Couple plans wedding, invites guests to mansion they didn’t own, didn’t have permission to use

Published 6:34 am Sunday, April 25, 2021

Courtney Wilson and Shenita Jones invited family and friends to their “dream home and estate” for their weekend wedding celebration: the ceremony Saturday, brunch on Sunday.

There was just one problem: The couple didn’t own the 16,300-square-foot mansion and didn’t have permission to use it.

The suburban Fort Lauderdale estate had everything: a bowling alley, swimming pool with a waterfall, hot tub, tennis courts, a gazebo and an 800-foot bar. Wilson said it was God’s plan that the couple marry there.

But despite what the invitation inferred, the actual owner, Nathan Finkel, never gave them permission to hold the festivities there. He was stunned when Wilson showed up Saturday morning to set up and he called police, according to the South Florida SunSentinel.

“I have people trespassing on my property,” 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.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Wilson told the paper.

Finkel, whose late father was an early IHOP restaurant franchisee, has been trying to sell the property for two years, now listing it for just over $5 million.

Wilson, posing as a potential buyer, toured the estate several months ago, said Keith Poliakoff, attorney for Southwest Ranches, the upscale suburb where Finkel resides.

“A few months later, this guy asked Nathan if he could use Nathan’s backyard for his wedding,” Poliakoff said. “Nathan said no.”

But that didn’t stop the couple from sending out elaborate invitations, detailing their love story: reconnecting 30 years after high school and how he proposed over pizza on Christmas Eve. The Saturday afternoon ceremony would be followed by a red carpet cocktail hour and a reception lasting past midnight. Sunday brunch would be from noon to 4.