Vows — Cross-Country Love

Saturday, June 14, 2014

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"Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose." — Friday Night Lights

For Associate Athletics Director at The University of Texas at Austin, Lara Lee Conrady, and Managing Director of Panorama Insurance Agency, Timothy Wong — son of Jamaica's most sought-after wedding cake designer Selena Wong — it was a classic case of eyes meeting across the room. The setting could not possibly have been more romantic: it was April 22, 2011, and both were in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, for a mutual friend's wedding.

"Tim walked into the room, and I thought: 'That's Jamaican Tim who Erin always talks about? He's really cute.'" Conrady told Vows.

"I saw Lara and thought: 'Wow! Who is that? That is the prettiest smile I have ever seen.'" Wong recalled.

Her interest instantly piqued, Conrady devised a plan to get to know the man she had yet to realise would become her husband. Her first attempt involved asking him to move his vehicle -- which had been parked in the spot where the post-ceremony wedding pictures were to be shot -- and while she had succeeded in getting his attention, it was her next move that would be the clincher.

"During the wedding reception, Tim was enjoying the evening, and I was doing choreographed dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller on the dance floor. I'm sure that is when the spell was cast on him; it was definitely the dance moves!" she declared.

By the end of the evening the pair found themselves engrossed in a conversation that spanned hours. It was official! A connection had been made. They exchanged numbers and kept in touch even after they had both returned to their respective home states.

"It was like we had known each other forever. The conversations were really amazing and signalled the beginning of a great friendship. We had a connection from the first time we met, and it developed into a wonderful partnership as we got to know each other more," said Conrady.

Three years later, when Wong journeyed to Austin Texas to spend Valentine's weekend with his belle, little did she know he had an elaborate scheme cooked up. He had stayed in town an extra day so they could spend a bit more time together, and dropped her off at work that Monday, declaring that he was going to chill for the rest of the day. That evening, he returned with a large bouquet of purple tulips — her favourite flower — and told her that he had made reservations for them at a new hip restaurant called 'Hodgepodge', a place which she had never heard of, but nonetheless agreed to go.

"I asked if we could stop by my place so I could change mu outfit really quickly. He said that would work well, as he had forgotten his wallet at my place. We pulled into my driveway, and on my front door was hanging a large blue sign with the words 'Hodgepodge Beachside Café' written on it. My house had gone from its normal state to a beach café in just a few hours! I could not believe my eyes when I walked in!" Conrady gushed.

Complete with candles, fresh flowers, a bamboo table runner, and a menu that featured all of her favourite dishes - including her grandmother's spaghetti soup and his mother's famous 'One Love' cheesecake -- the makeshift restaurant was like something out of a dream, and he had successfully diverted her attention from the true purpose of the occasion with claims that they were still celebrating Valentine's Day.

"During the middle of dinner, I asked to take a break [I was full by the time we got to the soup course!] and he got out a box for me, saying it was a Valentine's Day present. It was a View-Master, containing seven stereoscopic 3-D pairs of small colour photographs on film. There was one for me, and another for him. The discs were specially made with photos of us, and special quotes that we both love. They were in chronological order from the day we met to our relationship today. It was like watching a movie featuring us! On the last slide was a photo of Tim on one knee, asking me to marry him. And when I moved the View-Master from my eyes, there he was, right in front of me, asking me to marry him!" she recalled.

The ceremony — officiated by Bishop Burchell McPherson of Montego Bay, Jamaica — took place on March 1, 2014 at St Mary's Catholic Church in Conrady's hometown, Windthorst, Texas, the place where her parents were wed. Her father, Roy Conrady, proudly escorted her up the aisle.

The festive occasion featured several wardrobe changes, with the bride wearing three pair of shoes: red patent leather shoes for the wedding, blue and teal crystal-embellished heels for the reception — which took place at the Coyote Ranch Resort in Wichita Falls, Texas — and cowboy boots for the dancing. Texas-based DJ Mike Swing had the couple 'skanking' to Bob Marley's Is This Love? for their first dance as husband and wife.

Of course, with Selena Wong for a mother, having just one wedding cake was out of the question: an array of artistic confections greeted guests at the reception.

The newly-weds spent a part of their honeymoon in Sedona, Arizona, before flying to the island to which they refer as "the special place where our relationship grows every time we visit" — Jamaica — for a secluded getaway in Ocho Rios.






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