Many would be sceptical about an ex orchestrating their next relationship, and so were Gladstone Taylor and Dr Michelle Gordon. But despite this, the two eventually met and started a friendship that blossomed into more.
On May 15, 2021, the multimedia photo editor at The Gleaner and general practitioner in the Accident and Emergency Unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies tied the knot in a small ceremony and reception at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
However, much like their relationship, planning a wedding in a pandemic took creativity, patience and time.
A second-chance romance, the couple initially started dating in 2011, but six months into their relationship, Michelle got the opportunity to study abroad and was uncertain how this would affect their new relationship. It was Gladstone who persuaded her to take the opportunity.
“I was fully behind the idea that she should go, because to not want somebody to further themselves for your selfish gain, just [didn’t] sit right with me,” said Gladstone.
Unfortunately, Michelle’s concern was valid because the introduction of limitations to Skype technology then had the young lovers chained to a desktop or missing communication for weeks.
It was at this juncture that Michelle suggested that it was probably best that they went their separate ways.
“We did end on one of those clichés, ‘if we cross paths again and we can give this another try, maybe we will’,” recalls a laughing Gladstone.
As time went by, the two kept in touch and would try again in April 2019, a year after Michelle returned from medical school.
“He called me, we spoke for a bit, and then he said, ‘I want to see you. Come see me.’ So I said, alright. I was just back, not working, [I] just wanted to chill. I went to see him, and one of the first things he said was, ‘I want to try again’.”
They would eventually fall into a rhythm, and on November 29, 2020, Gladstone culminated a week of birthday activities in a proposal among friends at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
“Nervous. Worried. Hopeful. It’s not that I had any doubts that she wouldn’t say yes, but at the same time, I have seen a lot of engagements go bad, and I had wanted to ensure that I speak to her parents first. So that was also a bit nerve-racking,” shared the 35-year-old photographer.
“Our birthdays are two days apart, so we have our little birthday wars thing where we try to one-up each other, so I was really more focused on plans for his birthday. So doing it that way was a really good way to throw me off,” said Michelle.
Unfortunately, the couple would be rocked with tragedy and ever-changing COVID-19 measures as they planned their dream wedding. Having lost one sister to sickle cell in August 2020, six months later, Michelle would lose another sister to the disease in January 2021.
While managing the grief of losing her teenage sisters, Gladstone remained by her side as they decided to move forward with their nuptials. This saw them tuning in to COVID updates as their wedding plans remained unstable.
“The plans don’t get time to dry. It’s just constant restructuring and shuffling. It was a mess!” said the groom.
“We invited everyone to a virtual wedding. We decided early that we would have it on Zoom because we have a lot of family abroad. It was two weeks before the wedding when we confirmed those who could come to the hotel,” shared the bride.
For Gladstone, his favourite part of planning the wedding was “cake tasting! Because I like fruit cake, and I got to taste a bunch of different cakes”. In a funny twist, it was one of the hardest parts for Michelle.
“I don’t like fondant, butter cream or vanilla cakes.”
To which Gladstone piped up to say, “Which made me fine with her being picky, because I got to taste a bunch of cakes!”
As the final days came, the couple shared that they were relaxed and just ready to be married.
“I was able to relax after the last press conference. I am sure about who I am marrying and the life we will have after, but I was worried that this party that we want to have, called a wedding, might not go well,” said Michelle.
Dressed in a mermaid ball gown by Petals and Promises, Michelle would make her entrance in a white Audi Q7, wearing a white mask, emblazoned with the word ‘bride’.
As she made her way down the steps, shaded by a bamboo arch recreated from Boone Hall Oasis in Stony Hill, the bride was accompanied by her father Howard Gordon, the former senior general manager of operations and technology at the National Commercial Bank.
Following the bridal party that marched to John Legend’s All of Me, the bride caused heads to turn as she walked to Gladstone to the tune of Ruelle’s I Get To Love You.
Clutched in her palm was her bouquet, and at the end was a pendant with a photograph of her sisters who had passed. It was an emotional moment for the bride as she remembers choosing her wedding march and bridesmaid dress with her sister, who died in January.
As such, she opted out of a bouquet toss, and that pendant is now on a chain around her father’s neck.
For Gladstone, the most emotional part of the day was when his best man gave him the signal to turn, and he saw his bride make her way down the aisle. He lost the bet with himself and was moved to tears that Michelle took the time to dry.
As the couple took formal photos at Devon House in St Andrew, another space in the hotel was converted for the reception. The bridal party would enter to the tune of Beyoncé’s Love on Top, where guests were seated based on special years in the couple’s relationship. The couple was greeted with applause to the theme song of their engagement, Brian Knight’s Back At One.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, guests weren’t allowed to dance, but the newly-weds closed the celebration of their love on the dance floor, on what appeared to be clouds, to the tune of Kina Grannis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love.
The couple honeymooned at Couples Tower Isle in St Mary.