My friend Tina’s wedding day in Jamaica was just like Tina- quirky, fun, and beautiful. It began for us guests at the Barracuda Bar, adjacent to the beach where the ceremony was being held. We arrived there about 20 minutes before the wedding was scheduled to start and shared some delicious frozen cocktails. I drank something called a Purple Rain, which was cold and sweet and refreshing (and very purple!). At exactly 2pm, a staff member came to escort the small group of guests to the beach, and we brought our cocktails along with us- drinking during a wedding ceremony was a first for me!
Despite the beating sun, the ceremony was truly lovely. It was short and sweet, and a light breeze off of the water helped with the intense humidity. We posed for some group photographs before heading over to a small area of the beach designated for cocktail hour. A brilliant three man band entertained with everything from classic love songs to Bob Marley as servers passed around bruschetta, fish cakes, and beef skewers. The bruschetta was fantastic and I unashamedly ate four pieces of it. The bride and groom shared their first dance under the gazebo before everyone sat down for dinner. With fewer than 25 guests, only three tables, and no assigned seats, it was incredibly lucky for me to end up right next to the bride and groom! The tables were arranged in a beautiful spot but offered no escape from the scorching sun. Enter the fabulous Wild Orchid staff! In the blink of an eye they had dragged over three huge umbrellas to get everyone in some shade. It was much appreciated and helped us to enjoy our dinner much more.
The multi-course dinner Tina had chosen was seafood based, so she had the chefs prepare vegetarian options for me. When everyone else ate their crab cake appetizer, I had an amazing pepper stuffed with peppers. It had just the right amount of spice, marinated to perfection. Instead of conch chowder, I enjoyed a light tomato basil soup. The main course they brought me was a marinated tofu dish with the same side dishes that everyone else had alongside their fish- pumpkin rice and grilled vegetables. Tofu has too much protein for me to eat, but since the rice and veggies were all beyond delicious I really didn’t mind. Tina, however, loves tofu. We barely even had to ask each other before she started taking the tofu from my plate and I scooped the veggies off of hers- a practice we had perfected hundreds of times in the college cafeteria! I guess it doesn’t matter what country you are in, how old you are, or if one of you is wearing a wedding gown, some things never change!
Shenanigans abounded after dinner, when an artsy photograph attempt of the rings sitting in the bouquet ended with all three rings (including the engagement ring which included diamonds from Tina’s grandmother) buried in the sand! The two thin bands were found quickly, but the heavy stones had caused the engagement ring to sink even further. Six or seven tense moments followed as the groom, best man, and a few others carefully combed the sand, but it felt like hours until a hotel employee ultimately pulled the beautiful ring out of the beach. It was slipped back onto the bride’s finger, where it remained indefinitely! A humorous bouquet toss followed. It ended with pink flowers everywhere and a couple of very sandy single ladies.
The groom shared special dances with his mother and sister before dessert, which consisted of absolutely amazing frosting atop a chocolate cake. One of the other girls had heard about my insatiable sweet tooth and offered me her frosting as well, which we traded for my cake. Yum!
We did some beachy dancing before the reception came to a close, but the fun wasn’t nearly over! Tina knew her wedding gown would never be worn again and wanted to “trash” it, so the whole party followed her over to the water, where she and Andrew dove right in! The sun was falling behind the clouds and other guests had stopped to watch as her bright white sweetheart neckline rhinestoned dress soaked in the seawater. Then the maid of honor, mother of the bride, and a few other guests decided to get in on the action! If I had been wearing a less expensive dress, I would have joined them in the water, but instead I stayed put on the sand.
The evening ended with a late night swim in the darkened and chilled pool. We kept warm by keeping the drinks flowing and the conversation flowed as well. Tina’s family was so much fun and we all got along so well, so it was truly a wonderful time. I am so grateful that I was able to be there for her to celebrate her wedding day. She was one of the first friends I made at college and we have been through a lot together- bad dates, awkward exes, exam cramming, health issues… but of course, it wasn’t all bad! We also shared chick flicks, road trips, late night crafts, dance parties… I know my college experience would not have been the same without her, and now we get to share with each other the most important days of our lives!