ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A lot of front-line and essential workers who were planning to get hitched in 2020 have had to, like so many others, delay their wedding plans.
And apparently, some of them are in such financial straits they may no longer be able to afford a ceremony.
The owners of a local wedding venue have heard some of those stories first-hand.
"Met with a couple yesterday who are essential workers and they lost deposits," John Cates told ABC11, and he added, "The main thing we've noticed is the struggle that we've seen for the people who want to get married and have had their dreams dashed."
Cates and his wife, Jennifer, of Raleigh, own Cates Farm at Cane Creek, a wedding venue in rural Orange County near Hillsborough.
It's a farm that's been in the Cates family since the 1750s and where they sat down with ABC11 to talk about how the farm has been transformed into one of the few places where people can still hold weddings.
"Because we have 100 acres of outdoor space, we were able to share that with people to have socially distanced safe weddings," John Cates said.
Of course, like so many other businesses, the venue has struggled during the pandemic.
But it's not the couple's only income and the pandemic hasn't affected them like it has those essential workers whose wedding dreams have been put on hold or called off.
So they decided they could afford to do something about it.
"If you and your loved one are essential workers and you've been working really hard during this pandemic to help other people and your wedding plans have been put on hold, John and I would love for you to enter your love story into our contest," Jennifer Cates explained.
The contest prize - a free wedding and reception.
The Cateses have teamed up with Urbana Catering Concepts, photographer Angela Hollowell, DJ Royal Lewis, Specialties Events to provide flowers, The Golf Cart Guy for onsite transportation and Holland Rent-All Company, which will provide tables and chairs.
All are donating their services to put on a wedding and reception for a lucky couple.
They will even provide someone to officiate.
All you'll need is a wedding dress.
"We just wanted to have a big special event for people who were kind of having a hard time right now," Jennifer Cates said.
The contest is pretty simple. You can find the rules here.
"You need to share your love story and how COVID and the coronavirus has impacted your wedding plans and also what your work has been as an essential worker and how that's impacted you along with a picture," John Cates explained.
You'll want to do that soon because the deadline is October 25.
And keep in mind that Jennifer Cates is a retired school teacher and will be reading your essay.
But she is putting away her red pencil and just having fun with it.
"As a former school teacher I really like to read, I really like to read essays. So it's been a joy to me just to read people's stories," she said.
The winner will be picked by all the vendors who will then start planning for the November 28 event designed to meet all state guidelines for weddings.
And designed to make all the sponsors feel they've done something, John said, "...that will enable us to bring a little bit of joy into what, so far, has been a dark and dismal year."