With sandy toes and salty kisses, we became the Mr. and Mrs! In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write about our Floridian beach wedding.
Dunbar asked me the happiest 4 words I’ve ever heard during a beach picnic in Nantucket on Joy-ly 5th. I couldn’t stop smiling as I called my family and a couple of close friends with the big news that I was honored to become the future Mrs. Lewis.
While some women have dreamed about their wedding day since they were little girls, I dreamed about the honeymoon. (No surprise there!) We didn’t want a big wedding, so at first we decided a small ceremony in Tahiti was right for us followed by a celebration in both Indiana and South Africa at a later date. That was the original plan. But with Dunbar’s parents already planning to fly out from South Africa and go sailing with us in the Bahamas in December, Dunbar and I realized that a wedding would be a wonderful opportunity for our parents to meet. Geographically speaking, it may realistically be the only time to bring our two families together. So, we quickly decided to put a wedding together from a distance while we were still sailing the East Coast.
At first I was determined to have the ceremony aboard TaDa. I wanted to decorate the bow, cover the deck in rose petals, and make a Just Married sign to cover the stern. I called marinas, yacht clubs, and even tried to book houses on VRBO and Airbnb with docks that would accommodate a small ceremony. But as our guest list grew (I have a large immediate family) I had to finally admit that having the ceremony on the boat just wasn’t going to work. So, I changed gears and started researching outdoor wedding venues in South Florida. A lot of venues were already booked in December for the holiday season and some of the places I called were outrageously priced. (We are on a 2 year cruising budget and so thankful to our parents for their help with the wedding.) Dunbar and I celebrated my birthday at Sea Watch on the Ocean the previous year and I remembered the beautiful view and delicious meal we had. The grounds have a very Polynesian feel and the restaurant is located on a quieter spot of Lauderdale by the Sea beach. (Lauderdale by the Sea is also where Dunbar and I first met.) As luck turned out, they had an opening for the afternoon of Dec. 1st in the Captain’s room that holds 50 guests. And yes, it is really called the Captain’s Room..how fitting! I secured a deposit then started looking on Pinterest to gather ideas.
When we reached New York, we left the boat and flew to Indiana for the week where our friends and family threw Engagement parties, dinners, and a nautical themed bridal shower for us. I found the perfect wedding dress and took the risk of just one fitting before having it mailed to Florida. (Umm..I won’t go into how it looked when it finally arrived in Florida. Let’s just say I had to quickly get it altered again and duct tape may or may not have been hidden somewhere…but it was all good by our wedding day.)
Once we sailed safely back to Florida, we had a month to put the final touches together. We decided on an old Floridian style menu of clam chowder, salmon or chicken, and my favorite key lime pie for desert. (And of course a wedding cake.) I happened to randomly drive by a flower shop and talked to the florist who was happy to work with my vision and stay within a budget. I decided on 2 varieties of pink roses and white hydrangeas. I brought sailboat line in to tie around the bouquet instead of ribbon to add a little nautical feel. Thank you, Victoria Flowers. All the little details quickly came together quite easily and Sea Watch on the Ocean was nice to invite us to see how a wedding was being conducted the week prior to our own. Dunbar and I watched from the balcony while having the clam chowder and wines we selected for our reception…and yes, I cried when I watched the bride walk out. I knew I was in trouble for our own day if I was crying at a stranger’s wedding!
Dunbar and I decided to write our own vows. We combined tradition with our own personal touches and were very pleased to have Dunbar’s friend from South Africa fly all the way from London to marry us. This felt more personal than having a minister that we don’t know conducting the ceremony. We selected our first dance song titled “Never come back again” by Austin Plaine. It’s a quirky, fun song and the lyrics are suited to us. (We also call it TaDa!’s theme song.)
Half the guests were to arrive the day prior to the wedding on the same flight from Indiana. Murphy’s law…they had a mechanical with a 7 hour delay. Sad that they missed a day at the beach, but I was just thankful that they finally made it in the night before! I was so wound up that I couldn’t sleep that night. But I perked up in the morning over the fun of getting ready with everyone in my ocean-view room. There was a bit of rain right before we left the hotel (whoever said this is good luck was only trying to make the bride feel better). It’s hilarious though because Lacy, Carly, and Mandy could see the gray clouds blowing in from the ocean and they discreetly pulled the curtains back just enough so I couldn’t watch it coming. I thought it was perfectly sunny out. Thankfully, the rain passed quickly and the weather was absolutely perfect for the outdoor ceremony under the palm trees.
Our wedding day was perfect. Truly perfect and I couldn’t stop smiling and ok, yes, crying a little bit too! We had guests fly in from Indiana, London, and even South Africa. We know that taking time off from work, finding babysitters, and making the commitment to fly out is huge and we are so grateful to our family and friends for sharing the celebration with us! From the bottom of our hearts…thank you. You shared the most memorable day of our lives with us and we couldn’t have felt more loved for it!
And while it truly was a magical day, it was the commitment to share the rest of my life with my Forever Captain that made it and continues to make it my fairy-tale come true!
After the reception, we took a few photos on TaDa then continued to celebrate with friends from Florida and fellow co-workers at Windsor Jet at a restaurant and bar called 101 Ocean. 101 Ocean just happens to be the very spot where Dunbar and I sat with coffee the first time we met. (Thank you, Tinder) We had great weather all weekend as we continued to celebrate on the beach, took a family cruise down the ICW on TaDa, and had a South African braai (cookout) with Dunbar’s family. This was a dual celebration..both our wedding and saying “Bon Joyage” before we depart for our extended honeymoon at sea. Thank you again to all for celebrating and sending congratulatory wishes.
Dunbar…As I said in my vows, I choose you. And I will choose you over and over again. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat, I will keep choosing you. I vow to unconditionally love and support you. Thank you for who you are and for loving me as I am. Happy first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife my love!