A West Bay wedding innovator

The Jackson family from left, Francine, Jennifer, Joy, Vernon and Andre.
The Jackson family from left, Francine, Jennifer, Joy, Vernon and Andre.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is in the air. And when it comes to weddings, Francine Jackson and her husband Vernon have made a name for themselves. And being married in 1951, the West Bay couple certainly offer an example of an enduring marriage partnership, in love and in work.

At 87, Mrs. Jackson performed her 3,382nd wedding this past Saturday at her Botlins Avenue home in West Bay.

“It’s really a word of mouth business at this point. I only do local weddings, and people come from all over Cayman, East End, North Side, all over to get married here,” said Mrs. Jackson.

Originally a teacher, then later working in insurance underwriting, she started accompanying her husband who was a marriage officer for overseas couples getting married in Cayman.

Mr. Jackson, himself a distinguished civil servant, was a initially a teacher and very active in sports and in his church before entering the wedding business.

When her husband was starting out, Mrs. Jackson noticed that brides needed help with dresses and flowers, and all the small things that make a wedding special.

Francine and Vernon Jackson celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in 2011.
Francine and Vernon Jackson celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in 2011.

“We needed more than just a marriage officer to help these couples with their weddings,” she said.

Becoming the first Civil Registrar of Marriages for the Cayman Islands, which gave her the ability to conduct weddings as well, Mrs. Jackson opened an office in West Bay in the mid-1980s. Cayman Weddings was launched, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I was lucky all my grandchildren helped out with the business for a time when they finished school, which was wonderful,” said Mrs. Jackson.

“I was also able to deputize my daughter Joy [Basdeo] to do weddings, and from that she ended up specializing in cruise ship weddings, opening up an office in George Town, as it was far for the couples to travel all the way to West Bay for their ceremony.”

Ms. Basdeo’s own wedding business, Simply Weddings, took off as well; she just performed her 3,206th wedding. She estimates her parents have officiated close to 7,500 weddings between them.

A few weeks ago, in a very special turn of events they acted as joint officiants at the wedding of their grandson, Joy’s son Jesse.

When she’s not doing weddings, Mrs. Jackson says she spends time with her husband, who is ill, and they share their hours together quietly at home.

She has no plans to stop working any time soon.

“What I’m doing now is so simple, it’s so easy, and I do not have any motivation to quit,” said Mrs. Jackson, noting that she has a number of weddings coming up.

“I had a lot of queries for Valentine’s day, but I said I couldn’t do it, because it falls on a Sunday,” she said.

“On Sundays, I go to church in the morning, and every afternoon I have a family tea. As many family members as can come will come, so sometimes we have a few, sometimes we have a whole house full,” she said.