Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there's no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we're asking couples to open up for our column, "Love Looks Like This." Here, India Hicks—the style icon and newlywed who also serves as an executive board member for the Global Empowerment Mission and ambassador to The Prince’s Trust—shares her love story, as told to friend and writer Michelle Crowe.
This could not be called a whirlwind romance. I first knew David as a friend of my older sister’s. He would occasionally rescue me from boarding school. Years later, we shared a rather romantic evening at a charity event in the Bahamas. Oddly, neither of us have ever been to a gala in Nassau before or since. It was just the once, when we wound up kissing on the steps of Government House, where my mother and I were staying. Then he went off with a ballerina, and I with a Greek for several years.
After a difficult and confusing time in my late twenties, I decided that finding a bit of balance on the island I had spent much of my childhood on sounded more appealing than waiting on modeling jobs in New York. While there, I was reminded that David was back on nearby Harbour Island. I decided to try to find him. David calls this our Casablanca moment. Of all the gin joints in all the world, I walked into his. He was running a small hotel, and I decided to stay. A few months later, I was pregnant. He asked me to marry him. I said "No, thank you." (In my mind, I was saying, “I'm a strong, independent woman! I don't need to get married!” Which is what I said for 26 years, until suddenly I didn't.)
Four more children followed as we built a wonderful, busy, unexpected life together.
Bringing up a family as strangers in a strange land created challenges that were partly geographic, as living on a tiny island in the West Indies gave us all a gentler way of life, but one quite far away from family, friends. In the Bahamas, if you are not born and bred on the island, you are known as seaweed, because the tide brings you in and takes you out again.
My aunt, who had a very long, very successful relationship, always said that marriage should be based on respect, kindness, and humor. I think of that often, most especially as David and I don’t only live together, parent together, but also on occasion work together, which needs a vast amount of respect, kindness, and humor.
We once had a blazing row. I stormed off to our bedroom, livid. Just before going to sleep, I wrote him a note: "You are so, so annoying." It was one of those furious notes that you should never write! You should always leave it until the morning, but I wrote it that night and stuck it to the little decorative pillows I had recently bought for our bed. In the morning, there was a reply on the bottom of the note in David’s handwriting: "If this note is for the little pillows. I agree. You are so, so annoying."
After all this time, I can’t tell you what he loves about me—you’d have to ask him that—but I can tell you what he doesn’t love. Those little pillows, and the fact that I wear too many workout clothes. I should be dressing as Grace Kelly! But what I love about him is that, nearly every day, David says something or tells something or explains something that I've never heard before that is interesting and balanced and thought-through. I think it’s very hard to do, and one of the lovely things about being 54 and appreciating somebody is, when you're 20, you think about his looks, his dress, his fast car...But at 54, I respect his opinion.
A collaborative highlight for us was designing The Landing Hotel. The first mark of that endeavor’s success is that we did it without killing each other. The second is that we were able to combine Bahamian and British influences into a design story that suits the island, highlighting the beloved owner Miss Brenda, the very first woman ever crowned Miss Bahamas. In renovating that property, David and I really came together on our vision of what island life was.
We continued this way for many happy years, working on projects together and apart, traveling for work and for pleasure, whilst doing all we could to guide our children as they grew, graduated and launched careers of their own.
All of that came to a screeching halt when Covid hit. We were fortunate to be able to spend that first long lockdown together, at home, reading and cooking, fighting over intense games of monopoly, celebrating birthdays, laughing, and crying. It felt like the clock had stopped, and we were grateful for sunshine, space, and a moment where we could all sit and reflect.
When the lockdown ended and we began to tentatively come out of that time together, there were a lot of questions for the kids, aged 24 down to 13. The world felt very turbulent, very unstable, and the future looked very unpredictable. I wanted something grounding and anchoring not just for my children but also for myself. I suggested we get married.
David was stunned, all the way up to the very last minute. He’d say, “I still haven't accepted your offer.” So it was surprising to find him waiting for me at the altar.
I think we were all a little stunned right up till the very last moment. I won’t ever forget driving to the church with my two eldest children. Wesley at the wheel, Felix tucked up behind me. "Mum," Felix said, "this feels so strange, so unlike you." "I know what you mean," I replied from behind my veil, "like we should be getting a tattoo or a drink or something."
I didn’t really expect being married to feel any different than not being married. We had been locked in a loving relationship for 26 years already. But it took my breath away to find how spiritual it felt to walk into the church on the arm of my eldest son and to say those vows to David in front of all our friends and family, in the church where I had been christened and where my father lay buried just outside. It felt intensely intimate. I hadn't expected to say those words, “till death do us part,” and for them to mean something. And they really did, mean something.
David likes to say we’ve sort of done everything in the reverse: We had a child, and then we had five children; we had a house, then we built businesses; and, then, suddenly, we sort of did a Dorian Gray and went backwards and had a wedding and a honeymoon. It was an absolutely bizarre reverse.
What’s interesting is, when you fall in love at 19 or 20, you have a very different perception of what love is to when you're 54, and you think of love more as long term.
Today, David and I have very busy lives with a lot of projects, a lot of children, and a lot of complications. In the madness of what’s been an unexpected journey, our wedding felt like we had a few weeks where life became very simple. It was a deeply special and memorable time for us as a family.
As we drove away from the church, the words of Morgan Harper Nichols, read during the service by our son Conrad, lingered warmly with me, as I thought about our future. Your story is far from finished yet and you are allowed to find peace here, even before you know what happens next.