Justin had recently moved to Durham to pursue a new career. Not knowing many people in the area, he was eager to meet others his own age. He then turned to his fraternity brothers, who gave him a life-changing solution.
Bride: Gerlisa Scott, 28, psychotherapist, native of Providence, Rhode Island
Groom: Justin Wiley, 27, Renewal Manager, a native of Jackson, Tennessee
Current Location: Durham, North Carolina
wedding date: March 28, 2023
Venue/Place: Royalton Blue Waters Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica
How they met
(Justin) I met Gerlisa through a group chat from RDU Black Professionals. After accepting a new job, I moved to Durham, North Carolina. I didn’t know many people, but I’m in a fraternity and I’ve reached out to a few fraternity brothers. You introduced me to the chat.
I started going to some of their events. One was a mixer in Raleigh and I decided to meet people my own age. As the date approached, I almost didn’t go. I did not want to go. At the last minute I changed my mind and decided that I would get up and leave as I had already agreed.
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There were a lot of people around my age. They discussed relationships, how they viewed relationships, why they were single and things like that. We played a game where everyone wrote the color of their shirt and their name on a piece of paper, put them in a hat and shuffled them. Everyone pulled a piece of paper out of their hat and spent about five minutes talking to that person. It was like speed dating.
I drew Gerlisa’s name. She drew someone else, but I went to her first. Once we started talking, I liked her responses and how she cut into the conversation. It didn’t take long before it was time to spin.
At some point during the mixing someone asked her, “Why are you single?” She said, “No one has met my expectations or standards yet.” I said, “So what are your standards?” She seemed so cool. I liked her personality and thought she would be someone I could get along with and explore the city with. At the end of the mixer we reconnected. I told her I was new to the area and asked if we could go to dinner. So we just agreed.
(Gerlisa) We had a good time during our first conversation. I liked his mood. We ended up talking all night and hanging out until 2am. We talked about what we did, where we came from and what our plans were for the future. We had similar interests and goals. I appreciated that about him.
her first date
(Justin) After the mixer we went to the Carolina Ale House. We went with another couple, an impromptu double date. It was a late night and they were a bit slow and understaffed. We ordered food but it took a while. Gerlisa got a little angry, but when the food came she danced happily. After the other couple left, we went to the car and talked for another hour in the parking lot. Our first meeting and the first official appointment went very well.
That’s the one”
(Justin) I knew I had met the one a few months later. We went on a few more dates and started hanging out at each other’s houses. Everything just felt right. My father always told me, “You will know when you know. I knew in a few months this was something I wanted to pursue.
(Gerlisa) There were many reasons to believe Justin was the one. It was the consistency and the good vibes. We were like-minded. He’s patient with me. All of these qualities convinced me that this person was meant for me.
(Justin) In the beginning it was difficult because she played hard to get. She told me she was thinking about moving. I thought, “Oh, okay. I’ve only just arrived.” I was very persistent without being too aggressive. I told her I’d be happy to follow this up with her if she decided to stay.
She showed me that she cared by sometimes bringing me food for work, calling to check on me, and doing little things like that. It made me feel like she was the person I needed in my life. People can want someone who is not who they need. When I met Gerlisa, I met someone I wanted and someone I needed at the same time.
(Justin) The proposal was made on August 1, 2021 at Pullen Park in Raleigh. I had been thinking about this for a while. I had even met some friends and they said, “When do you think it will be?” I said, “That’s what I came to talk to you all about.”
I hired a company called Heart and Hand Proposals. They specialize in creating the perfect backdrop for marriage proposals. They help with decorating, designing, planning and furnishing. They clean up for you too. You did a great job.
I started a close friends group on Instagram and told everyone where to meet if they want to get involved. I managed to get some of their friends and family from Rhode Island and North Carolina to meet us at Pullen Park.
It was hard to keep the secret. Gerlisa says she knew but didn’t do it. She is very curious and all of our mutual friends are close to her. Whenever I talked to them, Gerlisa always asked questions. Some of our friends share their locations so I asked them to turn their locations off if they were here.
(Gerlisa) I didn’t know the details, but I knew it would happen that day. I just felt it. When I got there I was amazed. My mother from Rhode Island and my brother from Virginia were there. My closest friends from Rhode Island who hadn’t visited me in North Carolina were there. It was great. Justin told me he wanted to get some food to take me there.
(Justin) I told her we were going to a fancy picnic, but we hadn’t packed any baskets or anything. I thought it would be like the ones you see on Instagram with the little mini table and fine china. It was a walk through the park.
Pullen Park has a pavilion that is accessed by a bridge. One of our friends sang as we walked across the bridge to the pavilion. Our friends and family lined the bridge holding roses. I proposed when we reached the pavilion. Everyone surrounded us and gave her their roses, which formed a beautiful bouquet. Someone brought a few bottles of champagne. It was wonderful.
(Gerlisa) I was excited, happy and a little shocked.
(Gerlisa) The wedding planning is going well. We’re getting married in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We already have the date and location. It’s going to be a beach wedding at Royalton Blue Waters Resort. Our guests book now. We are waiting for the final headcount to plan the details.
(Justin) We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t do something extravagant. We travel all the time and have been all over the world. So it only made sense for us to have a destination wedding. Besides, Gerlisa always talked about it.
(Gerlisa) We have a wedding planner through our travel agent. They help with booking our guests and speak with the resort. In September we will plan all the details of everything. We have a package plan that allows us to choose the options we want. If we want, we can bring our stuff. We’ll just wait and see what they offer before deciding.
what they look forward to
(Justin) I look forward to just having everyone there. We have a three day wedding event. We will have a welcome party, wedding, reception and excursion. The excursion is expected to be a catamaran boat party on the third day. I am delighted that all of our friends and family are celebrating with us. We haven’t seen some of them for a long time.
(Gerlisa) I look forward to being married. This is a transition. I also look forward to celebrating with our family and friends, having fun and letting everyone love us the way we love us.
advice to others
(Justin) My advice would be to enjoy being engaged. Don’t try to rush it. Allow yourself to grow with your partner while engaged. The couples therapy was great. We became closer during the engagement. I would also say try to get a wedding planner, don’t try to do it yourself. If you can, look at the destination wedding. In terms of price, I think it will end up being very cheap.
(Gerlisa) Go to couples counseling and be vulnerable, share, talk, communicate and be patient. Enjoy the engagement process. Being engaged doesn’t mean you have to get married the next day. If you have the time and want to spend time enjoying your engagement, I encourage you to do so. Also, do you have goals as a couple to work towards for the marriage.
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Photographer: Morgan Crutchfield Photography
Morgan Sierra Photography
Venue: Royalton Blue Waters Resort
Engagement Planner: Heart and hand proposals
Videographer: Gerron Garmon