When an event starts off with a cruise in a flotilla of colourful boats bedecked with flowers and ribbons, you know you are in for an adventure. Wow! And what an experience it was.
Our new part-time neighbours on the island are a young couple from England, Carly Lancaster and Simon Davison. They kindly included a number of their island neighbours in the celebration of their wedding on April 14th, the night of the full moon, and of the lunar eclipse.
Gathering at the renamed Avalon Reef/Mia Reef Hotel at the north end of the island, eighty of the bride and groom's family members and close friends from England, Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands joined the dozen or so locals. Teetering along the wobbly fun-house style dock at the hotel, we made our way to the flotilla of decorated boats. Simon wryly commented. "In England this dock would have been condemned." I couldn't help but laugh. "It's a perfectly good dock - sort of." I said as the dock lurched sideways for several breath-stopping inches.
Clambering into the eight multi-hued boats we cruised past the choppy water near north beach into the calmer area of Makax Lagoon and south to the Zama's Beach Club dock. Some of the guests experienced the warm Caribbean water first-hand as the odd wave splashed over the low-riding sides. Other than a few nervous giggles, everyone seemed to be enjoying the experience.
Arriving at the dock we walked through a flower archway to the main entrance of Zama's where the staff offered us yummy cool drinks and an invitation to pick a seat for the wedding ceremony. The Zama's Beach Club staff had done an amazing job. The facility was decorated in whimsical hearts, candles, gauze-draped walkways, flowers, flowers and more flowers.
It was enough to make even the crabbiest of curmudgeons feel romantic.
Every guest was supplied with a bright pink umbrella to shelter from the hot afternoon sun, and a two-foot long compressed air wedding Popper designed to shoot pieces of bio-degradable paper into the sky at the culmination of the ceremony. The Poppers are the modern version of tossing confetti or rice. Magical.
Carly looked like a fairytale princess as she made her way down the rose-petal strewn aisle on the arm of her very proud and emotional papa. We were treated to a lovely, short ceremony involving the pouring of two types of sand into one vase to signify their union, the release of a live butterfly to invoke a Mayan blessing, and the traditional exchanging of marriage vows with a personal twist at the end.
Then the swirl of Scottish bagpipes could be heard as a fellow Canadian strode down the aisle playing Amazing Grace, on an instrument that only a person of Scottish heritage can truly love. Foreign to most people the sound of the bagpipes always thrills us, sending chills up our spines, and tingling the hair on our arms. Simon is a Scot! He gets it.
The piper escorted the couple, followed by wedding guests, into the cocktail reception on the upper level at the beach club. Here we were served beverages, tasty tidbits of food, and serenaded by a full mariachi band paying homage to the country where Simon and Carly have built a new home. Whew! At this point anyone would have thought that it had been a very lovely event, and would have not been surprised if that was the end of the celebrations.
But wait! There's more!
Next the mariachi group led everyone to the beach for group photographs and to enjoy the Caribbean sunset. Then we were asked to congregate in the dining area, paying particular attention to find our assigned seating.
Each place was set with three wine glasses, three forks, two knives, a pink rose, a heart-shaped name tag, a small box of candy, and a menu with two main course choices; Buttered Sirloin, or Tic in Xic Mexican style Grouper. The centre piece was a three-foot tall crystal vase with an enormous cascade of flowers spilling overhead, but not obstructing the view of our fellow table mates. While we waited for our main course to arrive a magician visited each table engaging the guests in various tricks.
When dinner was finished, the bride and groom asked their guests to join them on the beach for a demonstration of fire-dancing. It was a spectacular show that ended with the two halves of a heart blazing together in unison. We could feel the heat from where we were standing. I can't imagine how hot it was for the performers twirling, juggling, and dancing with burning batons.
And there was still more!
Back inside the dining area the eight-piece band began their evening performance with an eclectic mix of modern, oldies, and Latin music.
Simon and Carly had their traditional first dance as a married couple, followed by family members and finally asking everyone to join in the fun. Between the great music, and the ever-attentive waiters topping up beverages the dance floor was quickly packed with celebrants.
Mingling in with guests were performers on stilts, a spinning cage for disco dancers, and a werewolf holding a large picture frame encouraging zany photos. Dancers were given balloons, glow-in-the-dark glasses, carnival masks, and other party favours to increase their enjoyment.
Later in the evening, closer to midnight, I watched in amusement as five sturdy men struggled to carry in the wedding cake.
It was huge! A few minutes later a beautiful slice of cake was set in front of me; four layers starting as red on the bottom layer, and ending with light pink on the top layer. An amazing amount of detail went into creating this extravaganza.
About midnight we decided to head home. As we were leaving we discovered the dessert bar; covered in cookies, and slices, and brownies, and other good treats. Darn! I was too tired and too full at that point.
I asked other friends if they stayed until the end. No, they didn't, but the party carried on until 3:30 in the morning. Carly and Simon have stamina.
The wedding day for Carly and Simon was a magical fairytale event, a nice mix of Mexican traditions and British customs. It was a feast for our eyes, our ears, and our taste buds. We enjoyed every minute. We are so happy that these generous folks have moved into our neighbourhood and included us in their special day.
Lynda & Lawrie