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John Makely  /  msnbc.com
TODAY
updated 6/11/2008 9:05:40 AM ET 2008-06-11T13:05:40

Wedding bells will be be ringing on Rockefeller Plaza — again. Five finalist couples competed in a series of fun, competitive challenges for the chance to tie the knot on America's No. 1 morning show, but only one lucky couple won the hearts of viewers across the country. The wedding hopefuls designed gowns, went on a treasure hunt through Studio 1A, had a bake-sale battle, and they named that price — all in hopes of having a plaza ceremony and a reception at New York's famed Rainbow Room.  More than a quarter million votes were cast, and this year, America chose LaDonna and Darnell to say their "I do's" live on TODAY.

Following tradition, TODAY viewers will plan the winning finalists' wedding by voting on TODAYShow.com for the couple's rings, the wedding gown, the tux, the attendants' attire, the cake and the honeymoon. LaDonna and Darnell's nuptials will then be swiftly planned by viewers for a June 25th wedding event live on TODAY. A surprise celebrity guest will join the couple's friends and family and perform at the reception. 

About the bride: LaDonna is 24 years old and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. She currently works as a nuclear reactor inspector.

About the groom: Darnell is 25 years old and received a degree in computer engineering. He's currently working as a technology consultant.

Time together: Two and a half years

Engagement date: January 1, 2008

Why he’s the one: "I don't remember the exact moment that I knew Darnell was the one, but I do remember praying to God one day that if he just let me have Darnell to spend the rest of my life with, my prayers would be answered."

Why she’s the one: "She inspires me to be the best person that I can be and I find myself falling in love with her more and more every day."

Imagine the romantic setting of the Egyptian pyramids and your greatest love standing beside you taking it all in. Then imagine topping it all off with a surprise proposal. That's what happened to LaDonna when Darnell pulled off his long-awaited plan of asking his college sweetheart and best friend to marry him.

LaDonna and Darnell first met at a college career fair in Boston. Darnell said that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. They talked for only a moment and went their separate ways, but Darnell said he was constantly thinking about her and couldn't get her out of his mind.

Little did he know that fate was on his side.

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The two bumped into each other several times over the next five days, and by the end of the week, Darnell had asked her on a date. LaDonna knew that their connection was undeniable.

Darnell always found ways to show how unconditional and pure his love was for her. To impress her, he even painted a picture of her favorite flower he titled "LaDonna Lilly" for a college internship.

In the fall of 2007, Darnell told LaDonna that he had planned a secret trip for her birthday. He wouldn't say anything about where they were going. He simply told her to get a passport.

On New Year's (which was also LaDonna's 24th birthday), Darnell handed a video camera to his tour guide, walked up to LaDonna, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him in front of dozens of strangers and the Egyptian Sphinx. LaDonna was speechless, except, of course, for answering "yes." The two embraced in front of dozens of strangers. It was a day that neither of them will forget.

Darnell and LaDonna are now hoping to share the happiness they felt that day in a special ceremony, surrounded by their friends and family. There won't be any pyramids or tour guides this time, but LaDonna and Darnell look forward to adding more to their album of memories, beginning with their vows, and followed by a life of snapshots in love.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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