Written by Gabrielle Boyer
Photos by Gavin Howarth
Northeastern natives Dana Behlke and Rob Johnson met in New York City in 2010. Neither lived in Manhattan at the time, but fate brought them together in the same small bar in the Big Apple. After several weeks of dating, Dana made the move to the big city from neighbouring Connecticut, bringing her closer to Long Island-based Rob, and opening the doors to the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
The couple, who got engaged on a private yacht on the Hudson River, knew that a destination wedding was the perfect compromise for family spread throughout the US. “We wanted a vacation getaway on a beach where our guests could relax, explore and get to know each other over several days,” says Dana. Bermuda offered the ideal location for the couple. “Knowing that Bermuda is a popular wedding destination, we booked our Bermuda wedding sight unseen! Rob has fond memories of visiting the island as a child so we knew it would be beautiful.”
The couple travelled to Bermuda for the first time together in November 2013 and quickly realised that they made the right decision. “We fell in love with the island culture,” they reveal. “Bermudians are so friendly and they were all so excited to hear that we had chosen to get married in Bermuda.”
To help with the planning process, Dana and Rob hired wedding planner Kathleen Dodwell of Bermuda Event Solutions who introduced them to their vendors and orchestrated a tasting menu for them at The Reefs, the location of their soon-to-be nuptials.
The planning process was smooth sailing for the couple who corresponded via email weekly with planner Dodwell, who in turn coordinated the vendors accordingly. Unfortunately for Dana and Rob, the problems they experienced in the days before the wedding were out of anyone’s control. “Hurricane Gonzalo was building in the Atlantic Ocean and had escalated into a significant storm shortly after we arrived on the island,” Dana recalls.
“We were planning for 50 people from across the US to join us for the big day, but when we checked in at the Fairmont Southampton we were told that Hurricane Gonzalo was scheduled to hit the island as a category four system the day before our wedding. We were advised to consider rescheduling, but we both agreed that we came to Bermuda to get married and we weren’t going to leave until we were husband and wife.”
As for the couple’s vendors, “they supported us and planned to be at The Reefs, weather permitting.”
“The day before our wedding, Hurricane Gonzalo hit. We spent 15 hours in the hotel conference centre along with our guests, other hotel guests and hotel staff, waiting out the storm. The Fairmont Southampton threw an amazing hurricane party, providing entertainment and delicious food, all the while keeping us informed and safe.”
The next morning, after the storm’s departure, Dana and Rob awoke to find that all of their vendors were okay and the wedding was still on. “Due to damage at The Reefs we weren’t able to have the ceremony at Caso’s Point, but it was sunny and 80 degrees so we had the most beautiful ceremony at Ocean Echo terrace, located elsewhere on the hotel property.”
Despite Mother Nature, Dana and Rob were wed on October 18, 2014, surrounded by family, friends and, by then, the calm Atlantic Ocean. The couple enjoyed a cocktail hour at sunset on the Ocean Echo terrace before celebrating with a waterside reception.
“Each vendor executed our vision flawlessly,” the couple recalls. “Every detail exceeded our expectations. We are so grateful to the Fairmont Southampton, The Reefs, Bermuda Event Solutions, Gavin Howarth and Flowers by GiMi, who made our day possible. We recommend them without hesitation.”
Asked if they would get married in Bermuda again, the couple says, “Absolutely!”
“Not only is the island of Bermuda beautiful, but so are the people. We were impressed that all of our vendors were so committed to us when they had so much to worry about with the storm. We connected with so many people throughout the whole process, including the remarkable staff at the Fairmont Southampton who had spent 30 hours tirelessly ensuring everyone’s wellbeing during the storm and greeted us in the lobby bar with a standing ovation when we returned from the wedding.”
“We had to rework many aspects of our wedding last minute, but in the end a wedding is about two people making a promise to one another. Not even a hurricane can mess with true love.”
Getting Married in Bermuda
Plan the Bermuda wedding of your dreams with help from:
Bermuda Tourism Authority: 22 Church Street, Hamilton HM11, 441-296-9200, http://www.gotobermuda.com
United Kingdom: Global Travel Marketing Ltd., Link House, 140 The Broadway, Tolworth, Surrey KT6 7HJ, +44 (0) 208 339 6150
North America: 675 Third Avenue, 20th Floor, New York, New York 10017, 212-818-9800, firstname.lastname@example.org