Many Think Miami Is Nice Place for Free Wedding (updated)

About 9,000 people from across the country entered the "Marry Me in Miami" contest for a wedding at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables worth $150,000, according to organizers at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Five couples were randomly chosen from as far away as Chicago to compete June 22 in five challenges for the grand prize -- organizers won't say what the competitions are, but they have names like "Let Them Eat Cake" and "Petals & Garters," so someone will probably embarrass themselves.

But a morning of embarrassment pays off big time: The winning couple will receive an expenses-paid wedding and reception for 125 people, plus the wedding dress, groom's tuxedo, and hotel rooms for the couple and their parents, according to visitors bureau spokeswoman Jennifer Diaz.

Though this will bring one more wedding to the city, there's never been a shortage, according to Miami-Dade Marriage License Bureau manager Roberto Reboso. The county leads the state with between 20,000 and 25,000 marriages annually -- many, he said, tourists from other states and countries.

The contest is part of the visitors bureau's "Miami Romance Month," which, as it turns out, is advertised in Miami New Times. The month is designed to attract couples to the city in June through specials at restaurants, hotels, and tourist activities such as seaplane tours and admission to the World Erotic Art Museum. If you want to see one couple win a sweet wedding and the other four realize they'll have to settle for whatever Mom and Pop can cook up, the competition will take place at 10  9:30 a.m. next Wednesday on the 300 block of Miracle Mile in Coral Gables; the road will be closed to traffic, so it'll be hard to miss.

UPDATE 6/17: Diaz says plans have changed slightly: promoters will now be out as early as 8:30 a.m., but the new official start time is 9:30.

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