Jacques and I got married recently, and it was like a fairy tale. Like you read about. But I was part of it. How could that be?
As we stood facing one another on Cinnamon Bay, I stared into Jacques’ adoring eyes. The sky was vivid blue, the water green. Jacques’ blue shirt blended into the warm, Caribbean color palette; what we were doing—getting married all alone on an island—seemed surreal.
But there was nothing more real than exchanging our “I dos.”
Jacques and I wanted to get married on a beach, and while we would have loved to have friends and family present, the simplicity of an elopement-honeymoon combination was enticing, and our children gave us their blessings.
We escaped to the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and stayed in a villa overlooking Coral Bay, with a smattering of British islands off to the northeast. The day we were married, a gracious, young islander came to the villa to do my hair. She was 55 minutes late, and I was cross with her at first. We had to leave in 40 minutes.
“Do you have time to do this?” I snapped at her.
“Yes,” she said.
“Okay, I’ll stop being a bitch now.”
Indeed, we had time to get ready in peace. Jacques zipped me up, and a tear escaped his brawniness when I turned around. We drove to Cinnamon Bay on the west side of the island with jitters, and we met our JP, Island Mike, and our photographer, Chad—our only guests.
As we four walked to the far side of that bay, the only beachgoers still there that late in the afternoon called out a greeting to Island Mike. “We’ll be here a while, if you need witnesses,” they said.
Indeed, they later signed our paperwork.
While we had exchanged brief emails with Island Mike, and we’d sent him the ceremony script we wanted him to use, we did not know how the ceremony would play out.
Chad took the lead at first. He took shots of Jacques and I separately and had us perform a few stunts—look this way, look at your bouquet, look at the water—and we followed his requests. He then told us where to stand, and he created an imaginary aisle in the sand for me to walk on, toward Jacques, standing at the shoreline.
It happened in a blur of bright sun, warm sand between our toes, with smiles and hope and joy on our faces. I had to fight back some tears, speaking our vows. Jacques was a rock. Island Mike did a great job walking us through the words we had chosen.
After more photos, we headed to Cruz Bay and had dinner outside, on the second floor of a restaurant on the sea. We watched the sun set and sipped the Champagne that a family at the next table sent us.
Because it was so hot, I left my bouquet with the hostess, Rochelle, at Ocean 362. I was afraid the red roses would wilt.
After our boxed dessert-to-go came, I asked our waitress, Agnes, if she could get the flowers for me. She whispered that Rochelle was hoping I would forget them. “She’s never been married,” Agnes said. “She wanted to catch the bouquet.”
When Rochelle came out with the flowers, she handed them to me, but I told her, “Back up a bit.” And she did.
“Get ready,” I said, and tossed them in a mock way, placing them in her hands, which I could still reach. “I want you to have them.”
When we left, Agnes took Jacques’ right hand in her left, and my left hand in her right. “Marriage is between each of you and God,” she said.
We left with that blessing.
And we do indeed feel blessed.