Barefoot on the Beach
In 2011 they fell in love over Skype, Vidya from sunny Trinidad and Ralph from snowy Toronto! After meeting online, the couple got to know each other for three months, and when they finally met in real life on the tropical island of Tobago, it was sheer magic.
Fast forward two years, and on September 29, 2013, Vidya and Ralph celebrated their love in a barefoot beach wedding in Saint Lucia, surrounded by their friends at a ceremony which reflected the couple's very unique take on life. The date was set by Vidya, an expert in Feng Shui and Reiki, who studied their birth charts and found that particular Sunday to be an auspicious one for both of them, although it wouldn't be easy for all the guests to make it to the wedding. Vidya's sister and her family initially had to decline because of school, but in a sign from the universe involving expired passports, they had to reschedule their vacation to - you guessed it - the end of September.
Although the planning time was short, the couple had a clear vision for the wedding of their dreams. "We live close to the beach, so we knew we wanted to have the ceremony on the sand, and Sunday afternoon is a busy time on our favourite stretch," says Vidya. "But I just felt that folks would see the wedding taking place and be respectful, which is exactly what happened."
By 4.30pm the beach was set with white chairs, a bamboo arch was constructed by the couple's friends, decorated with flowers by the ladies of the wedding party - the dress code for which was white – and it was time to get married. Vidya the artist created her simple gown from a traditional Indian sari, adding sparkling blue crystals in her hair and on her forehead. With an unfussed approach but infinite eye for detail, flowers were gathered from the garden, a simple menu included Caribbean-inspired canapes and Trinidadian pepperpot and a celebratory daiquiri requiring the collection of very special mango 'pol' pulp was served to guests on arrival at the reception by a bartender friend who offered his services for the party.
Ralph is an avid sailor, and his big wish was to arrive at the ceremony by boat. Friends and Carriacou sloop owners James and Pepsi from Jus' Sail provided the 'Good Expectation', and the groom and his party set sail from Rodney Bay Marina, arriving at the southern end of Reduit Beach in true nautical style.
With Ralph waiting nervously for his bride, the sounds of Rob Zi Taylor's saxophone rang through the trees as he serenaded Vidya's entrance on the arm of her brother-in-law with 'Unforgettable', and the ceremony was underway, conducted by one of the island's newest JPs and another friend to the happy couple, Danielle Bergasse. Every joyful moment was photographed by Dani Devaux, who even dinghied the extra mile out to sea in order to capture memorable close-ups of the groom's party on its nuptial voyage.
As the photos reveal and they themselves rhapsodise, Vidya and Ralph's barefoot beach wedding was perfect in every way, from the clear blue weather down to the beer coozies reading "To Have, To Hold, To Keep The Beer Cold" gifted by a girlfriend with a nautical sense of fun.
On the last Sunday in September, a day charted out by their own birth dates and times, forty three friends and family celebrated with the brand new Birkhoffs, forging new friendships and making lifetime memories. And as Ralph rather proudly points out, the reception at their Reduit villa rocked until 4am the next morning!
Vidya & Ralph