Coty Ervin and Jimmy Thigpen were planning a small summer wedding with only an intimate gathering of close family and friends.
That was before they decided to enter the Woodstock Wedding Giveaway in early August.
Nearly two months after they entered the contest, the couple now won’t have to worry about streamlining the day they formally decide to spend the rest of their lives together.
The couple on Friday morning was declared the winner of the contest, which was sponsored by Main Street Woodstock and the Bridal Exchange Boutique.
The contest, which started on Aug. 1, received a total of 11,307 votes.
Ervin said both she and her fiance were overjoyed by the news.
“We couldn’t stop jumping up and down and screaming,” she said, adding the news still hasn’t settled in yet.
The wedding giveaway was the brainchild of the Bridal Exchange Boutique in downtown Woodstock.
Renee Perrelli, co-owner of the business, said the couple will not only receive a free wedding at the Chambers at City Center and reception at Magnolia Hall, but they will also receive complementary services in relation to the wedding, including food, wedding cake, invitations, decorations, clothing, music, photography and video services, flowers and a personalized song for the bride and groom.
The wedding is set to take place on the first Sunday in December.
The couple's honeymoon will also be paid for, Perrelli said. About a dozen merchants are taking part in the giveaway.
Perrelli added Tea Leaves and Thyme has inquired about possibly organizing a bridal tea for the bride and Maxwell’s Cigar Bar is mulling the possibility of holding a bachelor party for the groom.
“It’s been amazing with the outpouring of support we’ve gotten,” she said, referring to local businesses.
Ten couples originally entered the contest and three couples were chosen as finalists, said Kyle Bennett, assistant director of tourism and visitor’s center operations.
Bennett noted he was surprised by the number of votes the contest received.
“We knew this contest would generate a lot of excitement, but we would have never of guessed getting 11,307 votes in the contest,” he said.
Ervin said they "love the idea of getting married in Woodstock," noting her fiance is from the city.
The couple’s budget, she added, was “really tight” and were prepared to have a wedding of about 40 people in attendance. Ervin said that even if they ended up not winning, she noted they were still appreciative of the fact that so many friends and family members thought they were deserving enough to be contenders in the contest.
Ervin is employed as Alpharetta’s city clerk, the official records custodian for the city. She served as Canton's city clerk before that. Thigpen is a health and physical education teacher at Creekview High School in Macedonia and is the boys’ assistant varsity basketball coach.
Ervin said she and her fiance will forever remain grateful for those friends and family members who gave them enough votes to push them over the top. These were the same friends and family members, she said, who have stood by the couple and supported them in their efforts to create their dream wedding.
“We appreciate it more than they’ll ever know,” she said.