The proposal, Christmas Eve, 2011: The couple knew they would be getting married. They started talking about it during the summer of 2011. But they also knew they wanted to buy a house. So, they figured they would be doing a small, simple affair on a small budget. Then, a friend of theirs told them about a contest she had seen advertised on television.
Cori and Chris got to work — using old photos and shooting at various locations around Annapolis — creating their video.
"We gathered up all the videos and pictures that we had and put together something," says Cori. "With him in the military and me in the nursing, we re-enacted the soldier kissing the nurse in Times Square on V-Day...We went around Annapolis holding signs saying. 'Take us to The Bistro.' We had it on Facebook. It was amazing how many people logged onto The Bistro's website and commented on the video; something like 600...people we don't even know."
Chris knew he wanted to include the proposal in the video. But, he also wanted to keep it a surprise to Cori. That opportunity presented itself Christmas Eve in Altoona.
"Every Christmas Eve, my family gets together and do the gift exchange with all the grandchildren," says Cori. "I could tell Chris was acting kind of different. He wasn't talking with me that much. He was hanging out with my grandfather and my brother a lot. I asked him to join me on the couch and he shook his head no. The next thing I know, he gets down on one knee and I see my grandfather with the video camera coming out from behind the Christmas tree.
"He had a whole speech about how much he loved me and how he would take care of me. It was just perfect.
"I had a suspicion he was going to do it on the 26th because that was our anniversary. But, I had no idea he would do it then, especially in front of the whole entire family. It takes a good guy to do that in front of the whole entire family."
On Feb. 14, 2012, The Bistro announced Cori and Chris had won the Give-Away.
"This Valentine's Day [certainly] made up for that other Valentine's Day," says Chris, recalling the IED attack in 2008.
You can see more about the couple, their video and the event at http://www.bistroultimatewedding.com.
The wedding, Oct. 26, 2012: The entire event will take place at The Bistro at South River, in Edgewater, with Lighthouse Limousines providing a shuttle for the guests from a hotel in Annapolis.
The ceremony will be held outside under a pavilion, with flowers and candles along the aisle.
The maid-of-honor, matron-of-honor and three bridesmaids will wear navy satin strapless knee-length dresses with a sweetheart neckline, from David's Bridal. They'll be carrying bouquets of orange flowers like orange calla lilies, dahlias, orange garden roses, and red James Storie orchids, accented with berries and Bells of Ireland and wrapped with burlap.
Cori is keeping her dress a secret except to say it's a long ivory Allure gown from Bridals by Elena. Her bouquet will be a mix of white and ivory flowers — orchids, calla lilies and dahlias — wrapped in burlap. About Faces will be doing hair and make-up for the bridal party.
Chris, his best man, and four groomsmen will all be wearing dark gray suits, with some sort of navy accent. Their boutonnieres will be small orange calla lilies.
All the wedding party's attire — with the exception of Cori's gown — are the only things not included in the wedding prize.
After a cocktail hour — also outside — the 115 guests will make their way inside.
"The building itself is called The Adirondack Room, with this up-north woodsy feeling," says wedding planner Raquel Shutt, of Wedding Savvy. "The room has a lot of character. So, we're working with that [as a theme]."