Written by Gabrielle Boyer. Photography by Two & Quarter Photography.
When Canadian Jo Howson moved to Bermuda on her own in 2011 (“for an adventure!”), little did she know she would meet the love of her life, St. David’s Islander Graham Frith, almost immediately.
“While Jo was living in Nova Scotia, she was given the name of Steven McGuinness, who had gone to Acadia,” said Graham. “He was my college roommate and introduced us the first weekend Jo arrived on island. I realised she was something special the moment I met her.”
The couple dated for four years before getting engaged on August 14, 2015. “I tell her I would have married her within a week knowing how special she was,” said Graham. “She has it all—brains, beauty and great wit. I knew, though, that it’s always better to get to know someone more and I watched her grow and fell more in love with her every day.”
Jo said she knew Graham was the one “when I could be truly honest with myself and him. I knew because it was natural for both of us to be ourselves. When you can experience the good with the bad and both walk away stronger, you know you’ve found a team mate for life.”
For her engagement surprise, Graham organised to “kidnap” Jo from work to celebrate her birthday weekend at The Reefs. The couple enjoyed snorkeling together before heading to Caso’s Point to take in the gorgeous south shore view. With the whole place to themselves, Graham got down on one knee and asked Jo to be “his team mate, best friend and soul mate.” The ring is a family heirloom that had been passed down to Graham’s mom, Chrissy Frith, by her mother, Mimi. “I knew it was a perfect Jo ring,” said the groom.
On the wedding day, Jo and her bridal party got ready at Tucker’s Point while the groom and his “trouble-maker groomsmen” chilled by the pool at St. George’s Club before donning their Bermuda shorts (in St. David’s colours of old gold and blue, of course) and heading to the ceremony.
The couple chose the World Heritage Centre (WHC) in St. George’s for both the ceremony and reception. “We both liked the traditional Bermudian building and the character it added to the wedding,” said Jo.
“My father works in the museum, and we wanted somewhere in St. George’s as all our guests were staying in the town,” added Graham. “Growing up in St. George’s made me want to share it with everyone. It’s just such a classic part of Bermuda. And my parents’ house is directly across the harbour.”
Arriving by boat, Jo walked down the aisle with her father to Elton John’s “Your Song” and the couple said their vows under an arch created by Marguerite at Demco with St. George’s Harbour as their backdrop. The sun was shining and a cool October breeze was blowing adding to the perfection of their day. “The weather could not have cooperated any better—the sun and cool breeze was perfect,” said Graham. “Especially as we had had hurricane Matthew and a tropical storm threatening for a week!”
After the nuptials, the newlyweds and their guests celebrated with a cocktail party outside followed by a family-style dinner upstairs at the WHC. “Goslings took care of us with their awesome staff and worked with us to come up with his and hers drinks,” said the groom. “The ‘his’ drink was a Gosling’s South Shore with a spicy twist of Gombey jam. I was looking for something sweet and spicy and it was perfect! ‘Her’ drink was very light lemonade with lime and basil.”
The couple chose New Catering Bermuda/Bermuda Smokehouse for the food for their 160 guests and they did not disappoint. Canapes included pulled pork and bacon jam shooters, smoked salmon, beef jerky with horseradish and apple crème fraiche, and mini stuffed sweet pepper antipasto. The main course included chargrilled fresh seasonal veggies, beef brisket, smoked whole chicken, sweet potato salad and cheesy corn bread pudding. “We had it all served family style as it was Canadian Thanksgiving and we wanted that style to be incorporated,” said Graham. “So people were mixing and mingling like family at their tables.
“We were a little worried as this was the biggest event they [the caterers] had ever done, but man did they knock it out of the park! From the food to the service, it was absolutely spot-on!”
For the wedding cake, bridesmaid Claire Cook generously gifted the couple with a chocolate cake with mascarpone icing. “[It was] was to die for!” said Jo.
To save on costs, the couple chose lots of simple greenery with white and wooden accents to compliment the rustic nature of the venue. “Jo and a friend went out a few days before and picked asparagus fern for the interior foliage,” said Graham. “We found out later that asparagus fern is the traditional wedding foliage in Bermuda!”
For her bouquet, Jo worked with Marguerite to come up with a natural-looking arrangement filled with local foliage and accented with dendrobium orchids and feathers. The orchids were also crowned in Jo’s hair.
Music formed a big part of the couple’s day—from Steve Crawford playing guitar for the ceremony and the Simons Brothers for the cocktail party to Scott Roy (aka DJ Vibes) for dinner and dancing. “He had everybody up dancing all night!” said Graham.
Even the favours were music-themed—and fun, just like the couple.
“We gave out inflatable instruments,” Graham said. “They were microphones, saxophones and guitars—we wanted everyone to entertain each other and show off their instrument skills. It went over so well and everybody loved it! What is even better is that since the wedding we have been shown videos and pictures of families still using the instruments, which is what we wanted. I love playing air guitar when listening to music, and both our dads and Jo, too. Jo’s dad had brought down the inflatable instruments one Christmas and we all loved them and thought it would be brilliant for the wedding.”
With wedding planner Ginny Masters of Weddings With Panache assisting as a day-of coordinator and family and friends pitching in to help, the couple say that everything ran exactly as planned. “It sounds cliché, but the whole day we were on cloud nine and it all went as smooth as silk,” said Jo. “I think it ran so smoothly because we were so prepared and everyone was so helpful. Every moment was amazing!”