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Bride and groom plan wedding at stranger’s mansion without permission

Published Thursday, Apr. 29th, 2021

A mansion in South Florida where an illegal wedding was held, aerial view
Cover photo via Zillow listing for the Southwest Ranches home. Image has been cropped.

A South Florida couple tried to have their ‘dream’ wedding at a stranger’s mansion without permission this month, but things didn't work out the way they’d hoped. The couple’s fantasy quickly fell apart when reality -- and the property’s owner -- intervened. 


Courtney Wilson and Shenita Jones decided to have their wedding at the 16,300-square-foot estate after Wilson toured the property during an open house, calling it their “dream home and estate.” 


The couple told others that God told them that the almost 5 million dollar house was destined to be their wedding venue. But when the couple contacted the property’s owner, Nathan Finkel, to ask for permission, Finkel turned them down. 


Undeterred, the couple went about planning their wedding at the estate, even sending out invitations to friends and family with the mansion’s address. They assumed that because the property was for sale it would be vacant, and that no one would discover their plan. 


Nathan Finkel did in fact live on the estate. When the couple and the guests began arriving, asking to be let in to set up for the ceremony, he called local authorities. 


“I have people trespassing on my property,” Finkel told the 911 dispatcher, the AP reported. “And they keep harassing me, calling me. They say they’re having a wedding here and it’s God’s message. I don’t know what’s going on. All I want is (for) it to stop. And they’re sitting at my property right at the front gate right now.”


Read the full scoop in this Associated Press article







Choosing a wedding venue can be tough,

but we've got tips. 


Choosing a venue can be a difficult part of the wedding planning process. There are several factors to consider: location, amenities and accessibility, available dates, legality, and cost. And it’s easy to get swept up in the planning process, leading to unrealistic expectations, disappointment, and overspending. 


Not to mention that booking a venue is especially challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic! Now, as wedding season picks up and more Americans are vaccinated, many venues and vendors (including marriage officiants) are already booked solid through 2021 and 2022, with many booking into Spring 2023.


This means that couples will need to get creative with their ceremony planning this year. (But not too creative… Always get permission before using a location that doesn’t belong to you.)


To help you get started, here are a few articles on choosing a venue that meets your needs and won’t break the bank, so you’ll have some money left over for everything else on your newly-married list! 








Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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