Couples “taking the plunge” — literallly!
(DiverWire) – A growing trend in the Bahamas is resulting in more scuba diving couples “taking the plunge” – literally! According to officials from Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas, an increasing number of couples are electing for an underwater ceremony. It isn’t for everyone, but so far this year nearly half a dozen couples have exchanged their vows near a wreck, reef or in some cases, surrounded by Caribbean Reef Sharks.
The ceremonies are officiated by non-denominational minister Matthew Sweeting, also known as the “island preacha“. Using underwater writing slates (or in some cases full-face UW communications systems), the two participants briefly exchange underwater “vows”, the groom kisses his bride (as best he can) and everyone poses for photos.
“It’s mainly certified divers who are looking for something different,” Sweeting said. “Many people have said they’ve always wanted to do this, so we’re not having to go out and promote the ceremonies.”
Unlike some underwater “ceremonies” offered in different parts of the world, Sweeting said the ceremonies he conducts are actual, legal weddings complete with legal documents and signatures.
The unique nature of the ceremonies allows the couples to customize their ceremony – so no two events are exactly the same. Sweeting said that one couple, who were fans of the James Bond movies were married in front of one of the wrecks used in the Thunderball film back in the 1960s. “We even added some 007 music to the couple’s wedding video,” he said. Another couple wanted sharks swimming in the background, so one of Stuart Cove’s shark feeders was in the background making sure Caribbean Reef Sharks appeared in the couple’s wedding video.
There are challenges, the “preacha” acknowledged – including a couple of “underwater wardrobe malfunctions”. It seems long flowing dresses tend to float up into the bride’s face. The solution? “We tied a few weights to the bottom of the dress,” Sweeting said. Other challenges include unwanted aquatic visitors, but that’s to be expected in the open ocean. Some couple even WANT to share their happy day with the local shark population.
The first “shark wedding” was so successful, that the team now offers it as an option, something that might scare some people, but not when anxious groom. “It seemed the groom was more scared about getting married than he was being in the middle of a bunch of sharks.” ceremonies (sharks)
Scuba divers know how to adapt and the underwater ceremonies obviously require some flexibility. For instance, instead of saying “I Do”, the couples respond with an OK signal or thumbs-up when Sweeting shows them a slate with their vows.
Most of the ceremonies are completed in around 15 minutes, which allows the photographers and videographers time to capture all aspects of the ceremony and allows the couple to participate in a “first dive” together as man and wife. “The ceremony is relatively short and we wouldn’t want to let a good dive go to waste. So, we often take a tour of the reef or wrecks. and dive until someone runs out of air.”
Sweeting has done “first dances”, the “underwater kiss” and even simulated toasts complete with champagne glasses. “It’s a unique experience that a lot of people don’t realize is available. If more people knew they could get married underwater, I think there would be a lot more underwater weddings. It’s actually not that difficult. Together with Stuart Cove’s staff, it’s a pretty seamless event.” Part of the package includes a custom wedding video that’s often done the same day as the wedding.
The underwater wedding “packages” range in price from $875 to $2500 not including underwater photography (a MUST for this unique event). For more details, go to UNDERWATER WEDDINGS