Before I start my review I would like to thank everyone on this site for helping me prepare for my wedding. Your advice and experience was invaluable...I cannot say that enough. This forum was a life saver for me and was my eyes and ears as I planned my wedding in 6 months- all the way from the Washington, DC area. Thank you very much.
Some background on me so you can put my review in context:
* I am a natural and professional planner
* I've lived several countries..i.e. I understand or thought i did the " no problem man" approach..i didn't!!
* I planned my wedding in 6 months
* Had guest coming from Africa, Europe and the US
* We planned for 70 guest ended up with 65
We arrived in Jamaica on December 15, 2009. The wedding was December 19, 2009. Family started to come in on the 16 and friends started to come in on the 17. We did'nt really plan it this way. I had put on the travel card in the wedding invitation suggested travel dates Dec 17-20- so unless you wanted some private time people pretty much did that..so kind of planned. We where upgraded to the Presidential suite because of the number of guest and the amount of things we had bought as extra on the package. A nice room but FYI- if you can be upgraded to the Grand on your wedding night to it. We moved to the grand for our honeymoon. The hotel was also sold out and as a result upgraded about 8 of my guest to the grand.
I met with Nicole when we got in on the 15th and probably had a longer meeting on the 16. She was very pleasant and is a very nice young lady. There where no other weddings at the resort until ours so we had all her time...which she gave totally. During our meeting I gave her my suitcase with all my wedding stuff..welcome bags, welcome letters the contents of the bags etc etc. Nicole and her team put the bags together and delivered them to the front desk...this is where we started having problems ( ill get back to that). I also arranged to purchase the 250 ml rum bottles that where suggested on the forum to be included in the bags..Nicole arranged that for me and included that. I had done my own rooming list for Nicole and given that to her..I used the list for myself but was told that if they had that it would make their job a little easier...Rooming list was name or names and number of persons in the room. I also included if I had any special request for the guest. I reviewed with Nicole all my wedding plans and details. I told her my group was demanding and that I needed to make sure that my wedding went well..I's dotted and T's crossed. Ok everyone was on board. I had about 2 bags of decorations..yes and brought alot of stuff...tea light candles, the holders, rose petals(lots), cake servers, picture frame...ok ok i brought a lot of things. Point..do not mail things to JA...pay the extra to bring the bags or give to others to bring. Thats if you need to bring all this stuff. The Welcome bags where all taken to the front desk..for whatever reason- a note was not placed in the reservations that the guest had an item waiting for them-all my guest did not get a bag. I was ripped...why? because I saw this as a sign of things to come- and it was. Now Nicole sent the bags over but the next level was not taken care of..she thought just telling the desk managers to give them to my guest was enough..it was not. The special request I had for my guest (needing distilled water for a breathing machine) was never put in the reservations note..Nicole took care of it herself by telling housekeeping...well it never got done. Yes I was ripped. Once I told the reservations or desk manager it was taken care of.
We had several events 2 leading up to the Saturday wedding..One was a meet and greet in the lobby bar..Nicole suggested the location. Nice and casual and not a private event..great. The second was the Traditional "Nigerian Wedding" & Welcome at Aunt Rubys. That was also very nice-no issues and Nicole and her team was great. I also had a lot of my girl friends who made sure things were organized for that event. No problems. FYI we used only one side of the restaurant for the event and used the tape deck which had speakers and was excellent. Nicole again was great. At the end of the dinner at 830 pm we all walked over to the a section of beach directly in the middle of the hotel and had a private steal band show and open bar..Nicole was also very good to us "in that respect"- she says that all the time lol. Anyway my guest had the one hour show and bar..people had a good time.
The next day was Saturday-wedding day. I went to get my hair done by Mitzy in the salon..she was fantastic and recreated my hair style from a picture-it was better than the picture. The spa is great FYI- my whole family bought a lot of services and had a blast. FYI_ i went back and did my hair again a few days later to take my hubby and wife pictures..I dont know what you call that..but we didnt take those pics after the ceremony. The lady who did my hair then loves "color eyeshadow" I cant remember her name and she was equally excellent. FYI I used Digipix- Wayne the manager-took us to Rose Hall Great house to take our pics..he was great and very accommodating. I was going to use an outside photographer but decided I couldn't afford it..Wayne covered my Friday and Sat event with 2 photographers and a videographer for a very good price. He is aware of the bad rap they get online and are improving their services. Please mention "Bahia" and he says he will work out a percentage off your package. I got my pic on disk plus the private session.
Ok back to the wedding day..Saturday. I had decided to use Thai Flora for part of my wedding package on recommendation from one of the hotel managers. I could not afford their flowers but decided they had the design elements I needed to transform the lazy river a bit- I rented a Hopa which was draped with cloth and had orchids in the ties. I could not bare to use the fake flowers that came with the package. I also rented chavary-sp- chairs- they are gold.for the wedding party. I had 3 girls 3 guys, chairs for me and hubby and for the officiate..we used by Father in law who is a Bishop. The officiate was there just to make sure all went along well.
FYI_ we listened to the advice of others on the forum and did the legal stuff stateside before we got there..No one had a clue and it didn't affect how we felt.
For the guest of about 65 we used white chair covers with NO trim. I bought by own pink paper ribbon and we used it to tie a band-no bow on some of the chairs. Down the aisle I purchased from Thai floral a glass vase -bigger than a vase that had a candle and rose petals in them. The wedding was at 5 pm we didnt start until about 520 so it got dark. Nicole forgot to light to candles and so we where in complete darkness and there was no candle light as we walked down the aisle. This was a big error-one she apologized for and took responsibility but really I am sill pissed about it..but whatever I guess. From the time I walked down the aisle to get married I never saw Nicole again. I dont know where she was or what she was doing..perhaps in the reception room but i didnt see her. FYI those vases which are set for the floor where not cheap and would have been beautiful had they been lite. I got my money back but really.
Music-we had a violinist who I cant say I remember hearing him but I am sure he was find.
Cocktail Reception after wedding ceremony-we had the reception on the terrace off of the main lobby. I ordered appetizers and had the champagne and punch also served out there..That was nice. It was windy so my little tea lights where of no use...we used them in the gourmet restaurant where the reception was.
The DJ- I should have met with him before the wedding..he played old school music at first and we where like you have got to be kidding..anyway he rose to the occasion.
The reception- I had one of my friends make sure everything was laid out as I had envisioned it..just to tell you the state of mind I was in...i walked down to the reception and started to arrange things in the wedding dress. They moved very slow in setting things up...I was very very pissed off. The guest were finished from the cocktails and just waiting to be seated but things where not done. I was again not happy..again no sign of Nicole. At that point I just left it alone and figured maybe she knew I was mad about the lights and so stayed away..i have no clue. The food was great..no need to mention that. The service was terribly slow..by 9 pm some of my guest were finished their main meal while others had not received it- my in-law table-not a good move at all. Anyway the cake was nice..it was never cut or served but that was a timing thing..we did cut it but it wasn't served. I had asked that butterflies..that i brought be placed on the cake and on the ribbon I also bought..no problem no problem...and yes it was a problem it was not put on it but placed somehow on the cake..i have no clue..So here again. As I write this I am reliving all this..lol...but hey it is what it is...you know Jamaica is good for somethings and not good for others. The setting and all was nice..the staff was great but their timing and attention to stuff was weak...and personally that affected how I ended up feeling about my wedding.
The Flowers by Flower Studio- I found the tropicals to be great..she faxed over samples to the hotel and I was able to chose them..She was reasonable and was able to work with my budget. She is also a very lovely lady. I think Thai Flower for the "knock out" stuff and Flower Studio for the just as good and lovely stuff. There is no way I could afford 50+ dollars for bridesmaid bouquets. She was also very accommodating...Flower Studio and sent over a bouquet for me to take my hubby and wife pics a few days later.
Overall the review stands as it does. I am glad i went to JA for my wedding and I am glad I chose the Iberostar hotel. The staff..and all levels where very nice and accommodating to our group. We stayed at the hotel until the 26th of December and Nicole was always looking out for us to make sure we where ok or if we needed anything. She and I did talk after the wedding and she understood that I was very upset about the candles. I had to let the butterflies go..you know..it just was what it was. You cant have everything.
All in all Nicole was excellent and a wonderful person. Cool under pressure and very very pleasant. What I wish Iberostar would do is to send their staff or give their staff some wedding planning training not only to the wedding planning stuff but to those others whose work wedding stuff is impacted upon. And yes I gave Nicole a generous cash tip at the end of my trip. She worked hard and had a lot of moving pieces she couldn't control.
For a large wedding party think about brining in a planner-a local one is fine
Use the hotel wedding photographer and mention "Bahia" for a discount-tell them what you want to be sure!!! They do need to be guided.
Keep it simple
Talk to the DJ before and or bring your own music
Have a private reception if you have a big party which we are happy we did
Enjoy yourself if you can
Rebecca Aslin Allurements by Design on the forum here-invitations and logos
Tammy T - did my Newsletter and welcome letter PM for her contact
WeddingWindow.com for website
Digipix for photos-speak to Wayne and you have to tell them what you want..thats important
If you have any questions please post them I will respond it will help others or PM me. I dont think I can post the pics here but I will try to put a link together to share with you all.