That was the case on Thursday when the votes were all counted in the Woodstock Wedding Giveaway and the winning couple was announced.
Holly Springs residents Coty Ervin, city clerk for Alpharetta, and Jimmy Thigpen, a teacher in the Cherokee County school system, received 56 percent of the 11,307 votes cast online in the contest to win an all-expense paid wedding on Dec. 2 in downtown Woodstock.
The Bridal Exchange Boutique of Woodstock has teamed up with the city’s Downtown Development Authority and other local merchants to give away the free wedding.
Thigpen and Ervin will now have their wedding in an all-expenses paid ceremony at The Chambers followed by a reception at Magnolia Hall, both of which are in downtown Woodstock.
“We are so blessed to have won this wedding to be able to share our special day with all our family and friends,” Ervin said Friday. “We could not have won without the help of our friends and family who love and support us so much and spent hours by phone, email and Facebook getting votes for us. We can’t wait to start planning our day and to see all the surprises in store!”
Kyle Bennett, director of Tourism and Visitors Center Operations for the city, said the couple reacted with delight when they were notified on Thursday.
“We actually called her on her birthday, and as you can imagine, she yelled for about a minute and was very, very happy,” Bennett said. “They had a really good story and even the other couples were just happy to be in the contest, and we all wish the winners well.”
The other couples selected as finalists were Karen Murphy of Woodstock, a marketing copywriter, and Isham Colosetti of Atlanta, a designer with Creative Mischief, and Dana Notestine of Atlanta, and her fiance, Matt Sottnick of Marietta, both teachers at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta.
“We were surprised at the number of votes and the participation from the general public,” Bennett said. “We will be updating the website and Facebook, to let everyone know how it is going for the couple during the wedding planning and event.”
Ervin said her father died of cancer eight years ago and she and her husband are unable to afford a large wedding for all their friends and family. A small wedding was planned, but she said it would mean so much to be able to have the wedding of her dreams.
“Words can’t describe how lucky I feel to be marrying this man,” she said. “I know we will have the marriage of our dreams, but it would be nice to start if off with the wedding of our dreams.”
The couple met in 2010 at a restaurant in Canton and had what Ervin called “an instant connection.”
“He’s just one of those people you meet and can tell he is a genuinely good person,” Ervin said.
Early in their relationship, Ervin was in a car accident, and she said that Thigpen immediately rushed to her side.
“He stayed by my side the entire time. I felt so safe and protected, I knew our relationship had changed and I was in love.”
Ervin said the couple did not want to start their marriage in debt to pay for a large wedding. They had planned to wait for next summer to marry to give themselves more time to save, but are happy to move the date forward.
“Our family and friends mean everything to us, but unfortunately we do not have the budget to share our special day with everyone we wish we could,” she said in entering the contest.
Now all that has changed.
As the winning couple, the receive a wedding complete with a venue for the wedding and reception, food, flowers, clothing, photos and all other parts of the planning for the wedding and reception, organizers say.
Additional events included in the prize package are at the discretion of the prize committee.
The idea behind the event was to “really show off all the good, quality business in Woodstock,” said Bridal Exchange owner Renee Perrelli.
The rise in popularity of reality television shows dealing with wedding planning has begun to increase, and more couples are “seeking their dream wedding,” said Perrelli.
“Why not showcase how much Woodstock has to offer?” Perrelli said. The give-away will serve as an example of how local residents can take advantage of the different local businesses to create a “fabulous wedding.“ The Bridal Exchange opened last October by business partners Perrelli and Tracy Caro.