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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
STACEY HENSON


SHENSON@NEWS-PRESS.COM
 
Wedding crashers invited to Bell Tower reception
 

Save the date.

Lee Sheriff Deputy Paul Johnson and Shelly Osterhout are inviting you to crash their wedding reception Oct. 10 while wearing your old bridesmaid dresses, funky tuxes or other wedding finery, before sending them off on their honeymoon.

"The more the merrier," Osterhout, owner of Computer Solutions of America, said at a planning meeting two weeks before the wedding.

They refer to the mass invitation as a "Wedding Crashers" theme, a movie starring  Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson,  divorce mediators who spend their free time crashing wedding receptions.

The public will join the festivities at newly renovated Center Court at Bell Tower Shops after the private ceremony, officiated by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, with photos and cake-cutting.

The shops will remain open normal hours, and attendees can eat on their own at the shops or get a drink at the cash bar.

They will watch the newlyweds' first dance, Osterhout's dance with her father, and Johnson's dance with his mother. Then the couple promises a surprise people won't want to miss before they are invited to join them for the bouquet toss and dancing.

Osterhout  said they've planned for up to 1,600 people at the send-off that evening; with glow sticks for everyone. They'll leave promptly at 10 p.m. for their honeymoon, which will take them to Washington, D.C., and Manhattan.

The two met on the social dating site Plenty of Fish.

The pair said they were hooked by each other's pictures.

"His picture had a white glow around him," Osterhout said.

"For me, it was when I looked at the picture, it was like she was looking right at me, not through me. 'Here I am.'" Johnson said.

They arranged a date at the now-defunct Cheeseburgers in Paradise. That's when the typically quiet Johnson revealed his romantic streak.

"It's great because I would be in paradise meeting you," Johnson recalled telling Osterhout.

Not wanting their date to end, they headed to Fort Myers Beach. After a walk on the pier, Osterhout talked about her three children. To her surprise, Johnson told her to have them come down to the beach.

"Family means everything to me," Johnson said.

After meeting them and talking for hours, Johnson took Osterhout to her car.

"There was a whispering in my ear," Osterhout said, "'give him a kiss and make it good' ."

Paul recalled the kiss. "Wow."

They arranged a date the next week and three months later moved in together.

They fell into a comfortable routine, blending their families, taking walks each night around the lakes in the subdivision.

"We shared our dreams, aspirations and stuff with the kids," Osterhout said.

On a walk last November, "he dropped down and proposed," she said.

"We're right for each other," Johnson said.

As the planning for the wedding ramped up, the pair was worried about parking for the 120 guests. They thought about hosting the wedding at their home, close to the lake they walk each night.

"But there's no parking, and to bus people to the house would be chaotic," Osterhout said.

On a whim, they thought of a friend who work at Bell Tower Shops.

"Bell Tower Shops has got a lot of parking, a whole lot of parking," Johnson said.

Three weeks later, they were at the complex, looking at all the stores and realized everything they needed for the wedding was available at one place.

Merchants within the Bell Tower Shops community are serving as the wedding vendors, providing wedding attire and related services. The participating businesses include Crowne Plaza Fort Myers, The Fresh Market, Jos. A. Bank, White House | Black Market and Saks 5th Avenue.

"It should be a lot of fun," said Jim Larkin, general manager of Crowne Plaza Hotel, which is providing the catering for the intimate wedding and operating the bar. The hotel is also offering discounted accommodations for the friends and family.

He said it's the first time the Crowne Plaza and Bell Tower Shops have participated in such an event, and he's hoping to do more.

It expands the hotel's options. For example, if the hotel's ballroom is booked, the Center Court at the shops could be an alternative venue, he said.

"We think it's an exciting opportunity," Larkin said, adding it's a unique wedding site.

Osterhout and Johnson agree.

“We look forward to the surprise of seeing who attends – new friends and old," Osterhout said. "I can’t think of a more special way to share our special day than with the community where we live.”

Connect with this reporter on Twitter @stacey_henson.

If you go

*What: The wedding reception for Shelly Osterhout and Paul Johnson, a la "Wedding Crashers." The public is invited to their reception for dancing and a grand send-off of the newlyweds.

*When: 8 to 10 p.m. Oct. 10

*Where: Bell Tower Shops, 13499 U.S. 41,  Fort Myers.

*Information: RSVP on the “Wedding Crashers” Facebook event page atwww.facebook.com/events/1606839142937470/. 

Attachments:
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