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Operation: Tie the Knot Winners Celebrate Their Wedding

The couple was married via proxy using Skype while the bride was in New Jersey and the groom was stationed in Kabul.

Operation: Tie the Knot winners Sgt. Adrian Yanez (second from left) and Marcella Yanez, holding the couple's daughter Cecelia, celebrated their wedding on Nov. 10 in Union. Credit: Venus Jewelers
Operation: Tie the Knot winners Sgt. Adrian Yanez (second from left) and Marcella Yanez, holding the couple's daughter Cecelia, celebrated their wedding on Nov. 10 in Union. Credit: Venus Jewelers
Adrian and Marcella Yanez have had a bit of whirlwind year.

They became the first New Jersey couple to marry via proxy using Skype while Adrian, a sergeant with the U.S. Army, was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan on Dec. 31.

Marcella, of Colonia, was at home in New Jersey, pregnant with their first child.

Since then, they've welcomed their baby girl, who they named Cecelia. And on Nov. 10, they celebrated their union in grand style through a $40,000 wedding that was awarded to them through Operation: Tie the Knot, a wedding contest with a grand prize of a full wedding celebration for a military couple. 

"It was amazing," Marcella recently told Woodbridge Patch. "Other than the day our daughter was born, it was the best day of my life.

When Patch last spoke with Marcella, the newly married couple had just recently been informed of their second place win in the contest, organized by Venus Jewelers of Somerset.

The owner of Galloping Hill in Union donated a wedding reception for 125 guests to be celebrated when when Adrian returned from Afghanistan. They were also given matching white gold wedding bands and Victorinox Swiss Army Watches, according to Venus Jewelers. 

The couple gushed with gratitude.

"Just being a part of the top ten finalists felt like a dream, to come in third was a completely wonderful experience, and now to know that because of it we will be getting a gorgeous wedding reception, is too much for us to ever truly express our thanks for," Marcella told Patch in January. 

The grand prize winners were U.S. Army Specialist Derek McConnell and fiancee Krystina Dressler. 

McConnell, of Parsippany, was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan in July 2011, resulting in amputations to both of his legs and traumatic injuries to his brain, skull and jaw and right arm. 

Tragically, he passed away in March at the age of 23. 

Following his death, organizers made the decision award the grand prize to Marcella and Adrian, which included photography, a reception, flowers and a DJ.

Marcella said the win was bittersweet.

"It was very sad to hear about the news with the first place couple," she said. "I feel so bad for his family and his fiancee. I can't even imagine what they must have gone through, what they are going through."

Ultimately, the couple found out "little by little" that they would be receiving additional services. The extra help was appreciated, she said, as they are trying to save for a house and were working with a low budget.

"Because the vendors were so generous with us, we were able to have the dream wedding we wanted," she said. 

Venus Jewelers said all vendors involved with the contest readily donated their services in recognition of the sacrifices made by military men and women. 

"All vendors donated their services in full to honor and bring awareness to the sacrifices that our men and women of the military make to keep their love and families strong despite the long distances and unforeseeable challenges that arise when serving our county," the jewelry company said, in a prepared statement. 

Marcella said Adrian is home for good and will begin a new job as a Middlesex County Sheriff's Officer in January. He should be getting out of the service in March, she said.

The couple plans to take a future honeymoon in the Florida Keys and Miami. 

"It won't quite be a honeymoon, but more like our first family vacation, because Cecilia will be coming with us," Marcella said.

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