I've returned from our wedding and honeymoon and I've finally recovered enough to write this post! Our photographer, Michael Saab, posted some of our pics to his blog: http://blog.saabwedding.com/2012/03/29/half-moon-wedding-of-nicole-and-rob/
First let me say - everything was amazing, fantastic, beautiful, emotional...and everything was better than I imagined it! Well worth all of my planning, time, energy, etc.
Scouting Trip: We took a scouting trip in March 2011 and fell in love with Half Moon after visiting Round Hill, Rock House (in Negril), and a private villa. We met with Linda and took a 2.5 hour tour of the property and loved the Royal Pavillion for its open air space, green banana trees on the wall, and croquet lawn for the ceremony that had a beautiful view of the ocean. I am not a barefoot on the beach kind of bride, so I preferred a ceremony that overlooked the ocean. We also loved the expansive property and the amazing royal villas. We viewed the various types of rooms including the suites - and everything was beautiful.
Signing the contract: Soon after our visit, we booked our March 2012 wedding. We reserved 25 rooms (5 superior rooms & 20 royal villa rooms) for March 8-10, 2012. We ended up needing more rooms than that since we ended up with 75 guests total (65 from the states). We also arranged for our guests to receive complimentary breakfast daily. We did not do the all-inclusive plan because we were paying for dinner each night and their breakfast was included, so they only had to worry about lunch. My parents were upgraded to suites, and the suite we were in (Imperial Suite) was AMAZING. Everyone loved the villas...there is so much beach property everywhere you turn that you don't have to go "all the way" to the main beach. Which is like a 3 min drive on your golf cart...which is so fun by the way.
Events: We had events each night from Thursday-Saturday and brunch on Sunday.
Thursday - Welcome Reception @ Sugar Mill Restaurant. We didn't do it on the lawn outside because a) we didn't want to be in the grass and b) we didn't want to rent tables/chairs which you are required to do on the lawn. We held ours on the side patio which was perfect for our numbers (65 for this event). We had 3 courses (pumpkin soup, coconut crusted snapper & chicken breast w/ scallion mashed potatoes, & bread pudding for dessert). All the food was so delicious, especially the snapper. We also did the Sunset open bar which included red/white wines, rum punch, and sodas/juices.
Friday - Beach BBQ. The hotel puts on this event on Fridays (at least during this time of year) and we paid for all of our guests to attend. We had a private section, and our own private bar. We did the Sunset open bar again. They had entertainment including a steel drum band, fire eaters, dancers, etc. The food was authentic (buffet style...massive amounts of shrimp, crab legs, curry, jerk, rice n peas, fruits, desserts, you name it) and everyone had an amazing time! Everyone said it was the best beach BBQ they'd been to.
Saturday - Wedding Day! Everything looked amazing. We had a 5 hour premium open bar including cocktail hour and our 4 course dinner which included a delicious entree of filet mignon and lobster tail.
Perfect temperature, very breezy so my veil was all over the place at times! But I'd rather that than to be sweating :) Shanoya is fantastic. My flowers at the reception and ceremony were supposed to have more dendrobium orchids than roses, but it seemed like they had more roses than I expected. But everything was amazing...I can't say enough.
Band - we did a live reggae band (PACE). They were the biggest hit ever. They played everything live and were awesome. A mix of our favorite reggae artists (Bob Marley, Buju Banton, Tessane Chin), R&B, Pop, Hip Hop...they are excellent entertainers.
Sunday - Farewell Brunch at Seagrape Terrace. They ended up giving us the entire Italian restaurant but we went to buffet at Seagrape for our food.
Save the date Magnets - We used weddingpaperdivas.com and sent them out a year in advance with our wedding website included. We used weddingwindow.com. It wasn't a good way to gauge who was attending; it was more so intended to give people the heads up that we are getting married and that it is a destination wedding (at a fairly expensive resort!) Lots of people claimed they were planning to come who ended up dropping off. We just didn't want people to complain that we didn't give them enough notice. And we were just so excited to start spreading the word, that we did it a year in advance.
Invitations - We mailed them out in November for our March wedding. Used Bloomingdales (I live in NYC, not sure if every Bloomies has an invitation section). They were not cheap but I got so many compliments on them. It also set the stage for the type of wedding that we were having (black tie optional). I did not want people showing up wearing untucked linen shirts...it was not that kind of party! (Although I guess you always have at least 1 person who does not follow the rules)
The RSVP date was December 10, since the room block closed on January 10. Looking back, I should have made the RSVP deadline the same deadline as the room block. Reason being, a few people RSVP'd yes and then later changed their mind when they went to make their room reservation (and saw the price, I suppose). But we were very upfront about the costs from a year out, so I'm annoyed at people who couldn't get themselves organized and dropped out at the last minute! LOL.
Guest count: We ended up with 75 people which was the perfect number for us. When we starting planning a destination wedding, we budgeted for 70-80 people and for some reason we assumed this would be the number we'd end up with. Someone also told us to expect a 50% drop off rate from the amount of people we invited. We ended up inviting about 140 guests with 75 attending....so they were very right haha.
Welcome bags: We used the knot to order customized welcome bags that included a bottle of rum, a bag of blue mountain coffee, reeses peanut butter cups, lollipops, and a CD of our fave reggae songs that were in a customized CD case.
I can't say that I miss all of the planning at all! I thought I would, since I was planning my wedding for 1 full year. But I'm just happy to be married to my best friend at this point! I can't really stand the sight of wedding magazines right now (my subscriptions have not run out lol) and I haven't even watched Say yes to dress even though I have like 5 episodes recorded. Perhaps this feeling will pass soon...it's weird since i was wedding obsessed for years LOL. But I'm happy to answer any questions :)