My Bermuda Wedding...I'm sorry it's so long!
Posted 25 August 2007 - 05:31 PM
To give a little background, growing up my father was in the military, so we moved around a lot. When I was six we moved from the Northwest Territories in Canada to Bermuda, and even at such a young age, it had a profound effect on me. One memory is still clear in my mind, of a bridal arch left behind on a beach at sunset, tulle and flowers blowing in the wind, and it was then that I decided that one day, I too would be married on a Bermudian beach.
Fast forward to June 2005. My fianc© (who proposed on fatherâ€™s day) knew that I had dreamed of a wedding in Bermuda for two decades, and agreed it would be the perfect place. The biggest obstacle now would be finding an affordable way for our guests to share our day. We looked at different resorts, we looked at rental apartments, but when it came down to it, booking a cruise was the most cost effective way to go. We set our date for May 10, 2007, and as of April 2006 planning got underway.
During the search for a cruise for our date, we came across wedding packages through the cruiseline. Both my fianc© and I thought this was great, and would make the planning that much easier. We quickly found out that it wasnâ€™t the cruiseline that planned the weddings, but a company called The Wedding Experience that is used by many of the major cruiselines for planning weddings. Since they were so widely used throughout the world, and planned so many weddings annually, we figured they must be good at what they do.
The first few months of the planning went great. Our coordinator at TWE was efficient and friendly, responding to our emails and our questions within hours. Paperwork was quickly processed and fianc© and I were able to sit back and focus on getting our invitations printed and coordinating with our travel agent for the cruise.
Then our coordinator left TWE. We quickly got passed on to another coordinator who was just as efficient as the previous, however, none of our previous information had been passed on aside from the date. Our wedding location which had been confirmed was not the same listed on the paperwork our new coordinator was given, and there were quotes we had asked for that had gotten lost in the shuffle. Everything quickly got sorted out and planning was on track again. I became focused on finding a dress and my fianc© started up an Excel spreadsheet for all the wedding costs (he loves Excelâ€¦I personally canâ€™t figure it out, but it makes him happy, so thatâ€™s all that matters).
Our second coordinator then left the company. Now up until this point both of us had been pretty laid back about the whole process. We were getting the quotes we asked for, our emails were being answered, and our dream location (The Coco Reef Resort) was confirmed. Still, after going through two coordinators already, and now being passed off to a third, we were beginning to get a tiny bit concerned. Well, to be honest, my fianc© was getting concerned, I was still confident everything was going to be fine.
However, our third coordinator with TWE left much to be desired. The final paperwork due date was coming up, and we had to remind her so that she would be around to receive our fax. Our emails often went a week or more without being answered, sometimes not answered at all. Any phone calls we made were met by a girl who, although incredibly friendly and kind, could never find our file and often told us sheâ€™d call us back once she had it in front of her. The phone calls rarely came. Now Iâ€™m not saying we were making phone calls every other day, because we werenâ€™t. But about once a month we liked to check in to see how things were coming along, and whether there was any paperwork we had forgotten or if there was something we had yet to pay for. We just wanted to make sure that everything that needed to be done to make sure the wedding was legal and would go forward as planned was done.
April 2007 finally arrived, and we were a month away from our wedding. The dress had arrived, all our guests had confirmed and made their final payments on their cruise, our wedding party had their attire, and our flower girlâ€™s dress was completed (my future MIL made it). It was mid-April when we received a phone call from one Barbara Whitecross from the Bermuda Wedding Salon. Ironically, we had spoken with her during the original planning stages of our wedding, before we had decided to go with TWE. Both my fianc© and I were a little confused as to why we were hearing from her, since the last time we had spoken to her had been almost a year before. Well, it turns out that The Wedding Experience, who is outsourced by the cruiselines, works directly with The Wedding Salon in Bermuda. Barbaraâ€™s staff would be in charge of our wedding day, and making sure everything went according to plan. My fianc© and I could not have been more relieved than we were at the end of this phone call. TWE promises a phone call two weeks prior to the wedding to go over final confirmations, and to let the bridal couple know who they will be working with the day of the wedding. Barbara, who had been having her own troubles with our contact at TWE, decided to call us herself and get the answers she required to ensure our wedding day went off smoothly. In the twenty minutes we spent on the phone with her, everything we had been struggling to confirm through TWE for the past six months was settled and my fianc© and I could relax.
THE WEDDINGâ€¦..have I bored any of you yet?
The trip to Bermuda was wonderful, and we had a full day and a half to enjoy the island before the wedding. But finally, May 10th had arrived, and I was slowly becoming a nervous wreck. I woke up early to disembark and get my hair done. My maid of honour lives in Bermuda, and she and her mother were my hairstylists for the day. My MOH teaches salsa dancing on the island, and does a number of shows for the hotels and abroad throughout the year, so she is used to having to put hairstyles together. Let me say that I loved my hair, and not having to pay an exorbitant price was definitely a plus. I headed back to the ship to get ready, and by this time, I was starting to shake just a bit.
It took me very little time to get into my dress. Since I didnâ€™t want my fianc© to see me, his sister (and my bridesmaid) had slept in our cabin with me the night before, so we hung out there until it was time to head down to where the cabs would be meeting us. After all the guests had been picked up, I headed outside with my parents and my bridesmaid, and we were on our way.
The Coco Reef Resort is located about half an hour from the where our ship was docked, so we had a beautiful drive through the island. Strangely though, the closer we got, the calmer I became. We finally arrived at the resort, where I was told to wait in the cab until our onsite coordinator, Malika, came to get me. During this time, my fianc© found a way to send me a note that of course made me cry.
After waiting for about ten minutes, Malika came to get me, and it was time to start. My MOH, my bridesmaid, and our flower girl were waiting in the lobby of the resort. Malika handed me my bouquet (pink roses and hydrangeas), which until that moment I wasnâ€™t sure what I would be getting. A standard bouquet came with the package through TWE, and when Barbara had called us in April she asked me what colour flowers I would like. I told her pink or blue, and it was left at that. Let me say that I loved my bouquet, it turned out more beautiful than I could have hoped. After handing me my bouquet, and after I made sure my girls had theirs (which I made myself), we headed outside. The sky had been a deep grey all morning, and was still looking very foreboding. But it wasnâ€™t raining, and the contrast of the ocean on the sky was breathtaking.
I will admit now that the ceremony itself flew by in a crazy kind of blur. I remember my parents walking me down the aisle, and that the cd player didnâ€™t work for our entrance music. (It wasnâ€™t missed, the sound of the ocean was phenomenal.) I remember how kind our minister was, and looking at my future mother in law only to see a mountain of tissue had magically appeared on her lap. Then somehow, our vows had been said, the rings had been exchanged, and our paperwork was being signed. Malika had finally gotten the cd player to work, and I could hear strains of Bob Marleyâ€™s â€œIs This Loveâ€ over the roar of the ocean. We were married.
Long ago, my fianc© and I had decided we would do our first dance in the sand immediately following the ceremony. So once we had signed everything that needed to be signed, our guests formed a semi-circle around us as we stepped barefoot onto the sand. Malika started the cd player once more, and as the opening chords of the song More by Harry Connick Jr started to play, we started to dance.
Once we finished our twirl in the sand, it was time for our photography. It went by fairly quickly, and in hindsight there were a few more pictures I would have liked to have been taken, but they just did not occur to me in the rush of things, and our photographer was concerned that the sky might open up at any minute and ruin his equipment. But our pictures turned out beautifully, and combined with the seven other cameras we had pointed at us that day, we had more than enough great shots to document the day.
Following our photo shoot, we proceeded to a deck by the pool at the resort for cake and champagne. The cake was delicious, just a simple yellow cake with sticky white frosting (I think it was fondant). It was provided by the resort, and I have no complaints whatsoever.
Once the cake had been cut and the champagne had been drunk, we were taken back to our ship where we had about an hour to relax before dinner. We werenâ€™t going to have a traditional reception, but we had arranged dinner for our guests at a local restaurant called La Trattoria. It had been my favourite restaurant when I lived on the island, and I wanted to share their amazing food with our family and friends. The restaurant staff went out of their way to make our guests comfortable, and the food, as always, was phenomenal. It was the perfect cap to our perfect day.
Our wedding went just as we had hoped. It was small and intimate, and we couldnâ€™t have asked for better people to help us out in making our day go smoothly. The Wedding Experience wasnâ€™t the easiest company to deal with, and if I had to do it over I would have spent the extra money to work directly with The Bermuda Wedding Salon. But in the end, I had the perfect wedding, and I was married to the perfect guy, and you canâ€™t get much better than that.
Here is a link to a photoalbum I have set up: Facebook | Jennifer Hill Holmes's Photos – Bermuda Wedding Album
Posted 25 August 2007 - 06:41 PM
That is a great story! I can only imagine that visual image. It must have been ssoo wonderful to live out that dream!!!
Posted 25 August 2007 - 06:46 PM
Posted 25 August 2007 - 07:03 PM
Posted 25 August 2007 - 10:16 PM
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Posted 26 August 2007 - 01:19 PM
I did forget to mention (as the review was getting a bit too long even for my taste!) that if any of you are debating using TWE for planning your wedding, I would use extreme caution. They don't appear to be particularly organized, and maybe that has to do with the sheer volume of weddings they process (in some cases it's two or three weddings per cruise). Make sure you keep all your emails, copies of all paperwork and contract information, and if it's at all possible, maybe even make recordings of your phone calls. The company has been known to go back on their promises, and has caused numerous problems for past brides. There is a forum on Cruise Critic: Cruise reviews, message boards, bargains, cruise information - CruiseCritic.com specific to cruise weddings if you are looking for more informatin.
Luckily my wedding turned out just as I hoped, and not a day goes by that I don't stop and think about it. Granted, it's only been a few months, but I have a sneaky suspicion that even after a few years, I'm still going to get all misty eyed when I think about it. :-)
Posted 27 August 2007 - 05:52 PM
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