I wouldn't blame you if you had never heard of Vieques Island before. it's a tiny secluded island off the coast of puerto rico with a population of only 9,000 people. Over half of that, is a wildlife refuge.
but, it is one of the most beautiful islands i have ever been to.
wild ponies roam the island, and have full free rein of anywhere they would like to walk, including right up to your hotel room door.
The morning after this (absolutely stunning) wedding I photographed I woke up at dawn to snorkel in the coral reefs. at one point while i was near the shore, i pulled my head out of the water to see a rainbow arching over three palm trees on a cliff. it was so beautiful i just treaded water for a minute and stared at this gorgeous scene. and then... like in a dream... three wild horses appeared on the cliff under the rainbow. i swam ashore to grab my camera, and they trotted down the cliff to the beach just a few feet from where i was standing. they had themselves a good roll in the sand, a little drink of water, and a nice morning stretch.
basically.... it was the most incredible thing i had ever witnessed...
Until later that night.
you see, Vieques is home to one of the wonders of the world- the bio-luminescent bay. The W Hotel on vieques island helped me secure a guide and we took a rickety old van out into the wilderness at midnight. I wasn't even sure we were going to make it- we were basically completely off-roading it through a very primitive dirt 'road' that could be better characterized by a series of giant pot holes and mud paths over grown with vegetation. Finally, we reached our destination, and using only headlamps we pulled out the kayaks, walked through the marsh land, and set them into the water.
after having lived in Florida for many years, and knowing the kind of creatures that inhabit marshlands.... i just had to breathe deeply and put my full trust in the guide.
we paddled out- without any light of the moon. the silence was incredible, and so were the stars. black water below me, black sky above that looked like someone had spilled glitter all over it.
and then it began to happen... very little at first, but growing much stronger the further out i paddled into the black.
the water was literally glowing florescent green! each time i dipped my paddle into the water, a flurry of lumescence would surround it.
The bio-luminescent bay is home to a huge number of microscopic dinoflagellates, that when disturbed, light up like a firefly. you can see it best in the dead of night, when there is no moon out, which is why we were taking our kayak tour so late at night.
each time a fish swam under the kayak, the disturbance of the water would light up the dinoglagellates so that we could see the outline of the fish. I was even able to identify (small) sharks, and a multitude of stingrays- with their easily identifiable shape. night-time is an incredible and often over-looked time to view wildlife and experience nature. fish were jumping out of the water into our kayaks, and it was just an overall incredible experience.
it would make perfect sense why someone would want to get married at the W hotel in Vieques Island- it's the perfect balance between luxury relaxation, wildlife conservation, and adventure.
Dana and Timo- a couple originally from Germany now living in NY, chose to get married here on the cliff over looking the water, and have their reception on the beach itself. Their intimate reception on the beach was really just so incredible. completely surrounded by friends and family and undisturbed by the rest of the world. After dinner, they ended their night with sparklers, lanterns, and a bonfire on the beach with guests wrapped up in blankets and pillows with a guitarist playing all through the evening. I can not imagine a more perfect wedding if I tried.