Having given everyone the overview of my Backward Bride journey thus far....it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty of planning this wedding!!! I thought that it would be a good idea to outline the five "W's" , the Who, What, Where, When and Why of my destination nuptuals.
Well I am the self-titled Backwards Bride. I explained how I named myself that in the first two blogs, but my name is Krista. I am a forty-two year old mom of two teenagers, a 17 year old girl and a 13 year old boy. My prince charming and soon to be fiancé's name is Rob and he is the father of 3 boys, aged 14, 10 and 7. Rob and I met almost five years ago online and we have been living together for 3 years. I've always wanted to be married but Rob doesn't really see it as necessary. He's been married once before and although he says he's not jaded, he just thinks it's a really expensive day. Rob is for sure not the only man to think this way, but none the less I've sold him on a destination wedding!
I thought this will be great, we'll get a wedding, a honeymoon and a family vacation all in one shot. Then I started thinking about what we will need while on vacation. The logistics of seven of us travelling together and all that it entails, has become a little overwhelming. When I realized the costs involved, I knew we were looking at a least two years of saving up in order for it to happen. Our brood loves being outdoors, we love to swim and we try to squeeze every last ray of sunshine out of our short Canadian summers. In the end I think it will be something every member of our family will remember forever. Hopefully the kids will catch the travelling bug and they will continue to travel throughout their lives and explore many destinations.
The destination that I have chosen is Jamaica. Rob does not really care where we go, as long as he can sit in the shade with a gallon of sunscreen beside him. My 6'2", 250 lb hunk of a man was cursed with the skin of a delicate English Lady and goes from white to red in the matter of seconds. Although I am fair and quite pale in winter, I tan well. It will be interesting to see the pictures at the end of our trip. Rob still white as a ghost and the rest of us with glowing tan lines.....anyway. Jamaica! I contacted several travel agents and received a lot of excuses as to why they could not provide me with prices quotes on some all inclusive resorts that I had in mind. I asked for quotes for 2016 because I knew that they would not have prices for 2017 yet. I gave them all of the details, how many rooms that our family would need. The ages or the kids, the type of hotel we were looking and the time of year. Only one out of a dozen agents responded with actually, down to the penny, prices with airfare and taxes on three specific hotels that I had in mind, and one that I hadn't thought of. This allowed me to create a budget and see how much we would need to save in order to make my dream come true. I've narrowed it down to The Grand Palladium or The Grand Bahia Principe!!!! Yeah for progress! I realize that prices will change and resorts change as well, so I will make up my mind when I sit down to book with the agent.
As I mentioned, I chose 2017 for financial reasons. To save for the seven of us to spend an all inclusive week together, it will be a lot of money. The trip aside, there's seven of everything to be purchased. Seven suitcases, seven wedding outfits, seven passports, seven bottles of sunscreen (or maybe 10- for my English Rose...lol). I figured that April or May would be a good time to go. It's still not too hot here in Canada, so we will appreciate the sun. It's a little cheaper and it's not a bad time of year to have an anniversary. The quotes I received are for early May. So there we have it. My destination wedding in Jamaica in May of 2017!!!
I chose Jamaica for a couple of reasons, the first being is that it is English speaking. I thought it would be easier to have the wedding ceremony and documents in English that way there would be no need for translation. From what I'm finding out is that most people actually have a civil ceremony at home if the destination is not English speaking. Also, some members of our family have not travelled to the Caribbean and I thought it may be easier. I'm sure we will all be surprised by how strong the Jamaican accent is though.
I know that there are cheaper places and just as beautiful places to go for a destination wedding but here are a few more reason why a narrowed my choice down to Jamaica. The only other place that I have been to in the islands is Cuba. I went on a girls vacation several years ago to Varadero. Although it was beautiful and I would go back in a heartbeat, I just wanted to explore something different. I could have chosen The Dominican, but everyone I know that has had a destination wedding has gotten married in The Dominican. I would have entertained Mexico but a lot of my entourage, as I'll call them, is turned off by the negative press that Mexico had been receiving. Although I think bad things can happen anywhere, I just thought that perhaps they would relax more if they were at ease. I really want my guests to enjoy themselves.
Some of my guests are very seasoned travelers of the Caribbean and have stayed at some of the poshest resorts with Gold club memberships while others have never been anywhere but the local beach. I wanted to choose a destination that would suit as many people as possible that is still affordable. I also wanted a resort that was big enough to keep the kids entertained for a week, allow the adults to find quiet nooks to relax and to provide plenty of dining and entertainment options. From reviews on this site, trip advisor and their Facebook pages, here's what I liked about the two resorts in contention.
The Grand Palladium
A large resort with a grand open airy feel. The picture of the entry takes my breath away. The pool is stunning and beach looks like it had lots of shade. As much as I love the sun, I hate the thoughts of being stuck in it with no relief. Reviews said that chairs at the beach and pool were plentiful. The rooms look nice but a few reviewers said that the beds were very comfortable. This was a big selling point for me as the beds in Cuba nearly killed me! The reviews for food were good with lots of restaurant choices. We need a resort with lots of American food, as we have some pretty picky kids. The reviews of the weddings on this site have mostly been favorable. I believe that here is no "free wedding" at this resort like some of the others, so I will weigh out the cost difference when we get closer to the booking date.
The Grand Bahia Principe
I actually thought this resort was too big in the beginning of my research and had chosen The Rui: Ocho Rios as my other option to The Palladium. Unfortunately the Rui came in a little over my budget. The GBP was the resort that the travel agent included that I didn't ask to be priced on. I thought the price was good so I put it back in contention. The reviews are a little less favorable then the Grand Palladium but the wedding reviews are mostly wonderful. This resort has a very big and bustling kind of feel to it and I can't help but feel that we will all get separated and spend half our vacation trying to find each other.
Well that's my five W's of my destination wedding so far. Please feel free to add any advice that any of you may have for me as nothing is written in stone yet!!! My final choice is going to be a hard one so any information at all is appreciated. I will continue to blog as I make decisions throughout the next phases of the wedding planning. Now if I can just get that blasted ring!!!!! Wish me luck ladies!