Sarah and Jenna Capps were the lucky winners of Maybelline's national competition to win a lavish wedding in Mexico
This year, actor Jonathan Bennett and TV host Jaymes Vaughan — who got married in 2022 at a luxurious hotel in Mexico — wanted to pay it forward by giving a dream wedding to another couple. So they teamed up with Maybelline to launch a nationwide contest to give one lucky couple the opportunity to have their wedding at UNICO 20°87.
"We live a very blessed life, and we realized in the moment of our wedding last year that we really wanted to find a way to give this experience to another deserving couple," Bennett tells PEOPLE. "So after saying 'I do' ourselves, we set out on a mission to make this happen for someone else."
After whittling the contestants down to five finalists, Bennett and Vaughan announced Sarah and Jenna Capps, a couple from Minnesota, as the winners.
“I entered thinking we would never win, or if anything, we might win some Maybelline makeup,” Sarah, 36, a managed services employee, tells PEOPLE. “I never thought we would win-win.”
Sarah and Jenna first met in college in 2005, and the couple — who share two sons, ages 9 and 12 — married five years later. “It was literally love at first sight,” Jenna, 38, a cybersecurity analyst, recalls.
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After 10 years of marriage, Jenna came out as a transgender woman to Sarah in 2020.
”It was almost like a honeymoon period for us," says Sarah. "We felt like we were dating again, getting to know each other again.”
Three years later, unbeknownst to Jenna, Sarah entered the contest so that Jenna could experience being married as a bride. “This wedding was just a huge important part of the next step of our relationship,” Sarah says. ”It truly felt like we were getting married again.”
“When we got married the first time, we were so poor,” she continues. “It was in the backyard, potluck-style wedding. Neither of us [has] ever had this full experience before. So it was magical for both of us."
As part of winning the contest, Sarah and Jenna were treated to outfits courtesy of David's Bridal. “They were amazing,” Jenna says, as Sarah notes that as plus-sized women, it was great to have "tons of options."
In October, the couple and their loved ones flew down to Mexico for the big day.
In addition to being given the VIP treatment at their hotel, Sarah and Jenna met Bennett and Vaughan and had a two-and-a-half-hour lunch with them. “They were just genuine, wonderful people," Sarah remembers.
Before the ceremony, Sarah and Jenna got glammed up by celebrity makeup artist Kasey Spickard, who used Maybelline’s Fit Me products. “The goal with both Jenna and Sarah’s makeup was to accentuate their natural beauty while ensuring the look was timeless and elegant,” Pickard says.
Sarah recalls the makeup process as both fascinating and amazing. “Kasey really heard us,” she says. “We were like, 'We want to look like ourselves, natural'. We don't do a lot of makeup. And he just really took a lot of time and attention and care."
“They had me look in a mirror," says Jenna. "I felt beautiful. It's not always easy to look in the mirror and like yourself.”
Bennett officiated the wedding on Oct. 24 in front of about 20 guests.
"It’s such a sentimental spot to us, and to have it now be a part of their love story too is really special," Vaughan shares.
At one point, Bennett had the couple turn and face the ocean, and then he asked the guests who considered themselves either family or chosen family to stand up. The couple was visibly moved after they turned around to see everyone standing up for them. “I was in tears,” Jenna says of that moment. “I've actually cried four times just thinking about that moment. It was just so amazing.”
“I had my sister, and she had one of her brothers, and that was it,” adds Sarah. “Everybody else was family — friends that have just been with us through everything. Most of those have been with us since before her transition. We had new friends who had met us after her transition and are just huge supporters — [as well as] all of the people that were part of the contest — because I feel like they've been a part of our lives forever, even though we've only known them for two weeks.”
And in another surprise, at their reception, Bennett and Vaughan announced that the couple would get to go on a Carnival cruise with their kids in the future.
By the time they made it back to Minnesota, Sarah says she slept for 28 hours because she was so tired — but it was all worth it.
“When I woke up, it felt like it was a dream,” she says. “And the reason it was called a dream wedding is because it was literally an actual dream come true. It was perfect."
There was also another personal significance to Sarah and Jenna's wedding in terms of LGBTQ visibility. “It's important for me to share my story because I didn't have any positive representation of people like me when I was growing up,” says Jenna. "I didn't know what was happening to me or why, just that I had to hide from everyone. Eventually, I hid from myself too. It took years of being in a safe and loving environment before I could reconnect with my true self. I hope that if even one person can see how happy, fulfilling, and loving life can be, they won't feel the need to hide anymore.”
"It's never too late to come out,” Sarah adds. “Because she came out, [it didn't] mean our relationship was over. Our relationship grew into something new. I've learned a lot about myself. We've learned a lot about each other. Our children have really been wonderful and accepting, and our family has too, and it's just been a lot of growth for everybody. And so I just think, ‘Yeah, it's okay.’"
The wedding experience also moved Bennett and his husband. “Spending the week at UNICO with Sarah and Jenna before the wedding really gave us a chance to see their love in action,” says Bennett. “The connection between these two is inspiring. Their love for each other is beautiful.”
“Finding your person that you know will always be there for you — I see that they have that, and it’s so heartwarming,” says Vaughan. “I’m so happy these two won the contest and were able to have this experience and allow us to be a part of it.”
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