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05/11/2014

ASU student and fiancé compete for $60,000 wedding

When rhetoric and composition graduate student Brent Chappelow proposed to his boyfriend, Joshua Johnson, last summer, a year after their first date, he didn’t think same-sex marriage would become legal in Arizona anytime soon.

More than a year after their engagement, on Oct. 17, a judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage making Arizona the 31st state in the U.S. to establish marriage equality, which allowed many couples to perform the long-awaited ceremony.

“I got chills and goose bumps when I found out, and I thought this is so amazing for so many people,” Chappelow said. “I thought maybe it’s a possibility for us to get married in Arizona, too.”

Although the couple had decided to wait another year, until they had enough money saved to have a nice wedding, their plans changed drastically when Chappelow found out about the opportunity organized by the Wrigley Mansion for a same-sex couple to win a $60,000 wedding.

“This is a once in a lifetime experience,” Johnson said. “This wedding that we’re in this giveaway for is beyond our wildest dreams.”

A Chance for a Dream Wedding

Chappelow and Johnson, have been together for more than two years. They said “I love you” after less than two weeks of being together, and got engaged on their one-year anniversary.

Although the couple is now sharing a cozy family life in a condo filled with sweet candle scents and cats purring, they decided to hold off the wedding until they could save up enough money.

(Left to right) Barbara Doerrer-Peacock, Rich Dorrer-Peacock, Carmen Valenzuela, James Pennington and Jeffrey Dirrin volunteer as officiators to marry couples outside of the Maricopa County Clerk of Superior Court on Oct. 17, 2014.  (Photo by Emily Johnson)
picture: SheinDressAU

“In our minds, it was OK if the engagement was going to take a year, two years, however long it took us to save up and have a decent wedding,” Johnson said. “I don’t want it to be a throw-together. I want it to be nice, but it doesn’t have to be overly extravagant.”

When the couple heard about the giveaway called “I Do With a View, Same-Sex Wedding Giveaway“ offered by the Wrigley Mansion, they realized that it might be a perfect opportunity to have the wedding of their dreams much sooner than they expected.

The Wrigley Mansion is a historical landmark, constructed in 1932, that nestles on the top of a hill in Phoenix, and reveals a 360-degree picturesque view of the mountains and the city. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the building, William Wrigley Jr. organized the wedding giveaway as a present to his wife.It is a $60,000 wedding for 100 guests.

After thorough research, the couple decided to enter the contest for a chance to have the wedding of their dreams. They submitted their story, filled out some forms, and soon were invited to interview at the Wrigley Mansion.

Although they were told to arrive around 7:30 a.m., they were so anxious that they arrived at 6:55 a.m.

“The night before we felt like second-graders, laid out our clothes,” Johnson said. “When we got there we were nervous and excited.”

The participants gave a two-minute presentation about their relationship and themselves, answered judges’ questions, and chatted with media. Then the anticipation began.

A few days later, Chappelow and Johnson found out that they were selected as finalists from about 80 other couples. Along with four female couples, they were put for a voting on the Facebook Wrigley Mansion Page. The voting will last through 10 p.m. on Nov. 5, leaving it up to voters to decide the destiny of the couples.

Since then, the couple initially took the lead, then tied with the runner-ups and eventually descended to second place, but Chappelow and Johnson didn’t lose their hope. They met with the two women who are closest to them in the voting, who they said were nice and great to talk to..

“It’s not for commercialization,” Johnson said. “It’s not about being better. We just really want this wedding. For us, it’s a dream come true.”

If the couple wins the giveaway, they will get the space at the Wrigley Mansion for the wedding ceremony and the reception, an overnight stay at a local luxury hotel, tuxedos, décor, a photographer and a cake. The results will be announced on Nov. 5, leaving only eight days before the ceremony takes place on Nov.13.

“Choosing vendors for a wedding is so time-consuming and so stressful,” Chappelow said. “We don’t have to worry about that step of figuring out.”

From the first date to ‘I Do’

Sitting on a comfortable couch intimately close to each other, the couple reflected on the day they first met at Thirsty Lion, a pub and grill at Tempe Marketplace. They decided to meet for their first date at noon, but it went so well that they stayed until the place was closing.

“It was really comfortable and really easy,” Johnson said.

“We just clicked,” Chappelow added.

Although both had dated women in the past, they said they weren’t sure if they were attracted to them. It took a lot of courage to be honest with themselves and come out to their families, they said.

“A lot of my childhood and college experience I was trying to fit the mold of what I thought people expected of me,” Chappelow said. “So in that way, I wasn’t honest with myself for a very long time about the attractions I felt.”

Johnson said he was about to give up on dating after multiple failed attempts, before he went on the date with Chappelow.

“I thought to myself I’ll try for a couple more weeks,” he said. “I went into the date with incredible barriers, emotionally.”

During the first date, the couple realized how much they understood each other. After that, it took no more than a year for Chappelow to decide to propose. Keeping in mind that Johnson is an actor, he bought a silver film tin and put the ring inside.

Johnson didn’t hesitate to say “yes,” and he decided to propose himself on Christmas.

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03:42 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

04/11/2014

Woman finds love after life-changing crash

When a car crash left Paige Owens paralyzed at age 15, she never thought love — much less marriage — would be in her future.

"Who would want to be with me? Somebody in a wheelchair?" asked Owens, now 22.

She was wrong.

Via social media, Owens reconnected with a high school classmate who had never forgotten about her.

"I was attracted to her from the moment I saw her," said her fiancé, Bryan Bartz. "It's kind of like one of those destiny things, as much as people don't believe in destiny or in soul mates or anything like that."

It was a fateful decision in August 2007 that left Owens confined to a wheelchair.

The Keller High School student had lied to her parents, telling them she was going to the movies. The boys she was with had bought beer from a store. They drove out to a corn field in Wise County. Owens said she wasn't drinking that night, but her friends were.

Hours later, an alcohol-related crash in rural Wise County killed her childhood best friend, the teenage driver, and another boy.

Paige Owens and Bryan Bartz are engaged to be married
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"I remember waking up on-and-off when the man found us that lives there," Owens said. "I wasn't thinking I was paralyzed; I couldn't feel anything. Everything was tingling. I remember asking one of the CareFlite nurses if I was going to die, and she told me she didn't know."

Owens doesn't remember anything about the two weeks that followed. Doctors performed surgery to stabilize her neck.

"When I first got hurt, I couldn't move anything at all," she said. "I had to ask people to scratch my nose, and so when I was in rehab and I was able to move my arms and actually scratch my nose, I actually cried."

She spent months in the hospital. She never returned to high school.

"Imagine waking up one day and you can't do pretty much anything by yourself," Owens said. "It was really hard. I didn't go to prom. I didn't get to do any of that kind of stuff that teenagers are experiencing."

In high school, Bartz had dated one of Owens' friends. They were in the same algebra class, but she never really paid attention to him.

After the accident, Bartz said it was if Owens fell off the face of the earth.

Then, about two years ago, she got a Facebook friend request from Bartz.

Bartz spent months wooing her via text, phone calls, e-mails and social media.

"I already knew it was not going to be some easy task to break that threshold and become her boyfriend," he said. "She made that apparent after four days. She's like, 'I'm not really looking for a relationship.'''

He had to prove to her that he could be trusted, and that he would accept her as she is now. Finally, she asked him if he wanted to meet her at the State Fair.

"I was hoping he would say 'no,'" Owens said. "I was scared ... I just have this thing about people who haven't seen me since I got hurt. It's kind of weird for them to see now."

Bartz jumped at the chance.

"It was kind of like meeting a familiar face for the first time," Bartz said. "It just kind of felt right. I walked up to her, and I took hold of that wheelchair, and I pushed her the entire day, and she was just kind of like shocked that I was so accepting because that's what she wanted to see. She wanted to see if I was accepting of it or not. I could tell her that I'm accepting all I want, but unless she sees it person-to-person, she's not going to believe me."

At the end of the day, Bartz asked her to be his girlfriend. Owens said "yes."

Months later, he moved in with her and her father in Oklahoma. He helps take care of her.

The couple's scariest moment came in July 2012. when Owens began having seizures.

"I walked in, and there she is convulsing," Bartz said. "The most frightening image in the world seeing someone you love convulse. I was scared to death."

That same day, he asked Owens' father if he could marry her. She spent two weeks in a coma. To this day, doctors don't really know what caused it.

They returned to the State Fair last year, where he proposed to her. She accepted.

"He's the best thing ever — him and my family," Owens said. "I don't know what I would do without them."

Then came a moment Paige Owens thought would never happen — selecting her wedding dress.

She came to Terry Costa bridal shop with her mother, sisters and bridesmaids. The general consensus was that any dress had to have lots of sparkles.

"This is her fairy tale, so it has to be just right," said her sister, Stephanie Owens. "She's been planning this wedding since she was like two."

It only took trying on a few before Owens found the perfect one. They all applauded when she found it; Owens beamed.

The couple will be married next June. They're hoping a child will soon follow.

"I've talked to doctors, and the lady that I talked to doesn't see any reason why I can't," Owens said. "I want a girl. I told him if we had a girl, then I would be happy with just one."

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10:39 Publié dans wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

03/11/2014

Griffin -- Follis

The wedding of Rachel Eyre Griffin and Brian Russell Follis took place at 5 p.m. Aug 23, 2014, at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. The Rev. Eric Burton-Krieger officiated the ceremony.

The bride is the daughter of Judge and Mrs. Henry M. Griffin III of Owensboro. She is a 2002 graduate of Apollo High School. She graduated from Western Kentucky University with a bachelor of arts degree in 2006 and will graduate from Bethel University of Tennessee with her master's in business administration in 2015. She is employed at Bethel University of Tennessee.

Griffin -- Follis
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The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Follis of Brentwood. He is a 2000 graduate of Brentwood High School and graduated from Western Kentucky University with a bachelor of science degree in 2005. He is employed at Schneider Electric.

Maid of honor was Rebecca Griffin, sister of the bride, of Owensboro.

Bridesmaids were Lauren Griffin, sister-in-law of the bride, of Houston; Katie Jenner, cousin of the bride, of Madison, Indiana; Jill Eickhoff, friend of the bride, of Lexington; and Kara Pickerill, friend of the bride, of Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Flower girls were Jane Jenner of Madison; Mary Grace Jenner of Madison; Camdyn Strickhausen of Brentwood.

Best man was Dustin Bateman, friend of groom of Bowling Green.

Groomsmen were Griff Griffin, brother of the bride, of Houston; Jordan Williams, cousin of groom, of Smyrna, Tennessee; Tony Gerstner, friend of groom, of Nolensville, Tennessee; Eddie Gonzalez, friend of groom, of Nashville.

Ring bearer was Liam Gerstner of Nolensville.

Readers were Eddie Barlow, cousin of groom, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Beth Wright, cousin of groom, of Dallas, and Wayne and Mary Craig Haley, uncle and aunt of the bride, of Elizabethtown.

The couple took a wedding trip to Maui, Hawaii, and they will live in Nashville.

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06:41 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)