We used a travel agent, and it couldnâ€™t have been better.. she doesnâ€™t even live where we live, but I had heard such great things about her.. she got us a great rate, loads of perks, and was SO nice to our guests.. made everyone feel so comfortable, and settled any fears/anxieties.. which helped us a LOT.. her info is on our wedding website â€“ James and Amanda are getting married! Ocho Rios, Jamaica 2010 | Welcome | jamesandamanda2010.
We got to Jamaica on a Monday and got married on the following Saturday. I thought this might be a bit of a bad situation because there would be so much to do/stress about before the wedding that it would ruin the week. I WAS stressed (just because I had so little sleep, and so much to do, between work and last minute wedding tasks, the stress that I felt once there was more to do with worrying about how other people were doing.. did they like their rooms, was the food okay, were they having a good time? I felt really responsible for this.. because yes they chose to come, but we chose the resort.. but that was really the only stress, once I met with the wedding co-ordinator, I couldnâ€™t have been less stressed about the wedding. She is SO laid back.. but because everyone on here said how great she was, I just trusted that she would do everything I was hoping for.. I gave her all of my stuff (I brought a LOT of stuff), and made a list of what I wanted.. and dropped off 2 copies of our personalized ceremony, and then I didnâ€™t even think about it until the day of. We booked a jr. suite and Chandlyn upgraded us to a suite the night before the wedding for 3 nights (until we left) (we asked her for an upgrade). The jr. suite was really nice.. (room 1308.. as far as jr. suites go, this is the MOST AMAZING location.. our suite was right next door (1307.. fyi, 1407 is the Jacuzzi suite with the Jacuzzi on the second story balcony.. otherwise, that suite and our suite were Exactly the same (a guest was booked into that suite) king bed.. and overlooked the ocean.. really overlooked the ocean.. overhang might be a more appropriate description.. marble floor and furnishings.. beautiful dark wood, king sized bed.. sitting area, and big bathroom with his and hers sinks. The suite was about 4x as big, with a big Jacuzzi tub in the middle of the room, a huge bathroom (huge as in bigger than our bedroom at home) with a private toilet room and separate shower room, a walk in closet and huge sitting area and huge balcony (totally unnecessary, but a sweet perk!).
We got married on a Saturday, it was so hot in the morning I thought we would melt. We had been so exhausted the night before that we had a bath and went to bed earlyâ€¦ we got up, finished writing our speeches (so bad I know.. but we had just had SO much to do in the few weeks leading up to it that it was hard to unwind enough to get â€˜in touchâ€™ with our feelings enough to write a sincere speech).. so this was slightly stressful, so my recommendation to anyone else doing this is to make SURE to take the time to polish/finish your vows and speeches BEFORE the week before your wedding.. trust me.. every day I thought â€œI will get all of my tasks done today and have the rest of the week to chill/writeâ€ â€“ WRONG.. I did get my tasks done, and then others inevitably came up, or took longer than expected etc etc.. it added unnecessary stress to not have all of this done and completely complete before we left.
We went swimming in the ocean at 11:30, then I had a shower, and went to my hair appointment at 1pm. I brought a few pictures and the girl who did my hair at the spa was great.. she went slowly and asked me along the way if what she was doing was right.. for people who are super picky, you will love this. My close friend did my makeup, and did a great job.. she really knew what she was doing and took her time and really made it about 1000x better than I would have had the patience for on my own. I might have used a bit more bronzer if I could do it again (only because I used spf 85 on my face all week and 60 on my body (I am so not into skin cancer/leathery skin/wrinkles in exchange for a tan).. so my face was a bit white.. but really I was so happy on the day that things that I really cared about pre wedding (were the flowers, photos, decorations, hair/makeup, steel drum etc. going to be all right) did not matter in the least.. it was really strange.. I felt like I really didnâ€™t care what went wrong.. I just wanted to walk downt the isle to him and get married and celebrate with our nearest and dearest.
I loved the flowers.. we used â€˜floral fantasyâ€™.. and ordered 4 corsages (one for each mom and each grandma), 6 bouts (one for each dad and for each of the groomsmen).. these were all made from white dendridium orchids. The bm bouquets were all white dendridium orchids.. my bouquet included bright pink/red ginger lilies, fucia roses, pink orchids and a collar of white orchids. They were bound with white ribbon and push pins (my mom and jamesâ€™ mom tied a pink and blue ribbon around it when I was walking down the isle). The centerpieces were large glass cylinders filled water with a stem of white dendridium orchids in it, topped with a floating candle.. they were absolutely beautiful, elegantâ€¦ and different. A few of the flowers were browning around the edges, this really didnâ€™t bother me at all.. as a whole they were perfect, but I thought Iâ€™d mention it for those of you who really would be upset by this. On the whole, they were absolutely perfect and gorgeous. I also felt like I got the flowers for a good price. They dropped them off at the hotel (they told me ahead of time when they would drop them off, and Chandlyn brought them to my room around 3pm). FYI â€“ maybe this is tacky, but I know I wanted to know.. these flowers (all of them, plus delivery) cost me about $460 US.
We booked Michael (the head photographer, blue mountain package), and found out when we got there that he wasnâ€™t available, and got another guy.. who we were told does head photography out of montego bay.. I donâ€™t know.. I wasnâ€™t super happy (only because photography was REALLY important to me, and I only booked the photoshop because I was told Michael would be available.. so the other guy was really nice.. and stayed for an extra hour and a half at no charge (although we tipped everybody extremely well), so we didnâ€™t complain at all.. but looking back.. it was a LOT of money not to have the head photographer.. and we have received our low resolution pictures (now just have to choose the ones we want in high resolution and re-touched (to take out background people, boats, etc.).. and I would say that they are OK.. not like amazing, artistic, photojournalism style (that is popular now, and which is probably what we would have REALLY liked), but we do have some nice shots.. (although we also have some nice shots from our friends).. I donâ€™t know.. again, I would say it was worth it, because it was so easy, it was cheaper than some of the more amazing looking photography you can hire on the island, and just as nice as the comparably priced ones.. and really.. on your wedding day, you do want someone there taking pictures.. you want to remember.. so.. I donâ€™t know.. I would say it was worth it. We also donâ€™t have the high re spics back.. I might edit this when I get them to say that they are AMAZING.
I loved that the ceremony was at 4pm, and on the beach.. I loved walking down the isle with bare feet, and holding hands with him in bare feet.. it was very freeing and great. We had the steel drum band play before the ceremony, and switch to Cannon in D for the â€˜isle walkâ€™, (althought it wasnâ€™t the same cannon in d that you see in youtube fyi, and they didnâ€™t really start it until the third bridesmaid was on her way up the isle.. but I didnâ€™t care, and in their defense, they may not have realized we were starting.. and also, my father in law said that he talked to one of them before the wedding, and not knowing who he was one of them said to him â€œyeah I got to go smoke a joint and then play this weddingâ€.. anyway.. the music was really beautiful, they played us up the isle, and then played again when we were signing the registry, and after for the champagne toast. We wrote our own ceremony, and gave it to Chandlyn to give to the minister ahead of time, and he was happy to use it, and included a few things of his own, which were totally great. We wrote our own vows, which made it personal, and had our rings tied to a ring pillow my mom had made (we also tied small ribbons to each of our rings independent of the pillow so that if they happened to fall into the sand, they would be easy to spot!). My band was made from my grandmotherâ€™s wedding rings, which made it really special.
Was Awesome! We booked the private poolside reception and gave chandlyn a bunch of decorations (paper lanterns, twinkle lights for the pillars, personalized matchbooks and paper napkins for the bar, table overlays that we had made, place cards, menus we had made).. and obviously the centerpieces, and not a lot of instruction, and she made it look absolutely beautiful.. I couldnâ€™t have been happier with it. We had a private bar, and the reception overlooked the beach.
I was a bit worried about having the buffet style dinner (because I find buffets a bit revolting.. with everyone touching things etc etc), but it was beautiful.. the food was amazing.. salads, rice, noodles, and shrimp skewers, sausages, chicken breast, ribs, steak, and choice of mushroom, jerk or bbq sauce for everything.. and a desert buffet that included cheesecake, chocolate cake, and misc. other things.. the food was great, presented very nicely for a buffet, and totally a good choice (we were advised not to do a plated meal because they took so long to be served, and guests would be served at vastly different times etc.. We also ordered a wedding cake from sheilaâ€™s bakery.. it was chocolate with strawberry filling.. with white icing (and decorated with paper butterflies that we had given to chandlyn).. I thought it was a bit expensive for what it was, but it was pretty good (I honestly forgot to have a piece.. other than the first piece that we fed eachother during the cake cutting).. I REALLY wanted a â€œwedding cakeâ€, so to me, even though it was probably not worth it, and it definitely didnâ€™t get totally eaten (because of all of the other food and deserts), it was more than half eaten, and it was worth it to me just because I really wanted it! we turned the free cake into a birthday cake for a guest whose birthday was on that day, and they put a candle in it and one of our friends played happy birthday on his guitar as we sang.. so that was fun too. We rented the speakers, but used a playlist we had put together on our laptop, which worked out great (better than our ipod, because you could crossfade the songs on itunes). I didnâ€™t do it, but one of the groomsmen connected the laptop to the speakers and apparently it was extremely easy. One of our guests paid off whoever was working and we ended up getting to stay and party until midnight (you are only supposed to be able to play music until 10:30), which was awesome because people only started really getting into the dancing around 10, and by 12 everyone was tired (and only a few of us went to the disco afterward).
REGRETS/THINGS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT
I wish I had been able to relax more and enjoy the week, and enjoy my friends (some of whom I rarely get to see), and everyone who was there. I was so busy with work before I left, and last minute wedding things, I was overtired, and overstressed.. In this way, it was great that the wedding was later in the week because it gave me a chance to relax a bit.. but looking back.. I was so overtired, and I was so worried about other people.. did they like the resort, were they comfortable, were they having enough fun.. etc. (They did and they were).. I wish I had just enjoyed it more.. but I donâ€™t know how I could have changed that. I just hope that my friends and family all knew how much it meant to me that they were there, how much I love them.. and I DID have the best time on my wedding day.. I loved every second of it, and them.
The beach was really crowded. You could always get a lounger, but they were packed.. it wasnâ€™t super relaxing in this way.
THINGS THAT MADE THE WEDDING GREAT
- ROR â€“ the resort was beautiful.. it is not a 5 star, but the rooms are nice, the food is great, and the setting was beautiful.. beautiful blue carribean ocean and great beach for swimming/snorkeling.. and mountains as a backdrop. Perfect. People loved it, and we loved it.
- having the ceremony at 4pm (so people could enjoy the day before the wedding, and we basically could take pictures, have a quick room break and go right to dinner), and writing our own ceremony and vows (so that it was really personal to us)
-steel drum band playing before the ceremony, and while i was walking down the isle, and after, during the cocktail hour.. it was beautiful, and tropical, and the guests thought it was fun
- the private poolside reception (the food, the location, the privacy.. it was lovely)
-someone paying off whoever was working so that we could stay and party until midnight
- the flowers.. because i just loved them.. and I always wanted beautiful flowers
- the dress.. because even though I didn't lose as much weight as I wish I had, I loved the dress.. and James loved it
- the 36 people that were there with us.. (with the exception of a few very close people that couldn't make it) they are the people that we are closest to.. people we genuinely love and like, and who made us feel so loved and supported that week (and before.. and since).. there was very very little drama.. and a lot of sweetness and fun.
- Our MC - Jay was so funny, and and just had great timing, and set the tone for the reception..
- A close friend sang and played his guitar for our first dance.. it just made it more personal and special..
- we gave out OOT bags, and had a wedding website, and sent out a pre-departure letter with info for guests, and had a rehearsal dinner with everyone (for free, via chandlyn), and really personalized our wedding.. these things made a HUGE impact.. people kept telling us how much they appreciated all of the thought that was put into everything.. and how personal everything was.. I felt like, since we had chosen this resort, and to have a destination wedding, it was important to be considerate of our guests, and do something nice for them.. it didnâ€™t have to be exactly what we did, but just something that lets them know that they are important to us and that we truly appreciated that they showed up for us. (I will probably do a planning thread with examples of the letters, templates for different things we made etc.. most of them are stolen & revised from other ladies on here!)
-the 2 hour drive to the resort is SO not a big deal! We went with sunquest, and the bus was like a greyhound, and air conditioned, and the scenery is REALLY beautiful, not boring as it is in some other places.. it was really only about 1hour 40 minutes, and it went by quickly, and helped people relax after the long travel day, and got people into the mood for vacation (they played bob Marley on the bus).
-When we were there, lobster night was on the Thursday. This just happened to be the day that we chose to book (via chandlyn), a rehearsal dinner at st. anneâ€™s (the main buffet).. this worked out GREAT. On lobster night. ALL of the food was just .. better.. it was amazing.. there were oysters in shells, sushi (although they had sushi a lot), and a million other things for people who donâ€™t like seafood.
-My favorite thing about the buffets was the selection.. we went to a LOT of the a la cartes.. but honestly thought the buffet was great and would have been happy to just eat there.. my personal faves were the custard apple (white fruit with big black seeds), blue cheese and brie available almost every day! (bad for the bride to be, but so good).. the deserts were also great.. the tirimisu was good, and the cheesecake was awesome!
-The beach party/bonfire was Saturday night (as I had heard on here that it was before too).. so.. since my wedding was Saturday, I was worried people would feel like they were missing out, but because of our reception location (and the fact that we were having so much fun), I donâ€™t think most people even knew.. and because there were so many shows involving fire during the week, it really wasnâ€™t a big deal.
Ok.. I guess thatâ€™s it! I hope it answers some questions! I will post pics soon.. please feel free to ask if you have any questions! Congratulations to you all and good luck! It really IS a good choice.. you WILL be happy.. because you really can have whatever you want.. we had a lot of stuffâ€¦ and I saw brides that had really basic (but still beautiful) weddings, and everyone seemed really happy.. and just for that reason, because how ever you envision it, you can have it (at least that was my experience).
- i can't really figure out how to post pictures, but my (new) husband said that he uploaded a bunch (of non pro) to photobucket, so when he gets home, I'll post the link to them in this thread.