The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Vermont vendors salute our soldiers by giving away a dream wedding

CHITTENDEN - Vermont is a popular destination for weddings, with it's beautiful rolling hills, scenic vistas and quaint towns. But military men and women often forgo the opportunity to have a dream wedding, due to tight budgets and uncertain schedules.
However, next December one lucky couple, and up to 200 guests, will be treated to a dream wedding reception at the Mountain Top Inn & Resort. This is made possible by 20 Vermont businesses donating their services for this year's "A Salute to Our Soldiers" Winter Wedding contest.

"The generosity of those offering their services to make this wedding a dream, has been overwhelming," said Diane Dickerman, director of marketing for The Mountain Top Inn. "Everyone has their own reason for wanting to be a part of this… it's a small way for us to say thanks to the men and women in uniform."

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The contest is open to all active, reserve and former members of the U.S. armed forces who are currently engaged. Only the bride or groom needs to be from the military to be eligible. To enter the online essay contest, the couple is simply asked to tell their "love story," why they would like to be married in Vermont and why a military wedding is important to them. Submissions will be take until April 1 with the winning couple announced May 1. The wedding will take place at the Mountain Top Inn & Resort Sunday, Dec. 15.
Last Wednesday, Jan. 23, The Mountain Top Inn held a reception to thank the participating businesses and to show off their new barn, the venue for the winning couple. The Barn is a 4,500-square-foot, post-and-beam structure with a stunning ballroom, a balcony for the ceremony and a basement for entertainment and fitness. The large windows on all three floors overlook the Chittenden reservoir.

Dickerman thought that hosting a military wedding in the new barn would be a great way to celebrate the new barn and give back to a very deserving couple. When she contacted the Vermont Tourism office she heard about Watson and Holmes, who were already in the midst of arranging a second military wedding giveaway, and immediately volunteered The Mountain Top Inn & Resort to be the host venue.

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Wedding planner, Jackie Watson of Vermont Enchanted Events in Jeffersonville, Vt. spoke to the group on Wednesday reflecting on the first military wedding giveaway, held last year in Stowe. "I asked myself the question, how can I give back to my community... how can I give back to the military?" she said. "The answer I came up with was a wedding." Other wedding vendors soon jumped on board when they heard about her idea.
Lorin Holmes, of VermontWeddings.com, was one of the first. She was eager to host the contest on her website and promote the event through her vendor connections. "I immediately wanted to be part of the contest," said Holmes, "It's great to have so many businesses involved this year and the stories that have come in so far are truly inspirational! … We have narrowed it down to the top nine so far, but we hope more will keep coming in… it's going to be so hard to choose!"
Megan Smith, commissioner of the Department of Tourism and Marketing, also spoke at the event praising the participating businesses and the teamwork it takes to pull off a event like this. 
Also present were last year's winning couple, Kelly and Shawn Lane of Wolcott who married in Stowe last year. Shawn Lane serves in the Army with the rank of E-4. 
This year the winning couple will receive a package worth over $70,000, according to the website. It includes a reception for up to 200 guests, photographer, music, linens, flowers, invitations and salon services.
More information visit vermontweddings.com/contests/salute-to-our-soldiers.