October 25, 2010

A romantic couple are the first to wed at the newly
relocated and renovated Serendipity…WITH SLIDE SHOW


On a crystal clear October Saturday, the famed “Nights in Rodanthe” house, Serendipity, celebrated a new milestone in its long journey from condemned rental home to Hatteras Island icon.

The newly relocated and renovated Serendipity welcomed its first wedding on Oct. 23, a fitting event for a home that, thanks to Nicholas Spark’s novel and subsequent movie, has become a pinnacle of rustic romance, second chances, and plain old starry-eyed love.

Brian Jones, 48, of Miami, Fla., and Paula Ellison, 42, of Franklin, Mass. became the first couple to get married at the site.

The couple met in Massachusetts 16 years ago and began a friendship that gradually became a long-distance relationship. Even after Brain moved to Miami, the couple stayed close and, somewhere along the line, they both fell in love with the movie “Nights in Rodanthe.”

"She said to me, ‘You have to see this movie,’” said Brian, and they watched it together.

Then they watched it again, 15 or 20 more times.  Brian said he was always moved by the story, and realized that Serendipity would be the perfect setting for their dream wedding.

In February, the timing was right, and Brian proposed. "I am in love with her and she is in love with me."

At about the same time, Brian started hunting down the new owners of Serendipity, Ben and Debbie Huss, to arrange the ceremony.

Both Paula and Brian were fans of Cape Cod and frequently visited Assateague Island on Maryland’s Eastern shore in Virginia, but neither of them had ever even been to Hatteras Island.

The owners, who also attended the wedding, were delighted to receive the initial passionate request from Brian to use their new home for a wedding.

“Brian contacted me in early February, when we were in the very early stages of rebuilding,” said Ben. “We had just moved the home, and were lining up carpenters, when Brian called and asked if it would be okay if they got married when the house was finished. ‘I want to see my wife walk down those 19 stairs in her wedding dress,’” Ben added, “and that’s when I knew he was serious. He had seen the movie so many times, he knew the number of stairs involved.”

The couple booked the home with Bonnie Rowe and Marsha Brown, broker / owners of Vacation Traditions in March, who were delighted to fulfill the request.

“This will be the first of many, I’m sure,” said Bonnie, who was also in attendance at the wedding. “People tie to it [the home] on a very emotional level. It’s a second chance for the house, and the story is a second chance for people.”

“And really,” she added, “you couldn’t pick nicer people for the first wedding.”

The home opened officially in May and had a very successful first year.

“On May 22, when the home was complete, my dream came true. And now, 8 months later, their dream is coming true,” said Ben Huss. “It’s a success story that has come together for everyone – I mean, look at them!” he says, pointing to the couple, grinning and sitting on the sand while posing for pictures by photographer Sheila Sharrette.  “They look pretty happy to me!”

The home, typically a Saturday turnover, was rented from Wednesday to Wednesday so that the couple could prepare for the event. Guests stayed at the home and at The Inn on Pamlico Sound, which also catered the event.

At 1 p.m., the 40 or so guests sat in the cool sunshine on eight crisp white wooden benches, scattered together in a semi-circle in front of the dune line. The staircase was decorated with long strings of ivy and white roses, and small butter yellow bouquets of mums, hydrangeas, and roses, were clustered along the 19 stairs that the bride would descend.

At the center of the white benches stood the bridegroom in a beige jacket and slacks and paisley tie, complete with a yellow boutonniere, next to two pillars adorned with ferns.

The guests were dressed in slacks, dresses, and ties, although a basket of flip-flops on a stairway platform encouraged attendees to kick off their shoes and scuttle down to the sand in beach style.

Nearby, last minute reception preparations were being made in a matching white 30-by-80-foot tent from Ocean Atlantic Rentals, where a bar was stocked, and the caterers from the Inn on Pamlico Sound were efficiently setting up an array of mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres.

Elisa Addabo, event coordinator at the inn, expertly arranged a raw bar, caprice and Waldorf salad filled phyllo cups, beef lollipops with horseradish sauce, clam chowder, black bean and crab cakes, and a number of other phenomenal treats, cooked inside the home by chef Forest Paddock.

Small round tables were placed throughout the tent with butter yellow linen tablecloths and matching delicate floral arrangements, provided by Every Blooming Thing. Additional centerpieces of glass vases filled with sand, shells and sea grass were prepared by the bride and her friends just days before the wedding.

A larger table at the end of the tent held the bride’s and bridegroom’s favors, bottles of red and white wines with the couples name and event date, and the DJ, Les Humble of Humble Entertainment, was set up inconspicuously at the other end of the tent. “They requested a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s rock and roll,” said Les, “So this is going to be a really fun wedding.”

The minister arrives a little late, delaying the wedding slightly, but no one minded relaxing in the perfect fall weather. At last, the bride appeared at the top of the steps, and made her way down all 19 stairs escorted by her son, Austin, who wore simple slacks, a white button down shirt, and a yellow boutonniere. At the end of the stairs, her father, Peter Ellison, took her arm and guided her the rest of the way down the makeshift sandy aisle to give her away.

The bride’s dress was a beautiful creamy off-white, full-length gown, with pearly buttons climbing all the way up the back to a small off-white collar. Light beading in the front flashed in the sunshine against her butter yellow rose bouquet, and the back of the dress was gathered in two delicate bunches that swayed easily down the sand.

Curious guests from nearby rental homes watched the ceremony from their top decks, and applauded when the bride and groom were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Brian Jones.

After the ceremony, the bride and bridegroom posed for photos while the hungry wedding party adjourned to the tent for food and drinks.

 The newly wed couple danced their first dance together to Van Morrison’s “Someone Like You,” and the bride and her father danced to “I Loved her First.” Their departure song was Norah Jones’ “Come Away with Me.”

All in all, Serendipity’s first wedding was a huge success for everyone involved, from the owners to the very happy couple themselves, and the warm perfect weather mirrored the beaming faces that floated in and out of the tent and grounds of Serendipity throughout the afternoon.


To read more about the newly relocated and renovated Serendipity, go to http://islandfreepress.org/2010Archives/05.19.2010-SerendipityRelocatedRenovatedRedecoratedAndReadyForTheRestOfItsLife.html


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