If the engagement was a surprise for Jessica Peters of Sayville, the fact that the wedding would be all-expenses paid was an even greater one.
Peters, 30, and her fiance Boatswains Mate First Class Patrick Rogers, 34, of Manorville were recently named the winners of Peconic Landing and Brecknock Hall’s sixth annual Veterans Day Wedding Giveback.
The couple will receive a wedding from the Peconic Landing retirement community with all related services, dress included, provided by the giveback’s sponsors, Peconic Landing spokeswoman Carrie Miller said.
The giveaway is open to couples where at least one person is a member of the military. They submit a detailed application with photos and their love story, Miller said. Peters and Rogers were standout candidates, she said. The deciding committee, made up of military affiliated community residents, unanimously voted them the winners out of the five applicants, even before the couple reached the interview stage.
“It was like 50 pages of accolades and awards. He was just so involved in the community,” Miller said of Rogers. “They were the clear standout.”
The committee surprised the couple with the announcement when they came in for an interview.
Rogers is a U.S. Coast Guard member who serves on the cutter Key Largo, out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Peters is a producer with Telecare, a Catholic television station. They met in 2011 when Peters worked as a waitress and Rogers came into the restaurant, Peconic Landing officials said.
Rogers asked Peters to marry him during a ski trip in March and she accepted.
Both Peters and Rogers said they were overjoyed to have won. The couple had been planning a wedding for next spring, but were pleasantly surprised to learn they would be getting married in November instead.
“We went in thinking we were just interviewing,” Peters said. “To find out we had won a wedding was amazing. It was the last thing we expected.”
The wedding with 80 guests is scheduled for Nov. 13.