BERLIN – A state trooper and his fiancé will receive a free wedding with the support of local businesses.
Last Friday, Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery and Encore Events by Angie presented Kevin Lane, a Maryland State Police trooper, and his fiancé, Ashley Kelly, with a free wedding.
In January, the two sponsors partnered with local businesses to launch a contest, entitled “A Front Line Affair,” which awarded a free wedding package to a local first responder or military couple.
Jeannie Mariner – who operates Windmill Creek with her husband, Barry, and daughter, Brittany – said her family, alongside Encore Events owner Angie Unkart and her husband, Eric, wanted to recognize those who served the community.
“My husband and I were in the military and are both veterans, and Angie comes from a military family …,” she said. “It’s something that’s really close to our hearts. The life of a military member or first responder is difficult.”
Mariner noted the contest demonstrates the community’s support for members of the military and first responders and allows the winners to have a stress-free wedding.
“We wanted to do something to show our appreciation for what they do every day …,” she said. “Doing this allows them to have a wedding stress free.”
“In the scheme of things, we are very blessed,” she said. “So this is a way for us to give back.”
Lane said he first heard about the contest through the Maryland State Police Berlin Barrack, where he works, while Kelly – a patient care technician at Peninsula Regional Medical Center – learned about the contest through a former classmate.
The couple, who got engaged last Memorial Day, said they postponed their plans to care for their infant son, but decided to apply for the contest in early February.
“We put ourselves on hold for our son so we could enjoy him as best as possible,” Kelly said. “We thought we don’t have anything to lose, so we applied for the contest.”
The couple – who assembled with their families and participating vendors for a meet-and-greet event on Friday – said they were shocked to learn they won the contest.
“Two weeks prior we got an email saying we were in the top two, and on Monday we got the call saying we won …,” Kelly said. “It’s nice to see this many people support law enforcement.”
“It’s amazing to see everyone come together to make this happen for us,” he said.
Unkart said she and the couple will work together in the coming months to prepare for the July 27 wedding.
“I’m going to keep them very organized and on schedule to accomplish the goals we’ve set,” she said.
Officials said the wedding package includes the venue, décor and catering services, photography, a photo booth trailer, a food truck for the rehearsal dinner, a golf package for the groomsmen, wedding dress, hair and makeup for the bridal party, a DJ, wedding cake and dessert bar, hotel rooms and more. The bride and groom will receive donated goods and services totaling nearly $25,000.
Participating businesses include Encore Events by Angie Gillis, Ocean 13, Coastal Tented Events, Taste Events, Adam’s Taphouse Grille, Gilbert’s Provisions, Starr Restaurant at River Run, Residence Inn by Marriott Ocean City, Quality Inn Oceanfront, Copy Central, Mother’s Cantina, Sandals Bridal, CMBaker Photography, Chloe Ferber Beauty, Salon Sixteen, JasonMorris, Evolution Craft Brewing Company, Men In Black Wedding Officiants, Baked Dessert Café and Manda Weaver Photography.