Written by Laura Bell Photography by Two & Quarter
It was love at first sight for 31-year-old Chris Schirmer from Surrey, England, who spotted Laura Minor, 26, on the showroom floor of IKEA in Emeryville, California, five years ago. “Chris came up to me introduced himself and asked if I’d like to get a drink sometime,” recalled Laura who hails from Chicago, Illinois. “Mesmerised by his English accent, my older sister Hilary actually answered for me saying yes she’d love to. A week later we met for a date and the rest is history!”
Laura, a cosmetology student, and Chris, a sail maker for Oracle Team USA, dated for four years before getting engaged on September 10, 2016. “I knew Chris was the one when I could be 100 percent myself around him and he accepted everything about me,” said Laura. “On our second date, he cooked me dinner. Although it was too soon to know he was the one at that moment, I definitely thought ‘this guy’s a keeper.’”
“I knew Laura was the one when I couldn’t imagine my life without her,” said Chris.
The ring Chris proposed with—a stunning round-cut solitaire on a gold band—was a family heirloom and dates back to the 1800s. “Chris’s grandfather, Christopher (whom Chris is named after), proposed to his future bride, Jean, with a ring that his father, Ferdinard Schirmer, bought for him,” explained Laura. “They were married in 1948. When Jean passed away, she gave the ring to her daughter, Julie. Julie then passed the ring to Chris! I feel very honoured to have a ring with family history around my finger and it is everything I’ve ever imagined.”
On one of his rare days off while working for Oracle, Chris took his bride-to-be out on a boat for a sunset dinner. After an hour of snorkeling, they returned to the boat to watch the sunset together when Chris disappeared to “get his phone.” “The proposal was like a dream,” said Laura. “I had no idea it was coming! Sitting on the bench of the front console, I thought Chris had gone to get his phone to take a photo of the view. He came back with a homemade wooden box in his hand and went down on one knee; for a second it still didn’t register what was happening until I looked as his face. He told me I was the one and asked me to marry him. And I said YES!”
“The proposal was exactly how I wanted it,” added Chris. “Nothing but sun, sea, reefs and Laura.”
Wasting no time, the couple planned an intimate beach ceremony for 30 of their closest friends and family. The bride wore a hand-beaded, trumpet style BHLDN gown by Watters and the groom wore a vest and trousers by Massimo Dutti. The bridal party included maids of honour Hilary and Kathryn Minor; bridesmaids Sydney Sherman and Courtney Hatcher; best men Tom Rance, Joe Newnham and Sam Schirmer; and groomsman Michael Minor. Officiated by Pastor Gordon Shaw, the ceremony was held on Elbow Beach in front of a driftwood arch created by Chris, who did all the ceremony décor!
“The ceremony was beyond anything I could have imagined!” said Laura. “Chris was the groom and wedding decorator! It was 100 percent in his hands and I’m so glad it was. Walking down the aisle was the first time seeing it. He did such an incredible job—from the driftwood arch, the DIY palette table (the surface to sign the marriage certificate), the driftwood ‘bar’ sign pointing to a champagne-filled cooler buried in the sand, and the most special was the refurbished/repainted surf board with ‘C&L,’ later used as our ‘guest book.’ We have it hanging in our bedroom, reminding us of an unforgettable day, and the signatures from people who made us who we are today.”
“The ceremony was organised only by us two and made our day even more special,” said Chris. “It was very personal and intimate.”
The reception—a barbeque buffet dinner at the Coral Beach Club—had lots of special moments. “We had a stunning dinner on one long table overlooking the Atlantic on Coral Beach Club’s lunch terrace,” said Chris. “As the sun went down, we lit the fireplace inside, started the music and partied together making the best night ever!”
“We also had Instax Polaroid cameras at the table and dance floor for everyone to use during the celebration,” added Laura. “It was so cool to look back and see the day through everyone else’s eyes and have immediate hard-copy memories.”
Planning a beach wedding in December can be a bit dicey with the unpredictable weather and can lead to a lot of nerves leading up to the big day. “December in Bermuda is cold and rainy, the weather leading up to the day was windy and wet, so waking up to the sun shining was an amazing start to a great day,” said Laura. “Plan B was to have the ceremony in Pastor Shaw’s church and the reception could be easily moved inside.”
According to the couple, the day turned out just perfect. “There is nothing I would do differently,” said Chris. “The best part of the day was Laura smiling while opposite me at the alter.” For Laura the highlights included: “Marrying my best friend, celebrating with friends and family directly after the ceremony, champagne on the beach, and finally having our families come together and meet.”
While the couple says they wouldn’t change a thing (other than wishing a few other friends could have made the trip), they did wish they had known a few things beforehand. “I wish I’d known how fast the day flies by,” said Laura, while Chris added, “I wish I’d known that it isn’t actually as stressful as you make it out to be!”
“The worst part was it ending,” concluded Chris, and Laura agreed wholeheartedly. “I second Chris’s answer! Wish it never ended!”