LANSING | Joe Wagner and Dolly Sintich are heading into a whirlwind 42 days. The couple, formerly of Lansing, were selected the winners of a dream wedding courtesy of ABC 7's "Windy City Live."
They were one of four finalists for the dream wedding. The online voting ended on Thursday and on Friday’s live broadcast just before noon, the couple were announced as winners. One of the four couples had dropped out of the competition, leaving only three for the big announcement.
Wagner and Sintich won over audiences with the story of Wagner’s romantic New Year’s Eve proposal and his plans to be a liver donor for Sintich’s mother later this year for a hereditary condition that has also affected two other family members. The surgery is scheduled for August.
After no family members were eligible donors, Wagner was tested to see if he could donate.
“He was the first of anyone outside our immediate family to volunteer to donate and the likelihood of a match was very slim,” Sintich said.
The two are both currently college students and Wagner is a former Marine. The two spoke by phone from their Bridgeport home shortly after the announcement.
“We’re back home and just trying to take it all in,” said Sintich, who will be handing over all of her wedding planning to be determined by viewer voting, from the dress to the decor to the food.
Wagner said that he expects it to make the process easier by having so many decisions made for them.
“I think it will make it a lot less stressful and we’ll still end up with a lot of great vendors,” he said of their May 16 ceremony that will be televised during the show’s regular 11 a.m. time slot. “It’s going to be a fun, exciting weekend.”
After the on-air ceremony, the wedding party will take photos and then head over to the Thompson Chicago Hotel, a luxurious boutique hotel on Chicago’s Gold Coast for a reception. The next day, they’ll be at the wedding of Joe’s close friend from the Marines. The following day, Joe graduates from John Marshall Law School and Dolly graduates from Columbia College.
"Windy City Live" host Val Warner asked Sintich following the announcement if she was nervous about letting the audience pick out the details of the day, but Sintich answered confidently that she trusts their judgment.
Warner also asked the couple how they met, which happened to be while he was visiting his cousin and she was visiting her friend at the campus of Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal. The part not shared on air is they are both from Lansing, yet had never met.
“His parents live across the street from my maid of honor, but we never crossed paths,” Sintich said. “I was at my friend’s house all the time, but that would have been when he was away in the Marines. We never met until we met through mutual friends.”
They credit their family and friends in Lansing for helping them win the contest.
“We want to thank everyone in the local area for all the support and helping to spread the message,” Wagner said. “I think it was the grassroots effort that paid off for us in the competition.”
Sintich said she also used social media to spread word of the contest and her co-workers and their classmates were extremely helpful.
“We’re really excited about this whole experience,” added Sintich. “We want to thank everyone from our hometown for all the support they’ve given us. We’re ready to go down to Lansing and enjoy this and celebrate with our families.”