A U.S. Navy lieutenant and his bride-to-be will enjoy an all-expenses paid North Fork wedding Veterans Day weekend.
John Dunne, 25, originally from Southold, and Katie Anthony, 27, were selected as the winners of Peconic Landing’s Seventh Annual Veterans Day Wedding Giveback. The couple, who currently live in Norfolk, Virginia, will marry Nov. 12 at Brecknock Hall in Greenport, according to Peconic Landing spokeswoman, Carrie Miller.
The judges videoconferenced with Dunne and Anthony Monday morning to deliver the good news. The couple were told they were being interviewed as contestants when actually they were being surprised with the outcome.
When they learned, Anthony became teary-eyed and Dunne wrapped his fiancee in a bear hug.
“We were ecstatic,” Dunne, a Navy pilot, said Tuesday. “It was everything we had ever hoped and dreamed for.”
This year, eight military couples applied to win the free wedding, which will accommodate as many as 80 guests, Miller said. The winners were chosen by a panel who judged couples on the length of service, personal love story and commitment to giving back, according to one of this year’s judges, Jan Harting-McChesney.
Harting-McChesney said the panel was impressed with Dunne’s long record of community service, even as a civilian.
In 2010, Dunne coordinated a restoration of McCabe’s Beach in Southold for his Eagle Scout project. He has committed to 10 years of Navy service and has been awarded the National Defense Service Medal.
“They’re a very collected and gracious young couple, who were truly surprised when we told them they had won,” Harting-McChesney said. “We wish them a long and happy life together.”
About 20 local businesses have agreed to sponsor the event and will provide the flowers, dress, cake and other services, according to Miller. She estimated the giveaway was worth about $60,000 in “goods and services.”
“This is a special event to be a part of,” said Robert Syron, Peconic Landing president and CEO. “We are honored to help provide John and Katie with their dream day, and wish them a future of happiness together.”
Dunne proposed to Anthony, who is originally from Florida, on New Year’s Day in Central Park. They now live together with Anthony’s 4-year-old son, Maddox, and are excited to marry near where Dunne grew up, he said.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring our families together in a beautiful place,” Dunne said. “We couldn’t be more happy.”