See more about the three finalist couples below
Meet our finalists for the Norfolk Botanical Garden Wedding Giveaway. Vote for your favorite couple/love story at the bottom
Melissa and Aaron
Melissa and Aaron feel blessed to have the opportunity to win the Norfolk Botanical Garden Wedding Giveaway. A dream wedding would answer their prayers as they embark on their lifetime journey together.
Melissa, age 35, watched as her friends and sisters got married, started families and moved on to the next stage of their lives. Though she shared in their excitement, she could not help but feel some sadness that she had not yet felt that same excitement. However, Melissa felt blessed with her wonderful family, a supportive network of friends and she loved her job as a substance abuse counselor for the Norfolk Community Services Board. She stayed busy with her career convincing herself it was “okay” to be single.
Aaron, a firefighter for Newport News, met Melissa in 2009 through mutual friends and had only exchanged casual conversation with her. However, in 2011 when their paths crossed again, Aaron knew that there was something more. Aaron asked Melissa out on their first date that night. This past New Year’s, on the beach, Aaron got down on one knee and Melissa finally heard those words she had been longing for, “Will you marry me?”
Melissa has watched Aaron make sacrifices for others. He loves his job as a firefighter and giving back to his community. She admires his willingness to work 24-hour shifts and as well as taking on a second job so they can start their lives together.
Aaron says that Melissa works tirelessly for the CSB helping people through difficult times in their lives and that “it is her selflessness which has helped me realize that I have finally found the person that makes me want to stop living selfishly and start living for another.”
Alexira and Mariano
Alexira waited for Mariano in Puerto Rico while he pursued his military career including two separate deployments overseas. Though he has returned to her, they still wait to be able to have their dream wedding. Mariano hopes that he can fulfill her dreams by winning the Norfolk Botanical Garden Wedding Giveaway.
Alexira and Mariano met in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 2004. Two years into their relationship and madly in love, they discovered they were expecting a baby. At that time, Mariano was leaving Puerto Rico for the Navy with little money, and without the support of their parents he was not able to give Alexira the wedding she wanted and dreamed about.
They now have a 6 year old daughter and a two year old son. Mariano was deployed February 2011 through October 2011 and again from March 2012 to November 2012. Alexira remained in Puerto Rico with both of the children through Mariano’s deployment. They were not able to see each other for almost two years, with the exception of two weeks of leave that Mariano took for the birth of their children. Mariano returned from deployment in November 2012 and was finally able to reunite with his family, bringing Alexira and the children from Puerto Rico to Virginia so they could finally be together again.
Mariano entered the Norfolk Botanical Garden Giveaway as a surprise to his wife. He said, “All this time she waited for me. She is the best woman I could have ever found and I thank God every day for putting her in my life. She is a wonderful and caring mother. She took care of our kids for almost 2-years by herself and she couldn’t have done a better job. She is beautiful, loving, delicate and just perfect.” She deserves the wedding of her dreams.
Catherine and Steve
Catherine and Steve submitted their story to the Wedding Giveaway in hopes of a beautiful wedding, but also to inspire people to never, ever give up on love or life.
In April 2007, Catherine’s husband of nine years suddenly passed away of a blood clot in his lungs. He was only 47 years old. Losing him the day after her 45th birthday, Catherine, with the support of her family and friends, sold their home for both emotional and financial reasons and settled into her life, never thinking she would find love again.
In December 2010, while Steve was helping a friend sell Christmas trees, he started to light a fire to keep warm and was accidentally engulfed in flames. He fell to the ground, his life flashed before his eyes knowing this was the end. A quick-thinking teen doused the flames with a fire extinguisher, but not before Steve sustained burns over 48% of his body. The family met with both a chaplain and doctors. They were told that if Steve survived, he would remain in the hospital for six months, with several months of rehabilitation after that. Miraculously, Steve survived.
As he was recovering in October 2011, Steve and Catherine’s graduating class from Wilson High School held its 30th reunion. Most of their classmates had been following Steve’s progress and were hopeful that he would be well enough to attend. His bold decision to attend that event changed Steve and Catherine’s lives forever. Not only was Steve overwhelmed by the love and support of their classmates, he and Catherine found love and companionship.
Steve proposed to Catherine Christmas Eve 2012 and she joyfully accepted. Catherine says she would never have believed that life could start again at 50, “But the earth and God teach us that life prevails.”
Voting will end at 11:59 p.m. on March 14, 2013.
Only one vote per computer.
Planning your own wedding? Join us for our Bridal Open House on March 17, 2013