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Video: Who is TODAY’s modern wedding couple?

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    >> announcer: today's wedding modern love is brought to you by chevy backed by a five-year powertrain limited warranty. here is love

    >>> this morning on "today's wedding modern love " the winning couple. monday we introduced you to four sets of love birds hoping to get married live on the "today" program. after nearly 60,000 of you voted we are now ready to reveal the winning couple that will be married live right here on the plaza in just a few weeks. by the way that 60,000 number, m matt, is more than any vote since like last year even. it was a big number. let's say hello to all the couples.

    >> couple number one ulatowski and greg merante. number two, melissa mcmille inand jeremy gebhardt. he is serving in afghanistan. couple number three shatera kennedy and marcus allen from texas. and couple number four genevieve tallarico and david mckay from florida. hi, ladies and gentlemen and gentlemen.

    >> great to have you.

    >> how was your trip in? everything okay? show of hands , who has been to new york before?

    >> oh, okay.

    >> a couple of first-timers. that's great. this is going to happen very quickly. we're thrilled to have you all in the studio but because we have so much to do over the next couple of weeks, we're going to pick the winning couple right off the bat so this is going to be a very happy moment for one couple. a little disappointing for the other three couples. are you ready to do this?

    >> yes, sir.

    >> in this ring box we have the names of the winning couple. and, ann, take it away.

    >> all right, you guys. prepare yourselves. here we go because none of us know. and the winner is -- the winners are. we've got melissa mcmillein and jeremy gebhardt.

    >> congratulations, melissa . and jeremy is watching live from afghanistan. jeremy , congratulations to you as well. melissa is already crying.

    >> i'm sorry. hi, honey. hi.

    >> jeremy , what do you have to say?

    >> thank you very much.

    >> they look pretty happy.

    >> when is the last time you guys saw each other?

    >> it's been an amazing experience from the get-go and i'm so happy for melissa . i don't know how to tell you i'm so excited right now.

    >> melissa , when is the last time you actually saw jeremy ?

    >> i saw him the last week in february, so it's been a good six months.

    >> he's coming home when?

    >> he's coming home next week.

    >> oh, terrific. so that's some good news.

    >> very, very, very soon.

    >> we're thrilled that you're the winning couple. we're sorry for the other couples but we're not going to send anybody home empty-handed. as a matter of fact, for the rest of you, we loved your videos. we loved getting to know a little bit more about you, and so pages, come on out.

    >> you're not going to believe this.

    >> we're sending the rest of you to st. thomas, the ritz-carlton has been generous enough to give you a four-day, three-night stay at their hotel, accommodations in the presidential suite , a sunset sail aboard lady lindsay, the resort's 53-foot boat, candlelight dinner on the beach, snorkeling excursions, massages and more. so enjoy your time in st. thomas.

    >> thank you.

    >> we really appreciate it.

    >> and melissa and jeremy , we're going to pick the wedding bands . we'll get right into it.

Jonathan Woods/msnbc.com
Melissa McMillin, 21, and Jeremy Gebhardt, 22, will get married on Rockefeller Plaza on Sept. 30.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 8/25/2010 8:54:45 AM ET 2010-08-25T12:54:45

The votes are in and TODAY viewers have decided: Melissa McMillin and Jeremy Gebhardt will wed next month on Rockefeller Plaza — and on national television — as excited fans and well-wishers look on.

“I am so excited right now!” Jeremy said live via satellite from Bagram, Afghanistan, as the news was announced on TODAY Wednesday.

The young Missouri couple — separated for years because of Gebhardt’s tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan — earned the most votes on Facebook to become the recipients of TODAY’s annual wedding giveaway and gala on the Plaza.

Every detail about the Sept. 30 wedding will be decided by TODAY viewers. In the weeks leading up to Melissa and Jeremy’s big day, viewers can continue voting and choose the rings, wedding dress, tux, reception venue, bridesmaids’ attire, cake and honeymoon destination.

The process began Wednesday as Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor for Harper’s Bazaar, showed Melissa the wedding ring choices in Studio 1A. “They’re all so beautiful,” Melissa exclaimed.

“I think they’re all gorgeous,” Jeremy agreed from Afghanistan. “Any of these would be more than I could ask for.”

Melissa and Jeremy are thrilled to have been chosen for TODAY’s Modern Love Wedding. When submitting videos along with their application, they said such a wedding would be a dream come true for them after living apart for so long under such serious circumstances. When Jeremy isn’t deployed in the Middle East as a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force, he’s stationed in Anchorage, Alaska.

“We have waited three long years for each other and I’ve dreamt of the day that I can finally say, ‘Hi! I’m Melissa Gebhardt,’ ” Melissa, 21, said in her video.

Jeremy, 22, actually surprised Melissa by using Skype to apply for the wedding competition all the way from Bagram, Afghanistan.

TODAY

“Neither of us are very computer-savvy, so she thought all hope was lost,” Jeremy said in his video. “But I took it upon myself to make a video and fill out an application.

“If anyone deserves this, it should be [Melissa]. ... I can’t tell you how many tears she has cried or how many nights she has lost sleep worried about me or waiting for me to come home. I love her with all my heart.”

Likable contestants
The competition was tough this year because all four of the finalist couples were exceedingly likable. Also in the running were:

  • New York natives Lauren Ulatowski, 29, and Greg Merante, 29, who danced on their video and played air guitar — (or, more accurately, a broom) — to the Hall & Oates song “You Make My Dreams Come True”;
  • Texas Cowboys cheerleader Shatera Kennedy, 33, and Marcus Allen, 41 (not the professional football player), a happy couple who met serendipitously at a local drugstore, and
  • David McKay, 23, a Dublin, Ireland, native who earned a soccer scholarship that brought him to Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss., where he met his future fiancee, Pennsylvania-born Genevieve Tallarico, 25.

In the end, though, viewers fell in love with Melissa and Jeremy’s story. The two met at a choir performance in high school in Columbia, Mo. Jeremy still recalls the moment he noticed Melissa, “a beautiful girl that I had never seen before.” Friends told him he had no chance with her, but he was persistent.

“After two months of constant badgering, she finally agreed to go on a date,” Jeremy said.

Melissa, a senior in college, is attending nursing school in Missouri. She said that even from such a great distance, Jeremy regularly helps and supports her in large and small ways.

“He sits on Skype with me every day to help me study for my nursing exams, pick out the perfect shoes for my upcoming birthday party or prep for a big job interview,” she said in the video she submitted to TODAY. “He never fails to show me how much he loves me, and I truly do love him.”

A modern-day wedding
TODAY’s tradition of throwing a wedding on the Plaza for one lucky couple is now in its 11th year. This year’s “Modern Love” wedding will truly be a modern-day wedding, in large part because of the role technology is playing in it.

TODAY partnered with social-media giant Facebook this year with an eye toward making it easy for viewers and fans to communicate with the show quickly and provide prompt feedback about wedding-related segments as they air.

  1. Participate
    1. Follow the wedding on Facebook!
    2. Keep up with TODAY's wedding by 'liking' us on Facebook! Help the couple plan their big day, see weekly results and submit...

Between now and Sept. 30, people can vote on various wedding details via both TODAYshow.com and Facebook. Votes submitted through TODAYshow.com will not require a Facebook login.

The partnership with Facebook also made it particularly easy for couples to apply for this year’s TODAY wedding. All they had to do was apply on Facebook and upload their videos; gone are the days of needing to mail in video submissions.

In the run-up to Jeremy and Melissa’s wedding day, viewers also will be able to use their phones text their wedding preferences to the show.

Do you like TODAY? Tell us so on Facebook and follow the wedding progress!

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Explainer: The making of TODAY’s modern wedding

  • The honeymoon

    Melissa and Jeremy will vacation on the island of Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The newlyweds will spend seven nights in their own villa and enjoy activities such as snorkeling the pristine barrier reef, relaxing at a spa and eating at a beach barbecue.

    Read more about the honeymoon

  • The personal touch

    How can Melissa and Jeremy's family and friends express their love? By sharing personal notes for the couple in a custom engraved wish box.

    Read more about the personal detail

  • The wedding cake

    Image: Choose the TODAY Throws a Wedding cake
    TODAY

    Guests will enjoy a "classic romance" cake by Ana Parzych Custom Cakes. The dessert has alternating tiers in four flavors and is adorned with hand-made sugar flowers.

    Read more about the cake

  • The bridesmaid and flower girl dresses

    TODAY

    Viewers picked the “Old Hollywood” style! The ladies will wear a gray  Bari Jay dress with a dropped waist and shirred bodice, while the flower girl will wear a Fox ‘n Lily dress with an airy crinkle chiffon overlay and crisscrossing straps.

    Read more about the dresses

  • The gown and tux

    Viewers picked the “classic elegance” style. The bride will wear a champagne lace Paloma Blanca dress with a sweeping train, while the groom will don an ivory Kenneth Cole Black Label tux.

    Read more about the styles.

  • The reception venue

    Melissa and Jeremy will celebrate at the Hudson Terrace, an urban oasis featuring a retractable glass dome, where guests can take in the serene ambiance with scenic views of the Hudson River.

    Read more about the venues.

  • The rings

    Melissa and Jeremy will exchange vows with rings from celebrity jeweler Neil Lane. Melissa’s platinum band is set on three sides with 116 brilliant-cut diamonds, while Jeremy’s platinum band is designed and signed by Neil Lane.

    Read more about the rings.

  • The favors

    What's in store for the guests? Melissa and Jeremy will give each of their loved ones a Sony DSC-WX5 digital camera. With amazing features like great low-light shots without a flash, a smarter point and shoot, and background defocusing made easy — they'll be able to capture all of the memorable moments in vivid, crisp, true-to-life color. The camera also has video capability to capture HD videos.

    Watch more about the favors.

  • The winners

    Jonathan Woods/msnbc.com
    Melissa McMillin, 21, and Jeremy Gebhardt, 22, will wed on Rockefeller Plaza — and on national television — as excited fans and well-wishers look on.

    The young Missouri couple — separated for years because of Gebhardt’s tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan — earned the most votes on Facebook to become the recipients of TODAY’s wedding.

    When submitting videos along with their application, they said such a wedding would be a dream come true for them after living apart for so long under such serious circumstances. When Jeremy isn’t deployed in the Middle East as a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force, he’s stationed in Anchorage, Alaska.

    “We have waited three long years for each other and I’ve dreamt of the day that I can finally say, ‘Hi! I’m Melissa Gebhardt,’” Melissa, 21, said in her video.

    Read more about the winning couple.

  • The theme

    Image: Today's Wedding. modern.love
    Today show

    TODAY is partnering with Facebook to throw a modern day wedding!

    From the bride's dress to the honeymoon location, we're counting on viewers to plan a unique dream wedding on the Plaza.

    Become a Facebook fan and follow the exciting progress!

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