Paulina fell in love with Jevon’s parents, he fell in love with her
Everything in her life was preparing Paulina Roxo for marriage to Jevon Lowe – she just didn’t know it.
In 2017, when she arrived in Bermuda to work as an accountant, she knocked on his parents' door, hopeful that she might rent their property in Pembroke.
As it turned out, Keith and Betty Anne Lowe's apartment was too expensive but, convinced there was "something special" about her they "adopted" her into their family.
She ultimately found a place not too far from their home, and fell in love with the five-year-old girl who lived in another apartment there. Only later did she learn she was Jevon's daughter.
"Our love story, it's backward. Usually you meet the guy, you meet the child; you meet the family.
"I checked out the place, [his parents] fell in love with me. They were just amazing. They invited me for Sabbath lunch even though I didn't take the place because it was completely out of my price range. They became my Bermudian family and so I also had a Bermudian brother."
Although the signs were there she "completely did not see" a relationship with Jevon on the horizon.
"Everybody was shocked. A lot of my friends had thought he was a little too overprotective but I never thought that. I just thought he's just weird, just ignore him. I remember even the first time he tried to kiss me I was like, "Gross!" I remember him being so frustrated, telling me: 'I am not your brother!'
"Apparently he was in love with me since I got here but he knew I was so young," the 31-year-old said. "I'd never left South Africa before; I hadn’t explored life. He also wanted to see and get to know me."
On her mind was the relationship she had with the Lowe family and how she didn’t want the romance to go south, and ruin it.
"It was a weird transition. I didn’t know how the dynamics would change. But with all that wrestling with that thought I eventually [realised] I actually like this guy and the good thing is it was nice because he started as a brother, there was no filters. We didn’t need to pretend to be a certain person. He had already told me all his dark secrets."
In 2019 she returned home, to Port Elizabeth, for a friend's wedding and introduced Jevon to her mother on a video chat.
"Unfortunately in 2020, in July, I lost my mom. [It] was just a messed up, hectic year for me. I lost my mother in July and in December I lost a very close cousin and in July of 2021 I lost another close cousin. It was just wave after wave of loss. And it was great to have Jevon in my life to be able to just help me go through that.
"He had already told my mom about his intentions and my mom absolutely loved him. It was great because when it came to the engagement, I already knew what my mom thought of him. [I didn’t need to wonder] if she would be OK with him. So I'm so glad that that worked out that way."
Jevon proposed on September 18, the same day his family held a 100th birthday celebration for his grandmother, Inez Wilson.
Paulina was "completely oblivious" to his plan; Jevon put the ring on her finger while she was asleep.
"At 2am he wakes me up telling me he's scared. I was completely confused but I knew if this massive man was scared, I had to get up. As I was reaching out to hold on to him to get up in the dark I [saw the ring]."
She was so shocked it took a while before she could respond. The time difference meant she could immediately call friends and family in South Africa to share her good news.
At Tom Moore's Tavern, where Jevon's grandmother's celebration was held, the constant question was when the wedding would be.
"We just chose a random day, December 22. I didn't even know what day it actually was.
"And then I had this crazy idea. I remember chatting before we got engaged and people were lamenting about [the impact Covid had had on weddings]. I even had friends that didn't want to get married because everything was getting cancelled. It was just a drama when it came to weddings."
Her idea was that people could do a "pop-up reception" in different locations with only a few guests, to circumvent the limited numbers allowed at gatherings because of Covid-19.
"Traditionally people have one massive venue and invite everybody, everything is done once. I was like, if I was getting married I would want to display beautiful Bermuda; invite people to different places so that you can capture all the different pictures and scenery, especially for my family back home."
With her own wedding to plan, she thought seriously about how it could work. She and Jevon chose Tom Moore's for their ceremony as it showed off "lush" Bermuda; Fort Hamilton for appetisers because it offered "a little bit of the city vibes" and Sinky Bay Beach for dinner and dancing.
Each venue had a maximum of 30 guests. Every guest was required to have a negative Covid test so that everyone in attendance could "have peace of mind".
"Because everybody knew that everybody was negative we did not have to wear masks to be able to take pictures. Even now, when people reflect back on the day, they [say how] it just reminded [them] of how much has been stripped away from [us all]."
Everything else also seemed to fall into place. Paulina decided to walk down the aisle to the song Grows Old by the band Thirdstory not realising that Bermudian Ben Lusher was part of the trio.
As the number of Covid cases climbed, the announcement came two days before the wedding that gathering restrictions would be tightened effective December 23.
The weather seemed to be the only thing working against the couple. The prediction for December 22 was a 90 per cent chance of rain. Paulina refused to make a Plan B, having already decided to "leave it in God's hands". At the last minute, the weather flipped.
“The wedding was scheduled to end about [6pm, after which] we were going to go for a honeymoon at Newstead. Literally at 6.30 the rain came. It was crazy. It was literally God; whatever you believe in. Something magical happened on that day.“