Giveaway Winners! (with some great stories too)

Hello All! So, first of all, last week there was some discussion and confusion about how sponsored posts work on APW. Since it’s a new year, I thought I’d give you a quick review. Sponsored posts are a core part of what I do here (support small awesome businesses), and help pay our bills, making all this delicious content free. Hooray! They run on Tuesday and Friday afternoons, so you can stop by then to support APW sponsors, or if sponsored posts are not your bag, you can ignore the site those afternoons, your choice. Beyond that, sometimes on Mondays (like today!) I’ll announce giveaway winners (because it’s fun to know who won), or introduce new sponsors (because as Assistant Editor Lauren who’s in the midst of wedding planning points out, that’s just useful.) Today, I get to announce a month’s worth of giveaway winners from Glö, Elissa R Photography, and Hart + Sol Photography. There are SIX winners (crazy, right?), and the stories are amazing and tear jerking. They range from long-married couples to couples with a partner about to deploy to a war zone. So, read on.

So, our first giveaway is for Glö, and their amazing paperless invitations and powerful RSVP software wedding websites. Go Glö! So the winner of One Complete package, for a Large Celebration, as picked by Taryn out of her magic bowl, goes to Revanche, who writes:

I’ve done next to no wedding planning yet but we were willing to go with Evites to avoid sending paper invitations so this would be *fantastic*.

My Excel spreadsheet pales and withers next to the options that Glo has and while I’m going for as simple as possible, the organizational haven they offer looks dreamy! It’s quite possible the fiance will swoon with me.

Revanche, Taryn she-who-runs Glö-with-grace will email you, and you’ll get to pick a second winner from the comments (It’s the gift that keeps on giving).

Second, we have to announce a winner for the photo session by Elissa R Photography in Austin Texas. The first winner is Nina, who entered on behalf of her parents. Because seriously? How could we pass this one up?

This is a little off the beaten path, but hey, in the spirit of keeping Austin (and APW!) weird, I’d like to nominate my parents for this awesome couple’s portrait session giveaway. My parents had the most amazing crazy elopement 36 years ago: they met as Peace Corps volunteers in Ivory Coast, and decided to get married within only a few months of having known each other. It was a crazy match at the time: my Dad’s a true southerner from Alabama; my Mom’s from NYC and second-generation from Germany. They started trying to plan a wedding long distance — imagine! it took six weeks for a letter to reach their families in the States! — and quickly became frustrated with WIC, with parents’ and community expectations, and with the sheer ridiculousness of stressing over party favors while living in a freakin’ hut without electricity in Africa. So they eloped. They grabbed some witnesses, ran down to the closest courthouse in rural Ivory Coast, got hitched, hosted a dinner for ~10 friends at a local restaurant, and sent their parents a telegram. That was 36 years ago.

One of the only drawbacks about this awesome elopement (besides returning from Africa and hoping to God that your parents like your new husband!) is that my parents have no photos celebrating their partnership, their love, or the fact that they have stood by their vows despite hell and high water. After the Peace Corps, my Dad joined the foreign service, so they have spent their marriage traveling through third world countries across four continents. They took lots of photos of each other while traveling, and there are lots of photos with their kids, but very very few with just the two of them.

My parents retired to Austin a few years ago, and Mom turns 60 this spring. I know they aren’t your stereotypical early 20s lovebirds, but I think the spirit of APW posits that committed love at any age is worth honoring. In this case, this couple stood up to WIC before it was cool and had to give up on the wedding photographs, those tangible, ageless testimonies to lifelong commitment and love. A couple’s photography session could help fix that, 36 years later.

So elopements and happily married for 36 years FTW, people! (Also, Nina, can we use the photos on the blog, pretty please?) Also, because Elissa is a total sap, she decided to give away a second session. That goes to SmallWonder:

When the husband-elect and I met, he was an engineer and I was working at a non-profit doing event planning. We would text each other all day as he died of boredom in his cube and I avoided crazy volunteers who liked to yell at me for no reason. I went over to his apartment many, many nights after to work to cry my eyes out and drink margaritas, and he struggled constantly with feeling like an unimportant number in a huge corporation. We were floating along in post-college life, with no idea what we should do with our lives or even what we wanted. It was scary and awful, but we had each other and that made it worth it somehow.

Then a year ago I decided to quit my job and move home and go to graduate school for something completely different. A serious thing, a businessy thing. And it was absolutely terrifying. But he was there, telling me he believed in me and that he knew I could do it. How could he know, when I didn’t? But he did. And it made me believe that I could too.

Almost as soon as I got settled in to grad school, he was laid off from his awful job. I helped him find openings, I helped him write letters and I helped him with applications. And then I saw it – his dream job. An opening for a professional brewer at a local brewery. As a man whose brain truly operates in the language of mechanical engineering, who home-brewed for 2 years and built all of his own equipment, it was the most perfect thing for him to find. He struggled with applying, and then accepting, the job because of the huge pay cut, but this time I got to be there to tell him to go for it. To tell him that we would make it somehow, together, no matter what.

So now, he’s got his dream job and plans to keep making his career dreams come true. I’ve got half a graduate program done, half left, a killer GPA and 2 internships lined up. We’re engaged and planning our lives together. We’re making it happen, for ourselves and each other, RIGHT NOW. It’s the most amazing thing I never could have predicted, and I thank my lucky stars every day that we get to be so happy and so blessed, and that we get to do it together.

We make each other stronger and braver. We pick up the slack when the other can’t, and trust that the scales will tip back the other way eventually. He makes me believe in us, in him and in myself in ways that I never thought I could. Our wedding song will be “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds because we truly feel like that, every single day together.

And finally (sweetbabyjesus can you believe how many giveaways and winners we have this month? We’re so lucky!) we have a winner for the giveaway of the Tri-State Area Hart + Sol Photography we’re-in-love photo session! Maddie told me, “We’d love to offer Mainon Schwartz our free NYC  session. We keep trying to come up with reasons why we picked her, but at the end of the day our gut just said that she needed a little gift from the universe. (And what is a more ultimate gift from the universe than a few hours with me and Monica? Nothing I tell you).” Mainon said:

My fiance and I met in Alaska. We actually met in the photography section of Barnes & Noble, and many of our dates consisted of his guiding me on amateur wildlife photography junkets in Denali National Park, so photography has been essential to our love story from the very beginning. I was only there for a year (and was thus in no way looking for anything long-term); he was in the U.S. Army, being trained in cold weather survival (in case Russia invades through Alaska, perhaps?), but already scheduled to move to DC in several months. Nevertheless, we decided to enjoy ourselves for those few months… after which we discovered that, despite our best intentions, we had fallen deeply and irrevocably in love.

We got engaged in August 2010, and booked our venue for September 3, 2011 less than a week ago. We’re paying for the wedding ourselves — between the two of us, we only have two parents left in our lives, one living on Social Security, and the other on disability. We haven’t managed engagement photos yet because we were unsure whether we could afford them on our budget. In fact, we’ve talked about trying to do them ourselves, with a tripod and a self-timer.

Yesterday, he called me with the unexpected and unwelcome news that he’s been re-assigned to a new company, one that’s deploying to Afghanistan at the end of March. He won’t be back in time for our September 3 wedding, so I find myself suddenly facing the thought of re-planning a wedding for next spring, knowing that he’ll be on the other side of the world, in an active war zone, in the meantime.

That phone call convinced me that it’s imperative to get our engagement photos done before he leaves — not only because I’ll want to have the photos for save-the-dates and such, but also because I want both of us to have beautiful photos that capture our love for each other, to help both of us get through what is going to be an unbearably long separation.

AND, Maddie and Monica are also giving away a Maddie-only Maine photo session, which goes to Stephanie who said:

My fiance is finishing up law school in Portland, and I’m finishing up law school in Boston (but spend as many days a week as possible up north with him). As two law students, we’re both pretty broke and a bit nervous about our futures (bar exam, lousy job prospects, oh my!), but thrilled to be getting married on August 27 in a semi-furnished warehouse on Portland’s working waterfront. As of now, our “wedding photographer” will probably have to be an amalgamation of friends, since it’s just not in the budget, but we’d love some professional shots of the two of us before the wedding to celebrate the budding creation of our “baby family.”

And finally, because Hart + Sol Photography loves APW-ers that much, they are offering a 10% discount to anyone who books them through March 1 (not to mention that delicious $250 freebee for the very first booking).

So that was a lot of happy, right? Three cheers for the winners! And winners, you’ll get an email from your sponsor soon.

Staff Picks

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  • Sarah

    Congratulations to all the winners!!

    The stores … gah … the stories! ::sobs::

    • ANI

      yeah really. . . tears

  • Ali

    Congrats, winners!!

  • Cassandra

    Elissa picked my two favourite entries to that giveaway :) Congratulations everyone!

  • Congratulations to all the winners! APW sponsors are the best (in my rather biased opinion).

    • That’s exactly what I was coming over to say!

  • Oh man! I got back from a family vacation to see this! Thank you so much Elissa and APW for picking us! If ending every sentence with an exclamation point didn’t show it already, we are SO excited to have this opportunity.

    Congratulations to all the other winners!

    • “We pick up the slack when the other can’t, and trust that the scales will tip back the other way eventually.”
      YES, Exactly, this! Before we were married, Partner and I did this financially, emotionally, and with household stuff; now that we’ve combined finances, it’s “just” emotionally + task-oriented, but this is a big part of who we are as a couple (upon meeting Partner for the first time & spending a week at our house, my sister–the most perceptive person I know–said that one of the things that makes us “work” is that we’re constantly doing things for the other person or for the partnership).
      *sniff* “The Luckiest”. I love that song!

      Congratulations on receiving this awesome give-away! :)

  • Stephanie

    I won?! I won! After jumping up and down and giggling incoherently for a few minutes, I was able to tell my fiance the good news, and he and I are thrilled for a session up in Maine with Maddie. Thank you SO MUCH, Hart + Sol and APW. I will be singing your praises throughout New England :-).

    • Yay! We can’t wait either!

  • Congrats to all the winners. And I’m totally digging that Taryn seems to have used recycled paper for her little name drawing pieces. That girl totally practices as she preaches, and I love that! Go Glo!

    • I so did Kinzie! I love to reuse all my scrap paper for various scribbles. Good catch :-)

  • Thank you thank you thank you! I had the most horrid night, unrelated to weddings, and spent the day writing about it so didn’t know about it until Taryn wrote to me. Thank you!

  • Laura

    This is so incredibly lovely. Congratulations, everyone. Go APW!

  • Congratulations winners. This totally made me tear up at my desk this morning.


    Joining the chorus. Congrats to all the winners! These are some great stories and hope there are updates featuring wonderful pictures/results of what everyone has won.

  • Wow! They are all so deserving.