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Guest list for Crist wedding is hush-hush

ST. PETERSBURG —The governor's father? A shoo-in.

Mayor Rick Baker? Unclear.

The man who trims Charlie Crist's hair? Probably not.

For all the hubbub about the governor's marriage to Carole Rome, much of the chatter is about what is not known — especially, who's going to the wedding, and who's not.

The Dec. 12 nuptials will take place at First United Methodist Church, where the governor and his family have worshiped for years. The ceremony is black-tie optional, with a reception afterward at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.

Invitations began arriving last week. They are cream and pale pink, printed in Copperplate script, and sealed with a capital "C" affixed to a satin ribbon.

An enclosure card reads: "No gifts please, due to Florida law." The governor is required to report presents thought to be worth more than $100, except those from family members.

Beyond that, we know that Rome recently purchased her wedding dress in New York. We know that Crist's father, Dr. Charles Crist Sr., will be best man. And we know that Rome's attendants will be her daughters, Skylar and Jessica, and her sister, Michele Oumano Powell.

Who will be among the roughly 200 guests?

"We're invited," said Debbie Sembler, whose husband, Brent, is a St. Petersburg real estate developer who was finance chairman during Crist's gubernatorial campaign. In keeping with a St. Petersburg tradition, the invitation they received was hand-canceled through the downtown Open Air Post Office. Brent Sembler and Crist were members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Florida State University.

Baker, a Republican who attended FSU with the governor, last week had not been asked.

"I don't know that I haven't, but I haven't seen anything," he said Thursday.

Naturally, the wedding has provoked widespread speculation in the state capital.

State Rep. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, said last week that legislators are asking each other whether they are invited.

"Everyone's talking about it," he said. " 'Have you got yours yet? Have you got yours yet?' "

Carl Troup, who has cut the governor's hair for three decades, said he last saw Crist on Election Day when he stopped in at the Northeast Pyramid Barber Shop. Did he get an invitation?

"I haven't gotten one in the mail yet, but I was offered one," said Troup, whom the governor appointed to the state barber board. "But I told him there was a lot of people that he owes a lot of stuff to that would die to go there.''

Fazal Fazlin, a longtime Republican who offered up his Park Street estate to host two Crist fundraisers during the gubernatorial campaign, had not received an invitation last week.

"Maybe it's going to be a small wedding," he said.

Hien Nguyen, who designed Rome's sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring, didn't say whether he and his wife, Be Dinh, would attend the ceremony.

He finished the first couple's 18-karat white gold wedding bands last week. Nguyen, who owns the Gold & Diamond Center in the Northeast Shopping Center, said he had been working on the rings for about a month and described them as having antique styling.

"They look good," he said.

After the 7 p.m. wedding, guests will repair to the Renaissance Vinoy Resort for the reception.

Again, details are hard to come by.

"In fairness, the governor and his staff have said, 'Will you please keep this private?' I respect him, I respect his office, and I want to make sure we do what we've committed to him,'' said Russ Bond, the hotel's general manager. "It's a private event, and we wouldn't share that about any guest event, unless they wanted us to.''

Times staff writers Cristina Silva and Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

Guest list for Crist wedding is hush-hush 11/22/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 12, 2008 9:00pm]
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