Dec 30, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Mike Avery and Fiona Runwick may remember Christmas 2011 as the best holiday of their lives: on Dec. 23 they won a $10,000 engagement ring from Skaneateles Jewelry and then made their engagement official at the end of the Skaneateles Pier.
The ring was the grand prize in the 93Q “Bridal Idol” contest, in which five couples competed for votes over a two–week period similar to the “American Idol” television show.
“We were ecstatic about winning. It was a great end to two weeks of pure emotion,” Avery said.
“We really felt thankful for our friends and family who got us so many votes,” Runwick said. “We also feel equal part stress now that the wedding planning is underway!” she added jokingly.
The Bridal Idol contest, which ran Dec. 5 through 23, was done under the aegis the Ted and Amy in the Morning show on 93Q radio.
To enter the contest, a couple or individual needed to submit a photograph of themselves and their significant other and a short letter stating what made their relationship unique and why they deserved to be the Bridal Idol champions.
Avery and Runwick discussed entering the contest, although it was Avery who wrote and submitted the letter about their relationship — without Runwick reading it.
Avery, 26, and Runwick, 25, who both currently live in Liverpool, have been together for five years. They met their junior year at the University at Buffalo through mutual friends. Their first non-Buffalo date was in Skaneateles.
“I entered the contest for lots of reasons,” Avery said. “The first is that I knew I wanted to marry Fiona for a while now, and this contest gave me the means to ask that question sooner rather than later. I also wanted everyone to know, including Fiona, just how much she means to me.”
The first time Runwick heard the contents of Avery’s letter, in fact, was when Amy Robbins read it on the air as part of the contest:
“Fiona is not your average name, nor is she your average girl. I found this out upon meeting her over five years ago, and I have fallen more in love with her every day since. She balances every part of my life, all with the most beautiful smile that anyone could ever witness. She is the happiest person I have ever met, and I feel lucky each moment I am with her.
“Our success as a couple can be completely accredited to her sacrifice, such as moving to Syracuse years ago with hopes to make our relationship work. On the contrary, Fiona also knows when to let me know I’m being unrealistic, which seems to happen more often than not.
“I know I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I know she will be the best wife. I know she will be the best mom. She compliments every part of my life, and is the cliché ‘Ying to my Yang’. I want her to know just how much she means to me, and how much I absolutely love her.”
After they were picked as one of the five final couples in the contest, Avery and Runwick encouraged all their family and friends to vote for them, then listened anxiously to 93Q every morning of an elimination announcement.
“At 7:30 a.m. on each of the elimination days, we tuned in to see what the results were. We would have friends and family contacting us just before the elimination, constantly working up our anxiety,” Avery said. “We really do owe this entire competition to them; who knows if we would have gotten this far without them. We cannot express enough how grateful for them, and how humbling it was for us.”
At 8 a.m. on Dec. 23, the final two couples appeared on the Ted and Amy in the Morning show for the live announcement of the grand prize winner. Avery and Runwick won with 6,773 votes — more than 1,600 votes higher than the runners-up, who received a $250 gift certificate to Skaneateles Jewelry.
Avery and Runwick received in the studio that morning the grand prize: a 0.80 carat round brilliant Forevermark diamond from Antwerp Belgium in an 18k white gold setting, provided and selected by Skaneateles Jewelry.
Charlie Davis, of Skaneateles Jewelry, made the final announcement.
“I thought it was a great event,” Davis told the Press. “I found it very engaging just to see who would be eliminated next. I’m not an American idol fan, but I got kind of taken in. I can definitely see why people enjoy it so much. I was happy to see Mike and Fiona win, although I wasn’t picking favorites.”
Avery and Runwick were naturally thrilled to win the contest, and they both loved the ring. When asked by Ted and Amy if an engagement was impending and if the answer would be yes, both Avery and Runwick were coy with their answers.
But shortly after the contest ended, the couple traveled to Skaneateles for a (fictitious) late lunch date.
“I tricked Fiona into thinking we had late lunch reservations at the Blue Water Grill. Even though we were not hungry, she agreed to go to lunch after some convincing,” Avery said. “I then let her think she came up with the idea of walking around town prior to lunch, including the Skaneateles Pier. Fiona loves Christmas, she loves the season and loves everything about it. The town and the pier made it the perfect choice, and I proposed at the end of the pier.”
The couple is hoping for a June/July 2013 wedding, and are now in the preliminary stages of planning, they said. Avery grew up in Onondaga Hill and Runwick in Ithaca, so it is sure to be a CNY wedding, and, they said, they are “seriously considering” multiple locations in Skaneateles for the reception.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.