Vows - At Last
The 32-year love affair between the iconic Beverley Lois Anderson-Manley and long-time politico beau Donald Keith Duncan culminated in a fairy-tale wedding on Saturday, January 21, 2012, on the East Lawns of Devon House amidst subdued pomp and pageantry — albeit unconventional — and was witnessed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, former PM PJ Patterson, government ministers, first ladies of television and film Leonie Forbes and Barbara Blake Hanna, jazz singer extraordinaire Myrna Hague, and a veritable roll call of family and friends. Guests arrived in the midst of a party atmosphere, mingled easily, and made use of the plush white seating threaded with gold accents as they conveyed hearty congratulations to those who had won seats in the recently concluded general elections. In the mix were the hosts DK and Beverley.
An imposing stage with members of The Fab Five Band, gold and white aisle, white runner, and the sight of the indomitable Myrna Hague gave clear insight, however, of what was to come. The East Lawns, styled by Sean Green with anthuriums, orchids and cherry blossoms chosen for the day by Judith James of Unforgettable Blooms, presented a lazy Sunday afternoon jazz concert atmosphere, and the sound of Touch of Elegance with Della Manley left many, in between sips of Bride's Special — a delicious citrus welcome cocktail, in a mellow mood. The groom's daughter Patricia Duncan Sutherland and family friend Shirley Petra shared moving speeches about how much the union of the couple meant to them.
The couple discreetly left the cocktail party and made their way back inside the great house. They'd return an hour later, he escorted to the aisle by his children to the sounds of We Are Family. She, stunning in an ivory strapless hand-beaded embossed brocade gown worn with a choker made from the same material, her locks cascading down one side and held together by orchids. Her bouquet comprised orchids and calla lilies. David, her beloved son, escorted her up the aisle where daughter Natasha joined in. The bride and groom met in the centre of the aisle where David released his mother's arm and joined his aunt Shirley, the matron of honour, and the groom's son Keith, who performed best
Marriage officer Silvera Castro delivered the opening remarks while Rev Dr Sonia Davidson said the opening prayer. The groom's grandchildren tugged at the heartstrings as they recited Acts of Love — an original piece about the importance of unconditional love — to the rhythmic beating of African drums. The tribute ended with a collective shout: "We love you, grandpa DK and Auntie Beverley!"
Musical selections came from Dr Winston Davidson with another reading by Ajamu Duncan. The exchange of vows afforded DK another opportunity to go down on bended knee. This time, however, it was to slip the ring on his bride's finger.
As the couple signed their wedding register, the bride's son David read a poem on marriage by Louis de Bernières. Formalities now complete, the newly-weds faced their guests as husband and wife as the haunting ballad — At Last by Etta James — enthralled the gathering.
As the newly-weds enjoyed their first dance, members of both their families joined them on the dance floor, circled the couple and placed an empty chair in the midst. Family members then performed a choreographed dance to Empty Chair at the Table by Bob Wills, which ended with the bride sitting in the chair that had been placed in the centre of the dance floor. (This Vows is told is a Duncan family tradition of much significance, underscoring the importance of the family coming together to celebrate every birthday, every accomplishment big or small. The song Empty Chair is played with much gusto as a means of inducting significant others in the family). The couple then moved towards the beautiful three-tiered cake created by the bride's aunt, Barbara Davis. Beverley then walked over to her aunt and sang with her How do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, before asking her to bless the meal created by the bride's cousin, Jeanette Hutchinson.
Master of ceremonies Richard Fletcher handled the formalities with aplomb. Toasts came from Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, former Prime Minister Percival James Patterson; theatre and screen legend Leonie Forbes; minister of agriculture and fisheries Roger Clarke; Hugh Duncan, the groom's youngest brother, and former politician Arnold Bertram, to name a few.
Delivering the vote of thanks, Anderson-Duncan ended by saying: "I have loved DK for a long time and I see myself ending my life with him." The couple then danced to Tears On My Pillow by Little Anthony & The Imperials before inviting all the guests to join them on the dance floor. The couple, their combined family and guests partied till the wee hours of the morning.