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Couple vow eternal bliss over Krystal sandwiches

Published Feb. 15, 2006

Cary Will and Gordon Bainbridge plan a traditional wedding ceremony March 4 at St. Petersburg's Northeast Presbyterian Church.

There will be a bagpiper. "That Scottish heritage thing," she said.

She will have six attendants, and the reception afterward will take place at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

Her engagement ring is an heirloom that belonged first to his paternal great-grandmother, then to his mother.

Theirs is a classic tale if ever there was one, except for this: Bainbridge's proposal last May 21 has made them celebrities in the Krystal fast-food chain.

The couple, both 31, live in Smyrna, just northwest of Atlanta. After a night out drinking with friends, they made a 3:30 a.m. run to the neighborhood Krystal drive-through.

At home a short time later, "I was in my pajamas, eating my Krystal Chik," Will said, and Bainbridge held the diamond ring toward her. He wondered whether she liked it as it was or whether she would prefer to have it in a different setting.

"It was, like, an antique. I was like, "This is beautiful. Why are you showing this to me?' So the moment presented itself. You're either a planner, or you're not."

Will said yes.

Once they set a date, she went to the Krystal Web site, looking for a photo to use in an online newsletter she e-mails to friends. That's when she discovered the Krystal Lovers link. She sent in their story, "not knowing there was a promotion three months later. This thing just grew legs."

Krystal printed her picture on some of its serving containers, and last fall she was inducted into the Krystal Lovers Hall of Fame.

The box reads: "My fiance proposed to me over a Krystal Chik. Some couples have a song, we have a sandwich."

Will is the daughter of Frances Doyle and the late Steven Will of St. Petersburg. She went to St. Raphael's Catholic School, Grace Lutheran School, Southside Fundamental and St. Petersburg High School. She discovered Krystal Chiks, little sandwiches filled with crispy breaded chicken, pickle and mayonnaise, while attending Mercer University in Macon, Ga.

"It all started in college," she said. "When I went to Mercer, that was kind of the late-night place everybody went. That's where the whole freshman 15 (pounds of weight gain) comes from."

She and Bainbridge, who is from Alpharetta, Ga., met in May 2004, about a year before he proposed. They work for the same Atlanta company. She is in marketing; he, in finance. The firm, she said in a telephone interview, doesn't wish to be identified.

Krystal has offered, and the couple hope to have, some of the tiny burgers and chicken sandwiches at their wedding reception.

"We were trying for that, but logistically, it's a little bit difficult," Will said, noting that the Krystal outlets closest to St. Petersburg are in Tampa.

"The thing is, you've got to eat them while they're hot. If you don't eat them while they're hot, then they get kind of yucky."

The company is sending copies of the "boxes with my face on it, so that everyone can see those," and she has ordered Krystal Chiks gym shorts as tokens for her bridesmaids.

"We're all heading down there soon, to have a good time," Will said. "You take an unplanned proposal, and we made a good story out of it."

Information from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.