By Laetitia Clayton - firstname.lastname@example.org
Historic Jordan Springs in Stephenson made one area couple's dreams come true last fall when they provided them with a lavish wedding at the estate.
After a nearly yearlong contest and online voting by the public, Dena Morgan and Todd Glover, of Martinsburg, W.Va., were wed in October in an estimated $100,000 wedding that didn't cost them a cent.
Colt Nutter, Jordan Springs executive director and event producer, said the idea came about because Jordan Springs wanted to put on an event that was charity driven and involved the wedding industry. All of the participating vendors donated time, services and merchandise for the Dream Wedding Giveaway, he said.
Although the contest was largely decided by the online voting, the couples also had to compete in several contests at Jordan Springs, Nutter said. Initially, each couple had to submit a video that included footage of both the future bride and groom and answered three questions: Why do you want to have your wedding at Historic Jordan Springs? What would make your wedding special by having it at the estate? Why do you believe you most deserve a dream wedding?
"We got literally stacks and stacks of videos from that," Nutter said.
The video deadline was Nov. 1, 2008. Based on the answers to the three questions and by watching the videos, a panel chose the top 10 couples, he said. The next step was the announcement of the top 10, but only eight couples were present, Nutter said. The couples were whittled to four in January 2009, and the finalists were announced at a press conference. In addition to Glover and Morgan, the final couples were Josh Lumley and Katie Kraemer, of Winchester; Ryan Smith and Susan Faber of Stephenson; and Josh West and Jaime Marion, of Stephens City.
At bridal shows at the estate in March and April, the couples had to participate in various competitions, such as a table-setting contest for the grooms, Nutter said. After the grooms set the tables, the brides came out and judged the best one, he said, adding that "we didn't tell them who did which." Competitions also included a dance contest, where each couple learned a different dance -- such as the waltz, tango or fox trot -- by watching a video. They then had 45 minutes to "put together their own version and publicly perform it," Nutter said. There were about 200 people present for the competitions, he said.
A panel of judges critiqued each couple's dance, focusing on "how well they were able to work together," Nutter said.
There was also a contest similar to the "Dating Game," in which the couples had to answer questions to see how well they knew each other. Each competition was worth 50 online votes, Nutter said, plus the public could vote for the couples once a day.
The winners were chosen in May by their competition scores and online votes. Morgan and Glover had 6,741 votes, with Smith and Faber coming in second, with a score of 6,325. Lumley and Kraemer received 2,613 votes, and West and Marion scored 2,235.
"One of the caveats," Nutter said, "[was that] they did not get to choose a single thing about their wedding."
For example, a panel chose four popular styles of tuxedos and wedding gowns, and then posted them online "and the public voted," Nutter said. "The couple did not get to find out any of the details of the wedding until the day of their wedding. The bride was even blindfolded at gown fittings."
Jordan Springs provided everything for the big day -- which was held on Oct. 11-- from the ceremony and reception to the flowers, photography, linens and catering. The bride even arrived by horse and carriage.
Historic Jordan Springs is at 1160 Jordan Springs Road in Stephenson. For information on having a wedding at the estate, call 667-7744 or go online to www.historicjordansprings.com.