American Dream Wedding Winners
After the intense competition of the Bernardsville scavenger hunt, the couples headed off to a formal event, “Taste of Bernardsville and Beyond”, where they had a chance to taste cuisines, and meet and greet locals. As the night was coming to an end, the awards and winner of the grand prize were announced.
With tears of joy, and laughter, Nicole Russo and her fiance Sergant John Ondish were award the grand prize of an all inclusive American Dream Military Wedding. Russo and Ondish accepted the prize graciously together through a Skype call from Bahrain where Ondish was deployed.
“I broke down in tears because I was so happy. All I could see in my head was me in my beautiful bridal gown walking down with my father to marry the man of my dreams,” said Russo, of Lake Hopatcong. “I can finally have my dream wedding I had always dreamed of since I was little. My fiance and I are very grateful for all the sponsors and the Bernardsville Chamber of Commerce for giving us our biggest dream.”
“This wedding allows for yet another one of Nicole and my dreams to be fulfilled together, and my only regret is that I was not home to help her obtain it,” Ondish said. “She is the light of my life and I could never imagine my life without her again.”
Ondish and Russo have a long history together, and have known one another since they were 11 years old at Jefferson Township Middle School in Lake Hopatcong. However, it took a Facebook friend request years later in college for them to come back together, and finally in love. After four years of dating they were engaged.
“We did not have time to celebrate our engagement since John deployed on Aug. 2,” said Russo, a Rutgers University business school student in Newark. “I patiently await John’s arrival, which is mid-2015, so we can continue growing our life together and plan our dream wedding!”
Runners up of the contest, Stelnick and Royce of Edison received a catered wedding by Dolce Hotels and Restaurants, a rehearsal dinner at Caballos Restuarant and styling by Plaza Salon, as well as photographic and video services.
A disabled veteran in the Army, Royce comes from a lineage of veterans that include his grandfather, father and brother. Stelnick works alongside children that have mental disciplines. Royce was deployed to Afghanistan from 2012 – 2013 where he injured his lungs and back. Since his return to the states, Royce has been working on physical rehabilitation.
“After the event last night, we couldn’t sleep,” Royce said. “We had no idea we would be getting a wedding — a prize so big. We knew there was a tie and we came in seconds after each other, but this left us awestruck and blindsided. We are so overwhelmed and so grateful to Bernardsville and the community.”
“We have to see what the venue has open,” he said. “But, because we are military, our dream is to have it around Memorial Day. We are happy to explore whatever Dolce has available for us. We are very grateful to the venue.”
American Dream Wedding Giveaway
Engagement ring and wedding band from Diamond Dream Fine Jewelers, a wedding reception hosted by The Bernards Inn, an engagement party at Dolce Hotel and Resorts, a rehearsal dinner hosted by The Olde Mill Inn and a commissioned charcoal painted portrait from JM Stringer Gallery, Loughnane said. Laura Clare Design will provide the flowers and event decor, while the gowns will be donated by Elizabeth Johns, makeup by Clara Fabrizi Cosmetics, hairstyling and makeup by Salon Studio, and invitations from Bernardsville Print Center. Stephan Taylor of Stephen Taylor Photography is donating his skills, and videography will be done by Generic Brand Human. The wedding cake will be by Cocoluxe, DJ services by Eclipse Eve. Even chauffeur services by Lux, handbags by Le Fashion Cottage, alterations by Monetti Tailors and bridal party costume jewelry by Bling are part of the prize.