JoAnne V. Brown “makes miracles from scratch.” She’s the founder and CEO of Celebrations Ltd., a full-service wedding and event firm with 48 full-time employees: planners, designers, production crew, florists and laundry team (try washing linens for an 800-person soiree). Known as “Miss Jo” to her clients (mostly eager, excited couples), the Jamaican-born, UK-educated Brown has watched the Cayman Islands grow into an A-list destination wedding locale. Who doesn’t love a vacation with some I-do’s thrown in?
The Cayman Islands is not known for the quantity of weddings, but the quality. We don’t have all-inclusive venues or prepackaged offerings. Our weddings are customized and very personal.
The growth of destination weddings has been phenomenal. People look at them now as a great way to vacation. It’s like, “Let’s go to the Cayman Islands. And oh, by the way, there’s a wedding.”
The largest wedding we’ve done was 800 people.
My first wedding was 380 people at a woman’s home. That was a huge undertaking. I went to all the local restaurants and asked, “Can I get 10 chairs from you? Can I get 10 chairs from you?” and so on. It worked!
I will never forget the day we first arrived in Cayman. It was August – really hot. We arrived one day after my husband and I got married. There we were at the airport with everything we owned in boxes and suitcases. There wasn’t a taxi big enough for all our stuff. I’m sitting outside this tiny airport and here comes a customs officer. He says to me, “Can I get you a Pepsi?” Where else does that happen?
We’ve done underwater weddings. They’re really cool. In the beginning, we didn’t have a marriage officer who was a divemaster. Now we do. The couple and the marriage officer go underwater and hold up signs with the vows. Seriously.
I planned all three of my children’s weddings. But I got a lot of help. On those days, I was really able to just be a mom.
For the Caymanian people, being Caymankind comes naturally. That feeling I got from the customs officer? That’s the norm for us.