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Va. couple to tie knot in front of millions

Friday - 12/21/2012, 9:14am  ET

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The happy couple is excited to tie the knot at the Tournament of Roses in California. (Courtesy of Laura Markofsky)

Randi Martin, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Hundreds flock to Pasadena, Calif., to watch the world-famous Tournament of Roses parade. Fifty million people tune in all across the country to watch in on TV.

For one couple, this meant the perfect opportunity to get married.

For the first time in the parade's 124-year history, a couple will tie the knot at the national event. Gerald Sapienza and Nicole Angelillo of Chesapeake, Va., grew up in the same town and attended the same high school, but didn't manage to meet until 10 years after graduation.

The couple fell in love at first sight. After Gerald popped the question during one of Nicole's business trips in New Orleans, they celebrated their magical night by riding on a Mardi Gras float.

Now, the couple will wed atop the Farmers Insurance "Love Float".

"It is a very public venue and we're excited to do it," says Nicole.

After entering the "Love Float" national contest, hundreds of entries were cut to just four. America voted, and Gerald and Nicole turned out to be that lucky couple.

"We are going to get married going down the Boulevard and the world gets to share it with us," Nicole says.

David's Bridal of Hampton, Va., is outfitting Nicole and her entire wedding party. But her gown proved most challenging.

"We had a lot of obstacles to overcome," says Tina Gilliam, the store's assistant manger. "The dress had to work over a harness that will anchor Nicole to the float, a float that she can only get to by climbing."

Gilliam then brought out their 10-foot store ladder - the same one the store uses to change its light bulbs.

"We actually had her climb the ladder in the dress to see if she could," Gilliam says.

She could, and that dress will be on display on New Year's Day as the happy couple makes their vows.

Contest rules for the wedding dress state that it must have little to no train and no big, ball gown-style skirt, so that brides can climb up and down the ladder of the float quickly. The dress material needs to be forgiving as well for climbing the ladder and wearing a harness, so brides must avoid dresses with boning and stiff or fragile fabric.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)