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Two Henrico mask-makers tied the knot on their front stoop after winning $10,000 essay contest

Two Henrico mask-makers tied the knot on their front stoop after winning $10,000 essay contest

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Jamey Brittingham is an avid contest-entrant: “I apply to stuff all the time online, like HGTV Dream Home. I apply to that every year.”

So when her mom’s friend forwarded an email about Miller High Life’s “Wedding at Your Doorstep” promotion, she entered on a whim. She didn’t think she and her then-fiancé Derek Garrett were likely to be one of three winning couples among more than 11,000.

But the judges at Miller High Life saw something special in the couple’s 150-word application essay.

Not only had Brittingham and Garret indefinitely postponed their wedding due to COVID-19, they said in their essay, but they had also been forced to close their business, a streetwear company called MamerSass that “rescues and reinvents unwanted textiles and vintage clothing,” according to the company’s website.

After their shop closed, they began using the fabrics they had around the house to make cheap, fashionable masks that they could sell to their friends and family. What was intended as a small venture to keep them occupied gained traction with 65 orders in the first day.

“The crazy thing is that I had been collecting all of this cotton,” Brittingham said. “So, actually it was like I was waiting for this moment to be able to use my fabric stash.”

The couple has now sold more than 500 masks, and for each one sold, they donated one to hospital workers.

“It kind of gave us purpose, and it felt like we were really making a product that people needed,” Brittingham said.

It was that innovative and charitable spirit that convinced the judges that they were worthy winners of a doorstep wedding and a $10,000 prize.

“We wanted to ensure that we found people with unique stories during such a strange time,” Associate Marketing Manager Lucy Bloxam said in an email. “At the end of the day, they had a beautiful story to tell and we really appreciated them being true fans of High Life.”

After roughly a month of working with the marketing team at Miller High Life, the couple’s wedding took place on June 20 in the front yard of the vintage Henrico home Brittingham and Garrett had bought just four months earlier. The sidewalk that led up to the house’s stoop served as a makeshift aisle, and bright yellow daisies, supplied by Carytown’s Christopher Flowers, dotted the scene.

Of course, several precautions against coronavirus were taken as well. Masks that Brittingham and Garrett had sewn for the event were handed out to guests as they arrived, emblazoned with the words “Garrett Wedding June 20, 2020.”

The couple celebrated their special day with close friends and family, some of whom were visiting from New Jersey, where the couple first met in 2013. Some had not left their homes since the pandemic began.

None of the couple’s grandparents were able to attend, but they watched the ceremony online along with about 50 other people who could not be there. After the ceremony, the small group of attendees moved to the backyard for a socially distanced reception.

“We haven’t seen our families in quite some time, so that was one of my favorite parts, to have everybody together in the same place, all the people that we really love,” Garrett said.

The excitement certainly isn’t going to die down for the couple now that the wedding has passed. After being closed for months, MamerSass is slated to reopen on Aug. 1. And the couple is expecting a baby girl, also due in August, on whom they expect to spend much of their $10,000 winnings.

“Things have been so negative, but there’s really been some positive things that have happened to us ,” Brittingham said.

“Sometimes, the little people win, too,” Garrett said.

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