- Associated Press - Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW YORK | The brides carried lavender roses and the grooms looked proud as 14 contest-winning couples got married Monday at the Empire State Building.

“You are the most beautiful, the smartest and the kindest person I know,” U.S. Army Pfc. Brett Beardon said as he clasped hands with Samantha Belfon and gazed into her eyes.

“I will honor and respect you, laugh and cry with you and cherish you always,” she replied.

The 17th annual Valentine’s Day wedding event at the iconic skyscraper was sponsored by TheKnot.com, a wedding-planning website.

Air Force Capt. Jon Wu and Stephanie Hull, of Louisville, Ky., won the grand prize, which includes a honeymoon in the Bahamas.

Stephanie Hull and Air Force Capt. John Wu hold hands during their wedding Monday on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. The Louisville, Ky., couple won the event's grand prize, which included a honeymoon in the Bahamas. (Associated Press)
Stephanie Hull and Air Force Capt. John Wu hold hands during their ... more >

“We can only go up from here,” Capt. Wu said after he tied the knot with Miss Hull in a sunrise ceremony on the 86th-floor observatory.

Miss Hull, who wore a strapless, creamy white gown with a long train, said she was on “cloud nine.”

Capt. Wu proposed to Miss Hull last year by spelling out “will you marry me” in Christmas lights on a lawn outside their apartment building.

The ceremonies for the other winners were held on the 61st floor in a makeshift wedding chapel festooned with lavender drapes.

Couple No. 2 was Sarah-Marie Carpino and George Callahan, two firefighters from Lindenhurst, N.Y., who met on the job.

Mr. Callahan held the couple’s 17-month-old son, Jack, during the ceremony.

The couple said afterward that because Mr. Callahan had survived testicular cancer, doctors had told him he would never have any more children.

“Jack is a blessing to us,” Mr. Callahan said. “He’s supposed to be a medical impossibility.”

Miss Belfon and Pfc. Bearden were next. The couple met through an online dating site when both were living in New York. Pfc. Bearden will be deployed to Afghanistan this spring.

“I’m happy for both of them,” said the bride’s mother, Ingrid Meah. “They are a perfect couple, made in heaven.”

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