A romantic couple are the first
to wed at
relocated and renovated Serendipity…WITH
By JOY CRIST
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
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
“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
“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
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
“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
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
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
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
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