following its £1.5 million refurbishment by East Sussex County Council.


The parents of both the bride and groom-to-be married at the venue and they have strong ties with Lewes, making it the perfect setting for the first wedding at the refurbished building on Saturday, April 29 – which is also Emma’s birthday.


She said: “Southover Grange was very much an obvious choice given the emotional ties our families have to the venue.


“Our parents have had long, happy marriages, which have inspired us to tread the same path as them, so our marriage taking place at the same place feels like an auspicious beginning.”


Andrew’s parents Ian and Lynda married at Southover Grange in 1992 while Emma’s parents Helen and Joe were married there in 2003.


Andrew , 29, first proposed to Emma two years ago on the beach near their home in Peacehaven, but they decided to wait until Emma had finished her university degree in child nursing before tying the knot.


The couple have been together for 11 years. Andrew is a regular at Lewes FC’s Dripping Pan ground, and the parents of both married at Southover Grange – Andrew’s parents in 1992 and Emma’s in 2003.


The date of their wedding, April 29, is also Emma’s 29th birthday, meaning she won’t have to worry about forgetting their anniversary.


She said: “What better way to celebrate my birthday than marrying the love of my life in front of our closest family and friends?


“Being given the chance to be the first couple to get married at the refurbished Southover Grange will be the most special, perfect way to celebrate 11 years of being together, completing my degree and, of course, my birthday.”


Other competition winners include Roma and Michael Humphrey, from Newhaven, who will be the first to renew their wedding vows at Southover Grange – 39 years to the day since they tied the knot.


Meanwhile, Emma and Adam Wallace, from Uckfield, will have the honour of taking part in the first baby naming ceremony, for their daughters Evelyn, two, and Bethany, one.


The competition winners were asked to write in explaining why they thought their special ceremony should be chosen.


Cllr Chris Dowling, East Sussex County Council lead member for community services, said: “The competition seemed to really capture people’s imagination and it was a hard job selecting the winners.


“The refurbishment has enhanced the period charm of a building which will provide a stunning backdrop to a really special day for all our winners.”