(BRIGHTLINE NEWS)_Saturday, August 24, marked another Brightline, soon to be Virgin Trains, milestone as the rail service hosted its first onboard wedding. Paul Ward and Jules Bandiera of Wilton Manors said “I do” on the train between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in front of 40 invited guests. The couple are huge fans of Brightline, connecting with friends in Miami and West Palm Beach, and thought what better place for the occasion.
Brightline also gifted the happy couple with a commemorative Red Spike from the Orlando groundbreaking marking the beginning of the “Red Spike Era,” a pair of Brightline annual passes, champagne flutes and other Brightline memorabilia.
Here's the backstory:
From Wilton Manors, celebrated LGBT neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Paul Ward was introduced to Jules Bandiera about a year ago. Paul, a retired ship captain and pilot and transportation buff, now works at The Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors as a facilities and IT manager. Jules is a former flight attendant from Gol Airlines and from Brazil, who decided to take his 6 month furlow to learn English in Fort Lauderdale. During Jules’ time in Fort Lauderdale, he attended many of the LGBT events hosted by The Pride Center where Paul first noticed him. Their courtship was quite funny and endearing.
For 2 ½ years, they brushed shoulders into each other at various events around town. Paul was shy about approaching Jules, assuming that he was off the market. Jules, interested in Paul, made the assumption that Paul was straight. Jules hadn’t dated anyone in 13 years and Paul 9 years.
After Paul made it known to a mutual friend that he was interested in Jules, but was too shy to ask him out. As Paul says, “I’m 6’2, 244 pounds but I’m not bold.” This friend was standing with Jules one day and decided to call Paul directly putting him on the spot to ask if he was really interested in Jules. Paul of course admitted and the friend handed the phone to Jules, and Paul was finally connected with Jules on the phone and asked him on their first date.
Their first date was in Fort Lauderdale on October 30 and ended up being 3 hours of them getting to know each other. Towards the end of the date they held hands and as Paul says “there was this wonderful energy
that was impalpable when he held hands.”
It wasn’t easy at first, as they traveled constantly back and forth between South Florida + Brazil, using up any and all vacation days to spend as much time together as possible. When Jules had a month off once, they decided to spend the entire month together (half in Brazil, half in Florida) to spend more time together and explore their future.
After the month together, Jules was offered a buyout in March when Delta bought Gol Airlines. Jules called Paul and already knew what he wanted to do. Paul agreed and Jules moved to Fort Lauderdale.
Paul proposed several months later on June 30th during sunset at Fort Lauderdale Beach
As Paul says, the entire courtship and life situations that ended up putting them together was “organic.”
“Everything just fell into place, it almost feels like divine intervention.”
Referring to the events that brought them to find each other, despite long distances and miscommunication between the two.
Why Brightline? Paul was a huge fan of all things transportation, especially Brightline which he has been riding in South Florida since day 1. In the beginning of summer 2019, he was outside The Pride Center where the Brightline passes through, thinking of where they can pronounce their love. They were considering a yacht wedding. Suddenly the Brightline came passing through and Paul saw it as a sign.
“I was stopped in my tracks!”
They were married on Brightline on Saturday, August 24 by Pastor Leslie Rutland-Tipton of the LGBT Christian Church and joined by 40 of their closest friends and family from Brazil to Sarasota. Pastor Leslie announced their official marriage right as they pull into the West Palm Beach station.
Exploring what to see and do in North Palm Beach and the South Florida area. Your hosts are Pam and Gerry Barker.
Listen to Chapter One of "Panama Palmer"