A chance meeting between two sailors in the Virgin Islands leads to a whirlwind romance swept along by the waves of the Caribbean Sea. For Hamish Hopkins, 37, a Canadian oilfield hand, and Kelli Hopkins, 37, a speech pathologist from Georgia, love truly knows no boundaries. Here is their love story.
Wedding photography by Alyssa Dupree with A. Dupree designs
How did you two meet?
H: Kelli and I met while both attending a week-long sailing program in the British Virgin Islands. I arrived to the island after everyone else, and when I got to the boat I was assigned to, nobody was around. After trying to find a way into a locked catamaran, a beautiful blonde woman who had seen my predicament came over and introduced herself.
K: The moment I met him, I felt a spark. By the final night of the sailing program, I was completely interested in him. That was in August, and by October we were sailing together again.
H: If the randomness of a globe-trotting oilfield hand falling in love with a beautiful southern lady while sailing the Caribbean isn’t unique, then I’m not sure what is!
K: Despite our geographical differences, our atypical jobs have allowed us to actually date and fall in love. We planned our wedding in four days; that is not what every girl dreams of, but it is so us.
What is your favorite thing to do together?
H: I think sailing will forever be our favorite thing to do as a couple. So many people have that mental image of sailing away into the sunset. Well, Kelli and I met and fell in love while sailing into the sunset–that’s pretty hard to beat!
When did you realize you had met “the one”?
K: After our first sailing trip together. We were working together, depending on each other, sailing in paradise, and learning about each other’s families—it was definitely a first date that made things “real” a lot faster than dinner and a movie.
H: This is where things take a bit of a twist. As a Canadian citizen, I hadn’t ever thought of getting my U.S. residency. That all changed when I met Kelli, and we decided it would be best if we married soon so that we could start the residency process immediately. After getting Kelli’s parents’ blessing and speaking with family and friends, we decided to have a small civil ceremony the following week.
What was your experience like shopping for the ring at Diamonds Direct?
K: Since we were planning a wedding in four days, we needed wedding bands quickly. I had found Diamonds Direct online a few months earlier, so I reached back out to them to see if they could help. They found the exact bands at their North Carolina store that Friday afternoon, and they were delivered to my parents’ house in Georgia by the next morning, the day of our wedding. Now, that’s customer service—we were thrilled!
What advice would you give to someone else about love?
H: Don’t wait too long. Considering we had a cross-border relationship, I could have spent the next five years trying to get everything in order before proposing. But I love Kelli, and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I may never get my ducks in a row, but I’ve made the woman of my dreams happy.
K: My advice would be to remain hopeful. I dealt with years and years of endless dating and short term relationships, and that can be so hard. But, there is always hope. Enjoy your girlfriends in the meantime and do something fun and adventurous… like sailing!
What are you most looking forward to about spending the rest of your lives together?
H: Everything. I love being with Kelli, even when one or both of us is being a pirate! I look forward to whatever life has to offer us.
K: Our relationship has been an adventure from the beginning, and I’m ready for the continued hills and valleys we will climb, skip, hop, and sail through together.