Author: Erin Rosner
Date of Trip: October 2007
A Proposal Fit for an LBI B&B -submitted by Erin Rosner (soon-to-be Schonbachler!)
To choose our next weekend getaway, we did what most savvy travelers would do – we visited Bedandbreakfast.com and searched for the perfect B&B on Long Beach Island. After vacationing on LBI over the summer, Dennis and I discovered a love that transcends time. Long Beach Island is 18 miles of sun, sand and restaurants that make your mouth water. We knew it was the perfect spot for our fall getaway.
Through conducting our Bedandbreakfast.com search, one B&B climbed to the top of both of our lists – Williams Cottage Inn in Beach Haven. Having biked the length of the island many times, we realized that we must have passed WCI several times, but never realized that the beautiful residence was a B&B.
With ease, anticipation and excitement we booked our reservation on WCI’s website, and chose to stay for 2 nights in the Blue Room, one of their eight impeccably decorated, themed-rooms. The Blue Room’s motif is blue and white toile, with silver and crystal fixtures. The room boasts a king size bed, fireplace, chandelier, and ocean views. The elegant bath has a clawfoot tub and double shower. The pictures on their website were enough to get us through the long workweek ahead….
2007 brought about a lot of changes for both Dennis and I. Most importantly, I had a chance to develop a relationship with Dennis, someone I had known and admired from afar for 4 years. During the course of the year Dennis not only changed careers, but also packed up his belongings and moved to my home in a new city. To say we experienced significant changes is an understatement! For this and a million other reasons, I wanted to make our getaway weekend even more special than I already knew it would be. I called the Innkeepers, spoke with a lovely man with a Norwegian accent, and arranged for chocolate covered strawberries to greet us when we arrived back to our room after dinner Friday night. Little did I know Dennis had some (big) tricks up his sleeve as well…
Armed with a list of restaurants recommended by the Innkeepers, Amy and Hans, we made dinner reservations Friday night at Bisque and Saturday night at The Gables, both in Beach Haven. We prepped our bikes for some long, oceanfront rides and packed some running gear as well. After all, exercising is just one of the many activities you must enjoy while vacationing on LBI.
Heading towards the Atlantic Ocean on Ocean Street, we saw where we would spend our romantic weekend, far away from the traffic, our BlackBerries, and the stressors of everyday life. The Williams Cottage Inn, a circa 1886 Queen Anne style Victorian home, is a meticulously restored historic residence featuring a grand entry parlor, formal dining room, and large library. We entered the house through the wrap-around porch, an inviting porch with plenty of seating, surrounded by meticulous landscaping. Amy and Hans, the gracious innkeepers that were attuned to our every need all weekend, immediately greeted us and showed us to the Blue Room.
Although there were other guests staying at the Inn, Hans volunteered to drive us to our dinner at Bisque so we could enjoy a celebratory bottle of wine. The service, food and ambiance at Bisque exceeded our expectations. Dennis started off with a bowl of lobster bisque soup (which I helped him polish off!), we both had a mixed greens salad, and then it was on to our main course. I had a delicious entree of Braised Veal “Osso Bucco”, a tender veal shank braised with vegetables in a madeira wine sauce over potato gnocchi. Dennis enjoyed the Capellini Pomodoro and Baby Gulf Shrimp, a delicious dish of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil, simmered with baby shrimp and tossed with capellini and Reggiano. Our server was very attentive, and the restaurant buzzed from an impressive fall crowd. Knowing that we had dessert waiting for us back at Williams Cottage Inn, I recommended we skip dessert at Bisque.
When I walked back into the Blue Room, I didn’t immediately look for the chocolate covered strawberries. Instead I stared into Dennis’ eyes and thought to myself what I’ve thought a million times since our first date – that this wonderful, caring man is my soul mate and partner in life. In glancing around our suite I spotted a beautiful bouquet of red roses and champagne on ice, along with the strawberries I had requested. Dennis brought me over to the other side of the room to get a closer look at his surprises. He pointed to a Williams Cottage Inn card printed with a special letter to me and asked me to read it. While I read the letter out loud, Dennis fumbled to recover the ring from an antique dresser behind him. With tears in my eyes and love in my heart, I read the last line in the poem, which read, “Will you be my wife?”. Dennis was down on one knee, and presented me with a token of his love and dedication, a beautiful Tiffany solitaire diamond that sparkled like the ocean outside our windows. It didn’t take me longer than a second to wrap my arms around my husband-to-be and say “Yes!”.
Although we were exhausted from the excitement, we took a long soak in the clawfoot tub and made a few important phone calls to our families. The king size bed served as our sanctuary for the next eight hours. When we awoke, we joined the other Inn guests for a made-to-order gourmet breakfast prepared by Hans, an accomplished chef. We ordered Hans’ Scandinavian specialty, upside French toast that tastes like dessert! Everyone congratulated us on our engagement and we looked forward to our first day together as fiance and fiancee!
While having a second cup of coffee on the porch, we admired the monarch butterflies that surrounded the flowers, plants and sky. Dennis, an accomplished, novice photographer, spent the next hour photographing the butterflies, the Williams Cottage Inn, and the Atlantic Ocean that was only steps away from the Inn. While the sun was still shining, we wanted to enjoy one of our other passions, bike riding the length of the island.
To prepare us for our 36-mile bike ride, Amy packed us a special care package with homemade cinnamon scones and water bottles. We left the Inn and headed south to the southern tip of LBI, Holgate. Since the summer season was over, we weren’t able to indulge in our favorite cheese-steak at South Beach Grill in Holgate, but the scones were a welcomed alternative and the perfect source of much needed energy!
We next biked north through the charming towns of Beach Haven, Brant Beach, Ship Bottom, Surf City, Harvey Cedars, Loveladies, and Barnegat Light. At the north end of the island, we always stop at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park and admire “Old Barney”, a lighthouse built in the mid-1800’s. This marked the halfway point of our bike ride and reminded us of how far we had yet to go! We made the voyage back to Beach Haven to relax before our dinner reservations at the highly regarded restaurant, The Gables.
Since The Gables was only 6 blocks from the Inn, we enjoyed the leisurely stroll to the restaurant. The ambiance of the Victorian inn equally matched their fine food and service. Dennis and I both ordered the mixed greens salad and day-boat sea scallops from local Viking Village. We dined over candlelight while enjoying the music from the piano and the warmth from the heat lamps.
Back at Williams Cottage Inn we enjoyed a nightcap on the porch with the Innkeepers and the other Inn guests. Everyone relished in the opportunity to relax and share stories about their day on LBI. One couple took their boat out for a day trip, another couple headed to Atlantic City for the day to meet up with their niece, and another couple took the complimentary bicycles provided by the Inn out for a ride. We also shared details about our rooms, each boasting that our room was the best!
Sunday morning we awoke to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee and bacon coming from downstairs. The breakfast was just as impressive as the day before, comprised of fresh baked Danish, fresh squeezed organic orange juice, and made-to-order Eggs Benedict smothered with the most delicious hollandaise sauce. Needless to say, our engagement weekend was made even more special by the surroundings of Williams Cottage Inn. Not knowing how feasible our idea was, Dennis and I decided we wanted to explore the idea of exchanging our vows and hosting our wedding at the Inn.
One mention of our idea to Amy and Hans and they were just as excited as we were. Even though it would be the first wedding at Williams Cottage Inn, it held a special place in our hearts and we weren’t ready to let it go. Since most of the guests had checked out, Amy and Hans took us on a tour of each of the 8 lavish rooms. Each room was more impressive than the last, decorated with furniture from around the world to enhance the unique style of that room. They also brought us outside to the gazebo and courtyard, a perfect place for exchanging our vows. Transformed with a few tents, we knew the Inn and surrounding courtyard would serve as the perfect atmosphere for holding our wedding with our families and close friends. Renting the Inn for the entire weekend would also allow our 2 families to spend time together and celebrate the blending of the Rosner family and the Schonbachler family.
Our wedding date has been set and the plans are beginning to take shape. Dennis and I will be exchanging our vows at Williams Cottage Inn on May 17, 2008. Amy and Hans have been extremely helpful in the planning, recommending local caterers, florists and bakeries. We recently spent a second weekend at the Inn, as it is now our most favorite getaway.
We have recommended Williams Cottage Inn to everyone that needs an escape…we are thrilled to be their first bride and groom and I am honored that Dennis chose me to be his wife!