San Antonio is a giving city. Tina Humphrey of Diamonds & Dreams Event Planning quickly realized that when she first launched Badges & Bouquets and vendors started lining up, wanting to be involved in what, in just three years, has become the city’s premier wedding giveaway. At a $40,000 value, Tina and her fellow event professionals wanted to honor the city’s quiet, backyard heroes—firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement officers who are overworked and underpaid—with a bit of recognition and a huge wedding celebration. “I have family in the service and I know the dangers they face every day. The idea was near and dear to my heart because these families rarely get the attention they deserve,” Tina says. “When I asked myself how I could give back to the community, I realized my best connections were as a wedding planner.”
The annual contest first took place in 2013, and the event has been well received ever since with an outpouring of support and excitement. In fact, in 2015, more than 30 local event vendors stepped up to give winners Gloria Gonzales and Gabe Flores a dream wedding. “The biggest reason we selected Gloria and Gabe was because they are both police officers, so they understand the dangers faced day in and day out.” But as planning progressed, the couple proved worthy in other ways. “Gabe and Gloria were so humble. It was never, ‘Me, me, me’ or ‘I have to have.’ They were so grateful for the gift and happy with whatever our incredible team of vendors could provide.”
Gloria and Gabe had already started planning a wedding, but since they were both police officers, they knew they’d have to work extra hours to cover the cost of a small wedding because their main focus was financing Gloria’s daughter’s freshman year at Texas Tech University. “Gabe wanted to give me a fairy tale wedding since I always made him watch bride shows and he knew all about David Tutera,” Gloria laughs. “But, penny-pincher that I am, it was hard for me to think about spending $10,000 for a wedding in the same year we’d be spending $25,000 on college tuition.” Then a Facebook tag from a fellow police officer notified Gloria about Badges & Bouquets. “I had nothing to lose and only a paid-for wedding to gain.” She entered the contest, but Gloria was always entering for drawings, so she and Gabe just assumed this one would end at the entry level like all the others. When she got an email asking for her to sign and notarize documents, she started worrying she’d signed up for a scam. Then she got a call from Tina and learned she and Gabe were finalists and interviews were being held on Valentine’s Day.
Around the same time, Gloria applied for a sergeant position, never thinking she’d have a chance. “I was promoted on February 13, which meant my new job would start February 14,” she remembers. “I almost backed out of the contest because as a new sergeant I didn’t want to ask for time off so soon.” But she happened to get that Saturday off, so she and Gabe headed to the wedding venue, Marquardt Ranch, for the interview. Later that same day, they got a text. They’d won. “I asked Tina if I could call and hear her voice because I didn’t believe her,” Gloria says. “That started the friendship with our fairy godmother Tina Humphrey.”
The wedding planner orchestrated the entire celebration, from the rehearsal dinner to bridal and boudoir portraits to the ceremony and reception, and she and the newlyweds agree: everything was perfect. Florals were provided by Eden’s Echo, Freesia Designs, and H-E-B Blooms; linens, lighting, and décor by Event Ignition, Events by Touch of Elegance, and Luxe Event Décor; Blush Make-up & Hair pampered the bride who found her gown at Destiny Bridal; Bartenders4You served cocktails and Candy Creations by Sandi set up a sweets table; River Rock Event Center hosted the rehearsal dinner while Tapatio Springs Resort donated a honeymoon suite; Cutting Edge Entertainment provided DJ services; Mark Thomas filmed the event; and Philip Thomas captured photos. And the list goes on.
“Tina and the vendors were invaluable in creating a wedding that was beyond our expectations and so much more than we would have been able to do ourselves,” says the bride. “We look at the pictures Philip captured and it brings smiles to our faces. It was such an amazing day.” Whenever asked about their wedding, the newlyweds immediately tell people about Badges & Bouquets because, in a time when law enforcement is often under the microscope, Gloria and Gabe want people to know there are still people out there who honor emergency responders.
“We didn’t choose this profession to be labeled as heroes. We became police officers because we wanted to make a difference, to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Gloria says. “I will risk my life and die to save someone—a family, a child, another person. This is our calling.”
This year’s Badges & Bouquets winners are already well on their way to saying “I do” at Hotel Valencia on September 2, 2016. And the vendors are lining up—engagement photos have been captured by Joshua Michael at River Rock Event Center, the dress has been purchased from Beatitude Bridal, and plans are underway for a rehearsal dinner catered by Diamond Events.
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