Vows: A love like this

Monday, December 11, 2017

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The stunning bride, Amoi Leon, director of Caribbean VIP Co Ltd, blushed as she recalled how she met her groom, Michael Issa, president and CEO of Secureworld Corp Ltd, four years ago, at a resort in Runaway Bay, St Ann. His company was handling security detail for the event. Little did she know that a chance encounter would lead to happily ever after...

How We Met (Amoi's take):

Four years ago I was in charge of a huge event at a resort in Runaway Bay, St Ann. Mike's company was handling security detail for the event, and he was asked to be there to personally oversee it and ensure that nothing would go awry. I took a brief timeout at about 2:00 am to rest my feet. Mike approached me to check if I was okay.That was it, really.

The following day, as I sat at my desk to start work, in came an e-mail from him. He e-mailed me his phone number citing: 'It is important to keep a security director's number on speed dial'. We also exchanged BBM pins. I kept it strictly business, however, since I was at a point in my life where I was not looking for a relationship, but was more focused on my business and career. He clearly had other things on his mind! A few weeks later we went on our first date.

He had chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to me along with a lovely bottle of Cabernet. Also, he had a full spa day planned for us for the following day, followed by an awesome gastronomic experience for dinner. He got all the elements right!

Weeks later in conversation, I realised he had read my Twitter bio and saw that I liked spa treatments, wine experiences, tea and food, hence that helped him to get the first date elements perfectly!

Fast-forward to six months later. We flew to Europe together for a much-needed vacation. Before we got to the airport, he mentioned that I shouldn't fly to Paris without perfectly polished nails. Nothing to arouse suspicion there, as he was right about that!

On our first day in Paris, we walked around sightseeing. On the Ponte De Arts we admired the scenery and all the padlocks there. Mike then took out a padlock from his coat, which he apparently had our initials engraved on. 'How nice!' I thought. Then I realised there was a red ribbon tied to the padlock and a really beautiful sparkly ring. I was bit baffled until he placed the ring on my finger and I realised that he was actually proposing! If you should ask me what he said while proposing, I could not tell you as it was all a blur. As an aside, the ring was a tad too small so he had to put it on my pinky finger. He also had a prearranged professional photographer capturing all of our tender moments the whole time! I didn't notice until after he showed me the photog when I accepted the ring! I found out afterwards that he had also got the blessings of both our parents in advance.

After setting wedding dates twice before and having to reschedule, the final date was set for Friday, October 2017 in Jamaica.

It took several trips overseas, and fitting way more gowns than I intended, before I settled on my Hayley Paige dress. (This was after travelling to Florida, New York, then back to Florida). Even after choosing the dress, there still had to be significant modifications done in order to make it exactly what I wanted.


Our wedding day...

Vows were exchanged at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Montego Bay.

“We both have huge families so it was somewhat of a global summit. Mike is third-generation Arab, and my family is a mix of Jamaican and Cuban members. Guests came from The Middle East (Kuwait, Lebanon, Dubai), different parts of Europe, Canada, USA, and of course, different parts of Jamaica and the Caribbean.

We tried to keep it a small, cosy affair with just family and our closest of friends. There were 105 guests in attendance.

After arriving at the church only slightly fashionably late, via stretch limo with my bridesmaids, and all in high spirits, it was time for the ceremony to commence.

The parents and bridal party made their entrance to the song This is Why I Love You by Major.

My entrance was to Andrea Bocelli's Con Te Partiro sung by noted singer Rory Frankson. The groom was completely overcome with emotion and he cried openly. The ceremony took the form of a full mass, conducted by Father Wojciech. It was very emotional, sweet and meaningful. An hour later we said our I-do's.

One thing that most people do not know, though, is that we did a test run before this wedding date in the hope that it would help us shake off the inevitable huge emotions and wedding jitters. So, to help us prepare for the wedding, last year we actually journeyed to Santorini, Greece, just the two of us, and did a symbolic ceremony, where we affirmed our love for each other. However, as we learnt during the actual wedding absolutely nothing can prepare anyone for the real thing. I think we had much, more emotions on this wedding day than we could have ever imagined! But we held each other's hands through it all and eventually had fun with it.

Now husband and wife it was off to Bellefield Great House for the festivities! The Jamaicans were ready, and even more so the Arabs!

But not before Dwayne Watkins and his team whisked Mike and I away to the middle of Montego Bay town centre for wedding photos! Have you ever been to Montego Bay on a weekend? Imagine going down there in full wedding regalia, in the middle of the streets and taking photographs, on a SATURDAY! It was exhilarating, definitely got the adrenaline going; but, oh, so much fun! Being there reminded us of just how much warmth and love fellow Jamaicans have and how welcoming they can be! Taxis and buses stopped to allow us to get perfect shots in the streets, while pedestrians (total strangers) rallied around and took photos and even posed for photos with us! Mike and I do almost everything the unconventional way. Many would ask, why would you choose to go downtown? Well, what we got from downtown we could never get while posing on a random lawn with grass and flowers the way everyone else does. We wanted 'different' and we did just that! And enjoyed it MUCH more than anyone could think!


Cocktail Hour and Reception:

We had a cocktail hour, al fresco, on the lawns of Bellefield Great House. We were so lucky that there was no rain that day (especially seeing that it rained every single day of that week!). My prayers were answered and there was sunshine all day!

At the cocktail reception, guests were greeted with glasses of Prosecco, or the signature cocktail of the evening, made with a passion fruit base (we had an alcoholic version and a non-alcoholic version)..

White-gloved waiters passed hors d'oevres of chicken kebabs, shrimp kebabs, hummus, and assorted canapés. There was an open bar with premium beverages flowing, while the guests were entertained by Afrotech Steel Band and drumming and dancing of Children Of The Drums.

Afterwards, drummers led the guests from the cocktail lawn to the Old Mill on the Great House, where guests took their seats at tables named after places that Mike and I had travelled to and shared lovely memories, like Paris, Cappadocia, Istanbul, Rome, Florence, Dubai, Egypt, Montego Bay and Runaway Bay.

Our arrival was done in traditional Arab style. Drummers lined the entrance of the reception on both sides, while the DJ played Arab music simultaneously, smoke machine started and the bride and groom were announced and marched in, with the drummers in tow accompanied by the sounds of Arab music, while the jubilant guests clapped and danced as the bride and groom made their entry. It was both unique and exciting!

Karen Bradford, the bride's cousin and the evening's master-of-ceremonies handled the entire affair awith aplomb.

During the à la carte, white-gloved dinner, the Trident All Star Band played beautiful jazz music, accompanied by their soloist. Moët and Chandon champagne flowed freely throughout the night

The groom's father, I'ssa M Issa, gave the opening remarks and reiterated what a treat it was to now have a true connection to Jamaica by way of this marriage.

At the end of the formal ceremony, the dance floor opened to the couple's first dance. The Trident All-Star Band Played while their soloist sang the Roberta Flack classic The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

Following that, there was a traditional Arab dance done with the bride surrounded by her closest female family members and single friends who held lighted candles, and danced around her in a circle while she danced in the centre holding two large candles. This is a signature Arab wedding dance to celebrate the bride's new marriage and also to show off the single females to potential male suitors.

The males were not to be left out as they hit the dance floor when the Arab hits were played by the DJ. They had their chance to show off their moves doing the Dabke (traditional upbeat Arab dance done primarily by the men).

Guests enjoyed the open bar and the music by Elite Media Concepts until the wee hours of the morning.

Celebrations continued the following morning with the family coming together for a post-wedding brunch at the beautiful Royalton White Sands resort.

The newly-weds enjoyed a mini-moon in Saint Lucia. The real honeymoon is slated for Spring 2018 when Amoi and Mike will sail the Mediterranean.




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