Operation Give Back

The Branson Wedding Affiliation gave New Jersey couple Caren Calabrese and Lieutenant Colonel John M. Chacko, Jr., USMC, a wedding package valued at $33,000.

By Savannah Waszczuk

Dec 2012


A little more than a year ago, a group of Branson-area wedding-related businesses formed the Branson Wedding Affiliation. Right away, the group of talented wedding vendors knew that they wanted to do more than network—they wanted to do something for the community. This is how Operation Give Back was born. 

To honor troops and celebrate Branson’s centennial, the Branson Wedding Affiliation formed the Operation Give Back contest that offered one lucky military couple the chance to get married in Branson on Veteran’s Day 2012 and win a wedding package valued at $33,000. All the couples had to do was compose a 500-word essay of why they deserved to win. The Branson Wedding Affiliation received more than 50 entries from across the country, and it was Caren Calabrese and Lieutenant Colonel John M. Chacko, Jr., USMC, of New Jersey, who won the contest.

The two were originally scheduled to be married in front of the fountains on the Branson Landing on November 11, 2012, but rain led the couple to move the ceremony indoors at the Radisson Hotel Branson. The reception was also here, where guests enjoyed food, cake, entertainment and more, all provided by 417-land wedding vendors.

Lieutenant Colonel John M. Chacko, Jr., USMC, walked in the Branson Veteran’s Day parade with his groomsmen.

Caren’s kids, Alexis and Louis, and John’s daughter, Sydney, were all an important part of the big day.

The bride wore a strapless dress with custom embellishments from True Love Bridal in New Jersey.



Photography SwiftShots
Rehearsal Dinner Cruise Main Street Lake Cruises
Rehearsal Catering Famous Daves BBQ
Venue Radisson Hotel Branson
Catering Radisson Hotel Branson
Decor  Shannons Custom Floral
Invitations Celebrated Occassions
Flowers Petals
Cake Pastries by Carla
Chairs, arch All Occasions Events Rentals
Photobooth Events Rentals
DJ Service Just One More Song
Videography All Occasion Video 
Limo Services Just For You Limo 
Lodging Branson House Bed & Breakfast
Media 417 Bride
Hair Regis Salon Branson Landing
Makeup Belk
Tuxedos Touch of Class
Minister Can-A-lope Weddings
Show Tickets All Access Branson
Event organization All Access Branson
Wine Macadoodles Branson
Landing Fountains Branson Landing
Complimentary Tickets Clay Cooper Theater, 
Veterans Memorial Museum/Branson