Weddings, as wonderful an event as they are, sometimes come with two things – stress and empty wallets.

All Star Tents and Events

• 100-person wedding ceremony and reception to include the following from their inventory of rentals. Tent, lighting, tables, chairs, bar, linens, china, silverware, glassware, etc. will be provided. Setup and delivery are included.

Value: $5,400

Dianna Tornow Cakes LLC

• Wedding cake for 100 people. Setup and delivery included

Value: $750

Floyd and Green

• 18kt white gold and diamond bride wedding band and 18kt white gold groom wedding band

Value: $3,510

Cote Designs

• Hand crafted arrangements for wedding ceremony, reception, boutonnieres and bouquets. Setup and delivery included.

Value: $3,000

Giving Weddings

• Pre-wedding, ceremony and reception photography, online gallery of 500 photos to choose from and wedding album of approximately 100 photos

Value: $4,000

4 Cats in the Doghouse

• Four-piece band to play during wedding reception

Value: $2,100

John Vaughn

• Piano music pre-ceremony, ceremony and post-ceremony cocktails

Value: $500

Lionel Smith Ltd​.

• Groom and six groomsmen tuxedo rentals with shoes – includes fitting

Value $1,200

The Willcox

• Certified Southern Living wedding planner, ceremony venue at The Willcox, reception venue, food and beverage for wedding reception of 100 people, wedding night accommodations in the Roosevelt Suite, couples massage the day before the wedding, bottle of champagne and in-room dinner post wedding reception

Value $15,000

Sweepstakes vendors and donations

The Willcox and Southern Living magazine are offering a chance of a lifetime in which one lucky couple could receive a dream wedding for free.

The Southern Living Willcox Wedding Sweepstakes, offering an all-inclusive wedding package valued at $35,920, will be promoted in the national magazine that has about 16 million readers.

The Willcox was recently added to the Southern Living Hotel Collection, which currently consists of only 19 hotels, resorts and inns from 18 Southern states. According to a press release, the collection is by invitation only and each facility is chosen for offering an exquisite experience through good service, fine cuisine and the best amenities.

Geoff and Shannon Ellis, the owners of the historic hotel that was constructed about 115 years ago, attended a meeting at the publication's headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., where they learned that Southern Living wanted to include weddings in its array of other topics that include home, gardening, food and travel.

So, with wedding bells in mind and its recent honor, The Willcox decided to partner with the magazine and reach out to a host of local vendors to formulate the sweepstakes.

“It's a tremendous honor for Southern Living to trust their brand with us,” Shannon said, adding that the magazine is very meticulous in doing so as it launches its new wedding pillar. “It's very, very special to us, and we're all excited.”

The package includes The Willcox as a venue, which will also cover wedding coordination with the help of the hotel's General Manger Tina McCarthy, food and beverages along with hotel and spa accommodations. The cake, flowers, photography, entertainment, wedding bands, tuxedo rentals and more are all included in the package.

The Ellises said they have worked around the clock to put this sweepstakes together. Between The Willcox's dedicated staff and the generosity of local businesses, the opportunity to not only showcase Aiken, but also make a future bride and groom very happy, came to fruition.

“We are very proud to be in a town as tremendously generous and talented as it is, and we are very excited to share it with as many people as we can,” Shannon said.

The sweepstakes opens on Dec. 11 and will run through Feb. 28. To enter, visit – the website is currently unavailable but will launch when the contest begins.

Entries may also be submitted through the mail on a postcard that includes name, address, daytime phone number and email to the Southern Living Willcox Wedding Sweepstake, C/O US Sweepstakes & Fulfillment CO, 625 Panorama Trail (Bldg. 2, Suite 100), Rochester, N.Y. 14625-2437.

Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010.