After months of preparation and anticipation and weeks of planning, organizing and stress, Saturday April 30rd, 2011 arrived. Mark and I had picked up 5 sets of family members the previous days and everybody was settled in our rented Villa Steel Magnolias, enjoying their Caribbean vacation while we arranged last minute preparations, pick-ups and shopping. During the day of the wedding, our friend Eli, who runs Lagoonies, took over the villa’s kitchen and prepared all the side dishes. Kristen and Tim helped out tremendously and from 3:30 pm on, we had Tess and Milo take over the presentation, food prep and grilling. As expected, Mark and I ran around and were busy bees until 5 pm came around…
While Mark greeted all the guests (of which some unfortunately “cancelled” last minute), maid of honor Rosie assisted the bride (= me) in getting ready. Shower, dress, jewelry and make-up were all finished within ten minutes and for the occasion, I blow dried my short hair, the first time in fifteen years! The realization that I probably shouldn’t show up at the beach ceremony with wet hair prompted such decision. There was something old (white ankle bracelet), something new (white dress), something borrowed (Rosie’s perfume) and something blue (bracelets sent by Emily), when I walked outside our luxurious suite to approach the beach on my dad’s side. Kristen had made a wonderful and colorful wedding bouquet with flowers from the villa’s garden.
joined the beach scene for the ceremony. Mark and all the guests welcomed me in their midst and I took in the pretty beach decorations of black stones, pink flowers and palm leaves, creating a natural altar. Cruising friends Rosie, Liz and Sam had done a great job! Mark’s brother-in-law Brian led the informal ceremony and turned it into a very personal and special moment. But first, Mark decided “better late than never” and asked me to marry him! Some speculated that he just wanted to be sure of the answer before proposing…
Brian took over and after the welcoming words and a bit of background information about my “future” husband and me, it was Mark’s turn to read his self created words to me. When he started, his lips trembled and his voice was poignant. My eyes turned watery and everybody else’s as well. His text was beautiful and so true, to the point and funny at other times. Tears and laughs sounded from around. It took me a moment to read my own poem and words of love and respect for him.
Mark’s mom Carol read her poem about the ebb and flood of the ocean and of love, followed by another poem, picked by Kristen, which Brian read. Our good cruising friend Dave couldn’t attend the wedding, but had written and composed a song about us. We played it on the beach while everybody followed the personal and fitting lyrics on sheets of paper. Mark’s best man Ed dunked our stainless steel rings into the ocean as a blessing for/by Neptune and to ensure them a rust free life. The wedding ceremony finished with the short words of my dad ”Take her, she’s all yours now, my responsibility is over!” and a blessing by Stanley, Mark’s father. Then, it was time for rum punch, distributed by Sim and Jon who made sure nothing went to waste.
Our German cruising friend Axel donated his talents and camera gear to capture the whole wedding event, from set-up to ceremony to food to party to atmosphere to fun. We had a short photo session in front of the Caribbean Sea and the group pictures came out splendidly. When the sun started to set, the party moved back to the villa for scrumptious appetizers of salmon, different kinds of pâté, an array of French cheeses, crunchy baguettes and locally made plantain chips. The self-serve bar consisted of gallons of beer, wine, liquor, soda and juices. Everybody did their best to make a dent, but most of it had to be taken to Irie afterwards. It’ll make our provisioning when leaving St. Martin a bit easier!
Eli’s voluminous and classy side dishes complimented the tasty shrimp, chicken and beef skewers prepared by Mark, Tim and Kristen and grilled by Milo. Everybody enjoyed all the yummy food and seemed a bit too stuffed once the party started. I thanked all the guests for coming and Ed presented a very spontaneous and interesting speech. Matt played a bit of violin, before the opening dance took place. Half way through the combination of my two favorite Ben Harper songs, Mark invited his mom and I took my dad for another slow dance. This was the official start of the party and the dessert buffet of mouth watering French pastries. At some point, I threw my beautiful bouquet, caught by Sam, and Mark ripped my garter off with his teeth. It somehow ended up in Matt’s hands. I guess we’ll have a couple more sailors’ weddings next year?
People talked, laughed, danced, ate and drank until the wee hours. Only one couple, Matt and Denise, “accidently” fell into the pool. Everybody was on their best behavior. Mark and I had a fantastic and special evening that finished around 2:30am. The villa was a perfect location for this event and without the help of so many friends and family members we wouldn’t have been able to pull the whole thing off! We really appreciate the help of our cruising friends and Brian, who turned Liesbet and Mark’s Caribbean Wedding Party into a very memorable, romantic and unforgettable experience!!!