Thank you to everyone that entered the contest for the free wedding with Erin. We loved reading everyone's unique stories and what you are planning to do for your wedding. It was a tough decision, but we have chosen our winner. Drum roll please....Congratulations to Ericka Bingham and Bobby Blackwell!! We not only loved your sweet story, but we also liked the fact that you are donating money to an organization that is important to you in lieu of guest favors.
My name is Ericka Bingham and my fiance's name is Bobby Blackwell. We are both students at Lipscomb University, but we began dating nearly four years ago when we were still in high school.
We met on Saturday, October 15, 2005, at a mutual friend's birthday party. The second that I walked in the door and saw him, I gasped, "Who is THAT?!" before I could even catch my breath. Luckily, he looked at me and smiled. I spent the entire night sitting and talking with him. I found out that his sixteenth birthday had been on Tuesday, October 11, and my seventeenth birthday was the following Tuesday. So we met during the week that we were both sixteen-years-old. Although we attended different schools and churches, we had many different things in common. Unfortunately, he was riding home with a friend and they left the party before I could work up the courage to ask him for his telephone number.
I spent the next few days wondering if I had made the same impression on him as he had on me. I got my answer on the following Friday. I was in the marching band in high school and he came with a friend to our football game because he knew I would be there. I was so shocked to see him that when he tapped me on my shoulder, I turned around and just hugged him before I could think to say anything! After that evening, we began talking on the phone and soon planned a date. He was coming over to my house after school to meet me in order to go out to eat and then to a friend's house.
When I saw him that evening, I was very surprised. He had brought me a dozen white roses- my favorite flower. At this point in my life, even with my previous boyfriends, I had never had anyone bring me white roses. To this day, he will occasionally surprise me with a dozen of my favorite roses just to say, "I love you." It meant a lot to me that he had done that, but he also showed his character to me in another way that night. When my father had come home from working on my grandmother's house, Bobby introduced himself and spoke with him briefly. My father had to leave soon after. We were about to leave the house and when my mother was telling us to have fun eating dinner, Bobby insisted that she come along with us. He did not want to leave her at home while my father had left to finish remodeling the house. I do not know very many young men who would sacrifice the first date in order to have dinner with the girl's mother, as well. He was so kind-hearted that night, and he still shows a high level of respect and gratitude for my parents. Unfortunately, he was raised by his grandparents and has not had a close relationship with either of his parents. However, he has been very close with my parents throughout our relationship. I appreciate how well he gets along with my parents as well as how my parents have treated him as they would their own son.
Since we began dating our sophomore and junior years of high school, we knew that marriage was in our future at an early age. It was never a topic that was avoided. We have been comfortable talking about anything and everything throughout the past few years. On October 17, 2007, the evening before my nineteenth birthday, my father had a heart attack. He was in the hospital for nine days and had open heart quadruple bypass surgery. This event shook my foundation as an individual, but it helped shape my current world view. It also drew me closer to those in my life that I love. Bobby and I realized that life is to be cherished as well as enjoyed, because our time is limited and we have no ultimate control over our time here. I knew without a doubt that I want my father to be alive and well in order to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. About eleven months later, Bobby asked my parents for my hand in marriage. On my twentieth birthday, Bobby proposed to me. He woke me up with flowers and spoke the most beautiful words. It was the perfect moment- intimate, private, and real.
Bobby and I have a wonderful relationship. He is my best friend. We want this to be reflected not only in our wedding photos, but throughout our ceremony and reception. We want it to be simple, timeless, and romantic. I have enjoyed the entire planning process, but look forward to planning more when classes are over at the beginning of May. My mom was helping me look for different photographers in the Nashville area and found your website last week. I would love to work with Dove Photography for many reasons. But most of all, I respect and support the fact that Dove is involved with helping with the Invisible Children cause in Africa. I think that even though Dove Photography works with weddings, it is important that the "invisible" children are recognized and supported in the process. A wonderful wedding day for someone in America might mean another homeless, hungry evening for an invisible child in Africa who is simply trying to survive and keep from becoming a child soldier. These horrible aspects of our world are often overlooked, and it is important to me that Dove Photography is willing to donate and help.
I also plan on making a donation in lieu of favors at my wedding. My grandmother passed away on February 27, 2009, of ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, the doctors did not diagnose her until the beginning of February and she was already in stage 3. The following three weeks passed too quickly and before I realized it, her time on Earth was fading. She had smiled and said that she was definitely going to be at my wedding, and although she is no longer here I know she will be there in Spirit. Along with having a memorial picture on a table for her, I will also donate to support the fight against ovarian cancer through an organization such as Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Should I be fortunate to be the wedding of choice, I would be able to use the extra money in my donation.
Congratulations again Ericka and Bobby! We can't wait to be a part of your wedding day!