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Is a beach wedding in Dewey worth $100?

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Town committee exploring possibility of imposing user fee

Wedding ceremonies on the beach in Dewey are free, but that could soon change.

The Dewey Beach Marketing Committee is exploring charging $100 for a wedding on the beach.

"Other towns are charging for what up to this point we're giving away for free," said Mayor Diane Hanson when this issue was discussed during a committee update at a Dec. 12 town council meeting. Dewey, Lewes and Rehoboth each have protocols wedding parties must follow, but with Lewes' beach wedding fee at $200 and Rehoboth's at $175, Dewey's proposal would still be less than their Cape Region neighbors to the north. In Lewes, it costs $400 to have a wedding at Canalfront Park.

Marilyn Seitz, marketing committee chair, said Dec. 28 the committee has been talking about creating a fee for some time. The town now requires couples to fill out a beach wedding request form, but that's it.

With two kids and two weddings under her belt, Seitz said she knows from experience that $100 is nothing when it comes to securing a wedding location. "I think it's a good idea," she said.

Town administrator Joyce Poole's records show 30 weddings were scheduled to take place in Dewey in 2015.

At $100 per wedding, Seitz said, the fee won't bring in much revenue, but it will help offset costs for allowing weddings on the beach - mainly in the number of man-hours spent picking up after wedding parties who were supposed to have picked up after themselves.

Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, Seitz said, revenue could also be spent on advertising weddings on the beach in Dewey. People in town for a wedding are in the mood to spend money, which, said Seitz, is good for the town.

"They make it a whole weekend, which is a great source of revenue for the town," she said.

Rich Cropper, Surf Club general manager, said this past year there were parties for 13 events at the oceanfront hotel at the end of Read Avenue in Dewey. He sits on the town's marketing committee.

Cropper said as a business operator he isn't against the fee and he expects $100 would have rninimal effect on a couple's wedding planning process. It's fair the town is compensated in some way, he said.

During the town council meeting, Commissioner Gary Mauler wanted to know what a couple would receive for paying the fee.

"If I'm the dad of the bride mortgaging my house to pay for the wedding, I'm going to want to know what I'm getting for my money," he said.

Fred Townsend, town attorney, said the town is providing exclusive use of a certain portion of the beach during the ceremony.

Seitz said the committee is still working out if the town should provide some additional level of service for the money. Neither Lewes or Rehoboth provide anything other than permission to use the beach.

This issue is scheduled to be discussed at length by town council during the Friday, Jan. 8 meeting in the Dewey Beach Life Saving Station.

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Original Publication Date: January 5, 2016

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