Special lights in Southern Shores: From Christmas to corona to wedding

Published 11:50 am Thursday, June 11, 2020

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In mid-March, Paul and Carla Borzellino of Southern Shores decided to keep their Christmas lights lit just a little longer. Their hope was that the lights would spread a message of hope and peace while the world turned to overcoming the spread of COVID-19. The lights became known as “Corona Lights.”

Fast forward three months, and the lights have now served another purpose with an even more powerful message.

The Borzellinos’ granddaughter, Bethany Allen, spent her summers with her family vacationing at the Outer Banks. “We always took the whole family on vacation to Avon,” Carla reminisced, “so OBX has always been a second home to her.”

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After getting engaged to her now-husband J.J. Allen two years ago, Bethany knew she wanted to get married in the Outer Banks. J.J. has spent the last twenty years here, while Bethany moved to the beach about four years ago. Both have a made a name for themselves in OBX.

They planned a wedding to be held at Jennette’s Pier on Friday, June 5 of this year. After large gatherings were restricted due to COVID-19, Bethany and J.J. had to make a decision on either postponing the wedding or celebrating in a different way.

“We had our engagement party at my grandparents’ [Carla and Paul] house two years ago and reached out to them first,” Bethany explained. “They said immediate family and few close friends were more than welcome, so we started planning.”


Bethany and J.J. Allen celebrated their wedding at her grandparents’ house by the beach after plans changed due to COVID-19. Courtesy Bethany Allen

Bethany and J.J. had about a month to re-plan their entire wedding. Luckily, all of their vendors agreed to help, along with family members and the bridal party.

They decided to hold a small ceremony on the beach at 7th Ave. in Southern Shores on June 5. Bethany said I Do OBX assisted in setting up their beach ceremony, and Reverend Jay Bowman officiated.

Reel Love served as the couple’s videographer while Ryan & Rach Photography captured pictures on the special day. Ten chairs were set up for parents and grandparents, while other family and friends gathered behind on the beach while staying social distant.

“Lots of tourists watched from their homes or beach spots and cheered for the couple after the ceremony,” Carla said.

After the ceremony, the wedding party gathered at the Borzellino residence for a reception. High Cotton catered and Bethany said the couple still had their first dance and cake cutting on the deck, surrounding by bright blue and white lights.

“It was very intimate and special…it brought some light into everything that’s going on right now,” she added.

Paul and Carla had Print Plus OBX make a sign to put beside their “Corona Lights” one for the special day. It read: “Love is not cancelled,” the theme for the unique wedding day festivities.

“Everyone kept saying how perfect everything was and smiling the whole time,” Bethany shared. Her wedding planner from Southern Hospitality told Bethany that this was her first wedding this year that involved more than just the bride and groom. Most vendors said this was one of, if not the first, wedding of the season they could do.

As for the Borzellinos, they were just happy to share the special day with their granddaughter and her husband. “They are a very loving couple and the perfect example of ‘true love,’” Carla said.

Even though the lights came down that following Monday, the “magic” they brought will not be forgotten.



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