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Wedding feels just like the first time

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Newly remarried: Tony and Jackie Bussanich renews their vows here last week (Photograph supplied)

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Tony and Jackie Bussanich’s vow renewal at Stonehole Bay Beach, Warwick, was especially moving because of the events of the past year.

The bride survived a battle with cancer but lost her sister to the disease; a friend’s husband died suddenly.

“Everyone was crying,” Mrs Bussanich, of Levittown, Philadelphia, said of the ceremony on June 13. “Everyone was there to celebrate us and at the same time we were all so grateful that we were able to celebrate.

“Of course I missed my sister and Kelly missed her husband, but we celebrated family and life and new journeys.”

The group of 15 decided Bermuda was the perfect spot for the joyous occasion.

Mr and Mrs Bussanich fell in love with the island when they honeymooned here 25 years ago.

The weather then wasn’t perfect, but they bravely rode a moped with a “Just Married” sign stuck to the back. It drew the attention of The Royal Gazette — a picture of the newlyweds on their rental scooter was published on June 17, 1993.

“It was raining every day we were here but we were determined to see the sights,” the 54-year-old said. “We put on our ponchos and rode around with our ‘Just Married’ sign. We were stopped by so many photographers wanting to take pictures of the crazy Americans.”

The couple were introduced by Mrs Bussanich’s late sister, Ann Conley, and her husband’s aunt. Six months later they were engaged. They married in Philadelphia on June 11 and left on their first trip to Bermuda soon after.

“We wanted to do a cruise and at that time one left out of Philadelphia, so it was convenient to come to Bermuda,” Mrs Bussanich said. “It’s such a beautiful place. The water is so clean, the people are so friendly; you don’t see water like this where we live.”

This trip was their fourth here; ten years ago they introduced their children, Dominick, 23, and Angela, 20, to the island.

Family members proposed the cruise on the Norwegian Escape.

“It’s my brother-in-law’s birthday on June 11, the same day as our anniversary, so it was going to be a celebration for everything,” Mrs Bussanich said. “They wanted us to go and invited us but I couldn’t commit to it at the time.”

She was then going through treatment for the breast cancer doctors discovered in May.

“I’d tested positive for the gene. I’d lost my mother to breast cancer so they were keeping an eye on me and while doing testing discovered I had some tumours that needed to come out.”

Doctors suggested a double mastectomy because of her history. Cancer was later found in both of her breasts. “While going through treatment I lost my sister to cancer. She passed in September 2017. She was 68.

“So it was good [that I had the mastectomy] because to go through that again would have devastated my whole family.

“In November, after I finished my treatment, all my surgeries, and doctors said I would be OK, I said I would go on the trip. I decided life is too short.”

That same mindset led her to retire from the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, a job she’d held for 37 years.

Juanita Jones from Bermuda Travel Tours suggested Stonehole Bay for the Bussanichs’s renewal ceremony. The guests consisted of immediate and extended family members and two friends. “I explained that we were looking for a secluded, intimate, beautiful beach and it exceeded my expectations,” Mrs Bussanich said. “It is now my all-time favourite place.

“Bermuda is so beautiful — what better place to do it. We didn’t want to leave. We would love to come back.”

Newly married: Tony and Jackie Bussanich were spotted by a Royal Gazette photographer on June 16, 1993, during their honeymoon.
Newly remarried: Jackie and Tony Bussanich renewed their wedding vows at Stonehole Bay Beach in honour of their 25th anniversary (Photograph supplied)
Reliving article: page 2 of the June 17, 1993 edition of The Royal Gazette