Right now, I’m in the air about halfway between Jamaica and New York, but my heart is still very much in the former. I’m headed home from seven days on an island that has firmly implanted itself on my list of places I call home. Although this was my first extended stay in Jamaica, in my soul I know I will be back. I will send my friends. I will bring my children. There are many memories waiting to be made there.
If you read my post last Thursday, I listed the reasons why Jamaica is important to me, the first being that it is also the special place of my most special people: my best friend Misha and her now husband (!!) Will. The two crazy kids met 15 years ago while on family vacation (they were 13 at the time) and stayed in touch over the years until their stars aligned and they could finally give dating a try. (Have I mentioned that she is from New Jersey and he is from central Illinois? Their story is a crazy one!) To bring everything full-circle, the two tied the knot this past weekend on the magical island that brought them together. Needless to say, many, MANY happy tears were shed.
The wedding, located at the Hilton Rose Hall resort in Montego Bay, was a whirlwind of events. The festivities kicked off Thursday afternoon when Mish, like the queen she was, lounged in a cabana while having her mendhi (henna) done. We friends kept her company and awed at her bridal beauty. Thursday night was fun and casual, as we ate our first meal as the wedding crew, followed by outdoor drinks and hellos.
The real festivities began Friday morning with Misha’s Grah Shanti and Ganesh Sthapan, ceremonies inviting the higher powers to be present for the wedding ceremony, and Pithi, a ritual beautification of the bride using a turmeric-tinted cream that we women smeared all over her. The colorful event concluded with dancing, gift giving, and sweet snacks.
That afternoon we had wedding rehearsal and dance practice for the evening’s welcome party. As is customary at Indian weddings, my fellow bridesmaids and I learned a dance to perform for the couple (which we nailed, if I do say so myself). The welcome party was in the courtyard of a lovely restaurant across the street, which was stunningly decked out in pink and orange lanterns, string lights and palm trees lit up in bright colors. There was a henna artist, hand-rolled cigars, and a freaking fire dancer. My best friends and I performed for the gorgeous couple, got our henna on our hands, and danced in the impending wedding day.
Saturday was the big event. After some light yet energizing yoga led by none other than Kristina of Midwest Yoga Girl, we split up to do our hair and makeup. The bridesmaids met back up to get dressed with the woman of the hour, our bride–aka QUEEN–Misha. I speak for everyone at the wedding when I say this girl took our breath away. The photos only sort of do her justice.
After a slew of pictures, the bridal party headed out to the ceremony location: the aqueduct. After just enough time to get some fun shots in front of the ruins, the thing we’d all been wishing away the past few days greeted us just as the wedding was about to begin: rain. We piled into the van that had transported us and waited for it to pass. After a good thirty minutes, the rain stopped, the air cooled, hotel staff dried the chairs, and the ceremony was on.
You know those happy tears I mentioned? There were a lot of them during the next part. Seeing those two kids get together, the kids that had wide eyes for one another since their teenage years, was an overwhelming site. The ceremony–a mix of traditional Indian customs and modern western traditions–was nothing short of perfect, and Mish and Will looked like royalty.
The ceremony was followed by a brief cocktail hour and more photos by the aqueduct and finally, the big party on the beach. My best friends and I–bride included–danced our butts off and celebrated giving the first of us away to her life partner.
After a late night of celebrating, we slept in a bit and headed down for much-needed lounge day at the beach with everyone who stuck around for the day. It was wonderful to finally be off schedule and enjoy everyone’s company in paradise. That night Sam and I were scheduled to head to Negril, but not before a nighttime group excursion to a luminous lagoon filled with bioluminescent organisms that light up when you disturb their waters. The lagoon also contains a slimy floor unlike anything you’ve ever stepped in. Imagine silky gak that sucks you in but easily releases your feet leaving you to wonder what the heck is down there.
After a quick shower back at the hotel, Sam and I said our goodbyes and headed to part two of our Jamaican journey. Check back Tuesday to hear all about our adventures in Negril!
peace, love & neon,