Dream Giveaway to be announced July 23

On Wednesday, July 23, a lucky engaged couple will find out that they’ve won the $50,000 Washington Dream Wedding Giveaway sponsored by the Redmond-based Pacific Northwest Bridal Web site (www.PacificNWBridal.com).

On Wednesday, July 23, a lucky engaged couple will find out that they’ve won the $50,000 Washington Dream Wedding Giveaway sponsored by the Redmond-based Pacific Northwest Bridal Web site (www.PacificNWBridal.com).

That’s when KOMO-TV will film the episode of “Northwest Afternoon” which will air at 3 p.m. Monday, July 28 — telling the whole world who will tie the knot at Lord Hill Farms in Snohomish on Saturday, November 29.

The contest has provided a great introduction to the Web site, said Kim Cunningham, whose husband Chris Cunningham launched Digital Direct Marketing as an escape from the physical labor and gas price woes of a former landscaping business. The couple runs the Web site out of their home, which they share with three young children.

“We weren’t specifically looking to get into the bridal industry,” Cunningham noted, although she and her mom had always enjoyed party planning. It so happened that when Chris went around to businesses to pitch his marketing ideas, wedding-related vendors seemed especially interested in the concept of a Web site focusing on local amenities and easy access to information for prospective brides and grooms.

Then the Cunninghams saw KOMO-TV’s coverage of a giveaway presented by another Redmond business, Case Remodeling, and got the idea to recruit bridal vendors who’d donate goods and services in return for publicity.

Unlike the “win a wedding” contests on NBC-TV’s “Today,” the audience at “Northwest Afternoon” won’t select the bride’s gown, the groom’s tuxedo or anything of that sort, Kim emphasized.

In the case of the Washington Dream Wedding Giveaway, each participating vendor agreed to let the winning couple shop for a product or service within a specific dollar range.

The venue, Lord Hill Farms, did insist upon a specific wedding date — the Saturday after Thanksgiving — for practical purposes, since it will provide catering for up to 200 guests. And the Cunninghams decided that the reception would be alcohol-free.

But the winning couple will get to choose the style of invitations, the flavor and appearance of their cupcake favors, music for the reception and so on.

Two hundred and twelve applicants from all over the state of Washington, at least 18 years old, submitted essays of 500 words or less, explaining why they think they should win the wedding package. Ten finalists were selected, “based on what touched your heart, what spoke to you,” said Cunningham. Now the Cunninghams, along with a wedding planner and staff members from “Northwest Afternoon” are conducting interviews and whittling them down to a final three.

Many entries were from people who were already married but had quick, courthouse ceremonies, because that’s all they could afford or because one or both parties were in the military service and being deployed to Iraq. They appealed to win the kind of wedding that they wished they could have had.

Kim said Pacific Northwest Bridal plans to do a “renew your vows” type of giveaway to serve that population, soon after wrapping up the current contest.

But for the first time out, they wanted to stick with folks who’d be walking down the aisle for the very first time.

Because Pacific Northwest Bridal also serves Oregon and Idaho, they also intend to host a giveaway and promotion with KOMO-TV’s sister station in Portland.

“This has really been a lot of fun and we’re learning all the time about the wedding business,” Kim concluded.

The Redmond Reporter will follow up after the winners of the Dream Wedding Giveaway have been notified.

Mary Stevens Decker can be reached at mdecker@reporternewspapers.com or at (425) 867-0353, ext. 5052