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S’head Bay couple marries on the beach - Coney Island plays host to outdoor nuptials of pastor and his lady love

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Coney Island is a destination for thrilling amusement rides, classic hot dogs and, apparently, weddings.

A Sheepshead Bay couple selected the warm sand as the spot for their romantic wedding.

On the beach right off Brighton 14th Street, MaryJane Foxworth, 42, and Pastor Joe Maldonado, 56, said “I do” in front of 200 family and friends – and the calm waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

“It was the most incredible moment of my life,” said MaryJane, who was walked down the aisle by her 14-year-old son.

A beach wedding in August called for comfortable clothing. The groom looked cool and casual in a khaki shirt and matching linen pants. The bride was radiant in a pure white floor length chiffon gown offset by loose curls in her blond hair and delicate jewelry.

“I wanted it to be very flowy,” the bride said of the all-important dress decision.

The decision to marry on the beach in Brooklyn was also a simple one.

“My parents met there on August 1st in 1956 and they eloped on August 22nd,” MaryJane explained.

The couple raised eight children in Coney Island.

So when the time came for MaryJane and Joe to plan their wedding, heading back to the beach seemed like the right idea.

“It was so perfect. There couldn’t have been anything else to make it more perfect,” MaryJane said.

The couple have been friends for years but it took a while for love to bloom. Each had already been married once and MaryJane has three children and Joe has two.

“We’ve known each other for 25 years. I had always gone to his church. His daughter is my children’s godparents and my daughter is his grandchild­ren’s godparents so the families have been joined for many years,” MaryJane explained.

A few years ago, Joe moved to Pennsylvania. During a trip back to Brooklyn, he asked MaryJane to what she thought was a casual dinner among friends. He considered it a date.

“Five days later he called me again and said, ‘Where would you like to go on our second date?’ I dropped the phone. I didn’t think we were dating,” MaryJane said with a laugh.

The prospect of dating a pastor was unsettling at first but MaryJane slowly warmed to the idea.

“It was kind of weird in the beginning. I wouldn’t hold his hand in public,” she laughed. “We had a lot of talks and after a couple of months we were seeing each other more often. He proposed on August 19th and then on December 31st he moved back to Brooklyn.”

Joe is now the associate pastor of Trinity Tabernacle Church at 121 Gravesend Neck Road.

The couple solidified their relationship by staging a “sand ceremony” during their wedding. In front of their guests, MaryJane and Joe took turns filling a small jar with sand for a sweet and touching moment.

“That was his idea,” MaryJane explained. “We both filled that jar so that you couldn’t take apart the grains that he and I put in. That was two lives coming together that could never be taken apart.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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