Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wedding Caribbean Style

On Saturday, the 3rd of July, I awoke to a beautiful azure blue sky with a calm sea reflecting various shades of blue: from Azure to Cornflower to Maya to Cerulean to Dark Blue and even Alice Blue. There was hardly a cloud in the sky and it appeared that today would be a beautiful day for a wedding on a Caribbean Island!

As it was, a wedding was planned. It came to my attention about a month ago that friends of the new caretakers of Clark Cay, Bonnie and Bob, wanted to be married in an island wedding. So between Bonnie and the owners of Clark Cay, Martha and Bill, it was agreed that the Cay would be available for their wedding/honeymoon in July.

Clark Cay is about the 7th Cay in the chain of Cays off the coast of Guanaja. The Cays, running from the Northeast end to the Southwest end are: North East Cay, Georges Cay, Hendricks Cay, Jones Cay, Josh Cay (now commonly known as Graham‘s Cay), Clarks Cay, Channel Cay, Half Moon Cay, Catharines Cay, Hog Cay (or Bonacca Town and sometimes known as Low Cay), Pond Cay and Southwest Cay (which is directly off the island from where I live).

While Clarks Cay is not one of the larger Cays (Half Moon Cay and Southwest Cay have that distinction), it is of comfortable size with several cabanas, a boat house, an apartment, a Main house, and living quarters for the owners. The Pullums purchased it in 2003 from Gloria Catalano Kibler. She was the architect who worked on Posada del Sol (a resort at one time on Guanaja), Brick Point (owned by Bill Miller and bought by the Pullums), Hendrick's Cay (the home of Bavarian Hans and Renata) and contributed building ideas for the dwellings on Half Moon Cay. She was born in Argentina, educated there and in the States, where she lived in Boston. Clarks Cay had been owned by an islander before she purchased it, but I do not have access to those records at the moment.

Getting back to the wedding. Bonnie was in the first stages of planning and we spoke of it several times after the decision was made to hold it on the Clarks Cay. Bonnie had taken on the task of decorating, cooking, setting up, hiring help to assist, arranging for flights from the Mainland to the Island for the bridal couple and their parents, purchasing the food and drink and many, many more tasks! It was a daunting task and Bonnie was the person to handle it. They were debating as to who they should have as the Officiator when I offered my services to Bonnie. I told her I would be willing to research and prepare the opening words of the Officiant and the vows if the couple had not decide on any to date. Bonnie was elated and asked me to officiate, deliver the opening words and the vows and sanction the marriage. In my past experience I have been asked to and/or delivered four eulogies but have never performed a wedding. As a Notary in the State of Florida, I am sanctioned to marry couples, however, in Honduras it would require tons of paperwork before hand.

Since the requirements of Honduras are so detailed and complicated, plus all document would have to be translated into Spanish, it would have taken at least a month or more to finalize. The couple wanted to have their dream wedding on an island, and decided they would have the wedding performed in Guanaja and then make their “official” vows in the States upon their return to Texas. To them, however, this would be the date and place of their official actual commitment and the upcoming union and was not taken lightly.

So, I began my research on the Internet, checked out many resources and drafted an opening statement, a bible passage to be included, and the final vows. These were presented to the Bride and Groom via e-mail. After considering what I had prepared, they stated they were pleased with the final product and approved me to proceed with what I had written.

Meanwhile, Bonnie was renting items for the wedding, purchasing artificial flowers (not a lot of flowers grow on Clark Cay except for Hibiscus), making up a menu, coordinating the purchasing of refreshments and food and, in general, was a little tornado of energy.

The day before the wedding, I met Bob and Bonnie at the home of Anke and Bernd who had given their permission for us to gather tropical foliage and flowers for the ceremony. Their worker had been notified and was to have been present when we arrived as they have a large Rotwiller that guards their home. We arrived, managed to work with the dog with assistance, cut the flowers and foliage necessary and make it back to our boats without incident!

I was lucky enough to find in my backyard some purple orchids still blooming to use in the Bride’s bouquet and white orchids were obtained from Manati Restaurant and Clarks Cay to make a boutonnière for the Groom, with some left to add to the Bride’s flowers. Martha made up the bouquet and boutonnière and did a fantastic job.

Bob set to decorating the area set aside for the wedding and arranging the island flowers in vases for centerpieces. He did a beautiful job making the setting look beautifully tropical by creating an area dotted with Tiki torches and a “circle of trust” formed by Conch shells where the ceremony would be performed. His final floral arrangements also were a work of art! Artificial flowers and palm fronds dotted the pathway to the ceremony area and an area set up for music to be played off his iPod.

We left our home for Clarks Cay (my husband went along to take some photographs) at about 2:00 p.m. in order that I could meet with the Bride and Groom (whom I had never met before) and discuss the ceremony with them. Gray clouds were forming on the horizon and it appeared that we stood a chance of receiving rain. However, we were not worried as the wind seemed to be moving away from the island and we were confident that the weather would remain conducive to an outdoor ceremony.

I met Ginger and Rick a short while later and in discussing the ceremony it was decided that their vows would be repeated rather than their reading them so that they could look at one another and, in case they were nervous, they would not stumble over words.

At 5:30 p.m. the wedding was to take place and family and friends gathered on the beach: Paul and Rose Sammons parents of the Groom, Mark and Regina Hughes parents of the Bride, Bill and Martha Pullum, Mike and Sharon Jones and Bonnie and Bob Langston.

While we waited for the Bride and her father to appear it was discussed whether we were going to wear shoes or go barefoot as we were not sure what the Bride wanted. From the distant we heard a shout from Bonnie “the Bride is barefoot,” so we all dashed to take off our shoes.

Ginger appeared with her father and, as all brides, was radiant. They walked down the flowered walkway where Dad gave his daughter to Rick asking him to “take good care of my daughter.” They presented themselves to me, the Officiant, and I began the ceremony. All went rather smoothly with the Bride and Groom a little nervous at times which was demonstrated in their smiles and small bursts of laughter during the ceremony. Of course, no ceremony goes unscathed and this was not exception. The island dog, Hero, sitting on the sidelines had decided that the wedding needed his appearance so he strolled between myself and the couple half way through the ceremony. This may have been one of the reasons for the burst of laughter!

Vows were exchanged and the rings presented (after a scramble to see where the Groom’s father had put them!) and exchanged. Then followed the first kiss of husband and wife and they were presented to the group for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Sammans. The Certificado de Matrimonio (which I created for the occasion) was signed and witnessed and the Bride was given persents from her Mother.

Pictures were being taken and people posed. What was utterly fantastic was that just as the family was posed against a background drop of mountains and calm sea, the Bride looked to the East and saw a beautiful rainbow arched in the sky ! What a wonderful occurrence especially since, when Rick proposed to Ginger several months ago on a beach, a rainbow appeared. The Bride said she was hoping against hope that it would happen again and it did!

A champagne toast was made and tables were set up, torches lit and dinner was served.

Bonnie outdid herself! She is a fantastic cook and loves food. She prepared an excellent menu and made everything herself.


Lobster Dumplings
Caesar Salad
Grilled Grouper
Bonnie’s Special Green Beans
Oven Browned Potatoes
Wedding Cake: Strawberry cake with pineapple filling and cream cheese frosting
Grooms Cake: Balls of cake drizzled with chocolate

There was food, toasts, talk and laughter - a good end to a wonderful day and topped off by a beautiful sunset!

It was quite an experience to be part of the joining of two people and the sharing of love that took place on that beach. All in all, a wonderful ceremony and a beautiful, loving couple. Our heartfelt wishes to Rick and Ginger for a long, happy, healthy marriage.