Many months ago Mike and I received a wedding invitation for a destination wedding in the Bahamas. The trip would include a short cruise and a chance to spend time with many of Mike’s family. Mike and I have been husband and wife for 45 years so there really isn’t his and her family, we love and claim both sides. Our invite came during a difficult time for us, one very special aunt had just passed away and another aunt and uncle were very ill, both of whom passed away. I told Mike I thought we needed to grab the chance to make family memories that had nothing to do with funerals.
Our trip began in Oklahoma City, our first flight to Houston then on to Fort Lauderdale. From there we rented a car for the short drive to Miami. We stayed in Villa Paradiso in South Beach. It was very nice with a vintage South Beach feel.
We arrived a day early so we could enjoy a part of Florida neither of us had ever visited. We walked to Lincoln Mall, which was actually a long beautiful street lined with great shops and restaurants. We ate a Cuban sandwich at an outside café on Ocean Street. Of course we walked along the beach, splashed a little and collected a few sea shells and agreed it was the prettiest Atlantic Ocean water we had ever seen. I wanted to share the color of the water but Mike has me in every shot, sorry.
Mike is and has always been an early riser. His early morning walk in South Beach resulted in this wonderful sunrise photo
Janell and Don, proud parents of Kyle, the groom we eventually watched take his wedding vows, had planned a lovely dinner. They had made reservations at the Yardbird Southern Table and Bar. There are only three in the U.S. and it was a wonderful evening. The restaurant was gorgeous with long plank pine tables and huge wooden beams overhead. Ten of us agreed it was the best fried chicken (with the exception being each of our respective mother’s delectable skillets) we had ever eaten. The sides were skillet cornbread, mac and cheese, waffles, spicy pickled watermelon and all were delicious. Thank you Janell and Don for a special meal and evening.
It was soon time to board our cruise ship and the wedding celebration to begin. This was our first Carnival cruise but our stateroom was nice and as spacious as our room had been on our previous Princess cruise. Photos are always a part of cruising, I know they are money makers for cruise lines but I actually liked our first picture as we boarded. Our first photo became our first purchase.
We began eating almost immediately, in our defense it was actually lunch time. If you have ever cruised you know that cruise ships are really extremely large floating feasts. You can eat any time of day your tummy or maybe just your taste buds feel the need.
There were 42 people in our wedding group. Lots of family from both the bride and groom and an amazing number of their friends. I think it was such a testament to this young couple that so many were willing to spend time and money to be a part of the beginning of their journey together as man and wife. December is often one of the hardest times to work another event into people’s busy schedules.
The morning of the wedding was a nice temperature, a little cloudy with a pleasant breeze. Our big group met and debarked together. After a short walk into Nassau busses took us to Orange Hill Beach As always a picture is worth a thousand words. We had time to enjoy the beach, wade in the beautiful turquoise water and simply absorb where we were. The wedding site was already prepared, complete with a decorated arbor and chairs for the guests but we weren’t rushed, there seemed to be scheduled time for calm and reflection.
Mike used some of his time to snap some family photos. Great looking siblings. Kyle with his Aunt Jane and Aunt Christi. Don and his sister, Nancy. Kyle’s brother Brian and his wife Amy. Gorgeous couple! The West Family I loved this moment between father and son.
It was a perfect day, a precious ceremony and the couple seemed incredibly in love. Their vows were unique and personal to each other, the officiate was thoughtful and sometimes humorous with his words. He offered them heartfelt advice, Kyle and Malisa looked into each other’s eyes as they held hands and committed their love and lives to one another. I felt honored to witness their beginning and will always remember the day.
A professional photographer took many photos which I am sure were amazing but Mike wanted to try and capture some of the beautiful couple. A blog about a wedding trip has to have wedding pics. When the couple is as photogenic as Malisa and Kyle many wedding photos are necessary.
This picture is filled with lace and roses but my favorite part is the love you see. You could see on the parent’s faces how happy they were to be celebrating with this special couple.
Eventually we all rode in the busses back to our ship where the newly married couple would be celebrated at their wedding reception on board. There was a delicious buffet and 3 wonderful layers of wedding cake. There was champagne for toasting and music and a DJ for dancing. I think everyone who attended had a great time and left with another happy memory of this special couple.
Our wedding day festivities were not over yet. Janell and Don, Kyle’s parents, had booked a sunset catamaran sailing excursion and the entire wedding group was invited. The views were spectacular, as the sun descended Mike snapped pictures hoping to capture the perfect view. I love all of the many sunset shots. We all had a fabulous time and it gave us time to get to know each other a little better.
Malisa’s parents, Flo and Bill, were charming, friendly and the type of people you could feel an instant connection with. I loved learning about the part of the world where Flo was born which was east Malaysia. She spoke lovingly of her family they would be visiting soon. Kyle and Malisa had a traditional Malaysian wedding a few weeks later. She and I promised to become Facebook friends since we were now family. Bill was a doting father and very proud of Malisa and Kyle’s union. He was having a really wonderful wedding cruise and seemed determined to enjoy every moment, I loved that about him.
I was able to take some cousin photos
Mike, Janell and Christi grew up in a close knit family who spent lots of time together. Growing families and distance over the years sometimes made staying connected difficult for these three but they were taught to value family and I think they share a forever bond.
The sunset cruise was a great success, I think each lucky guest left with one or many new friends and another wedding memory to treasure. After the cruise everyone was given time to enjoy Nassau in their own way. Janell had prepared a list of the top dining spots and the best of Nassau’s nightlife options. She was careful not to monopolize the newlywed’s time because she completely understood their desire to be with so many loved ones, family and friends.
Janell, having thoroughly researched the choices, chose an Italian restaurant in Nassau she wanted to try. Mike and I were happy to be asked to accompany the group of family taking the short trek to Cafe Matisse. It was a beautiful (I know I have overused that word) restaurant, and much to our delight they seated us outdoors. The food was mouth watering, definitely another reason to revisit Nassau. Janell and Don’s generosity was astounding, we felt honored just to have been invited to join this wedding experience, to be gifted the incredible meals was over the top.
Our last day was a day at sea, the ship cruised its way back to Miami. We just had a lazy day to rest, shop, eat, or do whatever our hearts desired. We all ate together in the formal dining room that evening. There was an incredible sunset that evening, it seemed like a gift. The day was perhaps anti climatic after the previous whirlwind days but we were actually ready for some rest and we had accumulated so many special memories our hearts were full.