Would you let Facebook users help plan your Big Day?
For the four couples who won celebrity event planner Colin Cowie's "Wings of Love" win-a-wedding contest, the answer was a resounding "yes."
On Tuesday Feb. 14, the "Wings of Love" winners -- Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur, Phil Fung and Shawn Klein, Angela Vega and Lubin Masibay, and Paula Cubero and Enrique Catter -- will tie the knot at the top of New York City's iconic Empire State Building, in weddings co-designed by Cowie and his Facebook fans.
The couples entered the contest, presented by Cowie and the Empire State Building, in November, hoping to win an all-expenses paid dream wedding. After submitting entrance videos to the Colin Cowie Weddings Facebook page, Facebook users voted for the winning pairs.
Facebook users also had a hand in choosing everything from the floral arrangements, to the reception menu, to the color scheme, to the style of the DeBeers wedding bands that each couple will receive.
All four couples receive wedding rings from DeBeers, gowns from famed bridal salon Kleinfeld (of "Say Yes To The Dress" fame), formalwear from Men's Wearhouse, hair and make-up by Estee Lauder, a two-night stay at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, photos by Christian Oth plus the chance to win a $100,000 cash prize if theirs is the wedding that receives the most votes on Facebook following their Big Day.
HuffPost Weddings spoke to the contest winners to learn more about their love stories, and find out why they wanted to celebrate their Big Days in this (very) big way. Check back on Valentine's Day for our exclusive coverage of all four "Wings of Love" weddings.
This Anchorage, AK couple met at the University of Alaska in August 2010. Just over a year later, Stephanie Figarelle proposed to Lela McArthur with a princess-cut diamond engagement ring. The couple have faced many challenges: McArthur's parents are unsupportive of their relationship and she has had to cut ties with them. But McArthur's difficult childhood -- she was born in Russia and raised in orphanages for the first 10 years of her life -- reminds both partners that they can overcome adversity: "Anytime I'm struggling, or I'm tired or I'm dwelling on a negative thing I think, this woman has been through hell and back," Figarelle told HuffPost Weddings. "[In spite of her past] she carries on with this happy-go-lucky demeanor every single day; she's patient with me, and every single day she gives me this incredible life."
Lubin Masibay and Angela Vega, two San Francisco nurses, met at a Halloween party in 2005. When Masibay proposed to Vega in 2011, he chose a parking lot by the Pacific Ocean where Vega had spent a lot of time alone when she had first relocated to the Bay Area from Southern California . "Angela had told me stories about parking in that parking lot when she ... didn't know anybody," Masibay told HuffPost Weddings. "We parked there and I popped the question, just so it will change the theme of things on that one spot overlooking the ocean." Masibay said that he and Vega want to get married at the top of the Empire State Building because it's a romantic icon and they both love the film "Sleepless in Seattle."
Paula Cubero and Enrique Catter met in the summer of 2007 in New York when Cubero was visiting from Mexico. Catter, who is originally from Peru, proposed after one year of dating and Cubero planned an elaborate wedding in Mexico. One week before the wedding, the swine flu outbreak struck. Almost immediately, guests began calling Cubero to cancel and soon Mexico closed its borders completely. Since Catter's family couldn't get to the wedding from Peru, the couple called it off. But the couple lost much of their savings, as vendors refused to reimburse them. "I was mad at God," Cubero told HuffPost Weddings. "I cried for weeks." But getting married at the top of the Empire State Building gives Cubero the chance to have the unique, memorable wedding she always wanted. "Everybody gets married and it's always the same," she said. "When I heard about the Empire State I said, 'That's at the top of my list!'"
Long-time New Yorkers Phil Fung and Shawn Klein have been together for 18 years. The couple discussed tying the knot when same-sex marriage was first legalized in New York State last year, and decided they would wait until their 20th anniversary to say "I Do." But when the opportunity to have a wedding planned by Colin Cowie atop the Empire State Building was presented, they couldn't pass it up. Klein told HuffPost Weddings: "We thought it would be really special to get married and celebrate the first year of gay marriage at the Empire State Building, which is an iconic symbol of New York."