VOWS: One Love
Mario Sparkes, Avaya Caribbean's engagement manager for the English-speaking Caribbean, wed Dr Claire Chandler, optometrist at Refocus Ocular Jamaica on August 25, 2012 at Bellefield Greathouse and Gardens in Montego Bay.
Mario and Claire met in Negril during a weekend vacation with friends. "What I saw in the distance was an incredibly beautiful woman. I quickly realised shortly after (getting to know her) that she was not only beautiful but very intelligent," shared Mario. "He was a true gentleman, which I hadn't come across in a long time. He was very funny, very entertaining. He had a great heart and spirit," recalls Claire. Though Mario confessed that he knew she was the one from the first date, what solidified it for him was their fourth date in Negril on Valentine's Day, which was coincidentally the first time they kissed. "He made me feel very special and he was a true gentleman. He is just a great guy. I love the way he loves me," shared Claire. "She deserves a lifetime of happiness," said Mario.
Mario met Claire's family for the first time in the summer of 2011 during the family's visit to Jamaica. Though he took the opportunity to ask her father for Claire's hand in marriage, it wasn't until December that his plans to propose took effect. The couple went to England to spend Christmas with Claire's family. The day before Christmas Eve Mario surprised Claire with a ticket to Paris for the following day. They spent the day in Paris, sightseeing like average tourists enjoying the city of love. As the snowflakes lightly dusted the streets of Paris, and the Eiffel tower lit up, Mario popped the question. He got down on one knee beneath the tower and asked Claire to be his wife. "It was the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me," she disclosed. They returned to the United Kingdom the next day and enjoyed a get-together with friends and family who were all aware of Mario's plans to propose.
The Big Day
The couple dated for two years and nine months before exchanging vows. Though the wedding had no official theme, Mario and Claire believe the underlying theme was 'One Love'. The wedding took place at the picturesque Bellefield Greathouse and Gardens in Montego Bay which was decorated by Sandra Martin and John Swaby. The couple revealed to Vows that they chose Bellefield Greathouse almost immediately after they got engaged. "It was the first place we went to look at and we knew almost immediately that it was the place where we wanted to get married. They were so accommodating and went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure we had the day of our dreams," shared Claire.
Wearing an exquisite gown by Pnina Tornai from Kleinfelds boutique in New York City, host of TLC's hit series Say Yes To The Dress the bride was escorted up the aisle by her father Paul Morrison to the strains of At last rendered by saxophonist Fitzroy Minot. The bride's make-up was expertly applied by Paul March while her hair was styled by Norma Webster. The bridesmaids, who wore peach dresses by Bari Jay Shimmer Dresses, were escorted by groomsmen who were nattily attired in suits by Perry Ellis. The groom was elegant in a suit by Kenneth Cole. Guided by officiating minister Bishop Claude Barton, the couple exchanged traditional wedding vows.
The University of the West Indies' Panoriddim Steel Orchestra kept guests in high spirits during cocktails with various selections from their wide repertoire. The Elite Media Concepts team also helped to entertain guests for the rest of the evening with a video DJ and a video depicting the couple's journey to the altar -- which they saw for the first time on their wedding day. "It really set the tone for our first dance and the after-party," shared Claire. The couple danced to So High by John Legend, a song selected by the groom, before cutting the beautiful five-tier cake flavoured with vanilla and amaretto butter cream. The Leanne Cook creation was decorated with red velvet. "Our guests really had fun, we had to pull them out at the end as they wouldn't leave the dance floor; the music was great!" enthused Claire.
The couple honeymooned in Tahiti and Bora Bora where they stayed in an over-water bungalow at the exclusive Le Méridien Hotel. "It was amazing and even more special because it was a present to me from Mario," shared Claire.