| By Katelyn Gendron-List |
Reminder Assistant Editor
WEST SPRINGFIELD Most women have probably dreamt about their wedding day for as far back as they can remember. But with the costs of the average wedding skyrocketing by the day the dreams of that fairytale wedding maybe moving rapidly out of their grasp.
For those brides who believe in making their Cinderella fantasies a reality, The Big E and North American Midway Entertainment are hosting the third annual Marriage on the Midway contest this month.
Couples are encouraged to submitt a photo and brief essay stating why they should be married on the Midway to The Big E website. The deadline is Aug. 20.
"Every story is different, many of them have a connection with The Big E like a first date at the fair or happy memories and there are situations where they can't have a traditional wedding," Noreen Tassinari, director of marketing at The Big E said. "We're encouraging people to be creative. I like a sense of humor in the couples because you have to have a sense of humor and remain flexible."
Last year's winner, Heather Johnson, was persuaded by her then-boyfriend Greg to enter the contest when he heard about it on the Morning Show with Dan and Kim on Mix 93.1 FM.
"He said that we had to enter and when they posted [the winner] in the morning he was yelling 'we won, we won,'" Johnson said. "He asked me to marry him as I'm standing there completely disheveled in my pajamas."
After the Johnson's found out they were the winners, the couple, like the previous winner in 2005 had 10 days until their wedding.
According to Tassinari, the winning couple comes in for a meeting with The Big E to discuss every aspect of their upcoming nuptials.
Mix 93.1 works with their clients to provide all of the detailed and donated services needed for the wedding, Danielle Veronesi, marketing and promotions director at Mix 93.1 said. They coordinate the bridal gown, tuxedo rentals, hair, nails, tanning, dove release, justice of the peace, honeymoon and other services for the wedding.
According to Tassinari, The Big E provides a Big E Cream Puff wedding cake, staff photographers, and free food and ride passes for each of the 100 wedding guests.
When describing the atmosphere of last year's wedding, Richard Authier, the Justice of the Peace, stated that Johnson was just "blown away by the whole thing as she arrived in a pumpkin coach."
"I had six ponies and a carriage that pulled me up to the wedding and all of these little girls were saying 'look at the princess,'" Johnson said.
Authier has been performing the ceremonies for the past two years and will affeciate again this year. He stated that the ceremony is tailored to the couple's wants and that he will do anything for them short of him jumping out of an airplane.
When recalling last year's ceremony, Tassinari said that many fair-goers and employees lined up to see the nuptials in front of the Ferris wheel. Spectators and wedding guests then watched the newly-married couple as they rode the Ferris wheel, which officially opens the rides at The Big E that day.
"We were the only ones on the Ferris wheel and everyone was looking at us," Johnson said. "It was really special."
Johnson added that she and her husband spent the rest of the day with family and friends and participated in The Big E Parade at the end of the day.
"It was a total party, it was so much fun," Johnson said unable to hide her enthusiasm.
According to Tassinari, the 10 finalists will be posted for voting at www.thebige.com on Aug. 22. Public voting from Aug. 22 through Sept. 4 will determine the winner, who will be announced on Sept. 5. The wedding will take place on Sept. 15 at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Ferris wheel.