Start Slideshow View Grid Start Slideshow 51

After Getting Married on a Sandbank, This Bride Celebrated With Junkanoo at Her Mother’s Hotel on Harbour Island

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Holly Clark

|Planning by 

Rukhshana “Rocky” Sethna

While Alessandra Cecconi was home on Harbour Island for winter break, she met Shane Mandes, who was visiting with a family friend, at one of the island’s three bars, Daddy D’s. “He tried to impress me on the dance floor, and I brushed him off by telling him that I was the island princess,” Alessandra remembers.

After what she refers to as “a super short nine years” together, they broke tradition and proposed to each other. On the summer solstice in 2020, the two drove up the coast to one of their favorite places in the world, San Ysidro Ranch. The couple had already picked out the ring together because Alessandra was very particular about it being as sustainably sourced as possible.

In a garden’s pergola, he presented her with the French vintage ruby ring—that actually looked similar to Alessandra’s mother’s ring—and she took out his favorite cake. They exchanged words of love, and even though the two had planned the moment, happy tears were still shed.

Having grown up on Harbour Island and that being the place where she and Shane met, Alessandra knew she wanted to get married in her hometown at her mother’s world-renowned boutique hotel and restaurant, The Landing. The bride-to-be had always pictured a beach ceremony, but as the island grew in popularity as a wedding destination, she decided to do something different to make her own mark.

With her planning partner, Rukhshana “Rocky” Sethna, Alessandra organized to have her ceremony by The Lone Tree—old driftwood in the middle of a sandbank, which due to the tide, is available to walk to for an hour or so per day. “Having grown up on this little island, and also having worked in the destination wedding world, being mindful of the social and environmental impacts I was making was top of mind,” the bride shares. “Rather than introducing outside floor [and] fauna and wasting carbon to fly in decor that would be used only once, I spent the weeks leading up to the wedding foraging shells and sea treasures for tables and stuck to coconuts and bougainvillea for additional decor.”

One of the most stressful parts of planning for Alessandra was the photography. “Two months out, our original photographer fell through, and Holly Clark came to the rescue!” the bride exclaims. “Aside from how stunning her photos are, Holly has a magical laid back sense of adventure that made the whole experience so fun!” 

When it came to her finding her wedding dress, Alessandra knew that she wasn’t a “big sparkly gown type of bride.” After some research, she found bridal designer Hermione de Paula and did a virtual fitting from Los Angeles with her London atelier. “There were blush tones in the dress, which I knew would look insane against the island’s pink sand,” the bride shares.

Alessandra admired Hermione de Paula partly because of the hidden embroidery she incorporated into her dresses and veils. “Both of my mum’s sisters passed away young, and I worked with the HdP team to place their names in my train, so that they could ‘be with me’ during the wedding,” she shares. “I also chose HdP because she is a master at giving a dress another life. I didn’t want my wedding dress to be something I wore only once, so I’m excited to work with her in the future to cut and dye my dress, so I can wear it again!”

To complement the bride, Alessandra’s sister and maid of honor wore a dusty rose Dannijo dress. And two weeks before flying to Harbour Island for the wedding, Alessandra found her welcome party and after-party looks at LOHO Bride—a cropped Cortana top with a Lihi Hod skirt and a Katherine Tash minidress.

To say, “I do,” Shane wore a pink suit. “I had a whole pink vision: him, my dress, the sand, the island cottages, and the bougainvillea,” Alessandra reveals. They finally found the perfect shade of blush at Hawes & Curtis, and that night, he changed into an equally cool blue suit.

On February 12, 2022, guests were given driving instructions and followed decorated trees and poles to help direct everyone toward the secret ceremony location. Once everyone was together, they were pointed down a jungle pathway to a set of stairs that took them onto the sandbank, which was covered in a few inches of water. Local musician Tanisha Sweeting played ukulele next to the driftwood, as Alessandra and her parents walked down the “aisle.”

“I was overwhelmed by how different I felt hearing Shane say his vows,” the bride recalls. “After 10 years together, I wasn’t expecting to feel very different, but standing there, I felt transformed in way that’s hard to describe.” Shane agrees and shares that he was surprised that he felt like it was just the two of them in the middle of the water.

After the two were announced as married couple, the newlyweds and their loved ones congregated at The Landing for cocktail hour with local singer Maradona. “Just as we had all finished singing along to a cover of Dua Lipa’s ‘Don’t Start Now,’ I heard a drum beat coming from the street that made my heart stop and fall out of my body,” Alessandra says. “It was Junkanoo—a colorful, traditional Bahamian dance and music celebration made up of cowbells, goat skin drums, whistles, and a brass section.”

The bride thought the Junkanoo had been cut from the reception, but her godmother, Jane, who was stuck in Australia, coordinated with the mother-of-the-bride to surprise Alessandra. The Junkanoo led guests from cocktails through an archway that was more than 100 years old to the dinner area, where a meal of filet mignon, local fish, and coconut curry chicken was enjoyed.

After the reception, the new mister and missus and their loved ones took golf carts to a nearby club, Beyond the Reef, to continue the revelry. “In keeping with our local sourcing we had Selector Ian, who is a regular there, as our DJ,” Alessandra explains. “Because of the pandemic, it was the first time in at least two years that we had really been out dancing, and we all definitely let loose—dancing and singing our hearts out all night long.”