HOLIDAY — When Dorothy "Dottye" Brown met Mr. Wright, she decided to marry him in an unusual way — on national television.
Wayne and Dottye Wright of Holiday were married 67 years ago on the ABC television show Bride and Groom, a program on which couples from around the country were chosen to stage their ceremonies. They were interviewed by program hosts and received both a complimentary gift package and a free honeymoon.
"It was a dream come true," Dottye Wright said.
"We were treated like a king and queen," Wayne Wright said.
The wedding, on Dec. 20, 1948, culminated a romance that started on a blind date.
"I went to photography school with Dottye's brother, and he wanted to date a girl but was too bashful to ask her out," Wayne Wright, 88, said. "He asked me if I would join him for a double date, with me dating his sister, Dottye."
Dottye, a nanny's assistant, made quite the impression.
"I saw her and thought, oh, my gosh!" Wayne said. "I knew right away."
Dottye, 88, also felt an immediate connection.
"It was love at first sight," she said.
At age 21, the couple decided to marry. But with no money for a ceremony, they acted on a tip from a friend to apply for participation on Bride and Groom, an early type of reality show.
On the day of the taping for the show, the couple was whisked via limousine to the lavishly decorated Spanish Chapel at the Chapman Park Hotel in Los Angeles.
"At one point, we got hungry, so the limo took us through the drive-through at a local burger place," Dottye recalled with a chuckle.
The show gave the couple an elaborate place setting for their dining room, a silver fox fur coat for Dottye and a Tappan range. In addition, Dottye was loaned an ebullient full-length satin wedding dress, and the couple was treated to a free honeymoon at nearby Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa.
Soon the couple settled into married life, with Wayne opening an architectural photography studio and Dottye undertaking a career as a medical secretary. The couple adopted two children, Rory and Lorrie, and now have eight grandchildren. In addition, the avid churchgoers started a chapter of the Young Life Christian ministry in Kansas City, Mo., where they lived for many years.
"The key to a long marriage is faith in Christ," Dottye said.
The Wrights moved to Florida in 2001. The walls of their Holiday home are lined with photographs from their courtship and marriage, many of which Wayne took himself, as well as photos taken of the couple during their appearance on Bride and Groom.
With the approach of Valentine's Day, Wayne said, "We've been really blessed."