When Rebecca-Lee Chin Merritt spent a semester abroad in London during 2015, she probably didn’t anticipate she’d eventually marry local Kieran Walsh. (After all, the two met through mutual friends and didn’t talk very much during her time across the pond.) But, once she moved back to Miami and snagged his number through a group chat, she decided to shoot her shot and reach out to him separately. “We began talking through FaceTime and messages daily until finally going on a proper date with each other, which was a trip we planned [to the Bahamas] for a week together,” Rebecca shares.
Turns out, distance does make the heart grow fonder: Rebecca eventually moved back to England to complete her Master’s degree in Fashion Psychology, while Kieran pursued his career there in finance. In November 2019, Kieran surprised her with a trip to Morocco—and a proposal.
“We road-tripped from Marrakech to Merzouga and stayed in a tent at Imperial Glory in the Sahara desert,” Rebecca recalls. “He proposed to me at night there with candles lit in the sand. It was just us two, making it very intimate and romantic.”
Since travel was an integral part of their courtship, it was only fitting for the couple to plan a destination wedding. But, where? For the couple, Jamaica was the obvious choice. Not only does Rebecca have family in Jamaica and regularly traveled there as a child, but the island also holds a sacred spot in the couple’s love story. “Our second ‘date’ in-person was a trip to Port Antonio, Jamaica with friends,” the bride shares. “This is really when I felt we had fallen in love.”
Though the couple initially thought planning a destination wedding would reduce their guest count, 200 of their closest family members and friends happily RSVP’d yes to their February 19, 2022 nuptials. From taking in Rebecca’s favorite view during the ceremony at Frenchman’s Cove to dinner and dancing at Norse Hill Estate—the bride’s family home—the festivities offered a personalized taste of Jamaica.
Read on for an intimate look at the nuptials, as planned by Kimberly Wong of I Do Islands and photographed by Lilly Red.
Rebecca and Kieran wanted their nuptials to feel “inviting, comfortable, and warm”—all while being strategic about their resources. Not only did the couple DIY their save-the-dates—and send invitations via Paperless Post to cut down on waste—but they also used local foliage to make a statement. “A lot of the flowers were sourced from our back garden,” the bride shares. “It felt the most natural to utilize local flowers and incorporate color palettes drawing inspiration from the island.”
Rebecca always wanted to get married outdoors and Jamaica offered the perfect, idyllic-meets-oceanic backdrop. Despite the unfavorable weather reports—it rains a lot in Port Antonio, the bride says—the couple was blessed with a sunny wedding day. “A miracle,” she says. The bride kicked off her wedding day in style by primping with her inner circle, which included 14 bridesmaids and two “best people.”
As the COO of Pīitusa, an upscale loungewear and beachwear clothing company, Rebecca is no stranger to a great ensemble. On her wedding day, the bride stunned in an embroidered, form-fitting number from Monique Lhuillier.
“I wanted something simple, but also a dress that was something I couldn’t wear on any other occasion other than a wedding,” she explains. “I knew if I went for something too simple, I’d regret not taking the opportunity to wear something more unique and special.”
When shopping for the perfect wedding dress, Rebecca encourages brides to pick an outfit that makes them feel confident. “People said to wear something you feel comfortable in, but I found that odd because it’s not something most people have the opportunity to wear and feel comfortable in beforehand,” she explains.
Rebecca accessorized the look with drop pearl earrings from Cult Gaia and Jimmy Choo shoes. “I loved these pieces because they are an ode to the sea with their use of pearls and pearl-like beads,” she shares. “I didn’t want to be too over-the-top with jewelry, so I kept it very simple.”
As for her bridesmaids? Rebecca wanted them all to show off their personal styles, so she asked her inner circle to choose their own dress in various shades of green. “I didn’t want to impose a particular style on someone or force anyone to wear something that they didn’t feel themselves in,” she explains. Meanwhile, the couple’s respective sisters were Rebecca’s “best people” and wore champagne-colored dresses to “signify their closeness to the bride and groom.”
Kieran looked dapper in a tuxedo with a white jacket and black pants. “He wore a black bow tie, given to him by his father, [as well as] a black pocket square and cufflinks,” the bride adds.
Suited up in all-black tuxedos, Kieran’s groomsmen perfectly complemented the man of the hour.
The couple exchanged a sweet first look before the ceremony began—a move that was equal parts sentimental and strategic. “We wanted to have a moment of only us two to process the moment before seeing each other with such a large crowd,” Rebecca explains. “We also wanted to get some nice photos together and with the schedule, we had to be at the cocktail hour for sunset. We thought taking photos beforehand would be the best option.”
Through Lilly Red’s lens, the couple looked like they were enveloped in a lush, tropical rainforest. While the couple originally hired a different photographer who canceled on them a few months before the wedding, Rebecca says it all worked out for the best.
“Since I work in fashion, I’ve spent time on the set of shoots and I know how important it is for the photographer to make the people they’re capturing feel comfortable,” she explains. “Kieran and I are self-declared unphotogenic and we were worried we would feel stiff. [But] when I got on a call with [owner] Elisabetta, I felt a genuine connection.”
Wedding planner Kimberly Wong of I Do Islands helped transform Frenchman’s Cove into an intimate, bohemian wonderland with macrame curtains along the ceremony arches and pops of tropical palms, ferns, and monstera plants.
Looking for a way to cool down? Guests could wave the La Paso Bien fan that was placed on their seat or grab a refreshing beverage from Have a Jelly, which was served in a personalized coconut.
Rebecca and her father walked down the aisle to Florence and Machine’s “You’ve Got the Love,” which was performed by local musician and close friend, Tahirah Elizabeth. “It made it so special and intimate that she performed with the band and helped us select the songs for those moments,” the bride recalls.
Though the couple did prepare a few words about their lasting love, they ultimately decided to share those sweet nothings in private. Instead, Kieran and Rebecca opted for a selection of heartfelt readings including a performance of “It Only Takes a Spark.” “This song is sung during a ceremony where you light candles,” the bride shares. “It was a moment of reflection, and felt really peaceful and emotional.”
Once the couple exchanged wedding bands—Rebecca sourced her gold, emerald, and diamond ring from 1stDibs— they recessed down the aisle as husband and wife.
The newlyweds snuck away from the festivities to capture a few additional portraits with their wedding party.
Meanwhile, guests moseyed over to Norse Hill Estate for the reception. “For cocktails, we enjoyed the ocean views from under the main tree,” the bride shares. “This tree is in the backyard and is composed of two different species of trees that grew together; my family believes it symbolizes unity and love.” As Kieran and Rebecca’s favorite people mingled over drinks, they could find their seating assignment on the escort display made by B Design.
Since Norse Hill Estate isn’t typically used as a wedding reception venue, the couple was able to give the ambiance a personalized twist. Here, the tent was dressed up with floral garlands, wicker and macrame chandeliers, and warm uplighting.
Local catering company Summerhouse whipped up a delicious plated dinner. For a mouth-watering meal, guests could choose lobster champagne risotto, beef tenderloin au poivre, or vegan risotto for an entree.
Since no wedding dinner is complete without dessert, guests chowed down on a vanilla naked cake from Piece of Cake. Instead of the typical topper, Kieran and Rebecca opted for tropical birds of paradise as thematic finishing touch.
After entering their venue in an aisle of sparklers, the newlyweds shared a first dance to “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne. Later, Rebecca and her father swayed to “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.
Rebecca and Kieran might have had a larger guest list, but they made sure to create plenty of alone time as husband and wife. “We really liked that we chose to sit at a sweetheart table,” the bride says. “It gave us small moments of time that we could connect, just us two.”
Though most of the day’s vendors are based in Jamaica, the couple tapped Miami-based DJ Genesis for the reception. Not only did the DJ deliver with a pulse-pumping playlist, but there was also a special, star-studded appearance. “Mick Jagger surprised us on the dance floor!” the couple shares. “He danced to a couple of songs, one of them being ‘Moves Like Jagger’ that DJ Genesis so aptly played.”
The party raged on well into the night after a quick costume change from the bride. While the wedding certainly served up great fashion, food, and fanfare, it was important for the happy couple to stay present and grounded throughout the day. “We both tried to stay in the moment at every event and it made such a difference,” Rebecca shares. “Things go by so quickly and you want to make sure to savor every minute.” Relaxing and unwinding with the people you love—isn’t that what island life is all about?
Ceremony Venue Frenchman’s Cove
Reception Venue Norse Hill Estate
Planner Kimberly Wong of I Do Islands
Officiant Reverend Diana Honeyghan of the Local Methodist Church, Port Antonio
Bridal Gown Designer Monique Lhuillier
Bridal Salon Chic Parisien
Bride’s Earrings Cult Gaia
Bride’s Shoes Jimmy Choo
Bride’s Hair Lisa Hutchinson
Bride’s Makeup Kimberly Patterson
Flower Girl Attire Needle & Thread
Wedding Bands 1stDibs
Floral Design Krafted by Design
Invitations Paperless Post
Seating Chart B Design
Coconuts Have a Jelly
Music Tahirah Elizabeth & Band; DJ Genesis
Bar Service Hilrun Enterprises Ltd
Cake Piece of Cake
Desserts Piece of Cake
Rentals The Plush Touch; Krafted by Design
Production Starlight Production Jamaica
Favors La Paso Bien
Transportation Rhoden’s Transportation
Accommodations Geejam Hotel; Great Huts; Goblin Hill; All Nations Villas; Norse Hill Estate; San Bar; Wilk’s Bay
Photography Lilly Red