SOUTHWEST RANCHES — Two lovebirds thought a palatial mansion in scenic Southwest Ranches was the perfect place to tie the knot.
God called them there, they said. So the pair, referring to themselves as “the Royal Couple,” posted an online invitation to “our dream home and estate” — a 16,313-square-foot home with nine bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a bowling alley, a theater and an 800-square-foot bar.
Trouble was, it was someone else’s home.
The owner was confounded when groom Courtney Wilson and another person showed up at the gate Saturday morning, prepared to set up for Wilson’s wedding to Shenita Jones at what the invite called “the Wilson estate.”
“I have people trespassing on my property,” a fed-up Nathan Finkel told a 911 dispatcher. “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.”
Wilson, his bride and their guests never made it onto the sprawling $5.7 million property.
Two police officers showed up that morning and told Wilson to hit the road. He was not charged with a crime. He declined to comment Tuesday.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said.
Finkel, son of the late Abe Finkel, an early franchisee of IHOP restaurants, put the home on the market two years ago.
The mansion sits on 7.5 acres along Hancock Road and is listed for sale for $5.7 million, down from the $7.25 million asking price in 2019. It has an elevator, four fireplaces, three offices, a library and staff quarters. Outside are two ponds, a lighted tennis court, a gazebo with barbecue and a resort-style pool with a waterfall, slide, hot tub and a deck spacious enough to entertain hundreds of guests.
Wilson checked out the mansion several times weeks ago, taking photos and claiming he wanted to buy it, said Town Attorney Keith Poliakoff, who discussed the situation with Finkel after getting a call from a reporter.
“A few months later this guy asked Nathan if he could use Nathan’s backyard for his wedding,” Poliakoff said. “Nathan said no.”
But the online invitation went out anyway.
On one page of the elaborate invite, the bride Jones shared their love story. They met in high school and reconnected 30 years later thanks to fate and divine intervention, she said.
A surprise proposal came on Christmas Eve after pizza at Capone’s on Hollywood beach.
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“It was then the Lord had revealed to me the purpose of our encounter and answer to my prayer,” she wrote.
The wedding was supposed to start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. A “Red Carpet Cocktail Hour” was to take place immediately afterward followed by a reception that was to last well past midnight until 2:30 a.m.
Guests were invited to return the following day for Sunday brunch from noon to 4 p.m.
“The guy figured it was a vacant house and didn’t realize Nathan lived on the property in a different home,” said Poliakoff, the town attorney. “This guy had no idea he lived there. You know the shock that must have been on his face when he showed up at the gate and the owner was home?”
Finkel declined to say much about the wedding caper but described the police response.
“They told them to get off the property and not to come back,” he said. “That was the end of it.”
Susannah Bryan can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan