Social Media Played Pivotal Role In Indiana Couple’s Winning Dream Wedding

HOBART, Indiana (November 5, 2014)…  The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism’s (BMOT) unique, social media promotion aptly named “16 Islands, 16 Weddings,  One Priceless Day,” has played a pivotal role in cementing a long distance relationship for an Indiana couple.

Insurance Advisor, Ariana Viega-Barbosa and Pre-press Digital Manager, Darius Smith of Hobart, Indiana has been living miles apart in two different countries for most of 2014. Thanks to social media connections and the BMOT’s social media contest, the couple can look forward to their permanent domicile in one location soon.  

According to Ariana, the couple “met while at a night club in August 2012 and began dating a month later.  They spent an incredible amount of time together sharing surprise private candlelit dinners, movies, dancing and traveling.  However, within their second date, she said she “knew Darius was the one,” and in April 2013, she moved in with him.

A native of France with Sri-Lankan roots, Ariana’s passport visa was scheduled to expire and in January 2014, she returned to her hometown, where she applied for a USA work visa. 

“I was scared our relationship would end because of the long distance. However, Darius assured me each time that he was really serious about our relationship and he was the one,” she said.

‘It has been as a process since the first day we met, said Darius. “We have experienced so much….  sickness, long distance, living together and separately to budgeting together.”

“I taught her how to drive so she could obtain a driver’s license in order to commute to work. Through it all we loved and respected each other, while putting GOD first in our lives. The love, commitment, endurance and support that we have for each other no doubt confirm our love and devotion to each other.  I cannot imagine a better woman to be my wife and mother of our future children than Ariana,” he said.

The couple got engaged in a very non-traditional way on February 14, 2014.  “At the time, we were living in two different countries, Darius said, “We were talking on Skype, about our life and future together, and I wore the outfit from our first date.

“Playing in the background was the first song we listened to together on our first date.  She really did not know what was coming next.  I emailed to her a picture of my hands out stretched, holding a ring. As she checked the email, I began to propose. After asking me several times, if I was serious, she ecstatically said, ‘YES!’” 

He explained that he decided they should enter into the “16 Islands 16 Weddings One Priceless Day” Contest after seeing the promotion in an Essence magazine and being blown away by the amazing prizes being offered.

Opened to newly engaged couples in the USA, the contest showcased The Islands of The Bahamas as the premier destination in the region for romance–weddings, honeymoons, vow renewals and romantic escapes.  It also provided 16 lucky couples with the opportunity to win a complimentary dream wedding on January 16, 2015 at 16:00 hours on any of 16 Islands in The Bahamas’ 700-islands chain including.  Abaco, Acklins, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island, Inagua, Long Island, Nassau, Paradise Island and San Salvador.

 “Win or lose, I felt we had a unique love story to share and inspire those in long distance relationships.  I decided to take a chance and enter us in the contest.  We did not have the answers to how, when, and where we would get married. With our families living in two different countries, the location of the wedding was a hot topic. The dream destination wedding would be the answer to all of our questions.”

Darius said that, “after seeing the email that they won, I dropped the phone and started jumping around like a kid at Christmas. “I kneeled and thanked GOD for his blessings and then skyped Ariana to share the great news.  Even though we could not touch each other the love and excitement was electric,” he said.

Ariana said, “I was so happy and excited when it was announced we were one of the winning couples.  This opportunity is definitely a dream come true. I will be marring the man of my dream in an unforgettable location and we will create memories together as a family in The Bahamas.”

Fifteen family and friends will join the couple when they wed in Cat Island on January 16, 2015, on what will be the most memorable day of their lives.

Under the theme “Top of the World”, Cat Island’s picturesque rolling hills will serve as the backdrop of their romantic and intimate ceremony. A blend of African, Cape Verdean, and Sri Lankan traditions mixed with customary American and French traditions will be incorporated into this multi-cultural celebration. 

Among the many prizes won by the couple are complimentary round trip airline tickets from Indiana to The Bahamas, luxurious four nights hotel accommodations for four, inclusive of meals, at the Pigeon Cay Beach Club. 

Other prizes include cash rewards from MasterCard®, elegant wedding rings created by Steven Singer Jewelers, a complimentary tuxedo provided by 1888mytuxes and a Mon Cheri bridal gown designed by David Tutera and Sophia Tolli.

Contest Partners included MasterCard®, 1888mytuxes.com, Mon Cheri, Steven Singer Jewelers, John Bull and hotels:  Stella Maris Resort Club, Acklins Island Lodge, Hope Town Harbour Lodge, Carriearl Boutique Hotel, Resorts World Bimini, Pigeon Cay Beach Club, Tranquility on The Bay, Pineapple Fields, Valentines Resort & Marina, Sandals Resorts, Grand Lucayan, Island Ocean Villas, Kamalame Cay, Hilton Hotel, Atlantis Resort and Riding Rock Inn.