A Chestermere couple will tie the knot in style this summer after being named winners of Virgin Radio’s $98,000 Dream Wedding contest Feb. 27.
Breakfast was sizzling on the stove that morning when Arnold Henry, 32, said he ran hollering into the kitchen to tell his fiancé, Stephanie Beninger, 27, Virgin Radio was on the line.
“When they told us we had won, we were floored,” she said. “We were so excited.”
The two first met through a mutual friend in 2011, Henry said, and continued to run into each other at a club in downtown Calgary where he worked as a bouncer.
“I always thought that she was gorgeous,” he said.
It wasn’t until 2014, however, that Henry said he sent her a Facebook message that read “hi.”
To his surprise, he said she responded with a “hi” of her own and the two started hitting it off.
With a shared love for basketball, Beninger said the two decided to go on a first date.
“We hit it off (and) had a great time,” she said. “We had a good vibe together right away.”
Three months later, the couple was pregnant with their son, Henry said.
During the launch of his second book Oct. 4, 2015, he called Beninger to the stage in front of 400 people to give her the very first signed copy.
When she opened the cover, Henry said the first page read, “Will you marry me, Stephanie?” with a ring in the next page.
“I turned it into her night,” he said.
Though they intended to spend the rest of their lives together, Beninger said the couple did not set a date for the wedding right away.
Instead, she said the two focused on saving for a house.
“Why spend $10,000 on a wedding when it could have been used on a down payment,” Beninger said. “We were just waiting.”
Henry said he heard about Virgin Radio’s $98,000 Dream Wedding contest in early January and began compiling the required 98-second submission video.
With experience as a spoken word artist, he said he wrote a poem about his love for Beninger and placed it over video clips of their relationship, such as the proposal.
“I had so much material for the perfect video that would make everyone in Alberta hearts melt,” Henry said.
All of the couples that submitted videos to the contest were invited to a release party at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino, he said, where the top 10 were revealed.
The couples were revealed one at a time, Henry said, with the Chestermere pair shown second to last.
“We had no idea that we were going to make it,” he said. “It was so nerve racking.”
With an active role in Chestermere’s community, Henry and Beninger said they focused their campaign in the city they loved when public voting for the contest opened Feb. 13.
Everyday, Beninger said Chestermere’s online community groups shared and re-shared the link in an effort to win the contest for the couple.
“We’re pretty confident if we rallied for (Chestermere’s) support they would give back to us,” she said. “Without their support, none of this would be possible.”
Internationally, Henry said many in his home country of Saint Lucia were also rallying behind the couple by voting everyday.
“Chestermere had my back and my country had my back,” he said.
Without this, Beninger said the couple might not have been able to get married for a few more years.
Now, with the help of their community, she said their dream wedding is set for July 15.
“I’m so excited,” Beninger said. “I can’t wait to change my name and be married.”