NIU may be ‘key’ to arriving at wedding destination

By Joseph Olmo

One NIU alumni needs the NIU Communiversity’s help to win her dream wedding.

Lara Ward, a 2000 graduate, and her fiance Bernie Sullivan entered a contest from Brides Magazine five months ago. Now, they are just a day away from learning if they will have their dream wedding in Key West, Florida.

“I made a collage of all our visits to Key West and what our dream wedding would be like,” Ward said. “That set us apart and got us into the top 20.”

After earning a spot into the top 20, Ward had to continue writing essays explaining why they deserved the trip to Key West. This earned the couple a spot in the top 11.

“It has been a huge, eye-opening experience,” Ward said. “We’ve been to Key West five times in the last five years and each New Year’s Eve. I can’t imagine any better of a wedding.”

Sullivan said his favorite place in the world to visit is Key West.

“It would fulfill our dream wedding in paradise,” Sullivan said. “It would be a great start to our marriage. We could never pay for this on our own.”

The wedding reception will take place on the beach, Sullivan said.

“When I think of a great reception, you remember the music and the food,” Sullivan said. “Key West has spectacular food, and I doubt much could go wrong with a reception like that.”

But for Ward and Sullivan to have their dream become a reality, they need to beat out ten couples from other parts of the country.

“Our biggest competition is a Greek family from Ohio,” Ward said. “But there are couples from New York, New Jersey and a few from California.”

In order for the only Illinois couple to win, they need to gain votes on Facebook. Votes need to be in by Friday at 4 p.m.

The contest has its own web page called “We’ve Got the Keys.” To help vote for Ward and Sullivan, voters can click the like button and become a fan, then go to the photos section and click on the “Win Your Dream Wedding Contest! – 11/11/11” album. Once there, choose Ward and Sullivan’s photo and like the picture to cast your vote.

“I love contests,” Ward said. “I try to enter every contest I can find. I won a bride’s dress at a bridal expo.”

The Key West dream wedding contest has had over 2,500 entrants nationwide, Ward said.

“My fiance has been very supportive of the whole thing,” Ward said. “It’s a $50,000 prize with hotels covered, rehearsal dinner and just everything. It would be amazing to win so you know you can relax on your wedding day.”

Sullivan said the wedding contest includes guest accommodations for up to 50 guests. Even if they do not win this contest, Sullivan said it will not ruin their wedding plans.

“Even if we don’t get this opportunity, we’ve been saving for it and we’re planning on going to Florida for our wedding,” Sullivan said. “Lara has always wanted her wedding by the beach.”