Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Very Own Ahmed and His Space Shuttle Launch Experience

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Ahmed Elkaswani, a Celebrations wedding planner, has been featured in the local newspaper, Caymanian Compass, talking about his Space Shuttle Launch experience. Needless to say, we're happy for Ahmed who up to now is still gushing about this wonderful experience. He's literally bouncing off our office walls!

Please read the entire article below as written by Camanian Compass' Cliodhna Doherty:

It’s not everyday that someone gets to witness a space shuttle launch on an important mission to help humans understand more about the universe.
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But that’s exactly the situation in which Grand Cayman resident Ahmed Elkaswani found himself in recently after he had planned the wedding of two astronauts here in the Cayman Islands.
The Celebrations employee witnessed the take–off of the Atlantis Space Shuttle on 11 May from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on its mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. “It was a completely different experience,” Ahmed enthused. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. You meet doctors and you meet race car drivers but you don’t meet astronauts on a daily basis, which is quite cool,” he told the Caymanian Compass.

ahmed elkaswani, wedding planner, cayman islands, celebrationsltd, grand cayman wedding planner Gregory Johnson, the NASA pilot of the Atlantis Spacecraft and his now wife Nanette Faget, a Ground Engineer at NASA, fell in love with Grand Cayman after they visited in 2007. They married here in January 2008 with Ahmed as their wedding planner for Celebrations. Ahmed showed the couple a lot of interest in their roles as astronauts at NASA.

ahmed elkaswani, wedding planner, cayman islands, celebrationsltd, grand cayman wedding planner, astronauts “When they came down here just before their wedding we had a sit down and I started asking them more questions about what they do and about this mission going up to space.

“To me, it’s out of this world, literally. It just doesn’t seem real to a regular person like me in the Caribbean.”
The wedding, which took place at a private villa at Kaibo, was a great success and shortly afterwards Ahmed received an email from Nanette inviting him to join them for the Atlantis launch.

“I said ‘Of course, I would be delighted, it would make my year, it would make my century I think’. So I was very excited,” he said.

But it was to be a long wait. He got the invite in February 2008 and the launch was originally scheduled for August of that year, but then the launch was delayed to October and then postponed to February 2009. Then a date was finally set for 11 May, enabling Ahmed to book his flights and get ready to go.

And so he found himself at the Kennedy Space Centre near Cape Canaveral, on 11 May, on a causeway about four miles from the launch pad with friends and family of the other astronauts and crew. “It was one of the closest areas and we had a clear view of the launch pad and shuttle,” he said.

The causeway was a private secured outdoor area. He explained that immediate family members of the crew could not even be too close to the launch pad because of gas and fumes from the space shuttle.

ahmed elkaswani, wedding planner, cayman islands, celebrationsltd, grand cayman wedding plannerSpeaking about the actual launch, he said, “It was amazing – the view – and it was the experience of a lifetime to feel the ground shaking. It was pretty cool.

“The sound itself just makes it surreal – that roar. I was sitting there almost in shock watching this thing thinking that I know the person sitting in there that’s going to fly it up into space. It’s an amazing experience just to sit and watch and know you know the person in there.”
Coupled with the excitement, he was nervous for his friend’s safety.

“I was shaking the whole time. The thing is on rocket fuel and the thing could blow up and you’ve got so many people watching it.”

“The Hubble scope is an amazing instrument. It’s amazing to be part of the whole scenario – to know that someone is up there working on something that can help everyone on this earth with knowing what dark matter is and what the Big Bang Theory means, all of that. This is what the telescope is trying to solve, so it’s a pretty cool machine.”

Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.
And following the mission they have revived the Hubble scope to last another five to 10 years with a new battery and sensors to reach above and beyond what it did before.
There was live video feed between the crew and ground control centres and interviews with the astronauts from space.
One of the highlights of Ahmed’s experience was getting an email from Gregory from outer space while on his 11 day mission, which included five space walks, two of which were rated one of the top 10 longest space walks in history, said Ahmed.

The spacecraft was supposed to land on Friday, 22 May in Florida but because of bad weather it landed instead in California on Sunday, 24 May.

Ahmed also believes the Cayman Islands flag went to space and it is hoped there will a presentation of this at some stage to the Cayman Islands’ Government.

The night before the launch there was a cocktail reception for the friends and families of the astronauts, to which Ahmed was also invited.

“It was amazing. It was at the Apollo–Saturn V Museum at the Kennedy Space Centre. It was a private function and we got to mingle with all the other crew members that were there in support of the mission.”

The morning of the launch they got to walk around the Kennedy Space Centre and view the attractions. “It was only open to the visitors that were going to witness the launch,” he said. All in all, Ahmed says it is an experience he will always cherish. “I was not only there for myself but for Celebrations and the Cayman Islands,” he said.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience and history in the making. It’s the last shuttle to repair the telescope.”

“And for the country [Cayman] to be part of that too and to have Greg liking the country so much to hopefully have taken a flag up there, that’s pretty cool,” he said.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kim + Matthew = A Contemporary Cayman Wedding

You are going to SO love this wedding. It’s the perfect combination of modern, elegant and all around gorgeousness. Kim & Matthew, both Caymanians, tied the knot this past March. The ceremony was held at Church of God and the reception at the Great Lawn of Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman.

weddings, grand cayman wedding, contemporary weddings, celebrationsltd, white flowers Celebrations' custom-made wire stands with hanging flower blooms and votive candles lined the aisle way that led to a canopy of billowing sheer white fabric. The draping added drama and romance to the entire church.

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The radiant bride chose a bridal bouquet that was an elegant mixture of white Calla Lilies and exotic orchids such as Cymbidium, Dendrobium and Phaelanopsis. Silver and crystal accents were added for an extra touch of elegance.
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The stunning bridesmaids in teal gowns carried smaller version of Kim's bouquet.
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At the reception in the Great Lawn of Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, the modern yet elegant theme was carried through with, crisp white linens, various groupings of diffrent white flowers in vases of different heights. Strings of lights, hundreds of candles and mood lighting, created the perfect setting of this chic wedding reception.


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Congratulations Kim & Matthew!

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Thanks David Wolfe for these gorgeous photos!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kate + James = A Dream Destination Wedding in Cayman

Celebrations had the great pleasure of coordinating the wedding of a very active blogger in Weddingbee, Kate, aka Mrs. Kitten, a law student from Texas. Kate opted for a stress-free destination wedding in the Cayman Islands . To quote her: "I'm beyond excited to become Mrs. Kitten on a fabulous Caribbean vacation surrounded by my friends and family!"

Kate is a self confessed perfectionist. Her sense of style and perfectionism was truly reflected in her wedding, from her bridal flowers, to the dresses, the wedding stationery and everything in between.

Photos shown below are just a few of the many gorgeous shots taken by this awesome Texas-based husband and wife tandem, The Nichols! Wow is not enough of an adjective to say how we love these wedding photos.

Gorgeous weather, blue skies, lush greens, emerald seas all combined spells perfection!

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The bride in her stunning off white gown while her bridal party wore brightly colored dresses.

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The groom and his groomsmen showing high energy!

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The bridal bouquet which was a mixture of anemones, pink peonies, hydrangeas and green button mums.

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Kate and James had 75 of their family and friends for their Cayman destination wedding.

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The first kiss under the arch draped in romantic billowing white fabric.

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What a gorgeous bride!

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A few details of the wedding.

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The lounge area at dusk.

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Kate and James during their first dances as Mr. & Mrs. Ball.

Love. Love this photo!

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Here's a video trailer by Joe of Joe Simon Productions featuring the highlights of Kate & James' wedding. I must say, that I'm in awe by how great this video came out. Joe did an amazing job in capturing the poignant moments of the wedding and catching the natural beauty of the Cayman Islands!

Enjoy the video!

What a great honor to be a part of this dream destination wedding!

Congratulations Kate & James!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Allison + Kevin = A Classic Destination Wedding in Cayman

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Allison walked down the aisle towards a natural bamboo canopy accented with white flowing sheer white fabric and tropical fresh flowers.

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Allison’s choice for her bouquet was an incredible arrangement of white casablanca lilies and green Dendrobium orchids accented by a few mango calla lilies and based with light greenery and white secured with an ivory ribbon.

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Each bridesmaid carried a smaller bouquet of white lilies and dendrobium orchids.
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While the groom wore simple boutonierre of Mango Calla Lily.
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The flower girl looked so adorable with her halo of fresh flowers.
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Place cards were absolutely perfect for a destination wedding.
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When ceremony ended, the weddings guests listened to the relaxed sounds of a steel drummer while they enjoyed their cocktails and watched the sun slowly set. Fabulously modern and crisp white lounge areas surrounded the cocktail area and provided additional conversation areas for the guests. Cocktail tables dressed with white luxurious linens secured by chocolate brown ties were staggered in the lawn area. Each cocktail table was accented by simple green and white orchid arrangements submerged in water in tall and short glass containers that gave a modern flair.
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Following the cocktail hour, the wedding party moved on to a sleek and striking clear top that provided the guests with a cool atmosphere and a great panoramic view of the coast and skyline.
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During the reception, everyone was greeted by gorgeously simple arrangements of white Dendrobium orchids, green Cymbidium orchids, coral colored calla lilies and green hydrangea set in small square glass vases.
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With all the attention to details, this wedding was a true gem to plan!
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Congratulations Allison & Kevin. Thank you for choosing the Cayman Islands and Celebrations to make your destination wedding a reality!

Enola + Clement = A Modern & Rustic Cayman Wedding

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Enola & Clement chose Pedro Saint James Castle for the location of their chic and rustic wedding. With the gorgeous Caribbean sea and the historic Pedro Castle as part of the backdrop, this wedding which was a fusion of modern and rustic was simply breathtaking.
The aisle way was lined with a weaved bamboo aisle runner, flanked by metal lanterns accented with flowers and white pillar candles. At the end of the aisle way was a bamboo canopy custom draped with sheer white fabric, further enhanced by hanging metal lanterns and floral d├ęcor.
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What sets this rustic wedding apart from any other weddings is the use of a very unique seating lay-out at the ceremony. Bamboo chairs were laid out on a semi-circle formation around the bamboo canopy, allowing all the guests to be closer to the couple as they said their vows.
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The bride picked a bold colored hand-tied bouquet of Amaryllises while her bridal party carried dainty pomander styled bouquets in shades of green and cream.
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After the ceremony, the weddings guests were invited to cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres at a stylish set-up with cocktail tables covered in chocolate brown linens tied with curly willow.
Chic lounge furniture including ottomans, oversized daybeds, sea-grass sofas and coffee tables on bamboo mats were also available for guests to enjoy.
Oversized bamboo lanterns and modern light fixtures, like the one seen below, created an ambient romantic mood to the entire wedding decor.
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Zen-inspired arrangements of fuji mums and curly willows in cylinder vases were used as additional touches.
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Congratulations to Enola & Clement! Your wedding was a true fusion of modern and rustic!
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To view more photos, please click here.