A Swiss national, I arrived in Cayman almost 20 years ago. My first home was on Boggy Sand Road in West Bay, across from the Wedding Beach. Often I stood there watching the happy ceremonies, the pastor, the bride and groom surrounded by family and guests. The setting could not have been more romantic in the evening light of sunset. Today these ceremonies are taking place at our luxury hotels and restaurants, with pictures taken on the beaches, amidst palm trees and tropical flowers, creating memories for a lifetime.
Lately there were some issues in the Compass regarding Customs and wedding dresses and that couples coming to Cayman to get married must leave a deposit, a percentage of the value of the dress. In my opinion, and I would like to explain why, a wedding dress should be considered sacred, it is tradition, it is culture and certainly it should not be subject to a deposit which does not bring a penny to the islands. To the contrary, it takes precious time and money to fill out papers, bureaucracy for nothing.
More importantly, it could affect the happiness of a couple arriving to celebrate the most important day in their lives on our beautiful Island, Cayman, ranked among the best places in the world not only to honeymoon, but especially to marry!
It may be old-fashioned, but a tradition that many young people still follow: A groom should not see the wedding dress of the bride before the ceremony and especially not in the customs hall of an airport. Perhaps it is superstitious, but it is considered bad luck! If younger people do not believe in this, they will for sure remember their mother mentioning it.
However, more than being superstitious, the wedding dress should stay a surprise. A bride will never forget the expression of the groom, totally overwhelmed by how beautiful she is, when she walks down the aisle to join in his life.
Every country in the world has different wedding cultures. The rite of a wedding dress came from the princes’ palaces and only spread slowly at the beginning of the 19th century.
Most of the brides who wed here in Cayman will take their dresses back home. Rarely would one of them decide to sell it on island or, possibly, to give it as a present to a future bride. What nicer thing could happen than making a young woman happy, one who may not have the money to fly abroad to purchase her wedding gown?
How nice it would be, if the Customs officers just gave a warm welcome to the couple who tell them they are coming here to get married, instead of being obliged to enforce the Customs Tariff Law for a deposit, presenting them with papers to fill out and wanting to know the value of a wedding dress? The hassle gets even more complicated if the bride did not bring a receipt or, if the dress was handmade or, if it was inherited from her mother.
Why not follow the lovely gesture of Cayman Airways: Upgrade to business class for bride and groom and a complimentary glass of Champagne! There is even a band playing welcoming island music as they deplane. To make them feel special should be kept up throughout their and their guests’ time here. Happy people are spenders, and besides they will be the best ambassadors for many more memorable Cayman weddings, and they will hopefully return together with a large family to celebrate their anniversaries for many years to come.