It was like a scene from Fantasy Island in the Bahamas: jetloads of revelers arrived at the exclusive and private Lyford Cay Club for the weekend wedding celebration of John Ward Hunt, Jr. of Dallas and Amy Marie Maxwell of Kilgore, Texas.
Ward is the son of Dallas-based interior designer Laura Bayoud Hunt and businessman John Ward Hunt, Sr. Amy’s parents are Brenda and Bill Maxwell of Kilgore, home of those infamous east Texas oil fields.
The two met in the state’s capital while they were both working for Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Both attended the University of Texas at Austin, where Amy recently graduated from law school, and Ward is completing his MBA.
The weekend wedding party was like an extended family reunion, filled with generations of Hunts and Bayouds, Maxwells and Broomes, friends, family, and lots of University of Texas, Duke, and Hotchkiss guys and gals. For years, the Hunt/Bayoud families have lived and vacationed at this Bahamian paradise, so Amy thought it would be the perfect romantic setting for the wedding – familiar and informal, yet brimming with old-world elegance.
Exhibiting perhaps the last vestige of civilized living, the Club still requires men to wear dinner jackets, whites are de rigueur on the tennis court, and no blue jeans or “anything with holes” are to be worn anywhere, thank you very much. Surrounded by a throng of attractive young people, I felt as if I had stepped right into the pages of a Ralph Lauren ad.
The wedding weekend began Thursday evening as the guests gathered in the garden for cocktails and dinner alfresco. The groom’s beautiful sister, Gannon Hunt, in from Thomasville, Georgia, land of bountiful quail plantations, hosted the dinner along with Los Angelinos Lauren and Richard King.
Family members in attendance included grandparents of the groom, Joan and Dr. George Bayoud of Dallas and Lyford Cay; and various aunts, uncles, and cousins: Vickie and George Bayoud, Jr. with their children, Griffin and Meredith; Myth and David Bayoud with their son, Charlie; and Lynn Hunt (wife of Ward Hunt, Sr.) with their daughter Camille and son Will.
Of course, the Hunt/Murchison clan was there en masse from Dallas. Representing two of the biggest names in Texas were Hara Hunt; Hilre Hunt with her son, Harry Frost; Alinda and Jim Wikert; Heather and Ray Washburne; Barbara Jeanne Coffman; Bill and Mary Noel Lamont; and Helen and Clint Murchison III.
Other happy celebrants included Beau Turner (Ted Turner’s son); Luce and Winston Churchill of London and Palm Beach; NY designer Carleton Varney; Lynn Crystal and Chris Carson of San Antonio; Mike Unwin of Toronto; Jacline Mazard of Lyford Cay; Christa and Stuart Dunn of Lyford Cay and Montreal with their sons, Whitney and Brendan; and from Los Angeles, Libby and Will Doheny with their daughter, Megan, a Stanford tennis player.
Penny and Bill Spry attended the nuptials, along with Count Christoph Nostitz and his wife, Countess Drewry Hanes Nostitz, granddaughter of the great hosiery magnate. From North Carolina, Betsy and David Morris arrived with their daughter, Elizabeth (who graduated from Hotchkiss and Duke with Ward), Jed Lykes, III (of the giant shipping family) and his wife Debe flew in from Tampa.
The Honorable Bruce Gibson; Mary and Dr. Joe Abell; and Jennifer and Chuck Rice came down from Austin, and Tanya and Ken Collins; Linda and Jim Baccus;and Julie and Edgar Sanchez flew in from Houston.
Friday, the guests enjoyed “Lunch by the Beach,” hosted by Teran and Bill Davis of Montecito, Gayle and Dennis Flynn of Chicago, Heidi Houston of Aspen, and Jeanne Lawrence and Denise Rich of New York. The Bahamas-style cookout – hot dogs, hamburgers, and the Club’s famous coconut ice cream – was a colorful and casual affair, with guests returning from an array of morning activities.
That evening, the groom’s parents hosted an “Island Rehearsal Dinner” at the Old Fort private club, perfect for their 140 guests. “For Texans, this is an intimate affair,” exclaimed Dallasite Jacque Wynne in her Texas twang. “Anything under 500 in Texas is intimate.”
Traditional Bahamian fare like conch fritters made for savory appetizers, while the popular, yet lethal, Rum Dum drinks helped set an ebullient and festive mood. Everyone loved the Caribbean-influenced style of the room, with its exotic floral centerpieces atop burlap covered tables. Island orchids, birds of paradise, and ginger flowers exploded with color next to mounds of ripe mangoes, papayas, coconuts, and bananas, all arranged by Ft. Worth florist Bill Bostelmann under Laura’s unerring eye.
When it was time for dinner, The Junkanoos beckoned the crowd with colorful masks and costumes, playing music like the pied pipers of the party. So what’s Junkanoo? Dating back to the 17th century slave trade, Junkanoo is a festive parade that preserves and celebrates the African heritage of many Bahamians. Several times a year, joyous locals “rush” through the streets of Nassau, dancing, pounding drums, ringing bells, and blowing horns from one end of the island to the other. It makes Mardi Gras look like a quaint afternoon tea.
World-renowned Calypso musician Count Bernadino, who once performed for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, added even more authentic music to the event. The children danced to his ditties, and the entire room’s revelry could be heard by those dining next door. Among the curious was Sir Sean Connery, the original 007, who popped in to see the action.
Guests were free to play on Saturday. And everyone had a long list of leisure activities to choose from. Some folks played tennis and golf, others snorkeled, kayaked, and water skied, while others opted for a leisurely lunch and sun on the pristine beaches.
One group drove to Paradise Island (formerly Hog Island, you can see why they’d want to change the name!) to tour the colossal Atlantis Hotel and Casino complex, a fantasy re-creation of the lost Island of Atlantis. They then lunched at the adjacent Ocean Club, the refined, colonial-style building that served as the set for Casino Royale, last winter’s film chronicling the latest adventures of Ian Fleming’s debonair super spy. Must have been a treat for actor Daniel Craig to play James Bond in such an exquisite locale!
Saturday night was The Wedding! The ceremony took place in St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, under a full moon and spectacular Caribbean skies.
The bridesmaids wore flowing aqua, yellow and white gowns, featuring coral patterns and crystal beading – perfect dress for a tropical wedding. In a nod to Texas, the groomsmen and ushers wore yellow rose boutonnières in their navy blue blazers over beige gabardine pants.
Ward’s best man was his bachelor brother, Andrew Hunt, and the groomsmen included Richmond Flowers III, son of football great Richmond Flowers II; Grant Kornman; Terry Sharma; John Stephenson; and Stahl Urban.
And the bride wore ivory. Texas beauty Amy selected a Monique Lhuillier couture gown made of French Alençon lace over latté charmeuse satin, accented with a crystal-encrusted beige silk sash – ever so perfectly fitted – and a matching lace fingertip veil.
Amy’s matron of honor was her twin sister, Amber Maxwell Abell, and her maid of honor was her younger sister, Billie Ann Maxwell – each a stunning redhead, too. The bridesmaids were Kaydee Cox; Andrea Holmgreen; Gannon Hunt; and Courtney Marsh.
Ward’s half-brother, Will Hunt, and nephew, Beau Turner, Jr. (Gannon Hunt’s son) were the ring bearers. Little Beau’s poise as he strutted down the aisle would have made his grandpa, Ted Turner, proud.
Renowned for her party-planning flair and exquisite taste, the always chic Laura Hunt lived up to her reputation this evening. The Wedding Dinner Party was hot from the minute guests entered, from the hibiscus pink décor, to the musical stylings of The Soulful Groovers.
And boy howdy, do Texans love their football! (After all, Lamar Hunt founded the AFL and the Kansas City Chiefs, and coined the phrase, “Super Bowl.”) Since Saturday night was the final night of the NFC playoffs between the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, Ward’s very own uncle, George Bayoud, former Texas Secretary of State, and another relative, Clint Murchison, III (whose father, Clint Murchison II founded the Dallas Cowboys) led a gang to the Club library to watch the game…leaving many a football widow alone on the dance floor.
Although Dallas lost the game, I learned it takes much more than that to dampen that hearty Texan spirit. Soon, everyone was back on the dance floor and in a party mood!
When the band stopped after the bewitching hour, many headed to the cozy cigar bar for brandy and Macanudos until that bar closed, too.
Some stayed up all night just “shooting the bull.”
Texans love to entertain and be entertained – and if you’re with them, you’re sure to have fun!
Photographs by Jeanne Lawrence.