The Bridal Exchange of Woodstock has teamed up with the city’s Downtown Development Authority and local merchants to give away a free wedding to a deserving couple from the metro Atlanta area.
The winning couple will marry in an all-expenses paid ceremony on Dec. 2 at The Chambers followed by a reception at Magnolia Hall, both of which are in downtown Woodstock.
For those who want to cast a vote for a favorite couple, go to the Main Street Woodstock Facebook page or to www.mainstreetwoodstock.org. Voting ends Thursday at 4 p.m.
In the first full day of voting 1,200 votes had already been cast by Friday at noon.
Karen Murphy of Woodstock, a marketing copywriter, and Isham Colosetti of Atlanta, a designer with Creative Mischief, are one of the couples in the running.
The couple met at a low-country boil at the groom-to-be’s home, but Murphy said it took a second meeting at a Taco Mac to watch football before interest was ignited.
“There were no chairs left, so my friend innocently suggested I share the chair with Isham,” Murphy said in her application for the contest. “Little did I know that he had asked her to help him meet me again.”
Colosetti later popped the question on a sun-filled day overlooking the Pacific in Oregon.
“He said it couldn’t get any more perfect than this and thoughtfully held onto me as he asked me to marry him,” Murphy wrote. “It was truly the most beautiful place I had ever experienced.”
Holly Springs residents Coty Ervin, city clerk for Alpharetta, and Jimmy Thigpen, a teacher in the Cherokee County school system, met at a restaurant in Canton two years ago and had an “instant connection.”
“He is just one of those people you meet and can just tell he is a genuinely good person,” the bride-to-be said. “As cliché as it is, he makes me want to be a better person, and I take pride in the fact I am loved by him.”
Thigpen proposed on Good Friday of this year on a trip to the mountains.
“When I walked downstairs he had music playing and was down on one knee. He caught me completely by surprise and all I could do was start crying … which I did for a few minutes before I could gain my composure and say yes,” she said.
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 is 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 third couple is Dana Notestine of Atlanta, and her fiance, Matt Sottnick of Marietta, both teachers at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta.
The couple met at faculty orientation in 2007 at the school where they both work. They both taught science and were coaches.
But it was not until 2010 that the two began to date after he asked her out three times, and on the third attempt she finally said yes.
After asking her parents secretly for her hand in marriage and purchasing the ring while Notestine was chaperoning 40 students on a summer program to Europe, Sottnick popped the question while the two were in the mountains one evening at sunset.
“He was shaking like a leaf and it was hard for him to make words,” she said. He finally pulled out the ring and said “I love you. Will you marry me?”
Notestine said the two will only be able to afford a wedding for about 30 friends and family on their budget, and that it would be wonderful to be able to have a larger wedding.
The winning couple will win 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.
In addition, the couple must agree to have the event and all activities surrounding the event open for public viewing, including interviews with media, blogs, photos and future advertisements.
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 began 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,“ Perrelli said. The Bridal Exchange opened last October by business partners Perrelli and Tracy Caron.