About the 2015 “Best Love Story” Contest + Fundraiser
THREE LOCAL COUPLES MAKE FINAL ROUND FOR “BEST LOVE STORY” CONTEST + FUNDRAISER
Three Knoxville-area couples will compete in the final round of open voting for this year’s “Best Love Story” in East Tennessee contest and fundraiser. The couple with the most votes also wins a grand prize wedding photography or cinematography package worth $2,000 from Knoxville’s premier wedding photography and cinematography company, Knox Wedding Creative.
Three East Tennessee couples have made the final round of the 2015 “Best Love Story” contest and fundraiser sponsored by Knox Wedding Creative. The finalists will compete for the grand prize during a one-week final round of open voting from April 21 to April 27, 2015. There are a variety of ways to vote online and on social media, but the contest is also fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee by allowing donations to count toward couples’ vote totals.
Couples were invited to submit their love story in essay form during February and March with the opportunity to win a grand prize wedding photography or cinematography package worth $2,000 from the contest sponsor, Knox Wedding Creative, a Knoxville-based wedding photography and videography company. Only three couples were selected for the final round of voting after all submissions were reviewed.
The three local finalists include Contessa Leverett and Francois Pierre, Anna Gray and Matthew Ibrahim, and Mia Sage Lowry and Bryan Beason.
Read Full Press Release
This is the first year of East Tennessee’s “Best Love Story” contest and fundraiser, which is the brainchild of local entrepreneur and the owner of the contest’s sponsor, Ben K. Moser. Moser says he founded Knox Wedding Creative from a very personal desire to provide area couples a better alternative for documenting, sharing, and passing their love story to future generations of their new family.
“Our mission is to tell a couple’s love story in the medium, quality, and style that it truly deserves,” said Moser. “After their passing in 2000, my grandparent’s love story is lost to history and I have no opportunity to learn and pass on the legacy of how my family began. Now, I spend my time capturing and preserving a couple’s love story for them and the next five generations of their family.”
In an effort to share great love stories of local couples with the world, promote the importance of document and preserving every couple’s love story, and help a local charity, Knox Wedding Creative began the “Best Love Story” in East Tennessee contest and fundraiser this year. The contest’s sponsor added a significant incentive to the contest by providing a grand prize of a wedding package worth $2,000, which will go to the top vote-getter after voting ends on April 27, 2015.
Unlimited votes can be cast by any individual for any of the three finalist couples. Votes can be cast by ballot or donation at Knox Wedding Creative’s website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Google+ accounts starting April 21, 2015. For more information about how to vote and to learn more about the couples’ love stories, visit KnoxWeddingCreative.com/BestLoveStory.
If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Ben K. Moser, please contact Knox Wedding Creative via phone (865.229.6673) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Meet the Finalists
Contessa Leverett and Francois Pierre
Francois lost all his family photographs when his family escaped the war-torn country of Liberia, West Africa to move to the United States, where he has fallen in love with Contessa.
Anna Gray and Matthew Ibrahim
Matthew moved to Knoxville and fell in love with Anna in the 4th grade. Soon, their childhood romance will blossom into a marriage.
Mia Sage Lowry and Bryan Beason
Mia Sage and Bryan were randomly brought together by a life and death situation, and together, they’ve now made it through multiple life and death events to finally be able to tie the knot.
Read The Love Stories
Contessa & Francois
I met my fiance about 10 years ago and fell in love with him 4 years ago. I would like to win this awesome package not for myself, but for my fiance who is the most generous, humble and God fearing man I know!
It all began when he and his family had to flee their war torn country of Liberia, West Africa. As a child he was forced to grow up during the war; subsequently witnessing more than a child should ever have to bare. The stories he has shared with me and the condition of his country were absolutely deplorable!
All day and all night he would hear gun shots, forced to stop attending school because bullets riddled the streets, war lords capturing, torturing and killing family members.
Also, losing everything his family had including jobs, declining health and the one thing they can never replace photographs of happier times, all lost and destroyed during the war. Yet through all the adversity he still rose each morning thanking God for another day despite his environment.
Fast forward to 1996 my fiance and his family move to the United States to start over and that they did! I often ask my fiance how can he not have hatred in his heart for what he has been through? His reply everytime is “this journey is not my own, my reward is greater than my situation, so my mindset has to be one of understanding and forgiveness”.
It brings tears to my eyes to have a man so strong and confident enough is his reward in this thing called life to meet each day with optimism and hope. For that reason alone I am forever grateful and inspired to not let my misfortune in life define who I am. With that being said I would love to win this package for my fiance, so we can start new memories together.
Photography is an important part of his family. There is never a time I see his father without his camera just holding on to capture memories since everything they loved was destroyed in the war. I would love for your company to capture our love on our wedding day. To give my fiance and his family some new photographs to cherish means the world to me and in doing so start to heal some deep rooted wounds.
Anna & Matthew
We are two young kids ready to get married! We met in elementary school, when Matthew moved to Knoxville from Alabama and was placed in my 4th grade class. He swears he remembers seeing me on the first day of class and thinking how beautiful I was. His mother will even attest to Matthew coming home from school complaining about how mean I was, and that she recognized a thinly veiled crush on me.
It was there in the class where we met that he chose to drag me to pop the question. I could never have predicted the turn of events when we were trying to sneak into our old elementary school.
I was sitting at my 4th grade class desk while Matthew was lapping the classroom explaining past memories of his jealously when I wrote my name on another boy’s desk. Before I knew it, he was down on one knee, teachers were lining the halls outside the class to celebrate us as we exited the class, and culminating in a photo with the school mascot for the annual.
While 4th grade was when we met, this was not the beginning of our romance, at least not in my eyes. Neither was middle school but in 6th grade we gave it a try.
While most middle school romances lasted a week or so, Matthew and I’s managed to last a whole year. But in the end, it was just middle school after all so we decided to just be friends.
At the beautiful age of 15, the true relationship began to take form. This 6 year long relationship has endured high school football games, proms, separating to attend different colleges, making our own friends, and returning to one another to begin our lives together in our careers and whatever else God has in store for us to tackle together.
High school was fun with Matthew – he is silly and always up for adventure! We were either hiking or out on the lake, and that is what high school relationships are for, right? Then senior year approached and I needed to escape the town that I grew up in for 18 years and meet new people. So I ventured off 200 miles west while Matthew moved down the street to live with a number of his buddies from high school to attend UTK. We made the mature decision to break paths and each experience this next step of life fully and not be distracted with someone in a different town.
It didn’t take long before I realize that the boy I always thought was fun, was actually who I loved! We tried to stay apart! We didn’t even speak a word to one another for months in an effort to make this break thing work. We failed. Matthew called. Then he drove the 200 miles west to get me back. All the great reasons we separated didn’t seem that important anymore and we got back together.
At first it was perfect – the most ideal relationship! The breakup caused me to recognize how much I actually loved this guy, caused me to start appreciating the guy I was lucky enough to get!
Plus, I was able to fully experience college and he was able to do the same. Each of us stayed up late, made lifetime friendships and memories, while we saw other friends missing out on these fun times because the distraction of being in a relationship. We would text, call, and Skype, and visit when we could and and we cherished that time for a year or so. By the end of college we were over it! I moved back to Knoxville and was indescribably excited to share everyday life with this man I love.
Today we are excited to get married, to come home to one another, and grow with one another as we grow up! We are eager to partner together to take on whatever the Lord has in store for our lives!
So why should this story get captured? Because it is unique, it’s fun, and we would love our story told! Just ask my sister, she loves to tell it to anyone who will listen! And it is going to be a fun wedding! We would love to remember not only our relationship but the relationships we have with everyone who will be attending! We want to capture their smiles and tear and the day we share with these people as well. We are going to have so many friends and family members who have seen our relationship develop for years! Our families have blended! And we are so excited to host a celebration!
It is a backyard-style wedding on the lake. I am an earthy, laidback kinda girl- we will be carrying wildflowers and walking barefoot. Matthew has lived with 8 of his best friends for the past 3 years of college and they are so excited to be joining him and supporting him on this big day! Who knows what they will be getting into the day of! We are bringing a band for dancing!
We just want to make this day our own, not the pressure of presenting but the thrill of celebrating together. I am blessed to be wearing my grandmother’s dress from the 1940s that my mother and sister both have both worn before me. Matthew knew my heart and lavished me with a beautiful ring from the 1920s. And our wedding site is in the backyard of an old Victorian home. We hope this contest allows us and capture not only this single day but the life we plan to share together.
Mia Sage & Bryan
“Hello. ‘Hello!, Dr. McCampbell excuse me sir, but I need help,” I said on a warm summer evening, blood running down my arms and a frantic panic running through my body. Just a few moments before I had watched as my father and I were releasing one of my sheep to go back into the field after being sheared. It was a warm day. You could tell that a storm was brewing and would bring rain within the hour.
Some children, friends of my father and I, had just left with their mother in tow after spending an afternoon on the farm. As I opened the gate to let out my precious ewe, Bonnie, I saw a local neighbor’s dog, a hunting dog, wagging her tail and staring me down at the gate. I talked to her for a moment, “Hey Girl, what are you doing here? Far from home aren’t ya?” I grinned at the dog and continued my task.
As I pulled open the gate, Bonnie bound out of my arms to join the rest of the ewes who were already enjoying their luscious green grass. Thunder began to rumble and I turned to finish my duties on the farm. Suddenly, the brown dog at the gate sprinted past me to the field and darted over to Bonnie. With her hunting howl echoing through the barn lot, other dogs began to join her from a patch of woods on the far side of our property. Obviously hungry with pronounced ribs and a wild look in their eyes, these dogs, a total of four, began yelping at the excitement of this well planned meal.
Bonnie tried to lose the pack as she darted from one end of the field to the other. Finally, out of options and energy, she ran to the other side of the lot, squeezed through the fence, and jumped into the pond. Splash! Bonnie sought asylum in the water. Splash! The two young dogs bound in to join her and began biting her neck. Splash! The two older dogs jumped in to finish her off.
“Stop! Please stop. Stop hurting her! No, no, no, bad dog!” Knowing that I was not their owner and therefore not their master, the dogs continued this vicious scene. My father, who sprang into action as I stood paralyzed, returned to my side with the old family shotgun.
Warning shot one, the dogs gnaw at the flesh of her skin and head with more furiosity. Shot two, the dogs realize they may not be at the top of the food chain in this fight for life. Shot three, all four of our unwanted farm guests tuck their tails and swim to shore then run away into the woods.
Thunder rolled through the sky as the menacing clouds began to encroach upon this terrible experience that my father and I shared. Suddenly, Bonnie’s head emerged from the water as she began to make an attempt at another life giving breath. As she struggled, her body floated to the side and she rested her head on the shore. The muddy water was tainted with crimson. Seeing this, my father began to push through brambles and pieces of broken fence to reach the far side of the pond and check Bonnie. Her body was limp. She was fighting for breath, and her eyes showed that she was very much clinging to life. “Mia Sage, she’s alive.” He said, ” I don’t know for how long, but she’s alive. I need a halter. ” I scrambled to find the nearest halter and climbed to the closest spot in the fence to hand it over to my father. He placed the halter on her head and began to pull. His efforts were to no avail. Her mass of bone and muscle was too much for a 59 year old man. Desperate and fighting the storm that had begun to pour buckets on this farmer, my father began to pray. Then he whispered to Bonnie, “Come on girl, I can’t do this alone. You’ve got to help me. I’m going to try, but you’ve got to help me.”
I anxiously waited on the other side of the brush. For a few moments all I heard was the sound of the rain on the tin roof of the barn. Then, I began to hear cracks of twigs and brush. My father’s voice faintly emerged as he and Bonnie struggled to bear her weight through the path to safety.
Lightning began to crack through the sky “God why me why now?” I questioned. “Please keep my father safe. Please keep him safe near the water’s edge. Please help him and help Bonnie.” Through the brush I saw my father’s face and I rushed to help him and Bonnie as we led her to safety. As we placed her in the dark stall of our family barn, my father turned to me and said, “Well, we’ve done all we can for her now. The rest is up to Bonnie.” Astounded I protested. “That can’t be. We have to help her. She’ll die if we don’t do more to help her.” Drenched in rain and blood I ran to the house and called each veterinarian that I could find in the area. I received no answers and made one final call of hope to a Dr. Hugh McCampbell in a neighboring town.
That evening when the doctor returned my call and came to our farm, he brought with him a young veterinarian who would soon take over his practice. His name was Dr. Bryan Beason. I was impressed with the young man’s gentleness and sweetness of spirit. Though the night was so dark I couldn’t clearly see his entire face, our conversation was relaxed and his smile was endearing. In the weeks to come as we continued Bonnie’s therapy, we became good friends. I was able to go on many calls with him. Though we began seeing a lot of each other, I didn’t quite know what I meant to him until a call that changed our relationship.
” I’ve got some bad news honey.” Bryan’s voice rang from the other end of the phone. ” I know we have plans, but I just got a call for a dairy cow with milk fever. It should be a pretty simple case. If you would like to go with me on this call then maybe we could go and do something together. Does that sound alright?” As we arrived on the scene, it was very clear to both Bryan and myself that this was no simple milk fever case. There were two cows isolated on the side of a huge field. The farmer had chosen not to take the horns off his cattle, so both had big beautiful horns protruding from their heads. The healthy cow was sitting peacefully at the side of her friend, chewing her cud. The sick cow seemed unable to completely control her eyes and mouth as she laboriously fought to stay alive. As I looked into her eyes from a distance, I could see that they were dim, not like Bonnie’s when she was injured. It was as if the light was disappearing from within her. The farmer began to address the problem with Bryan. The farmer’s wife began to take interest in my job, ” So you are a teacher,” she said. As we discussed whether or not I had her grandchildren in class, her eyes suddenly widened and she screamed in pain. I looked behind her to see the healthy cow behind her ramming its horns into the small of the woman’s back. She cried out again and began limping to a nearby silo. The cow turned and looked at the next creature directly in its path .
Knowing the situation I was in, I became paralyzed with fear. Without missing a beat, the cow began to charge with her horns directly placed at my neck. From natural instinct, my hands went up in front of my chest knowing that I could not stop what was coming at me. I screamed as her forehead made contact with my flat palms that guarded my chest. The air was knocked out of my lungs as she suddenly came to a complete halt. For a moment our eyes met. It seemed that both of us were reacting from complete and total fear. I believe that as long as God gives me a sound mind, I will remember the look in her eyes as she peered into my soul for those eternal seconds.
As my eyes past from her looming gaze, I saw Bryan’s face. The terror was written on every inch of his body as he pieced together what was happening. Bryan and the farmer began running to the two women that they loved so very much. As the farmer reached his wife crumpled in pain, Bryan grabbed me and began pushing against my neck. “Where is it!? Where is it!?”He kept yelling at me. “What?” I absently asked him. “The blood! The blood! I saw her hit you. Where is the blood?” I mentally assessed my body as adrenalin rushed through my veins. “I don’t think she got me.” I answered him. “I don’t think she got me.”
I knew not why, I only knew that her forehead had never reached my neck or chest. As we slowly drove out of the curved driveway of the dairy farm and into the evening of that cool autumn night, I recounted the experience. When I became stuck on the moment the cow and I made contact, I paused. “She could not get to me Bryan. She tried, but it was like she could not reach me. She tried, but she couldn’t reach me.” From the driver’s seat Bryan responded. “Honey, you know where you were don’t you? When I heard you scream, I saw you pinned by her horns against the silo. I don’t know how you got there.”
We went on another farm call that night before returning to my family farm. With shaking bodies and wide eyes, we told my parents of our adventure. Though many people heard of how we had been blessed, we became an island in our emotions. This trauma and protection we experienced was real. It belonged to us. We would have rather lived full lives never having to face such distress, but this experience united us.
By Christmas we were a real team, wrapping presents together, going on his farm calls when I was off from work, and working or relaxing on the farm side by side. Everything was beginning to fall into place for a beautiful life of love and trust.
On Christmas Eve, my parents, Bryan, and I went on the annual hour and a half trek to spend the day with my mother’s family. As Bryan and dad sat in one room enjoying each others company, mom and her family caught up on a year of growth. As the evening drew to a close we laughed, hugged, and said our good-byes until the next year. As we neared home, we stopped at a stop sign and my father let out a great moan. His foot slammed the gas pedal and we spun out of control. Bryan jumped from the back seat to throw us into reverse, then neutral. He shut off the engine and jumped out of the car. As I gasped for breath out of fear and anxiety, Bryan began working on my father. That moment, as I stood in the middle of the street, I saw my precious father alive for the last time.
The months to follow were nearly too harsh to bear. My father did not come see my class. My father was no longer the other half of my mother. My father couldn’t tell Bryan that we could marry.
My mother always loved me and before losing my dad she never missed an opportunity to show it. Now this shell of a woman had nothing but pain to share and no love to give. My entire world changed at a stop sign.
God is love. As I recount the year and a half that has led me to this moment, I am certain of one thing. When Bryan and I are together, there is love… a love that knows when to rejoice and when to cry… a love that knows when to sit silently and when to kiss a cheek… a love that knows great pain and a love that brings great joy.
This is our story. A story that until this moment has never been written into words. A story that deserves to be documented for those who will come after us wondering if love is real. This is a story we need you to help us tell.
Cast Your Vote
There are a variety of ways you can vote online (listed below). Each online action counts as one vote for the contest. To get multiple votes, we recommend making a Donation Vote to our local partner, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (info to the right or below the online section).
- KnoxWeddingCreative.com Single Ballot (voting ballot is below; each submitted ballot counts as one vote)
- KnoxWeddingCreative.com Donation Ballot (donation voting is via secure PayPal form to the right on web browsers, below on mobile devices; each dollar counts as 20 votes)
- Facebook (each like, comment, and share counts as one vote)
- Twitter (each favorite, reply, and retweet counts as one vote)
- Instagram (each like and comment counts as one vote)
- Pinterest (each like, comment, and re-pin counts as one vote)
- Google+ (each +1, comment, and share counts as one vote)
To help support our local community, we are allowing anyone to vote through donating to an incredible local non-profit organization helping East Tennessee’s youth: Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee.
Each dollar donated will count as 20 votes in the contest! For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit them online at http://www.tennesseebig.org.
Donations are processed securely through PayPal. You do not need to have a PayPal account to make a donation—all you need is a debit or credit card.
The voting period is now closed! Thank you for your interest in the East Tennessee “Best Love Story” Contest + Fundraiser.
The voting period is now closed! Thank you for your interest in the East Tennessee “Best Love Story” Contest + Fundraiser.