I’ve had the privilege to be a part of two very special people’s “Big Ole’ Day-O-Love”…. Island style.
My friend Betsy did the Photos, damn her watermarks. 😉
It started with this gal named Nancy, a fellow Group 23 volunteer who extended her service like me. Unlike me, she has lived and worked in Port Vila the past two years, and through her hobby of swimming, met this handsome Aussie fellow named Ivan.
Ivan and Nancy fell in love. Nancy adopted Ivan’s adorable pooch Buda (pretty sure it’s spelled Buddha, but I always get it wrong) as her own, and before I could say “Banana LapLap” there were plans in the works for the two lover’s marriage. They have a fantastically romantic engagement story that I can only hope to have some semblance of when I grow up and find Mr. Right (to be continued..).
After these two got engaged, they asked me to help design a crafty pop-up style wedding invitation. After a few trials, I got one they both liked. The bridesmaids gathered for assembly line creation of 200ish invites, and then I helped design the Save the Dates, Info page, and RSVP card. Later I assisted in the wedding website….with the cutest registry idear I ever did lay eyes on.
The wedding has been the last big “event” on my Vanuatu calendar and I was eagerly awaiting their big weekend for the past couple of months. Not only would my best pal Melissa be in town, but it was held at the end of a two week school break, and there would be lots of folks in town- Peace Corps as well as wedding guests.
The first week I spent getting Open Water SCUBA dive certified… Yee-haw!
Then there was this “Hen’s Day” thing, an Australian version of a Bachelorette party which was loads of fun, and might have included the first Skype stripper a Hen’s night has ever seen. ;)Unlike what they would have had me believe, participants in Hen’s Night do NOT dress up as chickens. But there is lots of drinking and general silliness involved.
Nancy completing some challenges
The last week of August the wedding preps really began. Or at least, that’s when I started helping out a lot on the wedding preps.
In case you didn’t know, weddings are a LOT of work. I can’t imagine the stress involved in putting on and International wedding, but Nancy and Ivan pulled it off with flying colors.
**Note to self: get eloped and then have a ginormous wedding reception for family and friends. Food, cake, photo booth, and open bar are essential**
Nancy is a creative, crafty lady and her wedding definitely reflected that in the end. It was quirky, elegant, and fun all wrapped in to one. The ceremony was short and sweet and included things such as the couple drinking from a coconut shell and bridesmaids/grooms men sharing well-wishes for the couple’s future. Yes, tears were shed, Yes, I was the one who wished them loads of future pikinini to increase their ‘tribe.’
balls in progress
One of the big DIY tasks was assembling over 100 paper-Mache style string balls. They look amazing once complete, and require only a few messy steps.
1. lube ball or balloon with Vaseline 2.create glue/starch/water mixture 3. dip string in glue mixture and “squeegee” excess glue off with fingers 4. Wrap ball up with string leaving spaces and a largish space near the top to pull the balloon out of 5. let dry 6. remove balloon
A friend of Nancys, named “Pin” was the master creative director/decorator/day of wedding lady. She created a beautiful wedding space with minimal decorations. Balls, jars filled with sand and LED candles, chinese hanging lanterns, and fairy lights. It also didn’t hurt that the setting was a beautiful tropical paradise with gorgeous blue-green ocean and a coconut plantation surrounding the venue.
And the party begins
Of course there were some quirky areas of the wedding, such as the photo booth area, Dr. Seuss-like “hammock garden”, a kids zone, and an area to write on a map where you would like the couple to go for their round-the-world honeymoon, and a jar where guests could write their well wishes and leave them for the couple.
I got to help with some fun chalkboard wedding signs that directed guests to important areas, such as the men’s bush toilet (pretty sure me and some fellow peace corps gals used this more than most of the more ‘civilized’ male guests at the wedding).
Nancy Fire Dancing
After the wedding, food and drinks were a plenty and two of Nancy and Ivan’s talented friends were the DJs. Dancing, and late night fire-dancing commenced followed by on site camping for the young and rambunctious friends. We awoke and groggily dissembled the decorations, ate wedding leftovers, and lounged around for the day in the beautiful Vanuatu sun. A perfect end to a perfect wedding.
Beer and Curry
One of the highlights for me was, as can be expected, the food. Nancy has a good pal named Dan from the States who attended the CIA (the food one, in which I toured in hopes of attending so many years ago), and now works for Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen (Yep, pretty much my former dream job). She flew him in early to help with local food sourcing and menu development, and along with some of Port Vila’s culinary students and Ivan’s Cafe staff, they put together a pretty damn tasty meal for the wedding. We guests were basically bombarding the poor servers as they came out of the temporary kitchen shed with their trays- hoping to get a taste (or 3) of every small bite. Beef skewers with satay dipping sauce, PawPaw salad lettuce wraps, grilled prawns, coconut shells with beef curry, and a fried taro chip with tuna ceviche (I think?) on top were some of the treats. I couldn’t help but gaze over as the kitchen line worked, busily and seriously plating tasty morsels on to banana leaves as the crowd of guests chatted and drank and munched on the passing foods. I thought to myself briefly, “hmmmm, I think I’d still like to do that.” I’ve got time, maybe I will.
Happiness in a Basket!
A couple days before the wedding, Nancy gave me a wonderful green picnic basket full of art and kitchen goodies. My favorite item was a Cook’s Illustrated “The Science of Good Cooking” cookbook, in which Dan had a hand or two in making. I thank you both whole-heartedly, from my growling belly to my toes! I’ve already begun reading this and intend to read it cover to cover in my last months in Vanuatu- however hungry (and hungry for cooking) it makes me!
I also have to give a big thanks to Mr. Martin. He is a friend of Nancy and Ivan who allowed them to use his beautiful North Efate house as a venue. The area was perfectly suited for the event, and the two trees framing the picturesque view of the ocean and nearby islands served as a central point for not only the wedding invitations, but the ceremony itself and the decorations.
I made this small watercolor/ink series as a wedding gift for Nancy and Ivan, and have now been asked to make a bit of art to give to Martin and hang in his house. I must say I am super flattered to do this, but after experiencing first hand his amazing hospitality and true island sense of character (ie, laid back, go-with-the-flow persona), I can only hope to make something worthy enough to express thanks on behalf of all of us guests and wedding party for all that he did for us. Thank ya sir, if you ever happen to lay yer eyes on this here blog.
Nancy’s Pal Erika 🙂
It was so wonderful meeting Nancy’s father and sister, her best friend and chef friend, and celebrant friend, and so many others! Beautiful people in a beautiful place sharing an important part of Nancy and Ivan’s life- I feel incredibly glad to have been there! More importantly, I felt that these two are super fortunate to have such a talented group of friends. Designers, musicians, chefs, fire-dancing artists, DJ’s….. these two surround themselves with amazing people- and after meeting so many of them I can certainly see why that is- from both sides. Nancy is one beautiful lady with a selfless heart and go-getter attitude. She and Ivan will be very happy together….I’m pretty darn sure of it.
Here’s wishing Nancy and Ivan many more years of happy, love, and sun-filled days!
Lots of Love and hugs to you two. I already feel disheartened when thinking of leaving you behind, but I know our paths will cross again- be it Stateside or some other land.