LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Joy Richter, a nurse, and Eric Daniel, a teacher, part-time actor and retired Polk County deputy, are not people who crave the spotlight.
They don’t like large crowds, like the one that gathers at the Lakeland Christmas Parade.
“We did not go last year. You know, I honestly would rather stream it than go to it, just because of the sheer amount of people,” said Daniel.
The Lakeland couple met last year as many modern couples do: on a dating app.
Things weren’t going great online for Daniel.
“I absolutely loathed it every time. I would delete them so many times and every time I got back on, I would say ‘why am I doing this? This is just nothing. It’s not leading to anything,’” he said.
Then he met Richter.
“Honestly, 100%, I knew then, I was like, I’m gonna marry her. She was just everything,” he said.
After getting engaged, the couple was looking at elopement packages when they got a call from their officiant, Crystal Porter, of Ceremony By Crystal.
“She really, she came out and said, she has a deal of a lifetime,” said Richter. “It’s been a whirlwind since we said yes.”
The couple applied for a free wedding and reception through Polk County Wedding & Event Pros, a nonprofit organization that promotes Polk County’s event industry.
The wedding will be held on the organization’s float at the Lakeland Christmas Parade on Dec. 1.
Founder Lora Gardner got the idea when she attended the parade with her family last year.
She said, of the dozen couples that applied, Richter and Daniel were a clear choice.
“They checked a lot of the boxes that we were looking for in a couple in that mode of wanting to give back. We have a nurse, our bride is a nurse. Our groom is a teacher, former sheriff’s deputy,” she said. “To be able to step back, take a moment, use all of our talents to give back to a deserving couple, that was a win-win across the board for us.”
Everyone involved in the wedding is donating their services.
“We’ve never done anything like this. As far as I know, it hasn’t been done before. So not only are we doing Lakeland’s largest wedding but we’re creating history,” said Gardner.
Logistically, the float will be 88th out of more than 100 in line.
The team is trying to time it out to have Richter and Daniel exchange their vows in front of the judge’s booth near The Joinery on Lake Mirror.
“Most nervous for any tripping, falling. It’s gonna be steady but at the same time it’s gonna be a moving platform,” said Daniel.
Either way, the couple knows it will be a wedding to remember.
“It’s been a whirlwind and I know right now we’re both stressed a lot but I know at the end of the day, I always told her, I want something memorable for us and I think we accomplished that,” Daniel said.