It was Sunday night in Montego Bay, mere days before Kerry Vasiliauskas and Mike Simms’ wedding day. Most of the guests had already settled into the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites. The welcome dinner had just ended and the couple were walking through the lobby when Kerry spotted Katie, a friend Mike hadn’t seen in a decade. She and another close friend, Noah, had just arrived to surprise the groom. Kerry silently stepped out of the way so her fiancé could see the latest additions to their guest list. Mike was speechless. He threw himself into hugs with his old pals, his eyes wet with tears.
This unplanned moment, strangely enough, fit perfectly into the bigger plan. Kerry and Mike had opted for a destination wedding largely for the purpose of reconnecting with the people they love, not just celebrating their own relationship. Many of their closest friends live in different cities, and even countries, and with the recent passing of Mike’s stepfather, Jim, the idea of escaping to a paradise with loved ones just seemed to make sense.
“As you get older and people start to leave your life, you start to feel like you need to spend as much time as you can with people,” says Kerry.
Kerry and Mike met on Plenty of Fish in 2009. Things were casual at first. Mike, an IT professional, liked that Kerry was genuine and smart — and he thought she was gorgeous. Kerry, who works in HR, appreciated Mike’s generosity.
“He never questions helping someone out,” she shares about her husband.
They laughed together a lot, but it took a few years for things to get serious. Then, in November 2015, they planned a trip to Boston where Mike, a big sports fan, took Kerry on a tour of Fenway Park. He led her up to the seats along the top of the Green Monster, the high green wall in left field. It was so cold up there, Kerry’s eyes were watering before Mike got on one knee and asked her to marry him. She immediately started crying — she cries at everything, she admits. The only thing she could say was “Are you kidding?”
Mike waited it out, staying down on one knee until she finally grabbed the ring.
To get help with their evolving plans, Kerry turned to destination wedding specialist Tezra Lesage, who was working out of Kerry’s hometown of Brantford, with the hopes she could efficiently narrow down the myriad of choices facing the couple.
“She made the process quite easy,” Kerry recalls. Later, Lesage worked with the team on the ground in Jamaica, effortlessly putting all their ideas into place.
“She always made sure that nothing was left behind,” Kerry says.
At the resort, the focus on friends, family and fun began with Kerry and Mike’s welcome bags, which took up almost an entire suitcase. This playful but practical collection of favours included flip flops, hand sanitizer and an itinerary, among other things. Resort staff decorated the couple’s resort room door and gave them custom t-shirts — and went out of their way to ensure everyone had a good time.
By Diana Peters