A Limitless Love
Sometimes finding one's soul mate means venturing across shores and into unfamiliar territory. For Executive Administrator of Operations at UFCW Local 342 Jhana Saunders, and Associate Director of Admissions & Financial Aid at Manhattan College Wayne Branker, their romantic journey began at Bucknell University, a small liberal arts college located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
"It was our annual International Food Fair, and given the fact that the school's diversity was minimal at the time, as the only Jamaican on campus I felt it was my duty to represent my country. As a Trinidadian, Wayne was very excited that there was another Caribbean national at Bucknell, so this is where he made his move," Saunders told Vows.
Their courtship would take some time, but once they made a connection, they were virtually inseparable. Their relationship continued to blossom for just over nine years before they decided to tie the knot. By then the adventurous pair had built a solid foundation, getting to know each other from the inside out, often enjoying trying new foods at different restaurants and playing mas together.
"Wayne and I have a lot in common; however, we have very different personalities. This is the main reason our relationship works so perfectly. He helps me open my mind to new adventures, and I centre his chi when he gets a bit too adventurous," she shared.
As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, Saunders confesses that the thought of planning the one-time-only wedding of her dreams was more than a little daunting. Nevertheless, she pulled it all together, with the invaluable assistance of wedding coordinator Tara Hirst-Bernard of White Light Events. The weather, however, threatened to but a damper on things.
"The week of the wedding it rained every single day across the whole island, so of course I was concerned that it would rain on my wedding day. The day came and so far so good, we took our 'first look' photos and when we got to the end it started to drizzle just a little bit. So everyone headed over to the church. I got my hair and make-up touched up, then went in our car. Literally, two minutes into the car ride it became a torrential downpour! The roads in Ocho Rios began to flood, so we were forced to take the long way to the church and pray we didn't get washed away. For some strange reason, however, I was calm and just felt in my heart that everything was going to be fine. We got to the church and there was water everywhere. A couple of the family friends were at the entrance of the church with umbrellas looking quite frantic. I still wasn't concerned. I got out of the car, with their help of course, held my dress until I got to a dry spot, lighting struck, the church doors opened and it was show time," Saunders recalled.
The memorable day was Friday, November 8, 2013, in a ceremony officiated by Monsignor Herbert Panton at Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church in Ocho Rios. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's rendition of Bryan Adams' (Everything I Do) I Do It for You played as the beautiful bride made her way up the aisle, her father Keith Saunders by her side.
"Walking up the aisle was extremely exciting. I didn't even care about the rain, and in all honesty I have no idea how I stayed dry. I was elated to see all my friends and family who turned out, and the smiles on their faces made the walk even more special. It felt as if time slowed down just for a moment, just for me," said the bride.
The reception, which took place at Laughing Waters in St Ann, featured the high-energy mixes of DJ Sanjay, who kept guests in constant dance mode. For their first dance as husband and wife, the couple chose Al Green's Let's Stay Together, along with a few other special surprises for their guests.
For the bride, the words spoken by best man and brother of the groom Michael Branker, in his toast to the newly-weds, perfectly symbolised their relationship.
"Hope and love, and hope and life have made our heroes great, made men travel endless miles all because of faith. It has no bounds, no limitations to which we blame our faith, and so profound its force and strength can cause a heart to break. But hope and love, and hope and life can still a loved one's hand, can take the pain we feel away or turn a boy into a man. It keeps the world, the one we love, spinning while we dance. Hope can help us with our time but it cannot stop the hands. Hope and love, and hope and life have brought this love to bloom. It shone its light beyond the night, majestic like the moon. If hope can breathe its breath so fresh that we can feel anew, then hope can keep a beating heart filled with love that's true. If hope has done such wondrous things, then what I leave you with is this, what's to say it can't do more than grant your every wish. So hope and love, and hope and life does more than help us cope. So love each other through and through and please do not lose hope," said Branker.