Angie's List rescues bride-to-be's big day

Angie's List rescues bride-to-be's big day

When her beloved grandfather unexpectedly died while visiting relatives in his native Philippines last year, Mary Clavering and her fiancé contributed several thousand dollars from their wedding fund to the family effort to bring his body back to California. So it was especially thrilling when Clavering, who was partly raised by her grandparents, learned she’d won $2,000 in the recent Angie’s List to the Rescue wedding contest.

“When I opened the congratulations email, I couldn’t believe it. I had to read it three times to make sure it was real,” says Clavering, who’s been trying to save enough for her wedding, set for December,, which she'd moved back several months because of the tragedy. “I started getting teary-eyed and quietly gave thanks to God and to my angel grandpa. I called my grandma first. I said, ‘Remember that contest I told you about? Guess what? We won!’”

“We” is Clavering and her fiancé, Allen Conner, known to friends as Brittain or Brit. They live in Los Angeles, where Conner works for Hertz, the car rental company, and Clavering works for an online media company called Young Hollywood. She says a co-worker, Lian Teicher, who’s getting married this fall, read about the contest on Facebook. “Lian knew how much we're struggling to pay for the wedding venue,” Clavering says. “She decided to get me to join this contest and not enter herself."

Don't let wedding planning stress you out, says Mary Clavering: “It's supposed to be fun and exciting. The minute it starts getting stressful, something needs to change. Be open to change.”

For more tips and practical advice, see the Angie's List Guide to Wedding Planning.

The contest offered $2,000 to the couple who got the most Facebook votes from friends, family and Angie’s List fans. There were 183 submissions and more than 25,826 page visits for voting.

Clavering and Conner, whose birthdays are July 6 and July 7, got engaged on July 4, 2011, in Las Vegas. “I knew something was up,” Clavering says, “after a limo picked us up from the hotel to take us to a French restaurant. Then, we went to ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ After that, we met family members and friends who ‘just happened’ to be in the area. It was so weird. Then he proposed. When we got back to our room, it was decorated with candles and rose petals and chocolate-covered strawberries, all set up by my little sister.”

That romantic tale bookends Clavering’s telling of when she and her husband-to-be first set eyes on each other, at a film club in college: “I was in front of the class announcing my short film. According to Brittain, he turned to the guy next to him and said, ‘Wow, she's hot. I'm going to marry this chick.’ It turned out that the person he was talking to was someone I was dating at that time, who said, ‘Good luck with that.’

“Brittain never came up and asked me out. We crossed paths years later, became friends, but then lost touch again.” About 3 ½ years ago, “we got back in touch. I was focused on my goals and career, but decided to give this nice guy a chance.”

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