My Big Fat Jamaican Wedding

Counting down to the big day

Why Jamaica?

on March 31, 2012

My fiancé and I knew very early on that we wanted to get married in Jamaica.  Why Jamaica you might be wondering?

Jamaica has always played  a big part in our courtship.

Here’s “Why Jamaica?” 

1. It’s Jamaica Ranked #3 in the world’s coolest nationalities according to CNN, Jamaica beats out wealthier countries like the United States and Japan.  Jamaica is not the cheapest tropical tourist destination (pricier than Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba) but it is often ranked as the “all time favourite”.  This island nation is a perfect combination of culture, nature, music, food, and social fun.  Jamaica is also a very spiritual place– it has both the most churches and bars per capita.  (Depends on your definition of “spirit”.)  Jamaica is also a Third World country yet it continues to have an immense influence on the world.  The music of Bob Marley, the Ambassador of the Third World, is known and celebrated throughout the world.  Here are musicians around the world performing War, a Bob Marley tune which I love to listen to and perform.

2. Music  Adam was turned on to reggae music in his teens by a Rastafarian friend.  I have been listening to reggae and other forms of Jamaican music since birth.  We both have such a strong love for this music and listen to it a lot.  When I go into my classroom to work most mornings, I often have my computer on with’s Roots Reggae station cued up.  Listen here.  The music is so relaxing and always puts me in a great mood.

Eight years ago, Adam and I met at a free outdoor Toots and the Maytals concert in Toronto after having not seen each other in almost two years.   I was there in the crowd with my niece and sister and recognized Adam who could not find his friends that day.  I am a fan of live music and concerts especially when it’s such a well-known group who has had success in Jamaican music for almost 50 years.  Did you know that Toots and the Maytals was one of several songs released in 1968 to first use the word ‘reggae‘ (spelled ‘reggay’) in a Jamaican recording these included “Do the Reggay“?

As is obvious in the previous reason, we love Jamaican music.  Love… love… LOVE.  From mento to ska to roots reggae to some dancehall tunes, we love Jamaica’s most unique export.

Adam is a musician and so am I.  He has played in reggae bands for years and so did I.  My first group was called Unique Vibes, a lover’s rock/roots reggae cover band.  It was a lot of fun and Adam would “sub in” and play in this group as well so we have performed together.  In fact, we performed a very impromptu version of “Strictly Roots” with the band at my sister’s wedding.

That’s me at the top of the stairs

That’s me singing and playing keys on what technically was my 30th birthday

Then I played for an all-girl roots reggae group called Natty Posse which was loads of fun.  There’s me on the keyboards performing at RastaFest a few years ago.

I am also now fulfilling a dream by singing Jamaican folk songs with a choir called The Heritage Singers.  My first show will be in just two months.  Click here to learn more.

Adam is a professional musician, studied jazz guitar and plays a million instruments.  Here he is performing with one of his Brazilian bands Mulambo Groove (now Ze Fua).  He also sings in Brazilian Portuguese.  Sigh!  I get to marry this guy.

Here he is performing at the Expressions of Brazil Festival 2010 in Toronto.

3.  Dunn’s River Falls (and other natural sites) Imagine yourself climbing up a beautiful waterfall awash in cascading sheets of clear water.  The trees are so lush at thisawonderful tourist spot.  Adam and I each have visited Jamaica three times, twice together, and one thing we loved  so much are the natural surroundings of this country.  From the rolling lush hills of St. Ann’s parish to the turquoise blue waters, sandy white beaches, and radiant sunshine of the North Coast, Jamaica is a feast for the eyes.  The word Jamaica derives from the indigenous Arawak word “Xaymaca” or “land of wood and water”.  These natural resources abound in the island.  We look forward to getting married on the beach.

4. It’s Homecoming Time Let’s face it.  Getting married in Jamaica is a bit like a homecoming.  My roots, my ancestors, my relatives came from Jamaica.  Growing up in Canada and not having visited Jamaica for the first time until I was 20 years old, as a child, I developed a deep affinity, longing, and interest in this nation.  This is a celebration of roots.

In 2008, the relatives on my mom’s side and I got together for our reunion in Jamaica.  There were over 120 of us and most of us coming from all parts of the Jamaican diaspora– the United States, Canada, and England.  Very few of my family members (extremely few) actually still live in Jamaica but the island is so small that I’m sure I have many a-distant cousin.  Although he is not Jamaican, Adam has always felt right “at home” with my relatives and Jamaica.

This house was built by my great great grandfather in 1903.

5. Jamaica’s 50th Independence Anniversary What a historic time to be in Jamaica!  We arrive on August 1 2012, the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from British colonial rule.  Jamaicans worldwide have been celebrating this year including the yahdees here in Canada.  Many expatriat Jamaicans are returning home a yard to participate in the festivities.

The soundtrack is a popular Toots and the Maytals song by the way.

6.  Bringing Loved Ones Together in One Place Adam is from Victoria, British Columbia and I am from Toronto, Ontario.  Although we were born and grew up in Canada, our childhoods and surroundings could not have been more different.  Victoria is an island in the Pacific Ocean and 3395 kilometres (2110 miles) away is Toronto.  For example, in the winter time Victoria is cool, rainy, overcast but all of the vegetation stays green.  In Toronto, winter is signified by frigid temperatures, snow, and bare trees with no leaves and discoloured grass.

We have family and friends in each of these places and scattered around the United States, Europe, and Jamaica.  Being at a resort means having a number of days to give more frequent opportunities for our families to get together and know each other.

My family and I posing at Discovery Bay where Christopher Columbus landed when he “discovered” Jamaica.

7. Destination wedding.  A destination wedding works best for us for several reasons.  For example, we are extremely busy as we commit ourselves to our day jobs, our arts (Adam’s music, my writing and music), course, and self-care (all of my medical appointments, our gym visits).  With our planner Jasprit at L’Escape, we are working toward planning a wedding that reflects our dreams.

Here we are standing with a spirit dancer at the Outamani living museum in Trelawny, Jamaica.  We are a little freaked out by this thing.

8. Food Jamaica is a delicious place to be.  The local cuisine is amazing and reflects the many ethnic groups who emigrated and settled on this island.  Jamaica’s motto is: Out of Many One People and you can taste it in the food.

Arawak, African, Chinese, Indian, Jewish, Lebanese, Syrian, Scottish, Irish, English, German… each group left their mark on this nation’s culinary palate.  Try some rice and peas– a Black man’s macaroni and cheese according to Tommy Europe or ackee and salt fish, Jamaica’s national dish.  Being a vegan, I have learned to make some plant-based versions of Jamaican dishes including these “beef” patties.

9.  Jamaica is very “us”.  Going to Jamaica for our wedding is very “us”.  Although this photograph was taken at a park in Toronto in the autumn month of October, it has a very Jamaican look with lush trees, dredlocks, and an easy vibe.

Adam is an island guy.  He was born and raised on Vancouver Island.  His mother and relatives are from Manitoulin Island.  He even felt like Jamaica is a tropical Vancouver island.

Only one of these photos was taken in Jamaica?  Can you guess which one?

The one on the left is of Adam in Trelawny, Jamaica.  The one with the flag is taken in our living room where you would see the Rasta colours– red, yellow, green– yellow walls, red window frames and borders, yellow walls.  These are also our wedding colours.  Then the guitar photo is at one of Toronto’s beaches where Adam gave me a guitar lesson.

We have been both asked if we were part of Bob Marley’s family.  When I visited his home in Nine Mile, St. Ann’s, Jamaica (not too far from where my parents are from), a man (a distant relative to Bob) who worked at the museum said I looked very familiar like some of his relatives.  Around Jamaica, locals even asked if Adam was one of Bob Marley’s sons.  Locals!  Not foreigners.  People who actually live in Jamaica and are Jamaican. You see if there is a resemblance.

Maybe it is that they both share Welsh ancestry.

10. A guaranteed great time Out of all the places in the Caribbean, Jamaica is most often voted as the favourite destination since it’s so gosh darned fun.  The tourist commercials don’t lie.  (Okay, maybe the announcer is stretching the truth a little bit but you get the idea.)

My mom and aunts having a great ol’ time.


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