Couple #1: Ancil Christopher and Tamika Russell - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Couple #1: Ancil Christopher and Tamika Russell

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It's Operation Wedding, and three finalists are competing for the wedding of their dreams, courtesy of FOX 5 and Ashton Gardens. Now let's meet our first couple, Ancil Christopher and Tamika Russell.

They are now walking hand in hand through life, but their love started less conspicuously. They were classmates at the University of West Georgia.

"I secretly had a crush on him," said bride-to-be Tamika.

"We had an English class together, and she used to sit behind me and she always used to smile at me from the back of the class," said Staff Sergeant Ancil Christopher.

But as with some things in life, the timing was off.  The flirtatious smiles went no further because Ancil and Tamika were seeing other people. It wasn't long before Ancil, serving in the U.S. Army, was deployed to Iraq.

"It really changed my life. When I came back home, I didn't feel like I was the same person," Ancil said.

While the ravages of war changed him, it didn't change the crush he had on his former classmate, Tamika. Years after exchanging glances in class, the two came face to face again at West Georgia's homecoming.

"The last time I saw him on campus, he was actually in his Army uniform, getting ready to deploy and he didn't get to graduate with us because he was gone. So when I saw him, that was the first time I'd seen him since being deployed. And I was just so happy to see him. I can't describe it," said Tamika.

Tamika's love for Ancil is great. She has no problem describing her feelings.

"He's a very giving person. And he will give someone his last. And sometimes he'll give so much that there's nothing left for himself," Tamika said.

Giving to his country comes first, and Ancil says he loves that Tamika understands that. Much has happened since Ancil got down on one knee and popped the question. They know have a 4-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl.

Ancil is now training to be a biomedical engineer, which often takes him away from family. But he says Tamika is always there.

"I just love the way she supports me. I love the way she's there for me. She takes great care of my kids. She's all I could ever ask for," Ancil said.

Between deployments and a growing family, planning a wedding has been hard. But Ancil and Tamika are hoping time is once again on their side.

"And now it seems like the perfect time. So I think everything is falling into place," said Tamika.

Over the next two days, you'll hear from the other two couples. Then, starting Friday morning at 9 a.m., you can begin voting online. The couple with most votes will win a free, dream wedding at Ashton Gardens in Sugar Hill.

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