by Rebecca Omastiak Let the voting begin! The finalists for the Welcome Back to the Diamond contest have been announced and the competition for the $20,000 wedding package has begun. Here are the finalists and a little bit about each couple:
Mike Willenbring, 22, and Nicole Nettleton, 22
Occupations: Mike: Chef and Stillwater High School Baseball Coach, Nicole: Business Analyst at Target
Both from Stillwater, Nicole and Mike met when they were 12 and were best friends for five years before their May 2012 engagement. Their shared love for the Minnesota Twins brought them together, and they are known as the “Twins couple” among their friends. Nicole and Mike imagine a classic and elegant theme for their wedding and want a reception that features multiple dining combinations and options. For rings, Nicole wants an infinity band woven together with her circle princess cut engagement ring. Mike wants a ring featuring silver or tungsten.
Emily Walters, 28, and Erik Fisher, 30
Occupations: Emily: Elementary School Teacher, Erik: Software Specialist The field and fate brought Emily and Erik together; they met after a Twins game during the last season at the Metrodome. They regularly attend games together, including celebrating two anniversaries. Emily and Erik envision a classic-vintage vibe for their wedding. Both from Minneapolis, they are hoping to have a reception with food that has a local connection or is locally sourced. For rings, Emily wants a band with diamonds to complement her platinum solitaire engagement ring. Erik wants something "classy, not flashy" for his ring.
Heidi Christian, 33, and Ryan Hanke, 28 Occupations: Heidi: School Psychologist, Ryan: Data Analyst Ryan and Heidi, both major baseball fans, translate their love for the game into love for their relationship: "We have major league dreams of our future life together, and a Target Field wedding would be the perfect start to our All Star Marriage," they say. Both from Minneapolis, they enjoy pursuing new adventures: Heidi convinced Ryan to participate in a triathlon; Ryan coached Heidi into her first pair of hockey skates. Heidi and Ryan dream of a classic and simple wedding; something that reflects their active lifestyle. They would like a formal, sit-down dinner at their reception with chicken, fish, and vegetarian options. Heidi wants a diamond banded ring that she can wear all the time, and Ryan wants a ring that has yellow gold or two tone metals with a classic styling.
Emily Dapper, 31, and James Olsen, 30 Occupations: Emily: High School Admissions, James: IT Consulting, recently passed the Bar Exam Even though Emily and James have moved around, (from Washington to North Dakota and even to England,) they have always known Minnesota is their home. The two look forward to their wedding surrounded by close friends and family. "Target Field serving as home to the Twins is like Minnesota to us: an incredible journey and place to call a true home," they say. James and Emily hope to bring this "no place like home" vibe to their wedding and reception with a family-style feast and plenty of good company. For rings, Emily wants a three band design. She wants two bands, each with their birthstones (diamond and sapphire) to wrap with her existing diamond band engagement ring. James would like a band with mixed metals.
Tina Bernett, 33, and Caitlin Dole, 23 Occupations: Tina: Restaurant Manager, Caitlin: Pharmacy School Student Tina and Caitlin's first date was at a Twins game and ever since, they have frequently games together, even traveling to other stadiums. Both from Crystal, Minn., Tina and Crystal were planning a lower-budget, do-it-yourself-style wedding. They envision a dignified and celebratory ceremony that demonstrates their commitment to each other. For their reception, they would like classic American options, (including finger foods so guests can move around and mingle,) with a bit of Italian flavor. They love the three-stone look with white gold for their rings. The contest's winning couple will receive wedding jewelry valued at $10,000 from JB Hudson as well as a $10,000 home plate wedding ceremony and reception at Target Field. Delaware North Sportservice will cater the $4,000-valued reception. Visit JB Hudson's Facebook page to view each couple's wedding ring selection, essays, reception menu, and Kiss Cam kisses. Be sure to vote for your favorite by June 28.