Recession-buster: Contest to provide wedding... for free

looney_wedding_coupleCould this be you in November?

You may be ready to say "I do"–- but sometimes your wallet is not. For couples across the country, Charlottesville is quickly becoming the destination of choice for brides longing for whimsical Southern elegance, and with its countless vineyards and historical properties, luscious Blue Ridge backdrop, and talented community of local vendors, who could blame them? But while Charlottesville's wedding industry is on the upswing, some local couples are not–- which is why those same local vendors are teaming up to throw one lucky couple a dream wedding for free.

"Times are hard right now, and people aren't doing as well, and there's a war," explains local photographer and project mastermind Jack Looney. "Everyone around here has big hearts, and as quickly as I could tell them what I was thinking, they were up for it."

The idea for the Charlottesville Free Wedding Project stemmed from Looney's own pro bono photography work–- nearly fifty percent of his business, he says. After approaching a few of his industry peers with the idea of throwing a free wedding for a local couple, he was overwhelmed with the support he was offered to make the dream a reality. In little more than a few weeks, the Cville Free Wedding Project was up and running.

"I had donated wedding services before, but had never thought of it on a larger scale," he says. "But this is a small community on a lot of levels, and a lot of people were willing to donate their time."

So what would a dream Charlottesville wedding look like? The lucky couple will wed in Albemarle County's Mountfair Vineyards on November 5 or 6, 2010, in front of 75 guests, with Reverend Claire Goodman conducting the ceremony, Harvest Moon serving a plated dinner, Cakes Unlimited providing the desserts, Pat's Floral Designs arranging the bouquets, and FDS Tents providing the reception space. And that's just the beginning.

The winning bride gets to consult with West Main Bridal to design a custom-made dress, while DJ Derek Tobler will meet with the couple to provide dance lessons. The entire affair will be planned by Easton Events, with Looney, of course, as the event photographer.

"It won't be super ostentatious, but it will be a really nice wedding from top to bottom," Looney says. "We'll all work with them to try to personalize it–- we all want to do something special and meaningful for the couple."

The lucky couple needs to submit their love story and some photos–- "to see the chemistry," Looney says–- by March 25. The top three couples will meet with judges Lynn Easton and Tim Gearhart before the winner is announced in mid-April. But beyond just being a "lucky" couple, the winner must be one with a striking love story–- and limited means with which to have a happily ever after, according to Looney.

After receiving so many responses from local wedding specialists, Looney hopes the event could potentially become an annual contest.

"I'm proud to be part of it and to see who the couple is," he says. "Maybe it wouldn't appeal to everyone, but if it does, then let's hear your story."


Very sweet--I'd love to hear ALL the love stories, what the world needs now --more love, thanks to all who are making this possible.

It so amazing that the Charlottesville community is sponsoring such a great project - keep spreading the love!

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