History has a funny way of repeating itself. At least this is true of Gabriella Shorto and Robert Rees, who met at an end-of-year celebration party at the University of Nottingham on June 19, 2009, coincidentally the same date Gabriella’s parents met on a blind date at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in 1972. Being that it was the last day of the last term of the last year of university for both Gabriella and Robert, their meeting seemed to be the last chance for fate to weave its way into their lives.
“After talking to Robert for several hours I remember thinking, ‘I hope I see him again,’” recalls Gabriella, blissfully unaware at that moment that indeed she would.
The following days resulted in several dates for the pair. They relished getting to know one another before Robert packed up his belongings and moved home to Somerset, with Gabriella staying behind for several months to finish her master’s degree in political science, with honours.
When Gabriella finally moved home to Bermuda, the couple had little choice but to dedicate hours of their time on Skype, having virtual dates and sharing their post-university lives with one another via the Internet. “It was difficult being away from Robert,” says Gabriella. “For me, there wasn’t one big moment where I knew that he was the one, rather there were lots of little moments. He is so intelligent and has such a wonderful sense of humour. He makes me so happy.”
After nine months of separation, Gabriella received a job offer and moved back to the UK in 2010. Although she and Robert were living a few hours apart, they managed to see each other regularly and eventually moved to Dorset together in 2012.
In the summer of that year, Gabriella and Robert were in Bermuda to visit her family. One sunny afternoon at Coral Beach and Tennis Club, the couple was enjoying afternoon tea when Robert asked Gabriella to show him some of her favourite spots on the property, culminating in a journey to the cliff walk, the location of the memorial service for Gabriella’s late father several years previously. On a bench overlooking the beach, with the boiler reefs on the horizon, Robert asked Gabriella to be his wife. Upon Gabriella’s acceptance of his proposal, Robert produced an exquisite custom-made engagement ring he had designed using diamonds from Gabriella’s late grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s engagement rings. Two years and one day later, the couple married on the same property.
When the newly engaged couple started planning their Bermuda wedding, they wanted elegance, warmth and candlelight. Gabriella had always envisioned peach-coloured roses and two very significant locations. “Christ Church is the church I have attended since birth. It’s also where my father and grandparents were buried, so it holds a lot of meaning for us as a family,” explains Gabriella. “Keeping with that sentiment, Coral Beach and Tennis Club is not just the location of Robert’s proposal but where I spent a lot of time growing up. My father was a member since childhood and served as general manager for 25 years, with my mother doing the flowers for the club for decades.”
Luckily for the couple, planning their Bermuda wedding from abroad wasn’t a difficult endeavor. Gabriella’s mother, Vanessa, proved to be invaluable, making sure that the couple’s vision came to fruition. “We were so grateful to have her,” says Gabriella. “She made planning a wedding from far away manageable; she was a huge support.”
On July 26, 2014, Gabriella and Robert were married with 110 guests in attendance. Despite rainy conditions and harsh winds, the couple ceremoniously exchanged vows and enjoyed their first kiss as husband and wife.
Following the traditional ceremony, the couple travelled by horse and carriage to Coral Beach and Tennis Club where it was decided that their outdoor reception would have to be moved indoors. Despite the change, Gabriella and Robert, along with their family and friends, embraced the setting.
Maintaining the traditional theme of their wedding, Gabriella embraced the old adage: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”
“I was lucky enough to have been given two silver sixpences from family friends that I used as my ‘something old.’ My dress and earrings worked as my ‘something new.’ A family member lent me her beautiful hair slides to secure my veil, so those were my ‘something borrowed’ and for my ‘something blue,’ I had a small broach that was pinned to the inside of my dress. I left it at home for the ceremony but a friend brought it to the reception for me!”
Reflecting on their wedding day, Gabriella and Robert assure all soon-to-be-wedded couples that at least one thing will not go according to plan the day of the wedding but not to let that ruin the celebrations. “Those aren’t the moments you remember,” insists Gabriella. “The most important thing is marrying the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and enjoying the day with all the people you love around you.”
Written by Gabrielle Boyer
Photography by Gavin Howarth