The stars were clearly aligned — from their meeting as tweens to their commitment, as young adults, to spending the rest of their lives together. VOWS follows entrepreneurs Tara Fong Yee and Brandon McKoy to Fort Charles, Port Royal, for their nautical-themed wedding.
First things first, though — the journey to the altar…
That first encounter, as told by Tara…
We met when we were 12 or13 through mutual friends. I had just moved to Florida for high school when Brandon visited and asked me on a date to go bowling. Unfortunately, the bowling alley was closed, so his older brother, Matthew, took us to eat at the home of their cousin Lisa Walker. We lost touch after that first date and only saw each other during summers at parties or gatherings to merely say 'hi'. Then in the summer of 2013 I randomly saw that 'first date photo' and had to send it to Brandon. It had been a decade. That photo rekindled the friendship which developed into a relationship.
It was Saturday, July 9, 2016, the day before my birthday. My family and Brandon had planned a trip to Chukka Cove in Richmond to do zip lining followed by a beach picnic for a pre-birthday celebration. For each zip Brandon went ahead of me, and on the last and longest leg of the zip I went down and saw Brandon down on one knee, holding a little white box. I was shocked and screamed aloud, while bursting into tears. We were so overwhelmed neither of us can remember what he said to me, except that I said, “Of course!” in response to his marriage proposal. I couldn't stop crying. The last zip was by a river where they had a cute little set-up of champagne and flowers as a backdrop for photos. Brandon along with my mom had the day perfectly planned for months where everyone at Chukka knew what was happening except me. We are forever grateful to Chukka Cove for allowing us a private tour to make the occasion that much more special. After all the excitement we went to a villa in Bengal Bay that turned out to be a surprise birthday/engagement party with our closest friends and family. The epic party culminated with us releasing heart-shaped lanterns.
Here comes the bride
The bridal party dressed at the fabulous Spanish Court Hotel before heading to Fort Charles, Port Royal, for the wedding ceremony and reception.
The bride looked spectacular in her David's Bridal ivory strapless ball gown with a delicate jewelled flower sash at the waistline. A cathedral veil with a lace trim and tiara atop her low hair bun and clasping a bouquet of white garden roses tied with a satin navy blue ribbon, Tara was escorted up the aisle by her father William Fong Yee, dapper in Spokes Apparel, to the Piano Guys, piano instrumental version of A Thousand Years.
The wedding officiant was Steven Brown.
Good friends Elliot MacMillan and Rebecca Marzouca handled the proceedings with aplomb. The newly-weds made their entrance to Sugar by Maroon 5. Guests enjoyed a sumptuous supper catered by Patsy Lyn Catering. Dessert was by Tea Tree Crêperie and included their favourite — banana and Nutella crêpes.
After emotion-filled toasts and the cutting of the naked wedding cake, which perfectly complemented the rustic theme, came the couple's first dance as husband and wife to Till the End by Jessie Ware. Helen Chin Sue, the bride's godmother and aunt, created the exquisite coffee cinnamon confection with buttercream icing.
Thereafter it was left to DJ Bambino, whose musical styling covered the best of the '90s to the present, to signal the beginning of the party. This he delivered as the newly-weds, their family and friends rocked the sleepy fishing town of Port Royal.
An abridged version of the groom's toast to his wife
Finally, to my BRIDE... Traditionally, a groom's speech to his wife starts off with a compliment on how beautiful she looks, and after all the weddings I have attended, I know it has been done. But when the groom is reading his speech that we all know he wrote the night before, reading how beautiful his wife looks tonight, I always think to myself, well, that was a little presumptuous. So I purposely left out that part of my speech (but I can now say, tonight you look absolutely stunning). I truly have never seen you look more beautiful than you do right now. I think we should get married more often!
Tara and I were NOT your typical love story. In fact, it should have been illegal for someone to be rejected as many times as I was. I was interested in her since we were around 13 years old. After many years of being in and out of communication, and after enduring what felt like a decade of rejections, I finally got a nibble on the end of my line. Who would have thought that Tara sending me a picture on BBM of our first date when we were teenie boppers (where, I might add, she opted out of a goodbye kiss), would have reconnected us and led us here to this perfect day? She never left my mind over so many years, so the minute I got a message from her, something inside of me took over and I could not let her out of my sight again.
The most beautiful thing about Tara was when I bought her a name-brand bracelet and she did not know of the brand. It did not matter if the bracelet came from Walmart or a high-end boutique. I found it so sexy that I could not impress this girl with material things, and almost challenged in a way. I had to be a real person to her, that's all that mattered. I could not impress her with anything less than who I truly was (God knows how that worked) - and for this reason our relationship has a rock-solid foundation that I would not trade for the world.
Thank you for putting up with my fishing, boating and sea foam colour obsession, and thank you for allowing the marine-themed wedding; it turned out beautifully. You could have allowed the Outdoor World wedding registry, though. Thank you for messaging me 215 times a day for the last couple of months asking about wedding stuff. In all seriousness - I appreciate how much you've done, and how very well you've done it.
Please join me in raising your glass to toast the most beautiful bride in the world. In true marine theme style: “May the wind always be at our backs, May we enjoy the high tides and the good vibes, together forever,” Cheers.