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Hospitality and Tourism Management Students Offer Sponsored Wedding for East Tennessee Couple in November 2023

“Blissful Wish Wedding” Offers Experiential Learning Opportunity for Students

Students in the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management (RHTM) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are excited to offer a sponsored wedding ceremony and reception for one deserving couple from East Tennessee. During the Fall 2023 semester, hospitality and tourism management students will produce the “Blissful Wish Wedding” with two purposes: to give back to the East Tennessee community and to give hospitality and tourism management students an experiential learning opportunity by planning and executing an actual wedding event. The wedding will take place on Thursday, November 9, 2023, with a maximum of 75 guests.

Photo illustration of two gold wedding rings overlapping. They are placed on a vinyl record along with a bouquet of flowers.

Stefanie Benjamin, associate professor in RHTM, and Nancy Barger, owner of Barger Concepts, LLC, will lead a group of 13 selected students enrolled in the Wedding Production and Execution course.

“We want to give back to the East Tennessee community,” Benjamin said. “This will be truly an event by students and for students’ hands-on experience and resume builder!”

“Students will do everything,” Barger said. “I am excited to give this opportunity to hospitality and tourism management students at my venue at the Pavilion at Hunter Valley Farm.”

Junehee Kwon, professor and department head of RHTM, is excited to offer her students an opportunity to plan and execute a real wedding.

“Experiential learning opportunities offer meaningful and impactful experiences which help prepare students for working in the hospitality industry,” Kwon said. “If we can give such opportunities to our students while serving our community, it will truly be a win-win situation for all.”

Students will seek sponsorships from various vendors, ranging from catering services to floral, entertainment, wedding attire, photographer/videographer, makeup, and hair stylist! The sponsors will be acknowledged by the wedding planning team and listed on the RHTM website.

East Tennessee residents over 21 years who are in financial distress, experiencing challenges, or maybe didn’t get a chance to have their dream ceremony are encouraged to apply. UT employees or anyone related to a UT employee are not eligible.

RHTM is accepting applications from July 10 to July 31, 2023, at Vendors who are interested in sponsoring the event can also submit their applications on the same website. The winning couple will be announced on August 15, 2023, and will work with students as soon as the fall semester starts. More information including detailed terms and conditions is found on the RHTM website.

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