When you’re looking for the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, a shared sense of humor is so important. This was very true for Claire White and James Larner, who came together thanks to a joke.
“A mutual friend introduced us,” recalls Claire. “Knowing that I would be opposed to going on a blind date, our friend set up some group drinks. On one outing, James caught my attention by telling one of my favorite jokes about a turtle. It made me laugh enough to agree to a first date, and we realized that we both have a penchant for terrible jokes.”
Laughter continued for Claire and James through their relationship, even in the telling of their proposal story.
“James took me to the Champagne region in France for my 30th birthday,” Claire says. “After behaving very strangely all day and not getting up enough courage to pop the question, he finally proposed in the bath. Due to the proposal location, I had to tell my mother we were wearing wetsuits in the bath tub. That’s created more than a few laughs. As a result, we had a champagne theme to the wedding in tribute to where James proposed by naming each table after a different champagne.”
The decision on where to have the wedding was an easy one; Claire, a Bermudian, and James, who is Welsh, agreed to get married at Claire’s family home.
“We got married at our family house ‘Take it Easy’ in Tucker’s Town before the reception at Coral Beach & Tennis Club,” Claire says. “Having our wedding at ‘Take it Easy’ meant a lot to me as my great-grandfather—former mayor of Hamilton—purchased the house more than 65 years ago. It was the most stunning setting on the water, which allowed us to leave after our ceremony by boat.”
“Nikki Begg of Bermuda Bride did a great job for us,” Claire says. “We must have changed the plan several hundred times and she was patient throughout all of the family deliberations, which I’m sure took a great deal of patience as we are a strongly opinionated family.”
Once the wedding location was set, the reception site came next in Claire and James’ planning.
“Coral Beach & Tennis Club is one of the most stunning locations on the island,” Claire says. “I have spent many happy summers there and it was perfect for what we wanted for our reception of drinks on the beach, a sit-down dinner, and then dancing under the stars.”
“James wanted to embrace the Bermudian way of doing things and was also keen for his ushers to wear traditional Bermudian attire,” Claire says. “We did not have the shorts with us when we chose the bridesmaids dresses, but by complete accident, the coral color of the shorts and the dresses matched perfectly. Our guests also fully embraced our Bermuda shorts theme and almost all of the men wore them.”
The coral theme carried over to the flowers and the couple’s gorgeous wedding cake, which was created by Coral Beach & Tennis Club, and the hue was also featured in the bridesmaids’ bouquets and floral decorations on the tables.
“Suzan Sickling did an amazing job with our flowers,” Claire says. “They were all set on an old cedar tree that we had sliced into circular platforms. For further decor, I made miniature chairs out of old champagne wire cork tops to continue our champagne theme. We also used corks as name holders, although I am not sure how many of them stayed up in the wind.”
Claire and James will be able to remember every moment of their wedding thanks to their photographer.
“Gavin of Gavin Howarth Photography was amazing to work with,” Claire says. “He was very laid back and flexible, especially since he came to three different venues. There were some quite undignified shots of me getting out of the boat as it was crashing against the dock—it was a pretty rough day—but luckily these didn’t make it to his website. Several tourists at Tucker’s Point, however, also documented this, so hopefully I enhanced their holiday albums.”
“I loved almost every moment of our wedding, minus getting out of that boat,” Claire continues. “But the one moment that stands out to me the most was leaving our reception by boat and seeing all of our friends and family waving to us from ‘Take it Easy’.”
For brides planning their own destination weddings, Claire offers some advice.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” she says. “It’s so very easy to get caught up in all of the small details that make up a wedding. Ultimately, having our best friends travel all the way to Bermuda from as far as Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, and New Zealand to celebrate with us was what made our day. That’s what is most important.”