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Here comes the bride -- and her sponsors

  • Article by: LARA BRENCKLE
  • Newhouse News Service
  • July 27, 2008 - 1:35 PM

Just about every girl planning her wedding hopes there's a fairy godmother out there to help her create the perfect day.

Some rely on good old Mom. Others hire a wedding planner.

For Megan White and Danielle King, the fairy godmother just might come with shareholders and an advertising department. They are part of the rising tide of brides willing to give corporations a spot on the guest list in exchange for access to their deep pockets to fund the celebration.

White, 21, of Perkasie, Pa., and fiancé Brent Watkins, 24, are planning a wedding amid financial strains such as college debts.

"I thought, 'Why not give it a try?' There is nothing to lose," White said.

"Brent put the wedding in my hands, so he thought it was a great idea," she added.

White, who is in college, and Watkins, who works part-time, are "saving like mad" for their wedding. They've budgeted $5,000 and plan on holding the reception at a fire hall. A corporate donor or two might make that process slightly less stressful, she said. In return, the couple would pass out business cards, give the donors a mention in their wedding program and allow companies to use their wedding pictures in ads.

Soon after posting her ad on eBay, the only response she had gotten was a nasty e-mail. But White said she believes there's no harm in asking.

"I'm not trying to commercialize my wedding, I'm just trying to graduate college and be able to afford it," she said.

King, 22, of Waynesburg, Pa., said she got the idea as she watched a TV segment about Kelly Gray of Virginia Beach, Va., who recently auctioned her last bridesmaid spot to Dr Pepper/Snapple in return for cash, drinks for the reception and possibly a "special guest."

"My parents thought it was a great idea," said King, who is seeking a teaching job. "My fiancé thought I was crazy."

She eventually won over David Schrader, 23.

The couple thought posting their sponsorship on eBay was more fun than going to the bank for a loan -- the option they are considering if no company offers to sponsor.

Using weddings as a corporate promotion is not new. Star Jones, former host of "The View," whipped up a controversy when it was reported that she solicited big-ticket retailers for donations to her 2004 wedding in exchange for talking about them on the show. Recently, Shaun Bollinger and Michelle Golightly of Pennsylvania won a Columbia Pictures contest and were married at the premiere of the film "Made of Honor."

Religious leaders tend to frown on the commercialization of what is supposed to be a sacred commitment between the couple and God.

The Rev. David Roquemore, pastor of Camp Hill (Pa.) Presbyterian Church, called such sponsorships "a strange distortion" of the historic and religious significance of the wedding.

"I think the point [of a wedding reception] is that the community rejoices with the couple," Roquemore said. "To then turn around and ask Nike to pay for that, I just can't get my head around it."

King's dream reception site would boast banners for sponsors. Logos would be placed on the couple's invitations, programs and favors. There's even an auction to win a dance with the bride.

King said she's not calling off the wedding if sponsorship falls through.

"But I just thought I had to try because you never know what might happen," she said.

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