Our youngest daughter and her fiancé crossed the Atlantic with us in 2013. Soon after they decided to get married but with us still in the Caribbean we were unable to help plan the event but we could fund it! The date was set for November the 7th 2014. We had no idea where we would be by then but booked a flight to Manchester from Barbados as we knew we could always get a LIAT flight there from any of the islands.
As it happens we ended up in Grenada and so were able to book LIAT flights. However LIAT, the Caribbean airline, have a reputation for unreliability. It is often said the initials stand for Luggage In Another Terminal or Languishing In Airport Terminal or even Leave Island Any Time. So prudence meant that we booked a hotel in Barbados and flew the day before our Manchester flight. We stayed in the Butterfly Beach Hotel and then caught the long flight to Manchester. As we had no winter clothes we first went to our storage unit to equip ourselves for the two weeks of cold wet weather.
We had some time to spare before some appointments in Prestatyn and you know you have friends when you can drop in unexpectedly and ask to take a shower. Thanks Gren and Elaine. Then off for eye tests and my wife had booked in for the long awaited hair appointment to restyle for the wedding. We stayed with our eldest daughter in her new house in Hope and then set off to see Steph and Matt in their new flat in Southampton. That evening Matt showed us around the Clipper 70’s boats that he was refitting in Hamble. Talk about mean racing machines. They're only 18 months old but are stripped back to remove every moving part for service and then repainted and put back together. I was in my element but the girls were bored!
We then set off to Porthcawl to stay in the Fairways Hotel which was also the wedding venue. As we left the UK in June 2013 we had not met Matt’s parents so we were invited round for dinner one evening feeling a little apprehensive. We needn't have been, they were delightful and easy to talk to and as we like Matt so much it shouldn't have come as a surprise that his parents were a joy.
The wedding rehearsal was a scream. The vicar of Pyle Church is a true star. His humour made us all feel at ease. The big day dawned and the weather turned windy and wet. I acted as chauffeur taking the wedding party to hairdressers and picking up last minute items. One popular request was Ibuprofen and Alka Saltzer! I then put my wedding suite on. I have not worn a suit or shoes for 20 months. I even had to borrow cufflinks from Matt's Dad. Matt wore Port and Starboard ones so I chose anchors!
It was time to go and see Steph in her room and I had to wait a few moments as she wanted me to see her in her wedding dress. As the door opened I was greeted with a vision of Heaven. She looked fantastic and a very proud Dad choked back the tears as we hugged. Ju and the bridesmaids equally stunning then posed for photographs and I ordered champagne. Soon Steph and I were alone and it took me back to the glorious times we had on the ocean passages watching the sun come up together. A very, very special time.
Soon the moment was gone and we had to make our way to the bridal car. As we went down the staircase Steph tripped on the penultimate step. We both hoped this was the only hiccup and so it proved to be. A swift 15 minute drive and we were at the church. The rain held off as we arrived in the entrance to be met by the calming Vicar. Then the slow walk down the aisle as everybody was looking and Matt welled up. The dress worked! The ceremony was quick and humorous but despite this was full of thoughtful perspectives. The formalities were over and some quick pictures were taken by both the official photographer and myself. Back to the Fairways for a welcome drink of champagne. I had orange juice in mine as I still had to make the speech. The newlyweds went down to Rest Bay to see if there was an opportunity to dodge the rain and snap a photo on the beach. They were incredibly lucky as they had 5 minutes between showers but the sky was a photographer's dream.
The wedding breakfast was superb. Steph and Matt had put a huge effort into the detail and the hotel wedding organiser delivered. The table names were all significant boats in Steph and Matt's lives and of course the top table was called "Sephina". The speeches were some of the best I have heard and now my small part was over I made sure I had a large glass of cold Peroni delivered to the table.
The party began and a “Line Dancing” caller got everybody up on the floor and even had the lads in a conga that went through the hotel, in the lift, around the bar and even across the road to go through the hotel next door l! One of the ushers provided the disco and really had the mood of the guests. He was gracious enough to allow us a few Caribbean numbers that we “made” our friends dance to! It was a wedding we had no part in organising but turned out to be one of the best days of our lives. Thanks to Kim and Jan for being there, Matt and Steph for the attention to detail that paid off and all our friends and family for a fantastic time back in Wales.
To top off the trip we had tickets for the Wales v Australia rugby game in Cardiff which we watched with Matt's male family, Steph and our French friends, Maureen and Thierry who always wanted to see a match in the Millennium Stadium.
Now back in the Caribbean we are happy people.