Few would have guessed that St George's College student O'Dane Hastings and St Hugh's High School student Mitoya Surtees, having been introduced by mutual friend Junell Burnett, would a decade later tie the knot at Laughing Waters, Ocho Rios. Vows shares their journey to the altar.
How they met and the abridged version of the proposal... Mitoya's version
We met in high school through a mutual friend, Junell over 10 years ago. We dated for the last three years of high school and then I migrated to England where we were in a long- distance relationship for roughly eight years.
O'Dane proposed the night before I was meant to fly back to the UK. We had spent the day chilling, and visited a few shops in Half-Way-Tree discussing rings and possible wedding dates, etc. We were meant to go out that evening but he told me that he was too tired. I was upset, so I sulked, went into the bedroom and went to sleep. He woke me up later that night and confessed his love for me. This was followed by the proposal. Turns out he secretly collected my engagement ring in the store earlier that day without my knowing, and had also asked my dad for my hand in marriage at a family get-together earlier that week. The proposal was exactly how I wanted it, very private and intimate.
I moved back to Jamaica mid-2016 and we lived happily together. He is an entrepreneur specialising in technology at D-Tech PC & Mobile Phone Services. I am a part-time professional make-up artist and also manager of Devon House Cafe by Island Coffees.
It all started with us making 200 hand-made wedding invitations. In fact, the entire wedding was planned and organised by myself, O'Dane, my mother Paula Surtees, my grandmother Babsy Grange and my sister Atavia Surtees. After lengthy research I decided on a sophisticated rustic theme using natural and 'Old Time' traditions mixed with the modern, like an all-white dress and decor. Having decided on the theme, I had to have a location that could accommodate the two special features of Jamaica — the sea and tropical gardens, and to this end, after many visits to different locations, I fell in love with Laughing Waters. With the love of DIY and being a part of the Y ouTube community (my make-up channel mittysurtz) I took on the project of making most of the decor for my wedding. These included wooden signs made by my husband and father-in-law and hand- painted by my sister Rebecca and cousin Sophie. Wine bottles covered in sand were used as centrepieces and personalised heart-shaped wooden mementos.
On the day, the set-up included four areas: The Welcome Area featuring 'old-time' wash tubs filled with ice-cold water for the guests after the long drive, the Ceremony Area which included a deck atop the sea with the waterfalls as the backdrop; The Cocktail Area on the lawn with all-white bistro tables and Hastings Mist on the go and The Reception/Dance Area on the lawn with all-white and gold draping and decor under a clear-top tent with string lights and all-white dance floor with spot lighting.
Guests adhered to the full-white dress code, and to my horror arrived on time — everything was running a bit late.
As a make-up artist by profession, I did my make-up, slipped into my dress and headed down to the most magical day ever. The bridal party entered from the beach area to Goosebumps by Travis Scott and danced up the aisle lined with shepherd's hooks and hanging mason jars with baby's breath. The bridegroom danced up the aisle with my mother and his mother. I then made my way down the steps to You and I by John Legend with my father Jonathan Surtees who thankfully helped me make it down in one piece as I was convinced I would fall.
The short and sweet ceremony was officiated by Dr Carlene Davis and Silvera Castro. Highlights of the ceremony included our first kiss, of course, and our exit into the sunset to Congratulations by Post Malone.
The reception featured a buffet-style catered dinner by Boardwalk Bistro which included delicious options such as roast lamb, jerk chicken, curried goat, cottage pie, fried fish and various cold salads to reflect the Jamaican/British roots of the bride and groom. Guests enjoyed their dinner while listening to toasts and personal video messages to the bride and groom by friends and family that couldn't make it to the big day, and various artistes including Shaggy, Shenseea, Christopher Martin, Romaine Virgo, Craigy T from Voicemail, OMI, Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel, just to name a few. For our first dance, I organised ballerinas who danced around us to the song This is Why I Love You by Major. It was everything I dreamed of.
For the father/daughter dance I rocked out with my dad to Zombies by Cranberries and O'Dane for his mother-and-son dance jammed to Mommy by Alkaline. My favourite part of the night would have to be O'Danes's garter performance to Bring It To The Owner by Dexta Daps. Having been a professional dancer and being on TV programmes like In The Dance and various music videos...he killed it! We all partied till the wee hours of the morning. The best part about this all was we created a hashtag for social media called #hitchingtohastings where we are able to see the experience that all our guests had and relive the moment.
I really have to thank my parents Jonathan and Paula Surtees; my grandmother Babsy, O'Dane's parents Daphney Walters and Richard Hastings, my maid of honour and sisters Atavia, Anastasia, Rebecca and brother Matthew. My photographer and videographer Dash and Design Dojo, Samantha for the ballerinas, the bridal party- Rasheba, Ramanyea, Nathan, Sebastian, Brithany, Dan, Andre, Donnavon, Jevaghne, Jaja, Kurt, Danar, Christopher, Nico. Lastly a huge thank-you to my husband!
The couple honeymooned at Level-Melia where they stayed in a luxurious honeymoon suite and “had room service for three days”. An official honeymoon will follow later on in the year where, according to Mitoya, “we will travel to somewhere lush!”