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Veterans Day Wedding Giveback winners

Wedding bells rang out at Brecknock Hall recently, as the couple who won the 10th annual Veterans Day Wedding Giveback officially tied the knot in Greenport.

U.S. Navy lieutenants Katherine Bertschi of Southold, 27, and Damen Weeks, 31, of Magnolia Springs, Ala., were married in a ceremony there Sunday, Nov. 13.

“We feel truly blessed and humbled to be selected for the Veterans Day Wedding Giveback and will never forget the hard work and coordination it took from everyone involved to make our wedding ceremony the unforgettable experience it was,” Mr. Weeks said in a statement released by Peconic Landing, the organization that holds the contest to provide current or veteran service members and their partners the opportunity to have a free wedding in recognition of service to the country.

Ms. Bertschi, a 2012 graduate of Southold High School, is on her third naval tour after enlisting in 2016. She is now a basic division officer instructor and department head at the Mariner Skills Training Center Pacific, where she is responsible for training thousands of Junior Surface Warfare Officers to enter the fleet.

Mr. Weeks is on his fifth tour of duty, having enlisted in 2012, and serves as an operations officer on the USS MASON, where he is responsible for managing nearly 100 sailors.

The pair met aboard the USS PREBLE in 2016 and have both earned the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NAM), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation (COM) Medal, among others.

The pair met aboard the USS PREBLE in 2016. (Credit: Courtesy/Santa Cruz Photography)

They both also spend time volunteering in the communities where they are stationed, including working at food pantries and shelters, building with Habitat for Humanity and organizing ship tours for children.

They learned they’d won the annual giveaway during a Zoom call in April. A panel of Peconic Landing members with military ties judged the contest based on the number of years served, special military honors and each couple’s personal story. In an interview at the time, Ms. Bertschi said it was “an honor” to be able to have a wedding close to her hometown. “The North Fork represents a safe harbor and home to me,” she said.

The all-expenses-paid wedding was made possible by Peconic Landing and more than 40 local businesses and organizations that donated time, talent and products and services.

This year marks the tenth time Peconic Landing has held the giveaway, which had been on hiatus for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Peconic Landing joined the New York Tent’s Healthcare Hero wedding giveaway by offering the Brecknock Hall venue to the winning couple, Shaka Ballantyne and Shannon Nigg, health care heroes who worked on the front lines during the COVID-19 crisis.

“All of us at Peconic Landing are so excited to resume this heartwarming tradition,” Robert Syron, Peconic Landing’s president and CEO, said in a statement thanking the sponsors, vendors and volunteers. “Damen and Katherine are a truly deserving couple, and it is our absolute honor to recognize their tremendous service to our country and support them on this special occasion.”

For more information about planning a wedding at Brecknock Hall, visit brecknockhall.com or contact sales and events coordinator Valerie Tirelli-Hallock at [email protected] Applications for the 2023 Wedding Giveback will be posted online in January.