Four months after having to postpone their wedding due to COVID-19 restrictions, the former Amanda Ritchie and Chester Robards are officially married. The couple sealed the deal on July 18. Amanda described it as a beautiful wedding day. She said they couldn’t have asked for more.
Ritchie and Robards had opted to postpone their wedding ceremony until after the 10-person cap was lifted and borders around the world reopened, allowing family and friends to fly in for their celebration. They wanted their family and close friends to celebrate with them.
Almost a month to the day they were wed, Chester and Amanda said it’s still a bit surreal, but a good feeling.
“Almost like a dream come true at this point,” said Amanda.
And this is where it gets interesting. The “adventures” continued for the couple, immediately after they exchanged rings and vows.
The Robards had to endure a boat trip from hell due to choppy seas to get to their honeymoon, then had their hotel close on them one day after arriving at their destination.
“I guess in the troubled times that we live in, those things are inevitable,” said Chester, senior business reporter at The Nassau Guardian.
Due to the global pandemic, their Argentinian honeymoon had to be scrapped. They opted to visit Sandals Emerald Bay on Exuma, only to be informed the day after they arrived that the resort was closing and they had to leave.
Most couples would be at their breaking point at this point, but for the Robards it was just another “adventure”. After all, Chester had proposed to Amanda after they went rappelling at Clifton Pier, which he did with an engagement ring in his pocket. When he got to his landing, he dropped to one knee and proposed to Amanda.
“We were just so overjoyed that we actually finally got to have the wedding, it was kind of a bit funny to be honest [to learn Sandals was closing],” said Amanda.
They checked out of Sandals Emerald Bay and checked into the Peace & Plenty Resort in George Town, Exuma. It was a transition that went smoothly for the couple who had booked the two fly free promotion through Majestic Tours.
“The minute I called them and said Sandals was closing, they did everything to find another place for us to go to. We didn’t worry about anything after that. They just checked us into the other hotel,” said Chester.
Amanda added, “To be honest, it didn’t really feel like trouble – it was more of an adventure at that point.”
It was a move Amanda, who was visiting Exuma for the first time, said was actually a blessing in disguise. She described the new resort and their oceanview room as “breathtaking”.
“I’m actually glad we got to change hotels, because we got to experience George Town.”
They took the shuttle over to the resort’s sister property on Stocking Island daily. The adventurous couple took an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tour led by Leonardo Rolle, and explored lesser-known spots, including the oldest church in the Exumas, the island’s first prison, the caves of Rolleville and Coco Plum Beach. They both agreed that Coco Plum Beach is the most beautiful beach they have ever been on.
“Honestly, everything that happened, even the setbacks, things that happened that we didn’t plan, it all turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it turned out to be even better than we expected,” she said.
The Robards had to spend an extra night on Exuma when it was announced that inter-island travel would be stopped to try to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
“We were supposed to leave Sunday, but it was lockdown on Sunday. They (Majestic Tours) changed our tickets to fly out on Monday. When people were scrambling, we were free,” said Chester.
As Amanda put it, they “were straight chillin’”.
If anyone deserved chill time, it was the Robards.
Before getting to Exuma, the Robards took Amanda’s sister and brother-in-law up on an offer to travel to Exuma on a friend’s boat even though they had airline tickets.
“We were like, ‘Yeah, boat trip, okay, sounds good.’ The weather was horrible!” said Chester.
They were having an awesome time on the 40-foot-plus boat, but, as Chester put it, “Gilligan’s Island happened” after the first hour.
“We had the eight-foot waves that we were getting pounded by for like six straight hours. People were throwing up all over the place. It was rough. It was so bad parts of the boat got broken up.”
They both laughed at the memory.
But their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is that their deal has been sealed. Chester said they had a beautiful honeymoon despite everything.
Through it all, Amanda said, their honeymoon was amazing because they were there together.
She also said she believes she gained five pounds from the delicious food she ate.
“I don’t know what the Exumians put in their food, but we were so excited to go to dinner.”
Chester said they had a designated table nightly at the restaurant at Peace and Plenty Resort.
And Amanda finally got to wear her wedding dress.
Chester said she looked absolutely amazing.
“It was a beautiful dress. And after the stories about how long it took to choose it, I see why.”
As that story goes, Amanda made a trip to Miami to find her dress – she visited three stores the first day, and on the second day, visited another two stores and was starting to get anxious. Her dress was the first dress she tried on in the very last store on the very last day.
The problem was she went into the experience with an idea as to what she wanted, and as she looked, she said, she couldn’t find it.
“Before I left, I spoke to Chester about it, because I was looking online, and he said maybe the dress that you were thinking of has just never been created…so it was actually something I prayed about. I said, ‘Lord, I just need you to show me which dress, ‘cause I really just want to look beautiful,’ and it (the dress) just blew me away. It superseded any other dress that I had put on, and the day of the wedding I really just didn’t want to take it off. As a matter of fact, I’m still tempted to put it on,” she said.
Married for almost a month, Amanda said everything they’ve been through makes them stronger and has increased their faith in God.
“It’s just blessing after blessing,” she said.
“Only God brought us through,” said Chester.
They said their parents were supportive throughout, and that Amanda’s mom would say to her, “We’re going to get you guys married, no matter what.”
They credit Tamara Delaney at Sapodilla who always gave them encouraging words, and told them they would have their wedding, and who they said did everything she could to make their day happen.
The Robards said they know there are other people dealing with having to postpone their wedding ceremonies and not knowing when they would have to reschedule for. They encouraged them to stick strong to God.
They also said they consider themselves lucky to have gotten married before the second national lockdown and restrictions were again tightened on weddings. “All we can say is divine favor,” said Amanda.