David Weinlick had known for years when he wanted to get married. He knew where the wedding would be held and who the guests would be. He just hadn't picked out a bride.
Two dozen adventurous women from several states showed up Saturday at a "bridal candidate mixer" to brave questioning by Weinlick's friends and relatives, by whose votes Elizabeth Runze was selected. She met Weinlick for the first time Monday when she dropped off her application.
Soon after Runze was picked, the 28-year-olds exchanged vows at the Mall of America. About 2,000 shoppers lined the rails to watch from the three upper levels of the mall's rotunda.
Runze, a slender redhead, wore a short-sleeve white dress with a full skirt and a fitted bodice embroidered with flowers, a short veil and elbow-length gloves. Her father walked her down the aisle and her parents, who are divorced, gave her away. The groom wore a black tuxedo.
A minister friend of Weinlick's conducted the brief ceremony. Balloons fell from the ceiling and the crowd cheered as the couple kissed.
"I can hardly stand, much less talk," Runze, a pharmacy student at the University of Minnesota, said. "This is the most incredible day of my life."
Before the wedding, Weinlick, a graduate student in anthropology, said he was "elated" and called the event "an enormous success."
Weinlick's friend Steven Fletcher said the two had similar interests and senses of humor and were a good fit intellectually.
The four other finalists, two from Minnesota, one from Florida and one who refused to give her hometown, were among the five bridesmaids.
Four years ago, Weinlick said, he grew tired of being asked when he was going to get married, so he came up with a stock answer: June 13, 1998.
Weinlick's parents divorced when he was 5. His father, who had criticized the event, did not attend. Weinlick's mother, Sylvia Lambert, watched from the front row and said she supports her son's decision.
The couple's reception was at one of the mall's nightclubs. They had not decided on honeymoon plans.
Despite the ceremony, the match wasn't exactly binding. Minnesota requires a three-day waiting period for a marriage to become official.