Tropical Surprise (Wedding)

A local businessman pulls out all the stops with a dream wedding for his bride — and his guests

The invitations went out about four weeks ahead of time. And all the guests knew is that they needed to pack for “warm weather.”

By Aug. 3, the 27 lucky friends and family were on a private jet headed to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. They would attend the wedding of Van and Lori Conway in style the next night, having been treated to an all-expenses paid luxury getaway at the Ritz-Carlton.

“It was beyond what I ever expected,” says the bride.

Yet even Lori didn’t know where they were headed for her nuptials to Van, one of the founders of Conway MacKenzie, a nationally recognized restructuring and financial advisory firm based in Birmingham. She had chosen her designer wedding gown in Miami several months before, but seemed content to let her husband-to-be take care of virtually every other detail. Lori said it was actually “quite refreshing” not to have to worry about planning the actual wedding.

Van admitted he just wanted it to be as special as possible, and it seems to have gone off without a hitch. “The service was exquisite, and I thought it would just be cool to surprise everyone,” Van says. “Besides, I’ve been married twice before, and I wanted my last wedding to be my best one.”