Daily Photo – May 19, 2017

Our Junkanoo Wedding - Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas - May 19, 2007

Ten years ago today, Tom and I were married at Gillam Bay on Green Turtle Cay. During the wedding planning, I mentioned that I’d like to somehow incorporate the Bahamian tradition of Junkanoo. Tom suggested that we have a group of Junkanoo performers escort my Dad and me up the aisle.

What an amazing experience to be led into married life by colourfully costumed dancers and traditional drums, whistles and cowbells!

Thanks to all of the performers who helped make our wedding so special, and thank you to Tom for a wonderful first decade.

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Our Junkanoo Wedding

Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Randy Curry, Green Turtle Cay.

Hard to believe it’s been so long, but seven years ago today, Tom and I were married on the beach at Green Turtle Cay’s Gillam Bay. bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo wedding

You’d think that planning a destination wedding — especially on such a small island — would be stressful, but the truth is, it simplified the process. Once we boarded the plane, we just let go. There’s no Macy’s or Michael’s on the cay. No point fussing over anything we left behind. What we didn’t have, we would have to do without.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, wedding

Most of our wedding party stayed at Roberts’ Cottages, which were ideal for a large group. Three simple but spacious cottages, each with a large screened porch, right on the shore of Black Sound. There’s a dock for ferry pickups and drop offs, and though we were within easy walking distance of town, the large, tree-lined property felt incredibly private. As we hoped it would, Robert’s Cottages quickly became wedding central, with guests dropping by all week to visit and enjoy a cup of coffee or a Kalik.

Party Favours 2

Some of our wedding favours – locally made guava and pineapple jam in straw baskets, and mini Junkanoo cowbells. Photo: Dawn Drewry

Though the weather on the Monday we arrived was beautiful, by Wednesday, we were experiencing near-monsoon conditions. Let’s just say the extra-large garbage bags I brought along served us well. They became waterproof containers for wedding decorations and party favours, and seat covers for golf carts. My Mom and cousin even used them to fashion some very stylish rain gear.

Bachelor Party

Tom’s Bachelor Party Photo: Rachel Diedrick

Thursday brought a new group of arriving guests, Tom’s bachelor party at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar and — thankfully! — glorious sunshine.

We had invited guests to drop by our cottage for Friday evening cocktails to kick off the wedding weekend. It was a gorgeous, starry night and we went to bed relieved to have dodged a bad-weather bullet.

Saturday morning, I got up early and opened the blinds. It was pouring. Not a little drizzle. Not a light shower. Heavy, dark clouds and fat, stinging 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,” blah blah blah…) 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 hopped in the golf cart and headed to Gillam Bay. I sat in the rain and made peace with the idea that after months of planning, and with so many friends and relatives making the journey to join us for a beach wedding, we’d be getting married indoors.

As I drove back toward town, the rain seemed to ease a little. The clouds seemed brighter than before. By 11 a.m., small patches of blue began to appear. And by 1 p.m. – the deadline for pulling the plug on the outdoor ceremony – the sky was all but clear.

Two-and-a-half hours later, escorted by our flower girl, Jade, my Dad and a Junkanoo parade, I walked up a sandy “aisle” to meet Tom.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, wedding

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, wedding, junkanoo

Our Gillam Bay wedding was low-key and laid back, just the way we wanted it.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, weddingAfter the ceremony, the Junkanoo dancers and band performed for our guests, many of whom had never before seen this rhythmic and colourful Bahamian tradition.

Before heading to Bluff House to join our guests, Tom and I took a little drive through town.bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, wedding

It was nice to have a few minutes to ourselves to absorb all the day’s 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 town children waving to us and following the golf cart.

Our reception was held in the Bluff House conservatory — which, sadly, has been damaged by hurricanes in recent years. But that night, it was beautifully decorated with huge, white paper lanterns and gauzy curtains billowing in the breeze. We enjoyed a Bahamian buffet of grilled lobster, ribs and chicken, peas ‘n’ rice, potato salad, johnny cake and more — all delicious.

After dinner, toasts and cake cutting, we all danced outside, under the stars. A light rain began late in the evening, putting an earlier end to the reception than we’d planned, but given how fortunate we’d been earlier with the weather, we didn’t dare complain.

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Photo: Daniel Drewry

Without a doubt, our favourite part of the wedding was having the opportunity to spend the entire week with family and friends from all over North America, and to introduce them to each other and to Green Turtle Cay. It wasn’t an easy or inexpensive trip to make, and we were grateful so many were able to join us.

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I’ll write a follow-up post soon about the nuts and bolts of getting married on Green Turtle Cay.

In the meantime, happy seventh anniversary to my husband, Tom Walters. Thank you for giving me the wedding of my dreams and a wonderful life every day since.

 How we pulled off our dream destination wedding on a tiny island in the Bahamas.

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Green Turtle Cay 101: An Introduction

Recently, I’ve received a number of emails from folks wanting to know more about visiting Green Turtle Cay. This post is the first in a series entitled Green Turtle Cay 101: A Guide to Getting Here, Staying Here and Enjoying all that Green Turtle Cay Has to Offer.

Junkanoo Performers

Local schoolchildren perform at Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, held each May.

If you visit the Bahamas and don’t get any further than the cities of Nassau or Freeport, you’ve really only scratched the surface. For a truly authentic Bahamian experience, you need to visit one of the country’s out islands, also known as the “Family Islands.”

Island HouseAs you’ve likely surmised, my favourite family island is Green Turtle Cay, because quite simply, it’s the polar opposite of Nassau or Freeport.

There are no duty-free shops or noisy casinos, no high-rise chain hotels or American fast-food joints, no cruise ships or smoke-belching Jitneys, no Bay Street peddlers hawking cheap t-shirts.

Instead, there is peace. There is privacy. There are pristine (and often deserted) beaches, charming locals, bikes and golf carts for transportation and more stars at night than you could ever count. There’s a vigorous domino game in town, rake-and-scrape music at sunset, local kids shooting hoops (you’re welcome to join in), home-baked coconut bread at the local grocery, and conch salad chopped fresh while you watch.

Parliament Street 2

Parliament Street in the settlement of New Plymouth.

Founded in 1786 by Revolutionary War Loyalists, and named for the green turtles that once were plentiful in its waters, Green Turtle Cay lies three miles east of Great Abaco, Bahamas and 170 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida. Perched on the southwestern end of the cay is New Plymouth, a sleepy settlement with narrow streets and neat rows of pastel-painted clapboard houses.

Lizard Bar & Grill

Poolside at the Lizard Bar & Grill

For a small island (it’s three miles, end to end), Green Turtle Cay offers a surprising array of amenities, including two small resorts, several marinas, a half-dozen or so restaurants, three small but well-stocked grocery shops, two liquor stores, a boat yard, a post office, a bank (open 4 hours a week), an art gallery, a museum, a dive operator, several fishing guides, and boat, golf cart, paddleboard, snorkel and SCUBA gear, kayak and bike rentals.

Snorkeling at Munjack Cay

Snorkeling north of nearby Munjack Cay during a day trip with fishing guide, Lincoln Jones.

Green Turtle Cay is a welcoming, low-key destination that’s ideal for couples, safe for singles and incredibly family (and pet) friendly.

Wrigley at Gillam Bay

Our dog, Wrigley, enjoying one of Green Turtle Cay’s beautiful beaches.

Next in the GTC 101 series: Getting Here

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