Michael Flynn would love it if his fiancee Lynn Donini could have something of her own.
Donini, 26, a pediatric oncology nurse from Clearwater, is a twin whose birthday is around Christmas and her sister is getting married in May.
"She's always had to share everything, from clothes to gifts," said Flynn, 26, a pharmacist from New Port Richey. "I just want her to have something truly special that she can call her own."
So he'd like all of Tampa Bay to band together and vote for them to win the Brides Live Wedding, an online contest sponsored by Conde Nast's Brides magazine that will give a winning couple a $1 million ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, Calif., and $1 for every vote they received to their charity of choice. A weekly Web show features the couple learning about the elements of the wedding that online voters will choose, from decor to songs. The couple with the most votes during the voting period of May 6-9 will walk away with whatever viewers selected.
"After we got engaged, I was browsing around online through Brides and came across the contest," Donini said. "I sent them some pictures and told them our story and we were chosen."
Flynn and Donini are one of three finalist couples vying for the dream wedding — 1,400 applied.
"They called us and said, 'You're finalists and we're sending a camera crew to you on Wednesday and a we'll see you in L.A. next week,' " she said.
Somehow things just always work out for Donini and Flynn. They hope winning this contest will continue their hot streak.
Donini thought she wouldn't be able to get a date while working a nursing job in Sebastian, a town on Florida's east coast. A co-worker intervened on her behalf when she spotted a cute intern with the pharmacist and gave Donini's number to Flynn. He called that night and their relationship moved at rapid speed, because Flynn was on a two-month rotation and had to return to New York to finish pharmacy school. The couple were separated for eight months before Donini got a fateful call.
"I said 'Guess who just got a job in Florida?' " Flynn recalls.
Hectic work schedules — and graduate school for Donini — leave little time for togetherness. When they are together, Flynn tries to make it count without making it cost, which is why they often end up at Chili's.
"I think that's why we need each other. We compliment each other so well. I'm a bit on the frugal side and Lynn is always telling me, 'You know you can order off the non 2-for-$20 menu sometimes," Flynn laughed.
His initial pitch for the catered reception: Subway. Not on his life, Donini assured him.
After deciding to let America choose the elements of their wedding, they embarked on an eight-day trip that would be the first visit to California for them both. As part of the contest, they had to live in a house with the other two couples for a week.
"I walked away with a lot of respect for what goes into making a reality TV show, because just for the 10-minute episodes we have, it took two days of filming and huge crews," Flynn said.
While shooting the first episode, which hit YouTube on Wednesday, the finalists got to taste cake prepared by the Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro, to help choose flavors.
"Mike swears he doesn't like cream cheese but he was in love with the red velvet cake with cream cheese icing," Donini laughed.
"She took a bite and then gave it to me to taste and then turned around to get another bite and it was all gone when she turned around," Flynn admitted sheeplishly.
The future Mrs. Lynn Flynn is passionate about her selected charity, the Ronald McDonald House, because she's seen what joy they can bring by keeping families with long-term hospitalized children together.