NORTH FORK, NY —One military couple received a big “thank you” for their service on Veterans Day weekend as they won the magical, fairy tale wedding of their dreams.
The 11th annual Veterans Day Wedding Giveback took place on Sunday at Brecknock Hall in Greenport, celebrating the marriage of Lieutenants Edward (Eddie) Joseph Wright IV, 28, of Orient and Sarah Ritchie, 28, of Pittsburgh, PA. The annual contest, sponsored by the Peconic Landing retirement community, provides a free wedding each year for current or former military personnel in recognition of their service to our country.
The giveaway is made possible through contributions from local businesses and organizations who donate their time, talents, and services to create an all-expenses-paid wedding for one lucky couple, Peconic Landing said.
“Our Veterans Day Wedding Giveback reflects Peconic Landing’s commitment to celebrating and supporting those who have served our country,” said Robert J. Syron, Peconic Landing’s president and CEO. “Eddie and Sarah could not be more deserving of this special day, and it is an honor to play a small part in their journey towards a lifetime of happiness.”
The winning couple was chosen by a panel of Peconic Landing members with military ties, who judged the contest based on the number of years served, special military honors, and each couple’s personal love story. The couple was notified during a surprise announcement at Peconic Landing on May 18, with family members, Peconic Landing members, and Peconic Landing team members present.
Wright was commissioned as an officer in 2017 and is currently on his third tour of duty serving as an Assistant Chief of Marine Investigations in the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Miami. In his role, he investigates marine casualties involving commercial vessels and generates safety recommendations that drive changes in law or regulation for commercial vessels. He has earned the Secretary of Homeland Security Meritorious Service Silver Medal, Coast Guard Commendation Medal, and Coast Guard Achievement Medal, among others, Peconic Landing said.
Ritchie was also commissioned as an officer in 2017 and is on her third tour of duty with the USCG. She recently received her designation as an Aviator on April 28 and now serves as an MH 65E pilot at USCG Air Station Miami. She has earned the Department of Homeland Security Outstanding Unit Award, Coast Guard Commendation Medal, and Coast Guard Achievement Medal, among others.
The couple met at the Coast Guard Academy in 2013 and were friends for four years before dating in 2017, Peconic Landing said. They were both stationed in Louisiana during their second tours, until Ritchie left New Orleans to live her dream and attend flight school in Pensacola, FL. The couple traveled 200 miles to see each other while in rigorous training billets. In 2022, Wright proposed to Ritchie in New Orleans.
“Yesterday was an absolute dream,” said the couple. “We are grateful beyond words for the amazing community of vendors that made our wedding day flawless for our guests and ourselves. We had the opportunity to meet with most of the people who donated to the Wedding Giveback this year, and we were so awed by their generosity, kindness, and the passion that they put into their work. Thank you to the panel of judges at Peconic Landing that chose us, to Valerie for all her orchestration, to all the helping hands that contributed, and to our guests for traveling from far and wide to make our day so special.”
“We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the local businesses who have made this celebration possible,” said Syron. “Their generosity is a testament to the incredible community we have here on the East End of Long Island.”