Love is what makes the world go ‘round, after all! Jess Nakryako had a lot to be excited about as her wedding day approached this past April. Not only was she going to get married, but she would be helping her best friend, Jessica Kieley, get one step closer to the altar herself.
Nakrayko tells The Knot that she and Kieley have known each other since they were in elementary school. Despite moves that took the lifelong pals all over Canada, the Newfoundland natives remained best friends through adulthood. “We visited each other at the places we lived—Montreal, Calgary—and always coordinated our trips home to Newfoundland the same time,” she says. “We also planned yearly trips together, including a couples’ trip that the four of us took to Jamaica a few years back.”
A few months before the wedding, in February, Nakryako chatted with Kieley about her own relationship, hinting that an engagement was surely on the horizon now that the pair had been dating for four or five years. “[Jessica and her boyfriend Adam Brake] recently bought a house, so naturally the next step was an engagement,” Nakryako says. “So talking to her, she really dismissed it happening anytime soon, but upon asking Adam, he wanted to do it sooner than later.”
Nakryako decided to approach Brake with an idea: What if he proposed to Kieley during her wedding weekend in Jamaica? Brake told Nakryako that he didn’t want to steal her wedding “thunder,” though, so he initially hesitated about making plans that close in proximity to Nakryako’s big day. But the bride-to-be says she knew her childhood friend would be surprised and so thrilled.
“I knew that Jess would want to be with her closest friends to celebrate, and what better way than in paradise?” Nakryako says. “So we agreed that he would propose on the wedding trip, a couple of days after our wedding.”
But as it got closer to the wedding, Nakryako’s sister came up with another idea. “‘What if we did the bouquet toss but instead of you throwing it, you go right up to Jessica, pass it to her, and Adam was behind her ready to propose?’” Nakryako’s sister asked. “From there, through tears, we talked about him proposing to ‘Marry Me’ by Bruno Mars, with the song switching halfway through.” Nakryako approached Brake with the new plan, and after a few back-and-forths, he said he was in.
On the day of the wedding, Nakryako says she couldn’t stop beaming when she thought of the surprise that would happen at the end of the night. “Throughout the day, I just kept looking at her, thinking, ‘She has no idea how happy she is about to be in a couple of hours’ and I just could not wait! She put her entire heart and soul into the planning process so I knew she was ready to take off her shoes, throw her hair in a bun, and finally relax now that it was all over. But I knew that this would be the ultimate thank you for everything she had done. … Even walking down the aisle and seeing her smile at me on my day, with the love of my life, I just kept thinking, ‘This is going to be you!’”
Finally, the big moment arrived. Photographer Ross Dance was in on the plan, and on hand to capture the touching moment. “The experience was unlike anything I had ever witnessed,” Dance tells The Knot. “Jess gave me a heads-up that it was happening and I was extremely nervous leading up to it. As Jess walked over all I could think about was that there would be a moment when her best friend realized what was happening and that was the reaction I needed to capture. As soon as her best friend realized what was about to transpire, my eyes filled up with tears and I became a spectator. I actually had to snap myself out in order to keep taking photos. The energy and love in the room was palpable.”
Nakryako says that in the moment, she and Kieley didn’t exchange many words, just “a lot of tears and emotions, as we were both so grateful for what the other had done.” Afterward, however, reflecting back on her wedding day, Nakryako says she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“I found love and got to marry my soulmate,” she says. “I want everyone, especially the people close to me, to experience that love and happiness too. Weddings sometimes end up getting away from what a wedding should be, through all the expensive things in planning, worrying about the venue, the dress, food, pleasing other people, etc.—it starts to take away what a wedding is about. All I wanted to do was celebrate my love that I have with my husband, and if I had to opportunity to help my best friend’s fiancé make her the happiest girl in the world at that moment, of course I would! No questions asked. … Love is not a selfish thing, so neither should a day of love be.”
Adds Naykryako, “I cannot wait to try and repay her in the same way she did for me. I cannot wait to start the planning and support her along the way. She deserves a world of happiness and I am just happy to be a little piece to begin her own love story.”