Buddhist beach wedding
Tracey and Jason’s traditional Sri Lankan ceremony
When Tracey Bresgall, from Essex, made a last miute decition to go clubbing with the girls, little did she know it would be her first encounter with ‘the one’ – a cute smile from Jason Ackland that night was the start of a beautiful romance, followed by a gorgeous ceremony on a Sri Lankan beach, surrounded by friends and family
Finding ‘the one’
We met at a local nightclub, I wasn’t going to go out that night, it was the day before pay day. I was visiting my dad who could hear my phone calls from my friends asking me out, so he gave me £20 to get me started. I sometimes refer to Jason as my £20 man! It was definitely love at first sight! It was his cheeky smile that did it! He later told me that he had spent all night keeping me on his left hand side so that I couldn’t see a big chunck of hair he had shaved out of the right side by accident swapping over the clipper settings – he was successul, I didn’t notice!
He proposed at home after a family dinner. He really wanted to take me out to dinner and ask me, but I was planning my son’s 21st birthday party, so kept saying no. He had been carrying my engagement ring around in his bag for over month, hidding it from me. I like koala bears, so he proposed using a lovely hugging koala teddy bear. After dinner I popped into the kitchen and when I came back he said: “What’s up there?” He had placed the koala on the bookshelf. I reached up for it and when I turned around Jason had got down on one knee to propose and the koala was holding the ring. It was totally unexpected as we had talked about it, but he had said that there was too much going on, and we couldn’t afford it yet, but we would one day!
I’ve always wanted to get married abroad on the beach and Jason was happy to do that too. I liked the idea of an informal, relaxed ceremony with close family and friends, and a wonderful location for the photos – with a high chance of sun and hot weather! Our families have children and we hoped that they would want to come, so we had to chose a destination where the weather would be good during the school summer holidays, as this was the time of year we were looking at. Most places I wanted would have their rainy season around that time, as I was looking at further a field. It also had to be good value for money so that everyone could afford it. After some research Sri Lanka looked like the perfect place. Culturally it would be an experience and there were trips and excursions for our guests to go on if they wanted to, so plenty for everyone!\
We had the services of Fred Harrison from Tropical Sky as our personnel wedding planner in the UK. He answered all our questions and helped pre-arrange everything for our wedding, including all the paperwork. We also had Rishinin as our wedding planner at our hotel, the Club Hotel Dolphin, Negombo in Sri Lanka. Tropical Sky did all the travel arrangements for the wedding party and Lynn Delgao was our contact for the group – she did a very good job juggling the requests of the party! Rishini then took over when we arrived in Sri Lanka to confirm our arrangements and show us the options for our ceremony. There were a number of locations to choose from but we wanted the beach! We also met the chef to select our menu and the photographer who discussed the types of photos we wanted. Then for the actual ceremony, we had to choose what we wanted to be included, i.e. elephant rides, dancers etc.
We had 43 family and friends celebrate our wedding with us. Everyone stayed in the same hotel, the Club Hotel Dolphin, Negombo. Most people accepted our invitation, although there were some friends who could not make it.
Getting the look
The wedding dress – my perfect dress – was from the Justin Alexander Sincerity range, style 3791 and was totally stunning. It had beautiful detail on it and fitted me perfectly. It had to be light weight to travel on the airplane. The colour theme of the wedding was red and cream, because when I thought of Sri Lanka, my image was of sunset colours, burnt oranges, yellows and reds. My assessories where from Blossom and included a beautiful matching ivory pearl and crystal side tiara, necklace, bracklet and earings. Our wedding rings matched – we had them both made from the same mixed metals. The beautician at the resort did my hair and make-up, she did a really good job, which was a relief as there was no test run!
Something old, something new?
My Something Old, Borrowed and Blue was a blue garter which a good friend and my sister had both worn and passed along. My Something New was my dress and jewellery.
Groom & bridesmaids
Jason wore a lovely smart taupe coloured Ted Baker suit. The three bridesmaids outfits where bought from Coast, they were long, strapless and fitted in a bold red colour, which looked amazing on the girls and was great in the photos and it was perfect for Sri Lanka. For the two younger bridesmaids, I choose beautiful glittery ivory dress from Monsoon, these also looked stunning on both the girls.
We chose vibrant colours as our theme and also also butterfies that were included in the name places and children’s favours. I chose white frangipani bouquets once we arrived at the resort, which were beautiful and had a wonerful scent. The bridesmaids had red mixed in with theirs and the groom and groomsmen had frangipani for their buttonholes. The cake was also provided by the resort on the day. I also had a lovely cake for our wedding party back home, which was made for me by my cousin in the shape of an elephant – and the colours matched the elephant I rode on my wedding day!
Our wedding took place on the beach front at the hotel resort. We chose a Buddihust Poruwa ceremony that lasted around 30 minutes. We were married by a priest and my dad and my son gave me away. I know I keep saying perfect, but my wedding really was perfect!
Local customs and rituals
There were lots rituals included in our wedding, which really made the ceremony special. We opted to experience them all. We were lead out separately by Kandyan dancers to the Poruwa, which is a traditionally decorated platform. Jason was lead out first, and once he arrived there, the dances came back for me and it was my turn. We stepped onto the stand and were given betel leaf bundles, which we offered to the gods for protection for the lives of seven generations that come from the marriage. Our little fingers were then tied together to symbolize bond and unity and holy water was poured over them. The priest then performed the blessing ceremony as two girls sung and blessed the marriage with ‘Jayamangala Gatha’ chant. A coconut was then broken in front of us to drive away evil spirits. After that we were lead to the registrar for the legal formalities. We were now married and had big smiles on our faces! The priest lead us to another area where we lit a traditional oil lamp which was decorated with flowers, this is to signify our resolve to keep the home fires burning and a bright future. We cut our cake, and then had a toast with Champagne, sitting on a beautifully decorated couch to watch Kandyan dancers perform. Our guests where seated on chairs either side of us. Then we had fun riding an elephant along the beach! It was an amazing ceremony, vibrant and lots of fun.
The reception was held on the beach, just a little way from the hotel bar and restaurant. The food was lovely, we opted for a seafood gala meal – smoked salmon starter, main meal was spicy prawns and lobster or steak, with sobets for dessert. Everyone was impressed with the wedding food, including myself! The area was decorated prettily with fairy lights around the palm trees. I had bought clear and red crystals, which we sprinkled on the tables. We also had red butterfly table places, which my bridesmaids helped to put in the right seating positions. Not forgetting the favours for everyone – silver almonds for the adults and jelly beans for the children. Our First Dance was to Ellie Goulding: ‘How long will I love you?’ The meal and speeches took longer than expected and we got to the hotel nightclub quite late and had a wonderful time dancing until it closed at 2am!
We hired the hotel photographer and videographer. I have to say I was not expecting them to be very good and was totally surprised and impressed by the images and the quality of both. The photo album was brilliant – vibrant, printed full pages in a book, we was expecting to see an album with actual photographs in them! We were given a CD of all the photographs and a video of the whole ceremony, which had been very well edited with a personalised cover. My favourite wedding photo is one of my husband and myself walking across the beach, it looks really romantic and the colours of the sky look like a storm is coming, it’s very dramatic.
Our best memory was saying our vowels and becoming husband and wife! The funniest was sitting like Posh and Becks on a red couch with the lovely decorated flowers, watching the dancers. It was surreal. Also climbing on the elephant in my wedding dress and trying to make it look elegant, and then seeing the look on Jason’s face as he tried to hold on for dear life!
Almost, I miscalculated how many bridesmaids bouquets I needed and was one short. The hotel wedding planners helped to create a new one by taking a few flowers from each of the ones I already had, so we were saved!
That’s a hard one, at a guess, with all the dresses, suits, holiday, honeymoon, gifts etc, probably just a little bit over budget!
For our honeymoon we went on to the Maldives. Our friends and family shared some of the honeymoon, as we were in Sri Lanka for over a week after the wedding. Guests left at different times, but a majority went when we did. We were all on the same flight back which had a stop-over in the Maldives – we got off and said goodbye to our guests, which was really cool. They were all dressed to go home and we were dressed in our shorts and flip flops!
Wedding planner UK:
Lynn Delgado & Fred Harrison at Tropical Sky
Telephone : 0843 636 7539
Wedding planner in Sri Lanka:
Club Hotel Dolphin, Negombo in Sri Lanka.
Wedding Studio Sathya