As I sat in the wedding coordinator’s office of the Rendezvous resort alongside our appointed wedding officer Michel, I thought of the seriousness of the day. I was fidgeting and sweaty (the air-conditioning of the room was a welcome, but not entirely effective, addition) and prepared to make one of the biggest changes my life would ever experience. In this room, on a beautifully clear and blue-skied St Lucian Wednesday, I was about to become someone’s husband. The matter was afforded extra weight and importance by the fact that the woman I was marrying was my dream girl and I was desperately eager not to screw up the day, lest she finally come to her senses and run away (we were on a Caribbean island, so if it was going to happen, this was probably the most likely place). The date was important too: it was May the 4th.
Sitting in the office with Michel was tense. Sandra, our wedding coordinator and unofficial best friend for the week, had just left the room to check on Lou and to see if she was ready, and so I sat with a stranger whose blue rubber stamp would make our marriage legal. I didn’t know whether small talk was allowed or encouraged, but I tried it anyway. Michel turned out to be a lovely guy who wasn’t at all as scary as his ledger and stamp had made him appear (this became more apparent later on when we caught him dancing along to our champagne reception playlist). I asked questions about the ceremony (this being my first wedding where I was cast in a lead role) and he asked questions about us; were we married before (no), did we want a religious or non-religious ceremony (non-religious) and whether we had any kids (no) were our main topics of discussion.
Actually, whilst I’m on the subject, I’ve never been asked about whether or not we have kids at any point more so than on this holiday. Everybody was asking about it, from the bar staff to the hotel receptionist. Give us a chance, people. We’ve only just got the wedding out of the way. Geez. Anyway, back on topic.
I spent just under a half hour in that office with Mr Gaspard; he filled in paperwork and I mostly just squirmed nervously in my seat. The ceremony was scheduled for 4pm and so we made our way down to the beach shortly before that. Exiting the office, I got another taste of the glorious St Lucian weather, encased as I was in several layers of cotton and wool blends. My temperature rose and my face flushed and not just because of the heat; in a few minutes I would be standing in a beach gazebo, finally saying out loud the wedding vows I’d been practicing in my head. All along the way I got smiles and nods from the other couples and some of the staff that I’d gotten to know over the first few days in the resort (side note: This carried on for the next few days, this tiny piece of celebrity, and even followed us to Antigua where we ran into a couple at Shirley Heights who had been on the beach during our wedding and remembered us.) I took my place at the gazebo, triggered the music (John William’s Force Theme in place of the traditional wedding march, naturally) and waited.
Lou came around the corner and approached the gazebo. I’d been waiting for this moment ever since I’d first asked for her hand in that apartment corridor in Istanbul in 2013. The sight of her in her dress (which I had managed to not see for the months that she owned it before the wedding) along with the brilliant sunshine and swell of the music caused there to very suddenly be something in my eye. Honest.
She arrived at the gazebo, the music ended and Michel Gaspard began laying out the various oaths, promises and vows for us. It all went perfectly (with the exception of the photographer being a fantasticly unwelcome distraction by continually reminding Lou to straighten her necklace) and at the end I couldn’t believe my luck. She’d said ‘I do’.
One of the more amusing highlights of the ceremony had to be when Emma (Emma and Gary were our very brand new friends who, having just been married themselves in Antigua, helpfully volunteered to be our legal witnesses) was given the job of handing over the wedding rings. This was a surprise to all of us, but mostly for Emma who had turned up to sign papers and was suddenly a key player in our solemn promise of fidelity. They were lovely people and they definitely earned their places at our champagne toast.
Yep. The Champagne Toast. Included with our wedding package was a champagne reception for up to eight people and it turns out that they bring two bottles of champagne regardless of whether you have eight people or not. As the guest list included me, Lou, Emma and Gary, we each had more than our share of champagne. (In fact, the Rendezvous resort did nothing but ply us with champagne. It was awesome.) This definitely helped with the photography that followed. An hour and a half of photography. Did I mention that by this point I was just a little bit hot and sweaty? You can remove a forehead’s sheen of sweat in Photoshop, right? Right?
We finished the day with a couple more photos at dinner in the weirdly air-conditioned, French-themed restaurant they had at the resort. Dinner was good, but it was a far cry from the incredible beach holiday feel of eating with the swell of the ocean as background noise. In fact, who’s going on a holiday like this and wants French cuisine in a room that can’t see the sea? Madness. The steak was great though.
All in all, it was an incredibly surreal day with moments of stress, joy and heat-induced, champagne-soaked delirium (not very much of that, just a little). We made our vows that day to love, honour and cherish (we left out obey at Lou’s behest). It was the greatest day of my life (so far) and I wouldn’t change anything about it for the world (which is good, because I can’t change anything about it without a time machine).
So begins the newest chapter of my life. One in which I am a husband and I have a wife. The greatest chapter so far, if these first couple of weeks are anything to go by.