Location: Los Angeles, CA

Wedding Trip Report - May 14-28 - Part 1

Here, at long last, is part one of a trip report for our wedding week in Green Turtle Cay (May 14-21) and our honeymoon week in Hope Town (May 21-28).

First, let me say that the entire two weeks were amazing! Despite a few nervous moments, in the end everything went even better than we could have imagined.

Green Turtle Cay: May 14-21, 2007

In Green Turtle Cay, the majority of the wedding party (Tom and I, bridesmaids and best man) stayed at Robert's’ Cottages, on Black Sound. We really enjoyed the property – the three cottages are lovely, spacious and private, right on the water with large, screened porches. The property is well within walking distance of town, with a dock for the ferry to pick you up and drop you off, so we couldn’t beat the location.

As we hoped it would, Robert's Cottages quickly became wedding central, with guests dropping by all week to say hello, enjoy Starbucks coffee in the mornings (we brought our own) or a Kalik later in the day.

Our other wedding gathering spot was McIntosh’s restaurant. Large, boisterous groups of wedding guests would descend upon the restaurant for breakfast, lunch, dinner or ice cream, and the ladies at the restaurant were unfailingly patient and helpful.

Since our 45 or so guests arrived throughout the week, each day brought new faces and a new round of introductions. It was really great that our friends and family members who hadn’t met, or hadn’t seen each other in some time, had the chance to spend time together and, of course, to experience Green Turtle Cay.

Although the weather on the Monday we arrived was pretty nice, Tuesday brought clouds and a few showers. Wednesday brought a monsoon! It poured and poured and poured.

Since there were only three days till the wedding, however, we couldn’t afford the luxury of waiting out the weather. We had to meet with Jessica Sawyer about the wedding cake, meet with Randy Curry about photos, deliver decorations to Bluff House, etc., etc., etc. Let’s just say the extra-large green garbage bags I brought along served us well!

They became waterproof containers for the various wedding decorations and seat covers for wet golf cart seats. My mom and cousin even used them to fashion some very stylish rain gear.

After Tom and I spent most of Wednesday afternoon driving around in our golf cart soaking wet (and freezing cold!!), I went in search of proper rain gear. I found fantastic rain ponchos at the hardware store, and as soon as I opened mine and put it on… the rain stopped! For the rest of the week, as long as I carried the poncho, the weather was good.

Thursday brought a new batch of guests, and Tom’s bachelor party at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar. Friday was probably the most beautiful day, weather-wise, of the whole week. We invited guests to drop by our cottage to kick off the wedding weekend with a drink or two. Despite the rain earlier in the week, there were very few bugs or mosquitoes. It was a clear, starry night and we went to bed happy that we had apparently dodged the bad weather bullet.

Saturday morning, I got up and pulled open the blinds. It was pouring. Not scattered clouds, not light rain – heavy, dark clouds and big fat raindrops. All the brave things I’d said during the week (“don’t worry, we have a rain plan,” “we can’t control the weather,” “it’s not WHERE we get married that’s important,” bla bla bla) went out the window!!! I wanted to get married outside, on the beach, at Gillam Bay.

After a good cry and a lot of comforting from Tom, I grabbed my rain poncho, jumped in the golf cart and headed down to the beach. I sat in the pouring rain for a while and made peace with the idea of an indoor wedding, until I figured it was time to get back.

As I drove back into town, the rain began to ease off, and the clouds seemed to be thinning. By 11 am, blue sky began to appear and by 1pm – the deadline for pulling the plug on the outdoor ceremony – the ground was dry and the sky was predominantly blue.

Our wedding ceremony at Gillam Bay was colourful, unique and laid-back, just the way we wanted it. A group of Junkanoo dancers and musicians gave the wedding a Bahamian flavour as they escorted our flower girl, my Dad and me up the aisle. They also did a little rush after the ceremony for our guests, many of whom had never seen Junkanoo before.

After the ceremony and photos, and before we drove to Bluff House to join our guests, Tom and I took a little drive through town. It was nice to have a few minutes to ourselves to absorb all the excitement and to enjoy New Plymouth on our special day. It was even more fun to do it in our wedding clothes, with all the little kids in town waving to us and following the golf cart.

Our reception was held in the Bluff House conservatory, which had been beautifully decorated. We had a Bahamian buffet with grilled lobster, ribs and chicken, peas ‘n’ rice, potato salad, johnny cake – it was all delicious.

After dinner, toasts and cake cutting, we all danced outside, under the stars -- until the rain started again, around 10:30 pm or so. It put an earlier end to the reception than we might otherwise have had, but it had been a full day at that point and, given how fortunate we had been with the weather earlier that day, we didn’t dare complain!

On the Sunday, we had planned a 50th birthday BBQ at Pineapples for Tom. Unfortunately, Sunday morning was just as rainy as Saturday, and we had no rain plan, since Pineapples has no real covered area. Shortly before the BBQ was scheduled to start, I wrote up signs saying, “BBQ rained out – come by our cottage for some birthday cake and a drink.”

As we left our cottages to drive to Pineapples to post the signs, the rain seemed to get lighter. We waited around at Pineapples for a few minutes and – you guessed it! – the clouds seem to get lighter. By the time guests began to arrive, the rain had stopped completely and the ground was nearly dry! We trashed the signs and had a terrific BBQ, complete with burgers, birthday rum cakes that my aunt had baked and brought from Nassau, and yummy apple pies from McIntosh’s. Though it was a bit cooler and cloudier than we might have liked, it never rained again that day.

Naturally, Monday, the day we and most of our guests were leaving, dawned beautiful and sunny. What can you do??!!

One of the things that stands out the most from our week in Green Turtle Cay was how kind everyone there was to us and our guests. Everyone we dealt with went out of their way to make us feel welcome and to make our wedding week special.

Although we’ll be thanking each of them directly, we want to acknowledge Molly McIntosh, Tammy Lowe and Jeanine Wong (Bluff House), Susan Robert's (Robert's Cottages and Village Apartments), Carol-Jean and Mark Lowe (Kool Karts), Dave Bethel (Plymouth Rock Liquors), Randy Curry (photographer), Jessica Sawyer (wedding cake), Town Administrator Mr. Cox, Scott and Martha from Sid’s, Denise McIntosh and all the McIntosh’s staff, Violet and the gang at the Blue Bee, Sarah, Yvonne and the folks at Pineapples, Mr. Wade Cash, and, of course, Floyd & Rose Johnson and Brent Curry and their amazing group of Junkanoo performers.

Amanda (aka Shelby)

Here are a few photos from our wedding week!

Here are a few more shots from our wedding day...

A few more...

Of the amazing Junkanoo performers, and a shot of Sarah and Yvonne at Pineapples.

Wedding Trip Report - Part 2 - Honeymoon

Hope Town – May 21 – 28, 2007

o, here’s part two of my trip report. After our fantastic wedding in GTC, Tom and I headed to Hope Town for a week, just the two of us. We took the new Abaco Ferry from MH to HT, and were very happy with the service. Nice, clean ferry, easy front loading, air-conditioned, fun music, helpful staff. I haven't ever had problems with Albury’s Ferries, but competition’s never a bad thing!

We stayed at Parliament Harbour House, which is on the same road, and just south of, the post office/upper public dock. I’m not sure if the house is an original Loyalist home or just a replica, but it has that old Abaco feel – except with new, modern appliances and beautiful, large front porch that faces the harbour, lighthouse and the setting sun. It was the perfect size for the two of us (and for groups of 3 or 4, I understand the living room sofa pulls out into a bed…)

After all the excitement of our wedding week, Tom and I were content to have a pretty low-key honeymoon. Although the weather was sunny, it was unseasonably windy. Tom wasn’t able to do any diving and we spent less time at the ocean beach than we would have liked because of blowing sand.

We spent the week reading, toodling around the island in our golf cart, walking on the beach, sunbathing at Tahiti Beach, climbing to the top of the lighthouse (twice, because my camera batteries died at the top and I had to go down to the store at the marina to buy more!), catching up with family friends and relatives, and taking photos. We took lots of walks through town and paid several visits to Iggy Biggy. What a terrific shop – lots of original, high-quality souvenirs and gift ideas.

I was also impressed with the Hope Town museum, which is full of great information and interesting artifacts. If you’re interested in learning more about the Loyalists, this is the place to go! Both my maternal grandparents are Abaconian, so I found it fascinating to learn more about how they and their ancestors lived. Oh, and we bought a number of books by local writers, such as Chester Thompson. I read “The Fledgling” in an afternoon and really, really enjoyed it. Can’t wait to read the rest of them!

We had GREAT burgers at On Da Beach and a lovely dinner with family and friends at Sea Spray (the lobster bisque and creamy conch chowder were fabulous!) and we ate WAY TOO MUCH of Ma Belle’s fresh-baked bread (they sell it at Sweeting’s grocery store south of town, and many of the restaurants serve her desserts as well.)

We were impressed with both the Harbour’s Edge and Cap’n Jack’s – both have great and fairly diverse menus, especially the former. And we enjoyed several yummy breakfasts at the Hope Town Coffee House – their fresh baked goods were absolutely delicious! One morning, we had orange-chocolate chip muffins still warm from the oven. (Try getting that at Starbucks!!) Oh, and I’m not a coffee drinker, but Tom’s a bit of a connoisseur, and he says their coffee is pretty terrific, as well.

I have to admit, Hope Town has changed a lot since I last visited 15 years ago. It seems the majority of the houses in town are no longer inhabited by local residents, but have instead been converted into vacation rentals. Though Hope Town is as beautiful as ever, it feels more like a theme park than the peaceful, laid-back town it used to be.

Call me old fashioned, but I love the out island custom of greeting everyone you see – locals, tourists, little children, seniors, everyone. In GTC, it’s as natural as breathing – EVERYONE says waves, says hello, good morning, etc. I can’t tell you the number of folks we passed in Hope Town – particularly tourists – who couldn’t bother to smile or return our greetings. Disappointing.

The other thing that surprised me was Tahiti Beach. I, as much as anyone, was pleased to find that you can now drive to the beach. (In the past, the only way to get there was by boat.) The down side to this accessibility is that the beach is no longer the remote, idyllic spot it was. Both times we visited Tahiti Beach this trip, it was swarming with tourists. I certainly understand the attraction – after all, the beach is stunningly beautiful – but it’s so much busier than it used to be.

Don’t get me wrong. Although the effects of progress are more evident in Hope Town than some of the other Abaco Cays (sadly, I’m sure that’s just a matter of time!), it’s still an amazing place. We had a delightful week there, and a wonderful honeymoon.

And now it’s back to reality, and counting the days till our next trip to Abaco!

Here are a few more photos from our Hope Town trip...