Bound to Paradise: Ale & Clay's Bahamas Wedding

Ale and Clay initially met at the start of pandemic the way most modern couples do: on a dating app. The two hit it off marvelously from the start. “Everything was easy with him,” said Ale. “We always balance each other out.”

Ale and Clay’s love grew despite the long distance. “We say if it wasn't for the fact that it was COVID, we probably wouldn’t have dated,” she shared. She felt the pandemic made the distance a tad more bearable since they lived so far from each other. In 2021, just a year later, the couple was engaged. In the summer of 2021, Ale and Clay visited Sandals Royal Bahamian for a romantic getaway. During their stay, they arranged a beautiful beach picnic with the ocean just a few paces away and chose to explore Nassau’s downtown area afterwards. Eventually, they ended up at the Queen’s Staircase, and when they reached the bottom, Clay got down on one knee.

wedding proposal at the queens staircase in the bahamas

The arrival

One year after Clay proposed in The Bahamas, the couple and their family arrived to the calm, Bahamian archipelago greeted by the Sandals wedding team. After an effervescent welcome, guests were presented with gifts from the bride and groom. The welcome bags were filled with goodies like Bahamian spices, a jam sampler, and a flamingo-shaped lollipop.

Ale and Clay also equipped their guests with a destination wedding toolkit that included the event itinerary, a handheld rechargeable fan and a hangover kit. In their free time, guests were able to explore the resort where it all happened for Ale and Clay. Family members wandered the Coconut Grove, sampled delicious plates from the new food trucks and enjoyed high-tempo music.

The following day was planned for relaxing family time. The party of seven sat down at the elegant French restaurant, La Plume. There was an exchange of airy conversations and delicious French fare in the restaurant’s private room – a sophisticated primer to begin a weekend of nuptial festivities.

couple photo near the national public library in nassau bahamas

Bahamian welcome party

The welcome party was held in the resort’s Royal Wedding Garden. Palm trees offered generous shade and the hedges fenced the secluded garden beautifully for an intimate family gathering. Birds of paradise, mokara orchids, bougainvillea and dried pampas grass emerged from the greenery and decorative vases. The flowers surrounded the bar and featured a decorative flamingo, a nod to the island’s national bird. “With the décor, we wanted to embrace the island and the tropical essence,” said Ale. Ale and Clay greeted their guests with a Junkanoo rush. The brass horns blared and the drums were booming while the band, decked in Bahamian Junkanoo garb, brought energy and color to the welcome reception.

Hors d’oeuvres and meals were made with a modern Bahamian twist as scrumptious conch fritters, coconut shrimp and conch salad made their way around the party. Drinks were served at a charming Bahamian coconut hut and the bartender passed around coconuts brimming with water and accented by pink and white swirl straws with sticker tags.

conch salad station at sandals royal bahamian

junkanoo group members at sandals royal bahamian

The before…

All the girls gathered in Ale’s Swim-Up Butler Suite to prepare for the main event. The women were dressed in silk pink robes while Ale wore a robe in bridal white. Champagne bottles were uncorked, and confetti was thrown in celebration at this girls’ get-together. Ale’s beauty team arrived at her suite to help her and her family get ready for her big day.

As for the men, the groom and his family got ready in his younger brother’s room. Clay wore a dapper gray suit and black marble-patterned bowtie. Meanwhile, the rest of his family members wore suits in dark shades of blue.

Once the family was ready, they waited for the couple to sail to the private offshore island, where the ceremony was taking place. Before the couple boarded the sailboat, they stole a bit of time together. In a garden pathway, Clay eagerly awaited his bride’s arrival for a first look. Dressed in white, Ale walked along the path and tapped him on shoulder as Clay turned for the reveal.

“I was amazed. She was so beautiful,” Clay said warmly.

After the first look, Ale and Clay took advantage of the beautiful surroundings for a quick photoshoot. The tropical gardens and powdery sand beach were the perfect backdrop for some pre-wedding photos.

couple wearing wedding attire in a garden

Just a boat ride away to being bound forever…

The couple and their family boarded the vessel and sailed to the private offshore island known as Barefoot Cay to begin what would be forever after. Ale and Clay walked down the pier together before they separated to start the ceremony.

Guests were seated on white-cushioned benches right on the sand with a view of the ocean. White phalaenopsis orchids, blush pink ranunculus, budding snapdragons and white anthuriums filled Ale’s tropical-inspired bouquet. The aisle was lined with matching flowers, as well as the pillars, which were accented with cream-colored ribbons and green foliage. Ale walked down the winding garden path of the private island with her father. When she reached the aisle, an adagio of piano notes started from Ruelle’s “I Get To Love You” began to play in the background. Tears flowed, heartfelt vows and rings were exchanged, and the couple became one. A more upbeat, classic piano tune of “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole played, while Ale and Clay made their grand exit as husband and wife.

beach wedding in the bahamas

Reception dinner

The couple and their guests went to the Zen Garden pathway on the private island with a full bar and live steel drum band awaiting their arrival. Guests first stopped at the bar for a refreshing cocktail hour before the evening dinner. Tasty hors d’oeuvres made their way around including grilled bruschetta and veggies, delectable mini crab cakes and Moroccan-spiced lamb lollipops.

Once everyone enjoyed their drinks, guests gathered around the table for dinner. The dinner table was set to perfection with an ivory linen tablecloth and a sheer runner, complete with floral centerpieces in blush glass stemmed bowls and candles at each end. Each rattan placemat had the menu, which was as decadent as the table setting.

Nothing tops off a wonderful dinner like dessert. The three-tiered cake was all white and decorated with blooms of white orchids cascading along the side. Despite the all-white look, each tier had a distinct flavor of cake and icing. The bottom was a rich red velvet with vanilla icing, the middle had vanilla cake with coconut icing and the very top was carrot cake with Irish cream icing. Ale and Clay shared sips of champagne and slices of cake.

“It was exactly what I was looking for – elegant, simple, and tropical,” said Ale.

wedding reception on the beach

After party

With full bellies and happy hearts, it was time to move to the dancefloor. The after party started with the parents’ dances as Ale and her father swayed to Frank Sinatra’s classic song “The Way You Look Tonight.” Clay and his mother shared their special moment to the country song “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. Afterwards, it was the newlyweds’ turn for a first dance. Ale and Clay held each other close as they slow danced to “You” by Dan + Shay.

With the slow dances out of the way, the whole wedding became electric with the DJ playing everyone’s favorite songs. Things got a bit hotter with fire breathers coming in to offer an elaborate performance.

Celebrating their love story with family on a private island was more than the couple could have asked for. Ale shared one of her favorite moments with her family.

The moment was magical – my husband, the intimacy of just our immediate family, the laughter, the setting, the florals, the lighting, the steel pan band – it was everything I dreamt of, and the food and drinks were simply spectacular.”

fire dancer in the bahamas

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Gianna Nolte

About Gianna Nolte

Gianna is a University of Miami alumna and professional copywriter with a passion for words, photography, travel and the ocean, all of which shape her as an individual, storyteller and creative.