BRICK – Most couples picture their wedding day as a celebration with family and friends, perhaps wearing a wedding gown or tuxedo, and dancing the day away as new spouses.
That vision will have to wait for Brick residents Candace Lauren Venturo and her husband-to-be, Anthony Romeo, who, due to the coronavirus pandemic, had to put their April 17 nuptials on hold since public gatherings are prohibited.
Enter the groom’s cousin, John Tornabene, who organized a surprise car parade for the couple that included about 20 vehicles driven by family and friends who were supposed to be at the wedding.
Many of the vehicles in the parade were decorated with signs and balloons, some honking their horns as they made several passes of the couple’s Sprucewood Drive home on the evening the wedding was supposed to take place.
“No one got out of their cars – everyone is socially conscious,” said Tornabene, who lives in Howell. “But we wanted to make it a nice event.”
He said he got the idea for the parade after seeing a similar event on the news.
“I thought, how cool would it be to do something like that here?” Turnabene said.
Friends and relatives drove from all over New Jersey and met in the parking lot at Brick High School before heading over to the couple’s home. Turnabene led the parade in his highly-decorated red Cadillac.
The bride-to-be said the parade was a great surprise.
“Anthony’s cousin, John, always goes over the top for the people he loves,” Ventura said. “It was much, much needed – I had been down all day,” she said afterwards.
She said that up until the 6 p.m. parade the day had been “a typical quarantine day,” hanging out with their dog, Caesar, and doing laundry, but she did put on make-up since it was the planned wedding day.
The nuptials were supposed to take place at Blue Heron Pines in Galloway Township. There were 150 guests expected, and afterwards they planned to honeymoon in Hawaii.
“We had to cancel a month prior,” Venturo said.
As a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, Venturo took a leave of absence, which Delta had offered to employees, hoping to avoid furloughs.
“I didn’t want to mess with working (during the pandemic) because I’m at high risk, since I have asthma,” she said.
Her fiance, who, as an electrician, provides an essential service, is still working, but the industry has changed since the public health crisis began.
“The plumbers, the painters, the electrician, all have to come in on different days to space themselves out,” Venturo said. “It’s a weird time now. We’ve never seen anything like this before.”
The couple, who have been together for three years, have rescheduled their wedding for June 21, which is Father’s Day.
“Both of our fathers have passed away, so this is very meaningful,” she said. “At this point, we’re praying it happens.”
Meanwhile, Venturo’s wedding gown is in a bridal boutique near the wedding venue, and they have yet to reschedule their Hawaiian honeymoon.
“We haven’t booked anything yet,” she said. “Our plans are still up in the air.”