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DePaul student in the running for $93K wedding

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January 07, 2013|By Erin Vogel @eringejuice | For RedEye

Winning a dream wedding worth $93,000 would just be another welcome twist to Nichole Guzzo and Brian Johnston's love story.

Meeting 23-year-old Johnston, who works part-time as a firefighter, was "like a Journey song," jokes 24-year-old DePaul student Guzzo.

They met a year and a half ago while Guzzo was waitressing at a bar in St. Charles. After working as a server for years, Guzzo said she was over the idea of chatting up any of the customers. But when she saw Johnston--whom she describes as "tall, with blond hair and blue eyes … beautiful"--from across the room, she asked a co-worker to switch tables with her so they could talk.

She and Johnston were only able to talk for a little bit before the night picked up.

"I was really busy, and I kind of ran away, and he left, but he came back two hours later. He had convinced his friends to come back to the bar to get my number," Guzzo said.

Soon after their first date at an Italian restaurant, where they realized they had gone to the same church when they were 12 years old--Johnston remembered seeing her sing there--they were "pretty much inseparable."

But the possibility of a proposal was the furthest thing from Guzzo's mind in October when Johnston showed up at her home in Geneva in his firefighter uniform with the fire truck and several of his co-workers.

"At first I thought there was an emergency in our neighborhood, but then I thought, maybe he's going to start dancing," Guzzo said. "But then he walked up to me, knelt right down and proposed … and it was unbelievable."

Until that moment, Guzzo had been thinking that if the couple were engaged, they would wait until they were both done with school, she said. Guzzo, a communications major, will graduate from DePaul in May, and Johnston finishes paramedic school in July.

Guzzo said she was thrilled to start planning her wedding, but she was also nervous because she wasn't sure how they were going to pay for it. Guzzo's mom has multiple sclerosis and her dad is going back to school to become a high school teacher, so relying too much on either her or Johnston's parents wasn't an option.

With this in mind, she started going online every day to sign up for any wedding contest she could find--until she came across the The Knot Dream Wedding contest. The couple who wins the contest, determined by a national vote, wins a New York wedding in Bryant Park valued at $93,000 on Valentine's Day. Almost every detail of the wedding for the chosen couple, from the wedding dress to the flowers to where they will go on their honeymoon, will be chosen by voters every week before the wedding.

Guzzo and Johnston were the only Chicago couple chosen out of hundreds of other national entries.

"The way he proposed, and the way we met, and how awesome this whole thing has been since the very beginning is how we were judged on it," Guzzo said. "And I thought it was beautiful, and I thought it was romantic, but I didn't know if the whole world would think that. It was so cool to hear someone else say it too."

If they do win the wedding, it still won't be exactly smooth sailing--the day of the wedding is smack dab in the middle of Guzzo's midterms.

"I'm going to talk to my teachers, and I'm hoping to God they'll just look at me and be like, ‘Good luck-- you can take your midterms early and do whatever you need to do,' " Guzzo said.

And while winning the contest would mean getting married a lot sooner than she and Johnston originally planned, Guzzo said she likes the idea of getting married before the couple has to confront the uncertainty of their lives after they graduate.

"I would like to say, ‘Yeah, if we plan the wedding a year from now, I'll certainly have a job and be able to pay for everything myself, and it will be fine,' " Guzzo said. "But realistically, I've watched most of my friends go six months to a year without a job after graduating, and that's really scary to me where so much is riding on it."

Johnston also doesn't know where he'll be working once he finishes school.

"He's going to take a job where he can get a job, so we don't know if we'll be living here or Arizona," Guzzo added. "So, it makes more sense to wait longer, but there are so many things telling me that it's such a great idea to do it next month too. It would be so nice to just have that all figured out and not have to worry about it."

"If we win, it's going to make a lot of things come true that we would never be able to afford on our own."

Online voting for the contest started Monday and runs until 4 p.m. Wednesday, with three chances to vote every 24 hours. The winners will be announced at 1 p.m. Thursday on The Knot website.

Check out Brian and Nichole's love story here and vote for the Chicagoans to win their dream wedding at: http://wedding.theknot.com/dream-wedding-contest.aspx?MsdVisit=1.

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