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A destination wedding close to home

Like every bride and groom, Heather and Jesse Conway of Egg Harbor Township want their wedding day to be memorable for them and for their guests.

When they first got engaged a little more than two years ago it was their dream to have a gorgeous destination wedding. They whittled their guest list to 58 people and the original plan was to head to Mexico’s Rivera Maya and invite close friends and family to make the trip with them.

“We thought everyone could relax and have a little getaway vacation in the sun and our wedding would be a part of their vacation,” Heather said. “It was going to be beautiful. Then reality set in.

“We both have older relatives who did not want to fly. We have several very good friends with small children who told us they felt terrible that they would miss our wedding, but could not ask someone to take their kids for that long plus the price tag for the little getaway was getting steeper than we were comfortable asking people to dish out.  This was not working out the way we wanted.”

So, the couple took matters into their own hands and decided to create their very own destination wedding right here at the Jersey Shore.

After a little research they found out that Ocean City is a popular spot for destination weddings. Granted, the bride and groom are normally traveling a distance, but Heather and Jesse were going to make the perfect wedding feel like a relaxing vacation at a Caribbean resort, while keeping it close to home.

They rented two beach front homes for a long mid-September weekend; one has a pool and one has a very large patio facing the beach. Between the two homes there are 10 bedrooms with accommodations that will allow the bridal party and their out-of-town guests to stay there comfortably.

The plan is to hold the ceremony at St. Augustine Church and then, following the wedding and pictures, it’s back to the homes on the beach for an afternoon reception.

A catering service will do a barbecue on the patio by the pool while the larger patio on the adjacent house will double as a dance floor. They also arranged for a tent on the patio so weather will not be an issue.

Do it yourselfers to the core, they made their own invitations. Their centerpieces are beach themed with candles, sand and shells arranged in a hurricane and photos of the bride and groom with friends and family over the years.

Dorrie Waldman of Marketplace Realty in Margate is a local real estate agent that can help couples book a home on the beach for a destination wedding.

“We work with our clients. If someone makes a request, I will turn around and go to the property owners that list with us and ask if they would like to rent their home for the long weekend for an event, a wedding, a family reunion, whatever they are looking for,” said Waldman.

Longport does not have weekly rentals, making the possibility of a Longport destination wedding less likely, according to Joe DiLorenzo of DiLorenzo Real Estate.

All that is left is for Mother Nature to cooperate to make Sept. 17 perfect.

To inquire about local destination weddings contact Elise or Dorrie Waldman at Market Place Realty, (609) 823-8500.

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