Paul Ward and Jules Bandiera got married fast —at 79 mph aboard a Brightline train. And they became the first couple to wed on the high-speed passenger train.
The nuptials took place about 2 p.m. Saturday, between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. There was a quick photo session and celebration at the West Palm Beach station before they hopped the train back to Fort Lauderdale
The setting was chosen because they have high speed and travel in common.
Ward is a retired ship captain, pilot and transportation buff. Bandiera is a former flight attendant with Gol Airlines in Brazil. He took a 6-month furlough to learn English in Fort Lauderdale.
Ward now works as a facilities and information technology manager at The Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors.
For over two years they bumped into each other at various events around town. Ward was shy about approaching Bandiera, assuming that he was off the market. Bandiera was interested but assumed Ward was straight. Bandiera hadn’t dated anyone in 13 years, and Ward nine years.
Ward told a mutual friend that he was interested in Bandiera but was too shy to ask him out.
“I’m 6-foot-2, 244 pounds but I’m not bold,” said Ward.
The friend was standing with Bandiera one day and decided to phone Ward and put him on the spot. The mutual friend handed the phone to Bandiera and the two finally connected.
Their first date was Oct. 30 where they spent three hours getting to know each other.
“There was this wonderful energy that was palpable when he held hands,” Ward said.
Their growing relationship had to split time between South Florida and Brazil, until Bandiera moved to Fort Lauderdale. He took a buyout offer in March when Delta Airlines bought Gol Airlines.
Ward proposed on June 30 during sunset at Fort Lauderdale beach.
“Everything just fell into place, it almost feels like divine intervention,” he said.
Why Brightline (which is being re-branded as Virgin Trains USA)? Ward is a huge fan of all things transportation, especially Brightline, which he has been riding since service started in January 2018.
One summer day, he was standing outside The Pride Center considering a wedding on a yacht when a Brightline train zipped past him and Ward saw it as a sign.
“I was stopped in my tracks,” he said.
About 40 of their closest friends and family from Brazil to Sarasota were in attendance.
Pastor Leslie Rutland-Tipton of the LGBT Christian Church presided over the ceremony, partly to ensure Paul and Jules would start their lives together on the right track.