“It’s true, I actually married someone I met on vacation!” Ashley Tate-Gilmore, former director of the White House travel office for President Obama and current CEO of Fortis Global, says. In June of 2018, her mother had recently passed and to cheer herself up, she headed to Jamaica with a few friends. They took a glass bottom boat tour, and that’s when Ashley met Kevin Oppon, who owned the boat charter company. For the rest of her trip, they were inseparable, and two weeks after her return to the States, she was back on a plane to Jamaica.
It was a whirlwind romance. Three months after they initially connected, Kevin got down on one knee, while they were celebrating her birthday. And exactly a year after their first date, they said, “I do,” in Jamaica on June 22, 2019.
Ashley’s company offers luxury travel concierge services and bespoke experiences, so she had a slew of exceptional settings around the world in mind for their destination wedding. The two landed on The Tryall Club, and most of their wedding guests stayed with them in villas on the property. To help plan everything, the couple hired Dani Blasena of HauteFêtes, and Whimsique helped set the tone of the day with beautiful, tropical stationery.
For her weekend wedding wardrobe, Ashley worked with stylists Ivory Epps and Selina Howard of Vainglorious Brides. Barbara Bates hand-made both outfits for the rehearsal dinner and welcome party. And to wear to the ceremony, the bride chose a lace Ysa Makino design, and then she changed into a Valentino gown for the reception.
Selina designed the bridesmaids’ black dresses, which matched the groomsmen in tuxedos. And Kevin looked handsome in a custom suit by local Jamaican designer Dexter Huxtable.
Overlooking the ocean, guests gathered for the ceremony. Ashley walked down the wood plank aisle with her nephew to the podium, where Kevin was waiting at the altar, anchored with palm trees. “Kevin cried when he saw me, which was touching, and I remember thinking about my mom and wishing she could have been there,” the bride remembers. “We had a photo of her on the chair in front of me, and it was comforting seeing her there.”
During the service, the couple presented single flowers in honor of each family member who was not there with them, recited their vows, and jumped the broom. And once Ashley and Kevin were announced as husband and wife, a second line parade started with a local Jamaican band.
In the main dining room of the Tryall Club, the reception kicked off. Everyone found their seats at tables covered with duck egg blue La Tavola linens, accented by coral florals from Plenty of Petals and silver bamboo-inspired flatware from Tai Flora Luxe. And after making their entrance, the newlyweds had their first dances to “Never Felt This Way” by Alicia Keys and “Don’t You Know That” by Luther Vandross.
Dinner consisted of Jerk Island lobster and crab and rib eye steak, and for dessert, the white tiered wedding cake by Leanne Cooke was cut. “After that, we danced until 2:00 a.m.–that I call ‘sexy hour.’” Ashley says of the party with DJ Toure. “Fortunately, there are no photos of that!”
The next morning, the new mister and missus and their guests headed to Ocho Rios for a late lunch on the beach. Ashley concludes, “It was the perfect end to an amazing weekend.”