I never try to hide the fact that I’ve only lived on island since Fall of 2004 and have really only been a “real wedding planner” since Spring of 2005. Seeing as I have only lived on island for less than 6 years, I know a lot about the islands but I definitely never pretend to know everything. But when people ask me a question that I’m confident I know, I usually answer with, well…confidence. This confidence made me look like a real winner a few months ago!
I had a couple in town for their big wedding day and I met with them a few days prior to the wedding to check out the beach & reception location. The wedding was on St. John and they picked me up from the ferry in their rental car. As we were driving to the beach, they were asking me about the tides. They had been to the beach the day before and mentioned that the tide was very high and did I know if the tide would be lower at the time they were to be married? As I understood it, because of how close we are to the equator, we really don’t have high and low tide here. Because of this, there isn’t a very measurable change in the depth of the beach at anytime during the day. I told them that the water level they saw the day before would probably be the same at anytime tomorrow.
Then we got to the beach. And there was NO beach. The water was so high, there was absolutely NO WHERE we could have had the ceremony. The Virgin Islands may be famous for their beaches, but we are not like Florida – where there is miles and miles of coastline beaches that are a quarter mile in depth (from the water to the road/non-beach area).
When I got home, I gave my husband a scolding for making me look like an idiot – “I thought there were no tides here?! What is going on with that beach??” – it’s not tides he told me, but the storm surge. We had had a lot of crazy weather that week and it caused a storm surge with the water levels, making them higher up on the beach. The waves, which usually are nice and gentle, were quite large that week. Here is an example:
Plenty of space on Hawksnest Beach:
Until a wave comes in…where’d the beach go???
We had to set up the ceremony at the far end of this beach in a space higher up on the sand, to avoid people’s feet from getting wet. The waves would come in pretty high though and at one point before the ceremony began, came in high enough to reach the decorated conch shells. Two conch shells were almost reclaimed by the sea! As any of my past brides will tell you, I have a pretty calm & even demeanor. I really had to bite my lip not to be the crazy wedding planner running out to the ocean to grab back her conch shells!! I sadly watched them go…until two little boys in the wedding ran in and grabbed them for me! I was so thankful for those little boys at that moment. They felt like heroes (and they were!) and I didn’t have to embarrass myself in front of my clients guests!
This storm surge seems to be more of a problem in the winter months but can really happen any time of year. Lindquist Beach has become a very popular spot on St. Thomas for weddings…but to be honest, I never recommend it for larger groups. The beach has a prominent slop, making it hard to set up an arch & chairs and the water is very often higher up on the beach in this location. These pictures show how perfect it is for a smaller group.
But yet we were lucky enough a few weeks ago to have 40 chairs and an arch on Lindquist Beach – something that is not easily done!