Bride, groom meet for first time at altar |

Bride, groom meet for first time at altar

ANGIE WAGNER, Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS – It’s a good thing Gerhard Spitz was wearing a mask. It was the only way his bride knew who he was.

Spitz and Martina Steindorf were married Tuesday at a local casino, much like the thousands of other couples who tie the knot in this wedding capital each year. But this one had a twist – the bride and groom didn’t see each other until after they were pronounced man and wife.

”I think it’s romantic,” said the Rev. Peter Billitteri, who married the couple. ”Lots of people all over the world have pre-arranged marriages.

This marriage was pre-arranged by a German radio station that hosted a contest to find the most compatible and most popular couple with listeners. Steindorf, 30, was chosen last week while Spitz, 35, was just chosen on Monday. The winners were whittled down from a list of 500 applicants.

The bride and groom spoke only once – on Monday when Spitz proposed. Then the radio station, 94.3 r.s. 2 der Superstation, whisked them off on a free trip to Las Vegas.

”It’s the talk of the country,” said Michael Weilend, spokesman for the radio station.

Even though the couple stayed in the Venetian hotel-casino Monday night, they were in separate rooms and even took separate limousines to get a marriage certificate at the county courthouse.

To make the stranger wedding even more dramatic, Spitz and Steindorf held masks to their faces through the entire ceremony. They removed them only after the priest announced that they were indeed married.

Spitz then kissed his bride, who had been shaking nervously through the ceremony.

”It’s fate that we are joined,” said Spitz, a sales agent in Berlin.

The wedding was broadcast live to the station’s listeners while numerous German television stations covered the event.

Steindorf, a county government worker who also lives in Berlin, said she couldn’t begin to desribe what she was feeling.

The couple retired to their honeymoon suite Tuesday night. They will honeymoon, also courtesy of the radio station, in California.

But first thing’s first.

”We’re going to get acquainted,” Spitz said.