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Jasmine and Mariana didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen at their wedding. Jasmine didn’t wear a white dress, and Mariana didn’t don a bridal veil. There was no limo to escort them to and from the ceremony — just a beat-up Dodge.
But they couldn’t have been happier: The couple had White Castle, their favorite burger joint, all to themselves as they tied the knot.
The women won an all-expenses-paid White Castle wedding — complete with a three-course menu, silver wedding bands, champagne for all, and a multilayer frosted cake — through the fast-food chain’s annual wedding sweepstakes. For the past eight years, White Castle has teamed up with radio stations in eight cities around the country to host a number of weddings each Valentine’s Day weekend.
Valentine’s Day has always brought in a good deal of business for White Castle, says Susan Milazzo, regional director of operations for White Castle in New York. Each year, for one weekend only, burger lovers can make a reservation at the fast-food spot for a romantic sit-down meal. Think candles, chocolates, shiny tablecloths, shrimp nibblers, sliders, and some sentimental music providing ambiance.
“We’ve kind of owned Valentine’s Day, like it’s our thing,” said Milazzo, who is expecting roughly 100 Valentine’s Day customers-with-reservations each night this weekend. “So from Valentine’s Day you go to love, from love you go to weddings, and a lot of people met in White Castle or wanted to get married here, so we thought it’d be great to have a contest centered around a winning couple, every year at this time. They just have to be in love to enter.”
This year’s New York winners, Jasmine Dimovski and Mariana Publiese, shut down a White Castle on East Fordham Road in the Bronx on Friday afternoon to seal the deal. In the company of twenty close friends and family members, the two women walked down a makeshift aisle and exchanged vows in front of the open counter, cash registers, and a tall sculpture made of burger boxes. Z100 radio host Greg Tyndorf, known on-air as Greg T from Elvis Duran and the Z100 Morning Show, officiated the ceremony as cars continued rolling past the drive-thru window. “I’m an ordained minister,” he said, reassuring everyone that the wedding was legal. This was his second time officiating a same-sex marriage, though he had never met this couple prior to the event.
“It looks and sounds non-traditional to be married in a White Castle,” said Tyndorf. “But you know what? What really matters is the amount of love they have for one another. And respect. Who’s to say that where you get married determines how long your marriage is going to last?”
The ceremony took all of five minutes. The brides exchanged rings and danced their first dance to an Ed Sheeran track. They skipped throwing the bouquet; White Castle employees were already marching around with trays of fried chicken rings and mozzarella sticks.
The newlyweds, both New Jersey natives, met each other at a mutual friend’s party almost five years ago. They began dating just three weeks later and have been together ever since.
Publiese, a nanny, had recently seen the contest publicized on Instagram and submitted an application without giving it too much thought. “I filled out a form and told them why I love White Castle,” she said. “I love White Castle for the mozzarella sticks.”
But it’s also the couple’s default, added Dimovski, a stay-at-home mother. “White Castle is the place we’ll always go to when we can’t decide on dinner,” she said. When the duo heard less than a month ago that they had been named winners, they made the mutual decision to get married.
“Getting married on Friday the thirteenth? That’s so us,” Dimovski laughed. “We always do things out of the ordinary.”
The women even color-coordinated their outfits to match the White Castle logo. Dimovski wore a royal-blue wedding gown, and Publiese dressed in a royal-blue button-down and black slacks. Dimovski’s eight-month-old daughter, Sophia, was also bundled in a bright-blue sequin-encrusted dress.
Out came trays of cheesecake on a stick — White Castle’s signature dessert — as the wedding drew to a close. “I just want to say I love this woman right here,” said Dimovski, champagne flute in hand. “And now she’s stuck with me!”
Fifty cheese sliders and three weeks later, the newlyweds will be off to Puerto Rico for the honeymoon.