The Tampa Bay area can call Kimberly Deanne Acquaviva and Kimberly Marie McGannon its Millennium Couple.
The Knot, a leading wedding Web site in New York City, announced Monday that the gay couple won the company's worldwide Millennium Couple Contest by a "landslide vote."
"We've been so overwhelmed by how supportive people have been," said Acquaviva, 27. "We want to thank Tampa Bay and all of the people who have written and e-mailed with their own love stories."
Originally, 5,000 couples entered the contest, which was sponsored by The Knot. The pool of candidates was narrowed to five couples by the company's staff, and the public voted.
Acquaviva and McGannon, who live near Tyrone Square Mall, received 23 percent more votes than the other finalists. In addition to affirmation, they won a $4,800 shopping spree on The Knot's gift registry, which includes 10,000 products.
"I'm a little shocked," said McGannon, 28. "Kim and I have been crossing our fingers, and with all of the publicity we've gotten, we hoped and prayed things were going to work out."
Acquaviva counsels cancer patients as a social worker for Hospice of the Florida Suncoast. She also is finishing her doctorate in human sexuality education. McGannon searches estate sales and sells antique treasures on eBay, an auction site on the Internet.
They met in the summer of 1997 when Acquaviva visited Florida on vacation. McGannon moved to Philadelphia to live with Acquaviva while she finished graduate courses. They moved to St. Petersburg soon after.
"At The Knot, we believe that every couple _ no matter what race, color, sex or background _ should celebrate their love," said Carley Roney, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Knot. "As the next century quickly approaches, we wanted to recognize that today's and tomorrow's to-be-weds are changing the wedding paradigm."
Their ceremony is not legally binding, but Acquaviva and McGannon will get hitched at the Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa in St. Pete Beach on April 8. Sixty guests will stand by as they exchange vows and diamond-studded, white-gold wedding bands before a Unitarian minister.
"If you find someone and fall in love, make the relationship No. 1 and try to push away all the negativity," Acquaviva said. "Pursue it no matter what people say."
The women thanked The Knot for taking a risk by selecting them as the only same-sex couple among the finalists.
"Our user base is open-minded," said Jessica Kleiman, The Knot spokeswoman. "We're not about the politics of gay marriage. We're about throwing the party."
To view the winner, as well as the finalists of The Knot Millennium Couple Contest, log onto www.theknot.com/winner.html.