Antigua: Wedded bliss on a sunshine isle
Jun 14 2010 By Mike Lockley
SUITABLY suited and booted, Vaughan Walter boomed a theatrical “Good afternoon!” before launching into a performance that was more cabaret than C of E.
“Good afternoon!” Antigua’s most popular matchmaker shouted to the thin ribbon of guests gathered round the gazebo, straining to make his words heard above the crashing waves.
In the sultry Caribbean heat, Teresa O’Sullivan, from Kingswinford, and Billesley’s Stuart Anderson waited nervously.
Their walk to the wedding venue had been strewn with petals. An emerald hummingbird flitted only inches from the pair.
They married in the manicured grounds of the island’s Grand Pineapple Beach hotel complex, and were the 112th love-struck West Midlands couple to tie the knot this year on a paradise island that boasts as many beaches as there are days in the year.
It rarely rains for long periods in Antigua, but a veritable stampede of would-be brides and grooms have ensured a confetti downpour to this corner of the Caribbean. And civil marriage officer Vaughan has conducted many of them.
He’s united a number of celebs, too, but refuses to divulge names.
Antigua, in short, is nudging to the top of the favourite wedding venue for West Midlanders.
The couples I spoke to said it was cost-effective compared to domestic ceremonies, good weather is guaranteed and there’s a tad more romance than Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Stoke have to offer.
Electrician Ian, 29, said: “Basically, the hotel did everything for us. It’s been a great time, and probably cheaper than the full works back home.”
His 20-year-old blushing new bride added: “I work in the travel industry, so I knew what Antigua has to offer.”
They were only slightly miffed after discovering the Sunday Mercury hadn’t flown a reporter out with the sole purpose of covering their wedding.
Days earlier, Rugeley’s Gabriella Beasley and serving soldier Ian Nicholas, 23, had walked the same petal-strewn path to marital bliss.
Student nurse Gabriella said: “I came here five years ago and knew then I wanted one day to get married here.
“The two weeks have been fantastic, the rooms have been amazing and the staff superb. Basically, they looked after everything. The day was so calm.”
But you don’t have to be a romantic to be captivated by the magic of Antigua.