A Magical Wedding Experience in Deía Mallorca
This village is a place of love …
Tall, elegant and patrician, today Jackie Waldren is a much-loved figure around Deía
Freshly graduated from UCLA, this young American was making her way across Europe before returning home. Following the recommendation of a fellow student from anthropology class, she planned to stay in Deía for a couple of days.
As the once a day ‘47 Dodge bus wended its way slowly along the mountain roads, little did she know that she was about to meet her destiny. The year was 1959 and Jackie is still in the village almost sixty years later!
Jackie describes the beauty of the landscape, the sea views and the wildness of the mountains of her first journey across the island as if it were yesterday.
Sitting behind a beautiful young couple who kissed and kissed throughout the trip, Jackie thought how beautiful Love is.
Arriving in Deía around lunchtime, the shutters were down, the village asleep and there was no one on the street but she found her way to the Pension Coll, which is now Sa Fonda, a local bar frequented by one and all.
Greeted by a lovely heavyset woman called Marguerita, she was shown to her room on the ground floor, where the farmácia now is. The room held a four-poster bed with a white crocheted bedspread and a canopy. In the corner stood an enamel basin on a wooden stand with a pitcher below, for in those days there was no running water and only a couple of hours of electricity each evening.
That is how Jackie arrived in Deía
Since that first journey up to the village, Jackie has believed that Deía, is a place of love but getting married on Mallorca can be a complicated business for foreigners. Many choose to deal with the legalities of marriage through a registry office at home or on the island, while keeping the wedding celebration separate.
Of course, it is unsurprising that Mallorca is such a popular wedding destination with so many options to consider including fincas, orchards, mountains, restaurants, beaches, hotels, boats and more
Returning to live in the village full time a few years ago, Jackie was writing, reconnecting with people and enjoying other activities when a friend of her daughter’s with an events planning agency approached her. The woman had British clients who wanted a wedding in English. Given Jackie’s extensive public speaking experience, would she be interested in being the wedding celebrant? Always up for an adventure, the answer was of course yes!
Having never considered such a thing, Jackie found on the Internet a kaleidoscope of wedding styles from Indian weddings to Navajo weddings, Jewish weddings, non-sectarian weddings and more.
After working with several different wedding planners, Jackie recognizes what a tremendous asset they can be. She says that they take most of the stress out of the process including offering newsletters and other information with lots of detail while acting as a buffer between the different parties involved. There are several celebrants on the island and their fees vary between approximately 300-800 euros. Most of their work comes through the agencies.
Jackie describes the process as highly creative. She begins by giving the couple a brief questionnaire that includes a request for a simple description of what makes the other so special to them. There is a back and forth as the form of the ceremony evolves. The agency deals with places, food, clothes, décor and other practicalities, while the celebrant focuses on words, stories and philosophy. Gradually the ceremony emerges like shoots from the ground. In a way the celebrant is much like a gardener whose job it is to bring forth the best and most unique qualities of the union.
“Most of these couples have been together for a long time already. What’s wonderful is how they describe each other. Much deeper than she’s sexy, they say things like she’s funny and she picks up my spirit.”
Across the Island, Jackie has officiated for people from around the globe in a myriad of situations from extravaganzas at the fabulous Belmond La Residencia with hundreds of guests to the reaffirming of a couple’s vows with only their three-year-old and their two mothers under a palm tree in a beautiful garden.
Jackie tells the story of what one couple wrote about each other. On the day of the Virgin of Carmen, a beautiful young Spanish doctor prayed before going out to a club that maybe she should meet a nice man that night. On the same evening a tall handsome Norwegian developer made his way to the same club. Of the experience of seeing a gorgeous woman across the dance floor, he wrote “Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger across a crowded room.”
Last year Jackie officiated at the wedding of her friends Amanda Pickett and Gary Clarke, Scottish antique dealers who had recently settled into Jackie’s Museum House in Deía. The couple have been together for more than fifteen years and have five children: Bailey, Scarlett, twin girls called Olive and Liberty and, luckily for Gary, a son called Clyde.
Gary and Amanda sell some of the loveliest antiques to be seen on the island. Amanda is the middle sister of a trio of beautiful women whose parents were major league antique restorers based in Dundee. Style is an essential element of their life and the three girls can turn their skills to almost any craft with aplomb. Amanda styles interiors and weddings as well as offering workshops.
From the wonderful Victorian inspired outfits that Grandma June made to the bouquets, food, decorations and music, their family or friends produced everything for the wedding. No limousine for Amanda. Instead she drove herself to the wedding in a jeep with her habitual biker boots peeping out from below her white lace skirt.
Up at the amphitheatre that looks down to the village and out to the sea, Jackie officiated at one of the most romantic, relaxed and joy filled weddings you can imagine while Liberty and Olive played at their parents’ feet.
Afterwards the happy couple led their guests back to Museum House for a fabulous reception. It was a very Deía day.
Let’s go back to that day of Jackie’s arrival in Deía. After a walk up to the church, on return to the pension she was invited to join the painter George Sheridan and his friends for dinner. With only one spare seat at the table, she sat down next to an American called Bill.
While playing wonderful music on a battery-operated tape recorder, Bill began to tell Jackie his life story.
Brought up in the depression, he had experienced many tragedies such as losing his last ten cents in the snow on the way to buy bread. Later he became a figure skating champion and went on to study at the Art Students League in New York. Having been drafted into the ski troops, he was about to leave for Japan when the war ended.
On first leaving the army, Bill joined Holiday on Ice, a famous ice follies starring the Norwegian skater Sonja Henie which brought him to Paris where he ended both his skating career and his first marriage. Having been in the military he was entitled to the GI Bill, an initiative that provided veterans with education and allowed him to study at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
In the summer of 1953 when everyone got out of Paris, Bill first came to Mallorca and settled in a house outside Deía. Over the next few years, he travelled between Paris, Deía and occasionally the USA. That is how he came to be having dinner at Pension Coll on the day of Jackie’s arrival.
After dinner, everyone walked to Can Quet to dance and drink. By the time they got there, Jackie knew Bill’s life story. The music on the wind-up vitrola was a pasa doble. At 6’1” and used to dancing on skates, Bill quite literally swept Jackie off her feet!
When everyone strolled back to the village and disbanded for the night, Bill and Jackie kept walking. Outside Robert Graves’ house he grabbed Jackie and kissed her.
Stepping back, Jackie said, “I don’t do that on first meeting.”
They walked on for a while before Jackie asked, “Would you like to do that again?”
The day was August 17th 1959. They married on January 25th 1960.
Jackie Waldren can be reached at [email protected]
Amanda Pickett and Gary Clarke can be reached at
By Rosalinda Much
26 November, 2018