Politics & Government

Florida Gov. Crist's wedding tonight marries money to politics

The weather should be beautiful -- crisp and clear, in the low 60s -- at 9 p.m. tonight when Charles Joseph ''Charlie'' Crist Jr., 52, weds Carole Rome, nee Oumano, 39, before 200 or so friends and allies at the United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg.

It'll be the social event of the year in . . . St. Pete. And in Tallahassee: Crist will be the first Florida governor to marry in office since Claude Kirk in 1967.

And it will create an interesting social-political duo. Crist has spent much of his life in public office as state senator, education commissioner, attorney general and Florida governor. He was on the shortlist to be the running mate of GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

Rome is a socialite millionaire and president of Franco American Novelty, her family's New York Halloween costume company. Court records in her recent divorce said she made more than $1 million a year and was accustomed to chauffeurs and nannies for her two children.

Florida reporters will be at the wedding, in a designated area outside the church with a single pool reporter, Lucy Morgan of The St. Petersburg Times, inside.

Impact Florida, a gay rights group, has said it will demonstrate peacefully in pink outside the church because Crist supported the same-sex marriage ban in Florida.

The couple will hold a brief ''post-ceremony media availability,'' but media are not invited to the reception at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg. The guest list was not released.

''This is not a political event but a social event, a wedding,'' said Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, who helped with the arrangements. "The guest list is what you might expect for any wedding -- close friends and family.''

One Florida newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat, dubbed Friday's nuptials a marriage of power and wealth -- "his power, her wealth.''

The honeymoon will be at an undisclosed location in Southwest Florida.

It may be just as well. The world's paparazzi is showing little interest in the event, even though Rome used to party with the New York set and throw lavish bashes in the Hamptons.

''Socialites only hit our radar if they have reality shows, to be frank,'' Jill Stempel, New York bureau chief of World Entertainment News Network, a top celebrity news agency, sniffed to The St. Petersburg Times. "We are not sending a photographer to cover it, just because the celebrity factor isn't there.''

For Crist, it was love at first sight when he met Rome on a trip to New York in September 2007. There was a whirlwind of dates -- dinner at the White House with President George W. Bush, a Jimmy Buffett concert -- before he proposed to her last July.

''I was taken with her right away,'' Crist told The Associated Press. "You know how it is when you fall in love. It's pretty overwhelming -- a very cool thing.''

In fact, Crist is walking around with ''puppy dog eyes,'' longtime friend Brent Sembler says. "It's been college since I've seen Charlie act like this.''

Rome returns the sentiments.

''I've never been happier in my life,'' she told the Tampa Tribune. "I have been so blessed to have finally found the man of my dreams. I am so in love with Charlie Crist, I cannot express how blessed I feel.''

It's the second marriage for both. Crist was married to his college sweetheart in 1980, but it lasted less than a year. Rome was married to Blue Star Jets president Todd Rome for 14 years before they divorced last March. Their daughters, Skylar, 10, and Jessica, 12, go to school in New York.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com.