“It’s like a dream come true,” Kenzie White said after learning that she and fiancé United States Marine Corps Corporal Jonathan Wehner had won Castle Farms Heroes 2015 Wedding Giveaway Contest. The Castle’s annual Dream Military Wedding Giveaway, sponsored by Castle Farms and local vendors, was open to couples across Northern Michigan and the U.P. with one (or both) active military or veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Voting took place in early November through the Castle’s Facebook page. Kenzie and Jonathan were announced as the winners on November 11th, Veteran’s Day.
Jonathan, a native of Northern Michigan and graduate of Gaylord High School, nominated the couple. In a beautiful tribute to his future bride, this USMC Corporal shared: “My bride to-be is a tiny little thing with the sweetest smile and the kindest heart. I don’t have a lot to offer Kenzie except a man with a good heart, a kind soul, a sense of duty to his country, strong hands to work a hard day’s work, and arms that will never stop hugging her and loving her.”
Kenzie, a native of Indiana, and Jonathan met at mutual friends’ wedding. Jonathan was on a 4-day furlough from active duty at his command post at Marine Corps Security Force Battalion – Kings Bay, Georgia. The six foot tall Marine immediately spotted demure five foot tall Kenzie in the crowd. A family friend introduced them, and he asked her to dance. One dance led to another, then another, and suddenly the night was over. Jonathan returned to Georgia, but the couple stayed in touch with phone calls and Facebook. When she visited him in November for the 239th Marine’s Birthday Ball, Kenzie knew their relationship was growing serious. Following Jonathan’s transfer to California in early 2015, the couple began making tentative plans to be together. But Kenzie wasn’t expecting the surprise she got in April 2015 when Jonathan dropped to one knee, offering her an engagement ring and his heart.
Kenzie and Jonathan originally planned to be married in a small, private ceremony. “Jonathan and I don’t have a lot of money,” Kenzie said. “But winning the Military Wedding Giveaway changed everything. It’s literally a fairy tale come true. Before the contest, we were going to have a private ceremony, and do something really small. Now, with the Castle and local vendors helping us, Jonathan and I will be able to have the wedding of our dreams.”
It was Jonathan’s mother who first told him about the Castle’s Military Wedding Giveaway. His mother is also the one who introduced him to Castle Farms when Jonathan was only a boy. “My mom always talked about how beautiful the Castle was when she was young, and now nice it is now that it’s restored back to its grand days.” His fiancée Kenzie is from Indiana. The first she learned of the Castle was while watching the MTV reality show Teen Mom. “Caitlynn and Tyler were featured on Teen Mom for their August 2015 wedding. When I saw they were going to be married at Castle Farms, I thought it looked like something out of a fairy tale. But I knew there was no way I’d ever be able to be married in a place like that.” Now, thanks to Jonathan, Kenzie’s dream is coming true.
“I’m currently serving as a United States Marine, and I’m deployed in Kuwait for the next seven months,” Jonathan wrote in his nomination letter. “I can barely afford to take care of myself. I fight for this country and give my heart to it, and my love to the prettiest little thing I ever set my eyes on. Castle Farms is the most beautiful wedding venue in the State of Michigan. I wish to give Kenzie the beautiful fairy tale wedding she’s dreamed of, but that I can’t afford on a military salary.”
Once he’d written the rough draft of their nomination, Jonathan handed it to Kenzie. “Does it sound okay?” he asked. Kenzie couldn’t speak. She was too busy crying. “It’s perfect,” she finally said through her sobs. After Jonathan submitted the application, the two of them were chosen as finalists. On Nov. 6th, the voting began.
“We shared our nomination page on Facebook,” Kenzie said. “Then our family and friends started sharing the page. What happened after that was unbelievable; it was like a big chain reaction. Other people shared. Then more people shared; people we didn’t know. People were so kind. It was overwhelming.”
Kenzie and Jonathan will be united in marriage at Castle Farms at a summer wedding in June 2016. Corporal Wehner deployed for active duty in Kuwait in October 2015. He’s expected home sometime in April of 2016, and Kenzie hopes to see him at least once before the wedding. On that day, he’ll be in full military dress uniform as he awaits the approach of his bride under the French Renaissance arches of the Castle’s Queen Courtyard. Following an intimate wedding reception in the Queen’s Tavern for family and friends, Kenzie and Jonathan will head to California, where the groom is on active duty at TwentyNinePalms Marine Corps Combat Center. Kenzie, a recent graduate of the University of Southern Indiana, plans to pursue a career working with juveniles in the probation system. Jonathan’s service with the Marine Corps will end in eighteen months. While his future plans remain uncertain, he’s sure of one thing: he’ll be living a fairy tale happily-ever-after with the woman of his dreams.