Guess who attended a wedding reception for newlyweds Garo and Zepure Kurumlian aboard the ACAA Heritage Cruise XVI?
All 800 Armenian guests onboard the luxury MSC cruise liner Poesia, along with the captain and a host of personnel.
It was a page out of a wedding songbook for the couple who met in Aleppo 22 years ago and finally tied the knot after a long and arduous relationship.
And they couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the grand occasion than with a boat full of Armenians sailing the Caribbean in January.
It was the talk of the cruise as scuttlebutt travels fast aboard a ship full of Armenians. At first, people thought they would exchange nuptials before Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, but that wasn’t the case.
Proper protocol in the Armenian Church had the couple exchanging vows at St. Stephen’s Church in Watertown the Friday before departure, then receive their blessings while afloat.
The Armenian Prelacy vicar cherished the sacred moment as much as the jubilant couple and all those witnessing the ceremony as the music played on. What a sight to belong as people chanted religious hymns.
A steady wave of umbrella drinks was served up complimentary, thanks to the ACAA organizers, who left no stone unturned with their hospitality.
“We were a little nervous by all the attention,” admitted Zepure. “We didn’t know how it would be received by the people. As we got to know our guests, people said, ‘Here comes the bride and groom,’ and greeted us warmly. We became somewhat of a celebrity couple.”
The two were dressed for the occasion—she in a white bridal gown and he in a dark-colored suit. A large tattoo was obvious on Zepure’s right arm, inspired by a hand-made wall rug her mother made when she was a child. It is the symbol of Armenia’s Coat of Arms. The words “Mah gam azadutyun,” meaning “death or freedom” symbolizes the ARF Zinaneshan.
“The tattoo honors my father’s dedication to our people in their time of need,” she explained. “He had many friends he lost along the way and others who were taken as political prisoners. I respect his sacrifice and the turmoil that resulted in re-establishing our freedom as a nation.”
The two met for the first time in 1990 through mutual family relationships. Garo was born in Antelias and educated there. He became a professional photographer/videographer and was running the family studio by age 24. Currently, he’s established himself in the photography circuit locally while working at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., as an orderly until business picks up.
Zepure is employed as a pharmacy technician at Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital. She also tutors at Bunker Hill Community College and serves as an advisor for various health departments. They live in Reading and have cultivated their roots at St. Stephen’s Apostolic Church, where they were married.
“We didn’t approach one another as a potential life partner, just long, lost friends after years of being apart by the worlds in which we lived. There were many sleepless nights in front of Skype,” they agreed.
Talk about the royal treatment. Certain privileges were granted to these newlyweds. While moored at the Caymans, they were led out to a lifeboat for transportation inland, bypassing the long lines waiting for the tenders. A dinner table drew frequent well-wishers.
They toured the island of Jamaica, went snorkeling with the stingrays, toured the shops with their parents and godparents (Hagop and Lisa Khorozian), and booked once more for next year’s cruise aboard the new and expansive MSC Divina.
“As the news started traveling that there was to be an Armenia wedding this year, the women especially became extremely supportive and began actively planning an agenda,” said Zepure. “At first, the date and time was kept a secret, which made the whole ordeal irresistibly more gossip-worthy.”
The Armenian dance group Akh’tamar was quickly recruited along with the musicians onboard. And in they came, dancing to “Hars oo pesa.” A big, red apple was placed on a tray of wine as an added complement.
A quick change of clothes and the bride reappeared in a dazzling red dress to dance the night away. The clapping and singing and toasting and nibbling on a vast array of appetizers left an indelible imprint—and killed everyone’s appetite for dinner. Nobody complained.
“This memorable moment will be revisited in years to come,” said the couple.
As for other prospective couples on the cruise, they offer this advice, “Anticipation is a pretty wonderful commodity. Once you find someone you like, don’t let go. The world is your oyster and if you look close enough, you’ll find your pearl.”