Florida Gov. Gets Hitched

Gov. Charlie Crist became the first sitting Florida governor to wed in nearly 42 years, exchanging vows Friday at a ceremony attended by some 200 relatives, friends and celebrities.

The 52-year-old governor wed his 39-year-old bride, New York socialite Carole Rome, at First United Methodist Church, a short walk from Crist's rented condo in St. Petersburg. They met at a dinner in New York City in September 2007 and Crist proposed less than 10 months later with a sapphire engagement ring.

Crist kissed Rome briefly at the end of the ceremony — perhaps too briefly. She put her hands on his face and kissed him again. Afterward, the couple walked out of the church and addressed waiting reporters.

"She's a beautiful first lady. I couldn't be more excited," Crist said after the ceremony, in which Rome wore a floor-length classic silk gown by a Spanish designer purchased at upscale Wedding Atelier in Manhattan. "It's a great night for Florida and it's a great night for us."

Attending the 20-minute ceremony were former Florida Gov. Bob Martinez, former Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, former U.S. Senator Connie Mack, Geraldo Rivera, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler of Fla.

"It was a beautiful ceremony," Martinez commented as guests left the church. "You could see the bride and the groom were just elated."

Rome is president of Franco American Novelty Co., her family's New York-area Halloween costume company. She stopped managing its daily business when she moved to ritzy Fisher Island near Miami in 2006.

Crist, who earns $132,931.56 as governor, has spent much of his life in public office, serving in the state Senate, as education commissioner and attorney general before being elected governor.

Both had been married before, Crist to a college sweetheart in 1980, a marriage that ended less than a year later. Rome was separated from Blue Star Jets president Todd Rome when she met Crist and finalized her divorce earlier this year. She has two daughters from that marriage. The girls, Skylar, 10, and Jessica, 12, gave their mother away at the altar, which had large bouquets of roses and hydrangeas on each side. The couple lit a candle in honor of Rome's parents, who are deceased.

Crist and Rome had been spotted just about everywhere of late.

Rome joined the governor as he campaigned around the country for John McCain, on a state trade mission to Europe and at sporting events. She also joined the governor backstage at a Jimmy Buffett concert in Tampa a little more than a month after they met.

"I was taken with her right away," Crist said recently. "You know how it is when you fall in love. It's pretty overwhelming — a very cool thing."

The last Florida governor to wed in office was Claude Kirk in 1967, to his wife Erika a month after his inauguration.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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