LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles gay couple is vying for the top spot to win Crate and Barrel’s Ultimate Wedding Giveaway Contest.
Robbie Cronrod and Allen Artcliff currently have garnered enough votes to put them in second place in the contest. At stake is a $100,000 dream wedding furnished by Crate and Barrel and planned by wedding planner to the stars, Yifat Oren.
Cronrod, a vice president of a national apartment association, and Artcliff, who works for a Los Angeles-based restaurant investment firm, said they wanted to enter the contest to make a stand for marriage equality.
“A vote for us is a vote for marriage equality,” the couple said. “Winning this contest would further validate the fact that same-sex couples deserve equal rights while providing a broad media outlet to showcase a healthy relationship between two loving people.”
While it may seem like creating a profile, telling the world about your relationship and adding a few photos is an easy way to win a dream wedding, much more work goes into the process, at least for these two men.
Cronrod and Artcliff have launched a massive networking campaign to earn enough votes to help them win the contest. Cronrod said they have been spending at least 40 hours per week trying to get the word out and earn votes.
“The key to gaining the popular vote is networking,” Cronrod said. “We don't want to give away our secrets to getting to where we are, but it hasn't been easy. We also took our time creating our entry to ensure it accurately reflected us in the 500 characters allowed per question and the photos we selected showed our personality.”
In addition to contacting the public and running Facebook and Twitter pages, the couple has started their own website to share their story.
Cronrod said the couple started their website, LoveAtFirstWink, to show the world how normal and happy a same-sex relationship can be.
“Between volunteering, facilitating, and now planning our own wedding, we were immersed in the importance of marriage equality,” Cronrod said. “We both got tired of seeing so many politicians, judges, and lawmakers constantly making sweeping decisions about the legality of love between two people, any two people, that we decided to take an approach to put a face on marriage equality.”
In addition to providing an intimate glimpse inside the couple’s life, the website provides links to LGBT campus directories, a list of LGBT supporters and provides ways that visitors can help make marriage equality a reality for all people.
The website name hearkens back to the way the couple met. Cronrod said two and half years ago he was struggling with his sexuality, but felt he needed to be in a relationship with a man. While looking at profiles on the dating website, Match.com, Cronrod said he came across Artcliff’s profile and made the bold move to click the “wink” button to let Artliff know he was interested. Artliff said Cronrod made his move just in time.
“After years of unlucky online dating, I logged on to the site to cancel my account,” Artliff said. “There he was. With one last ‘wink,’ I figured, ‘What do I have to lose?’”
Love at first wink
Cronrod said after he sent his “wink” to Artliff, he received a frantic email from Artliff via Match asking him to “call me, call me, call me.” Though Cronrod said he was a little nervous to move forward with the relationship so quickly, he agreed to meet Artcliff the next day. The pair agree that when they met the following day, there was an instant attraction.
“For me, it was definitely love at first sight,” Artcliff said. “I saw him walking down the street towards me, and I truly felt like I was meeting my soul mate.”
“Looking back at it now, I was in love with Allen from day one for accepting me for being gay, for accepting me for being me,” Cronrod said. “Without a doubt, fear of being gay aside, there was instant chemistry and attraction from the moment we met and it has only gotten stronger every day.”
The romance blossomed quickly and after a year together, Cronrod decided to ask Artcliff to move in with him. Cronrod designed custom “I Moved” cards for Artcliff to send to his friends and family and then presented Artcliff with them.
One year and a number of fabulous milestones and vacations together later, Cronrod decided to propose to Artliff over a surprise trip to Half Moon Bay and Napa as a celebration of their second anniversary. Artliff said he happily accepted!
The couple said they hope to have their wedding in October near the celebration of their third anniversary.
Robbie and Allen’s Ultimate Wedding
The couple said they plan to be legally married in Boston and return to Los Angeles for a spectacular celebration. Artliff and Cronrod said they want their Los Angeles celebration to include panoramic views of the L.A. skyline, a view of the ocean and some very sweet treats.
“We definitely want a killer make-your-own ice cream sundae bar with every topping you could imagine and a dessert bar with goodies from our childhood like cotton candy, licorice ropes, nerds and more,” Cronrod said.
The two men said they want to have a relaxed and lounge-y atmosphere instead of a traditional sit down reception. The entire celebration would be perfectly rounded out if they could include a special type of photo booth, the couple said.
“Plus our newest idea is to get the NOH8 campaign to setup a photo booth so guests can get tattooed and duct taped to create our ultimate photo album,” Cronrod said.
How to help them win
Currently, the couple have the second greatest amount of votes. But they need your help to get to the No. 1 spot.
Cronrod and Artcliff said there are a few different ways the public can help make their dream wedding come true:
1. Go to HERE and vote!
2. Via Facebook: Post this link and ask friends to vote http://bit.ly/SDVOTE,.
3. Invite friends to visit their website and click the “vote” button!
4. Via twitter: Tweet their link http://bit.ly/SDVOTE
Voting is open until April 30 and a winner will be chosen by Crate and Barrel in early June.