LBI “Tall Ship” Contest Winners To Be Married This Saturday

June 29, 2011

New Jersey couple Sandy Lanier and Jim Harding will be married in Long Beach Island on Saturday, July 23rd on the deck of New Jersey’s official “Tall Ship,” the A.J. Meerwald. Public invited to witness this LBI wedding ceremony at 1:00pm from the dock in Beach Haven, NJ.

Sandy Lanier and Jim Harding from Mt. Arlington, NJ are this year's LBI wedding contest winners!

Sandy Lanier and Jim Harding from Mt. Arlington, NJ are this year's LBI wedding contest winners!

Sandy Lanier and Jim Harding of Mount Arlington, NJ, former Jefferson Township High School classmates who reconnected over 20 years later, will be married on July 23, 2011 aboard New Jersey’s official Tall Ship, the A.J. Meerwald in Beach Haven. They were chosen as winners of the third annual “Tie The Knot on the Tall Ship” contest, sponsored by the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, Reclam The Bay, Schooner A.J. Meerwald, Museum of NJ Maritime History and Various local wedding service providers also have offered their products and services for this special occasion.


“When Sandy and Jim were chosen as finalists in the contest and I began to correspond with Sandy, it was clear that they had a special love story to share” said Erik Kent, Co-Publisher of Sandy and Jim grew up and went to high school in Jefferson Township together. After high school, Jim joined the Navy and then moved to North Carolina, subsequently losing touch with Sandy and eventually spending part of his military career in Iraq. Sandy and Jim went on to marry other people and start their own families. About a year ago, after both having become divorced, they reconnected on Facebook, which led to email and phone calls and then meeting up again.

Matching puzzle rings are of special significance to Sandy & Jim's long-term relationship.

Matching puzzle rings are of special significance to Sandy & Jim's long-term relationship.

After spending more time with each other and with their families, as well as using Facebook to keep in touch regularly, it became clear to both Sandy and Jim that they wanted to move forward with their relationship. In January 2011, for Sandy’s birthday, Jim came for a visit and proposed marriage with matching puzzle rings, Celtic Knot ones, knowing of Sandy’s Irish heritage. He moved to New Jersey in February and his son moved here in May. Regarding making plans for their wedding, Jim chose his favorite number (7), and his grandfather’s favorite number (23), so a combination of the two lead to the wedding date of July 23. With Jim’s Navy history and both their love of the water, they had originally planned for a small ceremony along the Jersey shore. Sandy had spent her childhood at her grandparent’s shore house in Manahawkin, so LBI was a perfect fit!

Now that Sandy and Jim have been chosen as the winners, their wedding ceremony service will be performed by Deborah C. Whitcraft, a wedding officiant and former mayor of Beach Haven, NJ. Approximately 80 guests will be allowed on the ship’s deck, and another 100 guests may congregate on the wharf to witness the marriage ceremony. Photography for the wedding ceremony will be provided by David Toth Photographers, up to 40 invitations will be created by Stephanie Somodi – Designing Your Most Inviting Day, video coverage of the event will be provided by J & S Video Services, wedding ceremony flowers will be arranged by Camille’s Floral Designs and wedding planning and consulting services will be provided by The Finishing Touch. These wedding professionals and LBI chamber members will work together to help make the day memorable for this couple.

Over the past few years, Long Beach Island has become well-known as a “wedding destination” in New Jersey, especially with the addition of several new wedding locations and service providers. The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, under the direction of Lori Pepenella, Destination Marketing Director, has successfully produced the Wedding Road Show on LBI over the past three years, attracting hundreds of brides and their families from NJ and throughout the tri-state area to for a one-day tour of the region’s venues and services.

The A.J. Meerwald in Barnegat Bay on LBI (photo by David Toth Photographers)

The A.J. Meerwald in Barnegat Bay on LBI (photo by David Toth Photographers)

The public is invited to witness the wedding ceremony aboard the A.J. Meerwald on Saturday, July 23rd at 1:00pm.  New Jersey’s official “Tall Ship” is docked in Beach Haven, NJ (Center Street and the Bay) from July 20th through July 24th, and visitors may take a deck tour, go for a two-hour sail, or participate in a 4-hour eco/heritage event on and around the A.J. Meerwald on July 23rd. For additional information about the history of the A.J. Meerwald and opportunities to visit, check out the web site at

For additional information about the “Tie The Knot on the Tall Ship” contest, along with photos and video of past contest winners, visit

August Conferences for New Jersey Wedding Professionals

June 16, 2011

As a member of the wedding business community, I’m amazed at how much opportunity there is to learn about the bridal industry, network with others in various fields and attend association meetings, events and conferences. The Summer of 2011 is shaping up to be full of exciting opportunities to build one’s business, so I’m blogging to let you know all about them!

Register today for the ABC-NJ State Conference in Atlantic City, August 24-26, 2011

ABC-NJ State Conference in Atlantic City, August 24-26, 2011

Wedding professionals from New Jersey, the tri-state area and beyond, are invited to the join the Association of Bridal Consultants (a worldwide organization serving brides and wedding professionals since 1955) for the annual ABC-NJ State Conference, entitled “Beach, Boardwalk & Building Your Bridal Business!  This conference will be held from August 24th – 26th at Caesars Atlantic City and feature top speakers in the wedding industry (including wedding marketing experts Andy Ebon and Alan Berg, Jeff and Stephanie Padovani of Book More Brides, Editor from Anja Winikka and just announced, Celebrity Wedding Designer PRESTON BAILEY will be sharing his insider tips!), tours of Atlantic City wedding venues, fun networking events and much more! You’ll enjoy three exciting days: Wednesday will be Sandals Certification training followed by an opening party at Harrah’s Pool Bar; Thursday will feature a “Speakers Series” and be followed by a party at The Chelsea; and on Friday, attendees will enjoy Brunch at the beautiful One Atlantic :)Events overlooking the Jersey shoreline and Atlantic Ocean. Room rates at Caesars will be a discounted $89 per night, and pricing will be made available early next week along with registration. Click here to view the facebook event page for a preview of who’s attending so far, and then CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

Inspire Smart Success Experience with Stacie Francombe, August 30-31, 2011

Inspire Smart Success Experience with Stacie Francombe, August 30-31, 2011

To round out the summer, a new seminar/experience for wedding professionals has been announced by Stacie Francombe, founder and former editor in chief of Get Married magazine! It’s called the Inspire Smart Success Experience, and will be held at the Westin Governor Morris Hotel in Morristown from Tuesday, August 30th through Wednesday, August 31st. The ISSE – New Jersey experience will INSPIRE you with incredible new ideas, insightful new directions and new jaw-dropping business strategies. ISSE’s amazing speakers and sessions for wedding business owners will give you hands-on advice on how to book more business and grow your brand, leverage publicity strategies to pitch your business story to magazines and get on TV! Speakers include Molly Tully from New Jersey Bride magazine, wedding author Sharon Naylor, editor of Beantown Bride Brittany Blando, TV host Diann Valentine, Celebrity Event Designer Shaun Rabideau and more! is a proud media sponsor of this event and Stacie has given us a special DISCOUNT CODE – just CLICK HERE TO REGISTER and enter NJW upon checkout to SAVE $100 OFF the registration fee!

While there’s ALWAYS something going on within the New Jersey wedding industry, the above highlight some of the major networking events, conferences and seminars this summer. Click here to view a calendar of more meetings throughout the region, or email us about adding ones we don’t know about yet!

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