The first time I’d ever heard of an underwater wedding was at The Travel Agent Next Door’s annual conference this past April when travel agent Julie Gilchrist told me she was having one.

“You should come, it’ll be fun and something that agents really should know about,” she told me over breakfast.

Fast forward to Thursday, September 12 and here TravelPulse Canada is, at the beautiful Royalton Saint Lucia courtesy of the Saint Lucia Tourism Board. Our trip is happening, fittingly, during Dive Fest, the island’s annual celebration devoted to all things diving.

Avid scuba divers, Julie and her now husband, Sean thought the idea of an underwater wedding would be something unique and special for both them and their guests, while celebrating their love of the ocean.

For those who’ve never attended an underwater wedding, it’s very, very surreal. Just as in a land ceremony, the guests enter the water first and take their places, forming an aisle on either side of an arch that said “Julie and Sean.” Extra weights are added to guests’ dive gear to help avoid floating up or moving around too much as every movement can stir up the sediment on the ocean floor, which makes for a messy scene and photos. The groom then follows the guests into the water and, just as in a typical wedding, the bride makes her entrance, except with diving you have a buddy alongside, which was her maid of honour Sarah.

Julie Gilchrist
Not a bride’s typical walk down the aisle

Julie actually wore a bridal gown (no wetsuit but full scuba gear) and had a bouquet of flowers that would hold up underwater. Instead of verbally saying the vows, the officiant had a flip board with the vows written to which Julie and Sean would respond, each holding up a bracelet that said “I Do”.

Guests who were not certified scuba divers could snorkel and watch from the surface.

Julie and Sean’s wedding was also the very first underwater wedding in Saint Lucia with Eastern Caribbean Diving.

Julie Gilchrist
Eget Martyr, co-owner of Eastern Caribbean Diving

Co-owner Eget Martyr says their company was very excited to take part in the wedding, and she wanted to make sure everything was just right. Something that logistically, was a bit tricky at times due to it being their first one.

“I had a lot of sleepless nights just thinking about how to make it interesting for everyone,” she chuckles. “But working with Sean and Julie was great, they are a gem.”

She told us of the time she first met Julie a few years ago when they had some great diving experiences together.

“We did lots of fun dives including line fish hunting, and we sort of developed a bond from there. She came back last year for Dive Fest and she was planning to get married and said “wow that could be a good idea, an underwater wedding during Dive Fest, it could be the highlight of that.” That was an easy sell for us.”

In operation for 17 years, Eastern Caribbean Diving offers a variety of tours and charters for every age and skill level, including diving with children over the age of eight. She says they basically “tailor make the package” for each client, so agents are assured they’ll get the experience their clients dream of.

We asked how hard it was head into “uncharted waters” (!) to plan the event without any existing template. Eget says it was new for her too and part of the excitement.

“I always say to myself, first I want to know exactly what the person getting married wants. Then I also think of myself and what would I like? And you want it to be exciting, fun, seamless.”

Agents can find out more information and contact Eastern Caribbean Diving via their website. They are not affiliated with any resort, so clients can use them wherever they stay in Saint Lucia.

The next step for Eget is to formalize her underwater wedding offerings now that she’s got one under her belt. It’s something she thinks is going to really explode once agents and travellers start to learn about it.

“I remember some time ago another resort wanted to do some sort of package like this, an abstract wedding, but that never materialized. I think this time it’s going to really hit.”

You can check out live video of the event via the TravelPulse Canada Facebook page and stay tuned for coverage of the underwater cermony itself.

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