A Prince George bride-to-be is dreaming of saying "I do" in the same place she said "yes."
Charmain Theriault, 32, and fiance Ben Egan, 37, are among the Top 10 couples vying for the grand prize in Global BC's Win a Dream Wedding contest. Solely dependent on Internet voting, the winners will get a $20,000, seven-night trip to Mexico for themselves and 10 guests to witness their nuptials.
It's been a relationship fraught with hardship and sacrifice, but since meeting online in 2008, Theriault and Egan have fought for each other every step of the way.
The two found each almost by accident on the dating website PlentyofFish.com. Theriault - a single mom - had only created an account in solidarity with her father who was going through a divorce and Egan was looking for a friend of his in Smithers where Theriault had just moved a few months prior.
Within two days, Egan had messaged Theriault, who gave him a polite response, but deleted the initial message because he was on Vancouver Island.
"'Really, let's be realistic,' is what I was thinking," she said. "But he was very persistent and then we got chatting and within a week we were off POF and chatting on MSN together."
After 28 days, Theriault moved herself and her then eight-year-old son down to the Island and began the process of blending their two families, which included Egan's three children.
"I was in a time in my life where I needed a fresh start anyway," she said. "In my head, I was like, 'this is going to be a fresh start and if it doesn't work we're in a new place and we'll start new.'"
At the outset of their relationship, the couple had clear expectations. Theriault wanted to have another child and Egan didn't want to get married. But their attempts at conception hit a variety of roadblocks and health scares, which left Theriault - despite dropping nearly half her weight from 330 to 146 pounds - unable to have any more children.
The pair moved their family back to Theriault's hometown of Prince George during her health crisis - which culminated in her having a hysterectomy at the age of 31 - so that she could be closer to her support network of family and friends.
"He did it 100 per cent selflessly for me," she said, adding he gave up a job where he could be at home with his kids every day in Nanaimo when he came up north.
When he moved to Prince George, Egan got a job with CN Rail. "He's been away for four months and home for 24 hours," Theriault said. "He struggles every day being away from us and the kids."
While the two can never biologically have a child to call their own, the experience left Egan with the desire to want to make their family official.
He surprised his girlfriend by popping the question during a 2010 family vacation to Mexico.
Theriault thought that she was the one doing the surprising, gifting Egan with the trip as a present for his 35th birthday. What she didn't know was that for the past two years, Egan had also been putting money aside - for an engagement ring.
Winning Global's contest would mean the pair could marry - they've set a date of Oct. 5 this year - in the same country they got engaged. There's no way that could happen otherwise considering it took Theriault - an education assistant with School District 57 - five years of saving to be able to afford the first trip.
"This would be a way to get our happily ever after without sacrificing our family," she said.
Theriault was inspired to enter the contest after urging from her grandmother, but knowing that thousands would likely enter, it never crossed her mind that they would make it as one of the final pairs.
But now that they have a one-in-10 shot, Theriault said she wants nothing more than to win this for her fiance after everything the pair has been through and given how much he has given up for her.
"He had to sleep in a parkade," she said, explaining how Egan would stay overnight in his car while she was in the hospital in Victoria because they couldn't afford a hotel room so that he could be nearby to support her.
Theriault said that outside of her son, Egan "outshines every man I've met in my life," and she teared up as she read a Facebook message from him.
"Love like this only comes by once in a lifetime for the lucky few. And when I met you, I knew you were the one and only for me and that I had found what most search for their whole lives: to find true love and their soulmate in life. I am a lucky man and I can't wait to call you my wife forever," he wrote.
To vote for Egan and Theriault, visit www.globalnews.ca/contests/dreamwedding. The pair will be interviewed on the Global BC morning show Jan. 11 at 8:15 a.m. Voting closes Jan. 27.