Written by Laura Bell. Photography by Gavin Howarth.
Set up on a blind date by a mutual friend over five years ago, Bermudian Patricia Kempe wed Tom Mills from Oxfordshire on April 29, 2017, at Christ Church in Warwick. “A friend from Bermuda, Dan Black, worked with Tom at the time and set us up,” said Patricia. “I hadn’t even seen a picture of Tom before the date.”
“Patricia had previously set Dan up on a date so he had promised to return the favour,” added Tom. “I was the lucky recipient!”
That fateful date led to many more before Tom decided at the end of 2015 to ask his bride’s father for permission to marry his daughter. Eagerly welcoming him into the family, Patricia’s mother generously offered Tom a very special ring to propose with. “The ring was my maternal granny’s ring and I have always loved it,” explained Patricia. “She passed away very young but I was named after her. It is beautiful and has a really unique art deco style.”
“When I asked Toby (Patricia’s father) for his permission, Nancy, Patricia’s mum, very generously offered me the ring,” said Tom.
“She explained the history and how much Patricia loved it, so it seemed like the perfect choice. The only slight problem with this was that the ring was in Bermuda and I planned to propose to Patricia the following weekend in Paris.
“Nancy and Toby weren’t going to let a small obstacle like this get in the way though, so they decided that they would go to the airport and hope that they ran into someone they knew who was going to London and might be able to give me the ring. Fortunately the plan worked and they bumped into Wendy Davis Johnson who very kindly agreed to bring the ring over. I then arranged to meet up with her to collect it in what would have appeared like a rather covert exchange! It was amazing that it worked out so well.”
With ring in hand, the groom-to-be set about creating the perfect surprise romantic proposal at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris as part of a surprise birthday trip for Patricia in December of 2015, but sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry. “I had it in my head that it would be really romantic to propose at the top of the Eiffel tower; however, the reality was somewhat different,” said Tom. “So instead of proposing at the top of the Eiffel Tower, we found a bench in a quiet park next to the tower where I then got down on one knee.”
After just over a year of planning, the couple chose to wed at Christ Church in Warwick with 140 friends and family from both sides of the pond in attendance. Patricia with her maids of honour, Kate Eastham and Anna Mackenzie, and bridesmaids, Alli Conyers, TT Pasanen, Abigail Kempe, Rachel Anderson and Chelsea Mouta, got ready at the bride’s granny’s house overlooking Hamilton Harbour. The groom, regretting indulging in one too many Dark ‘n Stormies the night before, spent the morning on his own before joining his ushers—including his brother and best man Joe Mills and groomsmen Harry Syms, Mikey Smyth, Nicholas Kempe, Russell Cooper and Tom Goodey—at the Hamilton Princess for lunch before heading to the church.
The bride wore an A-line rebrodé lace dress by Jesús Peiró with gold J. Crew sandals, and her bridesmaids each chose a unique floor length, pale pink dress. The groom was attired in traditional pink Bermuda shorts and a navy blazer while his groomsmen wore lime green shorts. Patricia’s bouquet was created by floral designer Suzan Sickling and was designed to incorporate the couple’s wedding colours. “I’ve been to quite a few weddings where [Suzan] has done the flowers and they always look so natural and use the best of Bermuda,” said Patricia.
Patricia and her father, Toby Kempe, rode in a horse and carriage supplied by Terceira’s stables to Christ Church where a traditional ceremony, full of special meaning for the couple, was held. “Christ Church holds a lot of meaning for my family (the Kempes) and the church exterior had recently been restored with the help of a lot of friends and family,” said Patricia. “Hymns are a big part of the English tradition and we wanted to choose hymns that were known to both the local and overseas guests.”
The best part of the ceremony was the moment the couple saw each other as the bride walked down the aisle. “Seeing Tom when I first walked down the aisle is a moment I so wish I could return to,” said the bride, while Tom added, “Seeing Patricia come down the aisle looking so beautiful in her dress was obviously something I’ll never forget but it was even better leaving the church with her as my wife!”
The newlyweds set off from the church in the horse and carriage to take their formal photos before being picked up by family friend Barry Brewer in his restored Bermuda dingy and transported across the harbour to their reception at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club—a highlight of the day. “It was the perfect time for us to have a moment to ourselves, and the weather could not have been better,” said the couple.
“We felt like royalty arriving at the venue!”
Held right on the dock under two marquis tents swathed in fairy lights with tables adorned with rose-filled centrepieces by Sickling, the RBYC was a perfect venue for the couple. “What we loved was the setting right on the water and the Bermuda sunset was picturesque. My family also has close ties with the yacht club and neither of us had previously been to a wedding there so we felt it was unique,” said Patricia.
“I had no idea what to expect when I got to the yacht club but I couldn’t have pictured a better setting or venue for the reception,” added Tom. “The whole place looked incredible.”
Described by the groom as “lots of Bermudian traditions with a hint of British thrown in,” the reception featured a Gombey performance (“The look on our guests’ faces when the Gombeys came out, and when two of the Brits got up and danced with them!”), traditional gold and silver wedding cakes by Juliette Jackson and some hilarious speeches. “I always love the speeches at a wedding and even though I’m biased I don’t think ours disappointed,” said Tom, who had an extra surprise up his sleeve for his new wife.
“Just when Tom stood up to make his speech, he suddenly ran away,” said Patricia. “I thought he had done a runner but he came back and had changed into his morning suit jacket adding a touch of England with his Bermuda shorts. It was such a surprise and he really pulled it off !” After the meal and speeches were finished, the party began with band Working Title keeping everyone on the dance floor well into the night. “Working Title were absolutely awesome,” said Tom. “I loved the way they got everyone involved with the various songs and dances such as the Dollar Wine.”
Aside from a few snags along the way—one of Tom’s best men couldn’t make it to Bermuda because his wife was about to give birth—and regretting not hiring a videographer to capture every moment, the couple say the day was pretty much perfect.
“It was an amazing day and the perfect way to celebrate our marriage with all our friends and family,” concluded Tom.
- Maids of Honour: Kate Eastham and Anna Mackenzie
- Bridesmaids: Alli Conyers, TT Pasanen, Abigail Kempe, Rachel Anderson, Chelsea Mouta
- Flower girl: Bella Watson
- Best Man: Joe Mills
- Groomsmen: Harry Syms, Mikey Smyth, Nicholas Kempe, Russell Cooper, Tom Goodey
- Officiant: Rev. Alistair Bennett
- Wedding Planner: Emily Boden
- Ceremony Location: Christ Church in Warwick
- Reception Location: Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
- Rentals: Donna Lindo
- Flowers: Suzan Sickling
- Cakes: Juliette Jackson
- Caterer: RBYC
- Invitations: Papier in UK
- Band: Working Title
- Gombey troupe: Places New Generation Gombeys
- Other entertainment: Steel drummer James Martinez
- Bridal Hair: Jennifer Doe
- Bridal Makeup: Janae Foley
- Transportation: Karl Terceira