Joe says it was love at first sight when he met Ann, a Sensory Scientist who studies “liking” and “perception” for a flavors company. Joe was starting a new job as a Beverage Scientist for the same group. It was his birthday and he was in the mood for auspicious events. The following spring, he mustered the courage to ask Ann on a date.
A happy-go-lucky couple from the word go, Ann and Joe spent their dating years socializing with friends, traveling, and watching soccer. Joe had played for University of Hartford in Connecticut, where he earned a degree in Chemistry. Ann had studied Biology and fallen in love with the bliss of travel. Together, they explored the Caribbean, reveled in Mexico, and journeyed to the Philippines where Joe met Ann’s beloved father. On a New Year’s Eve trip to New Orleans, Joe popped a bottle of champagne, got down on one knee, and asked Ann to be his wife; she didn’t hesitate to say yes.
A Wedding in Jamaica
The following summer – on the eve of Joe’s birthday – 40 friends and family members flew from the United States, France, Brazil, and the Philippines to Jamaica to share in their wedding celebration. Handmade invitations promised a cool, casual affair in keeping with the spirit of the resort, a laid-back paradise of jasmine-scented gardens that unfold onto the silky sands of world-renowned Seven Mile Beach.
The festivities began with a welcome dinner of savory, spicy, and umami flavored dishes and tropical fruit sweets. The next afternoon, the couple tied the knot in an emotional ceremony on the beach. Ann glided down the aisle in a white, sweetheart gown with a frothy mermaid skirt. The bridesmaids wore coral-hued dresses accented with turquoise jewelry. The men sported coordinated bowties and impish grins. When Ann pulled her phone out mid-ceremony, the crowd broke into laughter. No, she wasn’t taking a call; she had used an app to save her vows. The couple promised to share life’s great adventures and amazing flavors together. “You’ll never walk alone,” Ann added at the end, a touching reference to Joe’s favorite team.
At the reception, a two-tiered Caribbean Fruit wedding cake was topped with white icing and adorable bobble-head figures of Ann in her gown and Joe in a Liverpool Football Club shirt with a soccer ball in his hand. After dark, the guests gathered on the beach, lit paper lanterns inscribed with wishes for the couple, and sent them soaring into the night sky over Jamaica’s Negril Bay. In the background, a Taylor Swift song celebrated living life to its fullest, conquering challenges, and being proud of who we are. Late in the evening, everyone gathered for a final dance that melted spontaneously into an intimate group hug.
Over the next two weeks, they reveled in water sports, parasailing, tennis, and the calm, clear, Jamaican surf. To this day, Ann says she is head-over-heels in love with her wedding. “It was, and will always be, one of the best days of my life.”
A Honeymoon in Fiji
As soon as they had saved enough vacation days, the Bulaks took off again. This time, for a honeymoon on a palm-fringed beach overlooking the sapphire waters off Fiji’s Beqa Island. “I know what you’re thinking … Photoshopped!” wrote Ann in a blog post about their trip. But the colors were untouched and true. Ann recalls the experience as, “… refreshing for our souls … a chance to reflect on our life as husband and wife and how blessed we are.”
During their stay, the Bulaks befriended a dive shop employee, also named Joe, who guided them on snorkeling adventures in Beqa Lagoon, home to the marine life and live coral gardens for which Fiji is known. Another local, Freddy, invited the couple to visit the village of Soliyaga – where he is in line to become chief. Ann and Joe quickly agreed and enjoyed the bonus of participating in a kava ceremony with Freddy’s friends and relatives. “That experience,” says Ann, “made us realize the value of community. These people live simple lives but they are the happiest and most respectable people we have ever met.”
The Gift of Brazil
Before their Fijian honeymoon, the Bulaks took off for a wedding gift trip to the World Cup tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “It was almost a religious experience,” recalls Ann. “The fans were intense, fun, and very proud of their countries and their teams. We got goose bumps when they scored, tears in our eyes when they sang their national anthems. It’s amazing how a sport can unite people.”
Where to next? While many of the wishes written in the paper lanterns involved babies, starting a family might have to wait. Joe, you see, has this crazy idea of attending a soccer match in every country in Europe, starting with this year’s European Championship in France.
To book your destination wedding or honeymoon, contact your Ensemble® DestinationVows Specialist today.