JoMaria and Jonas
In the Arab culture, the bridegroom would solicit the permission of the bride’s father before he proposes. Thereafter, a date is set for the “asking”, where his family goes to the bride-to-be’s house to ask her family to consent to the union.
Thirty-five members of Jonas’ family arrived at JoMarie’s house with a cart filled with bread and fruits to signify the breaking of bread between two families. After a dinner feast, the engagement party and wedding was planned.
The bride’s agenda on the morning of the wedding included the Blessed Sacrament and Confession with her family (which provided her a sense of peace for the day). Thereafter, bridesmaids arrived at her house and groomsmen at Jonas’ house. The bridal party proceeded to the church, and finally to the reception after a quick detour at an aunt’s house to take photographs.
Dress, shoes and jewellery
JoMarie bought her Vera Wang dress from Ever After boutique in Miami. It was the first dress she tried on; she fell in love with its simple sweetheart bodice and ballroom skirt with individually ruched silk organza and tulle bunches. Her shoes, with its tulle and organza front, perfectly complemented her dress. Her earrings were “something borrowed” from her godfather’s wife.
The couple wanted an earthy, natural and elegant indoor garden affair. They used bamboo chevalier chairs and lots of white, draped fabric, key lighting and strategically placed garden statues with floral baskets and arrangements.
The bride’s bouquet, arranged by Sandra Debs, comprised vendela roses; the bridesmaids each held a bouquet of mango calla lilies (which complemented their golden dresses); the groomsmen wore mango calla lily boutonnieres. The church was decked in hydrangea roses, spider mums, bells of Ireland and white carnations.
The wedding reception décor comprised centerpieces elevated on glass pedestal martini glasses with white dendrobium orchids imported from Indonesia. The head table was adorned with orchids, roses and anthuriums. The corridor leading to the ballroom was transformed into a magical secret garden with hanging vines and trellises. Fresh flowers and foliage were used throughout.
The five-tier wedding fruitcake was designed by the bride’s mother and mother-in-law to complement her gown; the designers’ vision was executed by Ann Whitby.
Guests were greeted with a mezze spread on their table with assorted items such as hummus, kibbe, raw kibbe, Arabic cheese, pickles, nuts and bread. A buffet styled dinner comprised sushi, a seafood bar, shrimp, mushroom ravioli, pork tenderloin, and stuffed chicken with spinach. The desserts contained an array of pitted dates (stuffed with orange peel, almonds and pistachios), jelly fruits, imported Arabic sweets, chocolates and colorful macaroons.
The couple opted for drumbaki (Arabic) drumming in addition to their disk jockey. The bridal party entered the reception ballroom to the sounds of both Arabic music and drumming.
(Point of View)
What were the most memorable moments?
JoMarie: My bridesmaids were lifting my dress and singing, “We’re going to the chapel and we’re going to get married” as we walked to the car which would take us to the church. I started to cry as the reality that this was my wedding day sunk in.
Walking into the reception, with my husband and the bridal party, to Arabic drums, and waving handkerchiefs, was a moment that I would never forget. This is also the moment where the bride is welcomed into the groom’s family.
During an interlude my mother had my cousin sing Martina McBride’s I Hope You Dance as a surprise to me. This was very heartfelt and touching. I would also never forget dancing with my father and looking over to see Jonas dancing with his mother.
The most sentimental moment?
JoMarie: Our four grandmothers carried the Offertory at the church; it was extremely special to us to have all four grandmothers present as our grandfathers have passed away, and not many couples can boast this honour.
What were the most unique things about your wedding?
JoMarie: We wanted our wedding to reflect our Trinidadian and Syrian/Lebanaese cultures so we included a Chow bar, an Arabic coffee bar, an argyle/hookah station with Arabian rugs and couches as well as doubles (which came out later in the night after the party got under way). Another unique element was a picture slide show of what happened that day, before the wedding (my bridesmaids and I getting ready as well as Jonas and his groomsmen), as you don’t usually get to see this taking place.
Danielle & Phillip
The Wedding as told by the Bride!
Although St. Finbar’s is my parish, we decided we wanted a smaller, more intimate church, so we went with St. Anthony’s Church in Petit Valley for the ceremony. For the reception, we wanted an open-air venue with a seaside view, so we decided on Pier 1 poolside. We did have a little scare, since it rained for three days before the wedding; but thankfully, the sun stayed out for us on the big day!
Gustavo did an amazing job with the decor. He transformed the venue into a fairy tale with lots of soft lighting – candles on the tables and lanterns hanging from the tent – and crystals sprinkled everywhere.
My most memorable moment has to be the “Ants’ Nest Incident”. I felt a sharp sting on my knee as we were taking pictures at the old church in Chaguaramas. I lifted my dress and saw that my entire cancan was full of stinging ants! I ran out to the road and started jumping up and down to get them off. Of course this all happened just as the bus carrying the whole wedding party and our families pulled up. I could only imagine how funny that must have looked; too bad the videographer wasn’t there to capture it!It’s amazing how the things that go wrong turn out to be the funniest memories…another being the unsuccessful flight of the Chinese lanterns. I don’t know if it was the strong sea breeze at Pier 1 or if it was just bad design, but they simply refused to take off. There were about ten floating in the sea by the end of the night. I guess Poseidon would have to grant any wishes sent with those lanterns!
Our wedding was very much a family affair, which made it very personal. My great uncle was the priest at the ceremony; my cousin, Zach, played the steel pan as the prelude; my aunt did my hair; my grandmother’s cousin came from Florida to make the cake (she also made my parent’s wedding cake so that was extra special).
Certain things I made myself such as my headpiece (which I based on my mother’s, but updated with crystals rather than pearls, to match my dress), our bride and groom champagne glasses and the bridesmaids’ earrings.
Other than that, we tried to add little things that we hadn’t seen before, like the bottle and spoon table (which was a hit when the party got going) keepsake matches, and cake charms for the bridesmaids.We are both traditional people, but are in no way formal and we thought the wedding reflected that beautifully. The ceremony itself was very traditional, even with the “ole time” wedding songs like the Trumpet Vuluntary and Latin hymns.
The reception was very laid back; we had the traditional speeches of course, and the first dance and father/daughter dance, but there was no fancy sit down dinner or anything like that, just plenty hor d’oeuvres, drinks flowing and great music!
Apart from the dress, which was the first thing to be organized, the most important things for me were: good food, good drinks, great music, and, of course, a great photographer to capture all the memories!
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to shop on Miracle Mile in Florida for my dress. It was a big ordeal; my father, mother, grandmother and maid of honor came with me. We finally found the dress at Brides of Florida, about fifteen minutes away from Miracle Mile. The dress was a Sottero-Midgley called Hillary. I knew I had to have it from the minute I put it on; it was the first dress that I actually didn’t want to take off.
We used very traditional songs. My dad walked me up the aisle to the Trumpet Vuluntary whilst Phil and I walked down to the Wedding March.
My dad actually chose both the first dance song, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, and the father/ daughter song, Am I That Easy To Forget, which is quite perfect when you listen to the words. He called me randomly from his car, cracking up, saying, “I have the perfect songs for you,” whilst all the while I’m hearing his Engelbert Humperdinck CD blasting in the background! Funny enough, I thought they were perfect too!
Photos by Aaron Dieppa Photography
The couple envisioned a wedding weekend that would significantly incorporate their guests, as all 28 were flying to Mexico to witness their marriage. Thara and Aaron prepared welcome bags for each guest with snacks, games, and even a personal newsletter from the couple! The newsletter included an itinerary for the weekend and suggested activities that guests could enjoy while at the resort: snorkeling, tennis, spa, fishing, kayaking, etc. The wedding guests also got a handmade map of the hotel and surrounding area, a Spanish/English page of phrases, sun hats, and little painted wooden turtles to keep by their bedside with a note that said: “In Mexico, these hand-painted wooden figures are believed to keep bad dreams away”.
The day before the wedding, guests were treated to a ‘tequila tasting’. A representative from a major tequila manufacturer joined them at the resort, explained the process of making tequila, and administered the tasting of different varieties.
Thara and Aaron chose the extraordinarily beautiful outdoors of the El Careyes Resort for their ceremony and reception—the same place where they got engaged.
Theme & Décor
The couple went with a Mexican theme and wanted to incorporate their personal, simple yet elegant style into all the elements of their wedding and reception. They opted for light orange and light blue as their colour scheme, and created an emblem with their initials, “T&A”, which was used on the wedding invitations, welcome bags, wedding program, and other printed items.
Tall, white umbrellas were set up around the cocktail area for shade, and hanging lanterns lent a soft glow to the setting for their dinner reception at the hotel. The evening ambiance was made even more exquisite with a bonfire.
On the morning of the wedding, after breakfast, Aaron—accompanied by his two groomsmen and a few of the other male guests—went to the Polo grounds. They split themselves into two teams and played a friendly game. The women had their own agenda too: after a tear-jerking champagne toast and light breakfast, they joined together for a private outdoor yoga class overlooking the water. The wedding ceremony itself was in the late afternoon, followed by cocktail hour with a live Mariachi band and canapés (appetizers). The reception with dinner, cake, and dancing brought the unforgettable night to a close.
Although neither Thara (Toronto-born, of Guyanese parentage) nor Aaron (born and raised in Indiana) is Mexican, they incorporated one special Mexican wedding tradition into their ceremony. Mothers of the bride and groom both wrapped a lasso of orchids around the couple, symbolic of protecting the love that would bind them together for the rest of their lives.
Thara’s dress, by designer Jim Hjelm, was an all-lace, V-neck, and very low-back number, and her veil was custom-made by designer Sara Gabriel. Her only jewelry was a pair of earrings—that Aaron had gifted her on one Christmas—and her engagement ring.
Orange roses lavishly decorated the top of the white-curtained ceremonial structure under which the couple exchanged vows, and potted flowering plants decorated the border of the area. The lasso used in the ceremony was made of orange orchids. Roses featured prominently in the bouquets: Thara’s had red roses (that were actually supposed to be orange!), and her two bridesmaids (her sisters) carried orange roses mixed with an array of tropical flowers.
In keeping with the Mexican theme, of course, nothing less than a tres leches cake would do—deliciously created by the hotel chef. The cake topper (ordered from etsy.com) was a custom hand-crafted paper representation of Thara and Aaron, dressed as they were on their wedding day (the bride’s favourite detail of the wedding).
The Mariachi band and a solo guitarist provided the Mexican-flavored music during the cocktail hour and dinner, and everyone danced to the couple’s selected playlist at the reception.
The groom and groomsmen wore chili pepper boutonnières (an idea the couple got from a magazine), and bells, parasols and maracas were all keepsakes for the guests. Thara and Aaron hand-crafted name tags for each guest’s place setting at the dinner table, where they also placed a small bell with a note saying that the newlyweds would kiss anytime a bell rang!
Parasols were set up in baskets so that guests could each take one and use it as sun-shade during the ceremony. Pairs of maracas were also placed in baskets so that guests could take them to shake after the ceremony as the couple walked back down the aisle as husband and wife. As a parting gift, the couple gave guests a hand-painted Mexican Christmas tree ornament (Christmas would have been celebrated in two weeks).
One moment that really stands out for the couple was having Aaron’s grandfather perform a reading during the ceremony. Aaron’s grandparents were almost 90 at the time, yet still made the trip for the wedding. After the couple’s first dance during the reception, they played their grandparents’ favorite song…and the once-upon-a-time newlyweds danced alone with everyone watching.