Virginia town will give a servicemember a free wedding
Bristol Herald Courier, Va.
MARION, Va. — Wedding planning can be expensive and stressful. There are flowers to choose, a cake to order and centerpieces to arrange, among a myriad of other tasks.
Businesses in the town of Marion hope to relieve that burden for a soldier and his or her spouse-to-be. They’ve pitched in for the first Wedding for a Soldier giveaway, which will be announced later this spring.
“We’d been bouncing around the idea of how we can give back a little,” said Ken Heath, owner and disk jockey at Bowtie Pro Music and Sound. “You read the news and see how little our service members are paid and how expensive weddings can be. We thought we could combine the two and make it affordable for service members to have a nice, top-notch wedding.”
Heath recruited others, including florists, invitation shops, the General Francis Marion Hotel and bakeries, to help make a complete wedding event to give away to a local active military member.
“I’m a firm believer if you have any sort of talent you should share it,” Heath said. “My dad was in the Army reserves ... there’s a tremendous sense of patriotism in my family.”
Winners of the contest will receive custom invitations, a venue for the ceremony and reception, wedding and groom’s cakes, photography services, DJ services, jewelry, flowers, bridal party gifts and a honeymoon, all provided by local businesses.
“The military are pretty important, and a lot of times overlooked,” said Rhonda Cox, owner of Four Seasons Catering and Bakery. “They’re definitely underpaid for what they do.”
Cox will make the wedding cake for the couple who wins the contest.
“They’ll get a little leeway as far as our part,” she said. “We will help them in the design. We do about 125 different flavors ... and each layer can be a different flavor filled with different things.”
The wedding and reception venues, as well as an overnight stay the night of the wedding, will be provided by the General Francis Marion Hotel.
“It’s just a small token to show our appreciation,” said Danielle Keene, food and beverage manager at the hotel. “We were approached [about it] by Ken Heath ... we instantly knew it was something we wanted to be a part of.”
And more businesses are signing on to participate daily, Heath said.
“It’s a big thing for the whole town,” he said. “People want to be a part of this; it’s even bigger than I had imagined.”
To apply, one person in the couple must be originally from Smyth County or currently live there, and one must be on active duty or reserve in any branch of the U.S. military. The wedding must happen in 2013, and the date is subject to the availability of the vendors, Heath said.
Couples should submit an entry form – available from Heath – a recent snapshot and an essay telling the couple’s love story and why they should win. The winner will be chosen from a panel of participating sponsors.
Entries are due May 1. For more information, full contest rules and the entry form, contact Heath at email@example.com.