For some people, falling in love is a process that takes time; for others it is almost instant. Such was the case for Elizabeth Simmons who fell in love with husband, Thomas Smith, when she met him for the first time.
The two were brought together in September 2010 by mutual friends who knew they would have a great deal in common. “When I shook his hand, I felt an instant excitement, a feeling I can’t describe,” says Elizabeth. “I believe I knew then that he was the one for me.”
If Thomas felt the same way, he didn’t make his feelings known. “He showed very little enthusiasm [when we met], I didn’t think he was interested in me at all.” But Elizabeth was wrong; before too long, Thomas asked Elizabeth out on a date.
After several weeks of dating it was obvious to Elizabeth and Thomas, as well as those around them, that they were a match. This feeling—that each of them had found “the one”—was underscored one night when they went for a walk along Horseshoe Bay. “The night was gorgeous, there was a full moon and the moonlight reflecting off the ocean was beautiful,” recalls Elizabeth. “While we were walking along, we stumbled over a huge heart that someone had drawn in the sand. We looked at it and then at each other. It was the definitive moment for us; each of us knew that the other was ‘the one.’”
Two years later, Thomas popped the question—only this time with more enthusiasm than he had shown when the couple first met. It was May 24, 2013, and Thomas was running the May 24th half-marathon in honour of his father, whose birthday was that day but who had passed away earlier in the year. “Thomas wanted me to wait for him at the finish line,” recalls Elizabeth. “I met him at various stops throughout the race but when I saw him at the last stop before the end, I rushed to the finish line.”
Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, Thomas had run the full 13.1 miles with an engagement ring intended for her in his shorts pocket. When he crossed the finish line, he made his way to Elizabeth, dropped to one knee and asked her to be his wife. “I couldn’t believe it!” remarks Elizabeth, still seemingly stunned, over a year later, by his effort. “My answer was, of course, ‘Yes!’”
When it came to planning their nuptials, Elizabeth wanted to incorporate elements of her Trinidadian and East Indian heritage in the celebrations, but only to a certain extent. “I didn’t want the wedding to be all Indian or all traditionally western, so we fused the two together to get the best of both.” The best of Elizabeth’s Indian heritage included her bridesmaids dressed in traditional Indian saris, with intricate henna tattoos on their hands and bindis on their foreheads. The Indian-themed elements were also reflected in the reception décor and dinner menu.
With the Indian elements covered, the couple focused on making their ceremony traditionally western, which included saying, “I do” at St. Paul AME Church, where Elizabeth’s father was pastor, with Elizabeth’s brother and Thomas’s uncle as wedding officiates. “That was the highlight of the ceremony,” explains Elizabeth. “Family is big with us and the participation of our family members on our wedding day was very important.”
The highlight of the reception (under the grand tent at Pier 6 on Front Street) was a speech written by Thomas’s late father and read by his sister. The speech was essentially a tribute from a father to his son in which Thomas’s father blessed the couple’s marriage and stated that he always knew that Elizabeth would one day be Thomas’s wife. When the speech was read, Thomas’s sister announced that it had been written three years previously, two years before their father passed away. For the couple who incorporated family togetherness into their wedding day, it seems that one family member in particular was three years ahead of them, making sure that their special day and their beautiful union was all the more unforgettable.
Photography by Kenneth Fox Jr. and Alex Masters