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HMM 01282012

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About HMM 01282012

  1. Hi girls. Sorry for the radio silence. We were married in Jan at MDC and everything was perfect. I spent an hour or so this morning typing out a thorough review of the experience but it was rejected by the site because they thought it should be In a review section rather than in this thread. I've never had this happen with this site before and to be honest I'm extremely disappointed that an honest, relevant post was rejected from this thread. I previously considered this thread to be the lifeline of my wedding planning and now find myself questioning what other information they kept from us. In no way as my post offensive or inappropriate. Please FB message me I'd be happy to give you true details about MDC. Good luck brides! mDC was the wedding of our dreams. -- Heidi Mangus
  2. Well, I’m finally getting around to it…shame on me for waiting so long. I apologize – but in my defense, the wedding was so perfect that we both plunged into a post-wedding period of back-to-reality semi-depression and I have been busy just keeping my household together. No excuse though – this thread was my lifeline for planning and I should have let you all know how it went earlier. But here goes….. When we first arrived to the resort, it was an uncanny feeling – we had stalked pictures of the resort and in some ways, it felt like we already knew the resort inside & out….but then, it was so breathtaking in person, it was like a slap in the face. Beautiful. I mean stunning. The difference between MDC and the beach resorts is so striking – you wake up everyday to UNBROKEN horizon as far as you can see. A local fishing boat here and there, but mostly just ocean. It’s really relaxing, as opposed to seeing parasailers and jet ski rentals and people everywhere. The grounds are so well-kept. Their staff was up every morning tending to the landscaping, but it was never obtrusive. And all the staff, whether housekeeping, landscaping, waitstaff, butlers, concierge…..they are SO friendly. Always smiling, making sure you’re comfortable, willing to talk if you want. Some of the bartenders (Ralston, Rayon, Douglas, Omight, Tracey, Randean, Johnny Walker, Angie) taught us about local Jamaican customs, language (Patois) and activities. I am seriously facebook friends with half of the staff because when we left, they were like old friends. About the wedding – the groom and I decided to use some of our budget to pay for the guests’ arrival transfers to the resort. I truly did not want our guests’ first experience on the island to be shelling out cash/hailing a cab to the resort. It was a lot of upfront planning to get all the guests’ flight information (well, honestly, the reservations office—Kim and Miriam—would have asked for that anyway), but it all worked out. I think we had one mishap where the bus didn’t make it for one guest, but luckily he is a world traveler and had no problem finding his own ride. In fact, once the resort realized that happened, they actually reimbursed him for the taxi fare he paid on his own (amazing customer service, I’m telling you). Otherwise, they did a great job arranging times for pickups based on arrivals from even different flights to maximize the # of people per transfer (read:our costs) but minimize the guests’ need to hang around the airport. Upon arrival, they greeted everyone with a tropical drink. Because half of my guests don’t drink due to religious beliefs, they even took a specified list of who was to receive alcoholic welcome drinks vs. non-alcoholic, and they got it right. It was fabulous. Once the guests all arrived, we had a welcome dinner with a live band. They set tables up in the lawn area and had a buffet of Jamaican cuisine (the curried goat was AMAZING). The band played great, and was very interactive with the crowd. We all ended up leaving the tables and dancing with the band by the end of the night. I have to say, the waitstaff is incredible – seriously on top of things, and you can tell they literally are happy to be there, because even the kitchen staff came out to hang out for part of the party. The groom and I also enjoyed a sunset melt massage down in the cave near the cliffs. Let me tell you, WORTH EVERY PENNY. It was so relaxing. They had soft music playing, they were so professional, and even gently let us know when to look up to see the sun slip below the horizon. After that, I’m pretty sure I slipped into a hypnotic trance from the relaxation of it all. It was perfect to get us in the mood for a weekend of “usâ€. I treated each of the bridesmaids to a mani/pedi. The on-site salon/spa (Kamala) made sure that I met with them a few days prior to schedule the girls’ appointments, and Ross even did a run-through for my bridal updo (which he perfected in seriously like 5 minutes, he’s so good at what he does). I appreciated the time they took in making sure the salon scheduled accordingly to get all the girls’ pampered without any hectic rush. On the day of the wedding, I was awakened by our butler Titanya, swept away to the spa for a body scrub and massage that made me feel like a queen! Ross and Peggy were willing to come to the villa for the day to do our hair and makeup instead of having us hang out in the salon all day (which meant that the groom definitely didn’t see me since I didn’t have to sneak through the resort after my hair and makeup was done). I can’t say enough about what a great job they did. Ross was able to put each girls’ personality into the hairdo and makeup style (I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s so true). And the QUALITY. My hair was EXACTLY how I’d pictured, and stayed put ALL night, through rain, through dancing, through the after-party. It retained curl like it never has before. And my makeup never needed touching up. I have never looked so beautiful, the makeup was stunning but natural looking. Rosemarie of Floral Fantasies did our flowers. During planning, since I couldn’t lock down # of centerpieces til we had a final count, the flower contract came relatively late in the game. Because of that, I had a little bit of a budgeting issue. Through e-mails back and forth, Rosemarie helped to bring down the floral budget by scaling down some of the centerpieces and aisle markers that we had decided on. It’s amazing that by e-mailing from 2 different countries, someone could “get†my vision so impeccably. The aisle markers were stunning tropical sprays that were also featured at the reception site – many of our guests were seen oohing and aahing over them. I will say that my bouquet wasn’t exactly the lilies I’d envisioned, but it was striking and so beautiful (I really didn’t mind – it was exactly as we’d discussed, I’d just pictured a slightly different color). And it was so well crafted. I had asked the wedding coordinator (Kerry) to re-use the centerpieces for the next morning’s brunch, but they actually lasted so long that they made several appearances for events after the wedding as well. Noida Cooke provided the cake for us. I had kept up on her FB page to see pictures of her cakes, and I liked her presentation better than the other recommendation from Kerry (started with an M, I can’t remember). We had a 3-tier cake with a different flavor/filling for each tier. We sent her a picture of a cake from Pinterest that we loved, and they did an amazing job recreating it. My only complaint was that I was so caught up in all the hype that I never got to taste all 3 flavors. But the slice of lemon I had was moist, delicious, fragrant and packed with flavor. I was disappointed I never met her in person, she really did a great job. We had the steel drums play during cocktail hour. During planning, I was pretty sad that we were going to be taking pictures while they played because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hear them. Well….the rains came RIGHT after we ended the ceremony, so it kind of threw our plans for a loop….we had to move the cocktail hour inside the front lobby. It was a little hectic, as the staff had set up an elaborate bar with signature cocktails on the lawn by the gazebo, and the storm ended up kinda wiping that out. Having the steel drums in the lobby was honestly a little too loud for guests to hang out there, but a lot of guests were following us around with the photographer, so it made for great background music while we were on the grounds/cliffs. The hors d’ouvres were delicious but I’m not sure if they ended up getting passed – the staff was busy rearranging our reception site to the lobby because of the rain. But, it’s possible they were passed earlier in the cocktail hour, honestly I wasn’t there, so I am not quite sure. By the time I got to them, they were on a table in the lobby, but either way, it’s obvious the guests enjoyed them because there wasn’t much left once we got there! Michael Saab did our wedding photography. Because of his prices, I was only able to have him there for a few hours, but my god I have the most amazing pictures ever. If you can swing it, there’s NO OTHER CHOICE. He captured such amazing moments and details. Also, his editing is fantastic. He and his wife, Olive, were very professional and sweet. I was amazed that he could get such amazing quality photos with portable equipment. And, you can’t beat the turnaround. Within a week, he had posted the proofs for all to see, and within another week, we had the CD delivered to our house with full rights to print. Our contract was for 4 hours, and we received 440 pictures. However, because the rain caused a slight delay in the activities, Michael came to us and told us they would stay longer to make sure they got the cake cutting and the first dance. (But..we kinda moved the cake cutting up so he could catch it right before they left). DJ Kevan (jamaicanweddingdj) provided the entertainment for dinner/reception. I was so impressed that he made the trip up there a day or two before so he could meet us, get our vibe, go through all the “must-play†songs to make sure he had the right versions, go through logistics, get the names/pronunciations of the wedding party, etc. On the day of, he was there early, did his set up inconspicuously, and was ready to go when we needed him. He was very professional and fun. He kept the party going, and would play songs that pumped the party up, or appropriate background music for moments when the attention needed to be elsewhere. One thing that I will say is that I got a little frustrated that during dancing, he would stop the song to make comments—BUT he asked me if he could do that during his pre-visit and I had said yes. I just didn’t realize when he asked, that it meant he would literally stop the music to say things. So just be aware when he asks you if he can do that, that’s what he means. On the other hand, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it if I had answered differently – because he did end up teaching us some Jamaican dances and stuff, it was really fun. And, bless his heart, when we were in the middle of our (surprise) choreographed first dance, and we completely BLANKED and had to START OVER (eek!), he helped to make light of it and got the crowd pumped back up to make it less embarrassing! And it all couldn’t have happened without ::::angels singing::::: Kerry, the wedding coordinator. Kerry and I communicated for probably 9 months in total. She was very helpful with logistics during the early months, but there were also periods of time where it took a little while to hear from her. It’s honestly because she is 100% there for her current brides. So try not to get frustrated. The weddings she pulls off must be a lot of work, and it’s all her. That said, when it gets down the wire, and you’re a few months off, she’s e-mailing you back and forth and she’s on top of it. I remember she e-mailed me a wedding overview a month or two before the big day, and she had remembered details from e-mails at the very beginning of the planning stages – whether she really remembered, or had just taken the time to review hundreds of e-mails, either way, it was obvious she really cared about every little need/want. When I finally met her, there wasn’t any hesitation to greet with a huge hug. She was there every step of the way, and was able to come up with last-minute solutions to some unforeseen circumstances. She met with us prior to the wedding day to go over details and to deliver the things we’d asked her to get for the guests’ welcome bags. (I’m fair skinned and had to stay out of the sun before the wedding day, so I assembled the bags myself and the staff helped distribute them….there were a few mix-ups so I would say ask for a list of room #s and help the staff out by writing room #s on the bags or something). Kerry also collected all the things I’d brought myself (pashminas for the guests at the reception, our “guest book†frame mat, cake topper, etc) and I didn’t have to worry about any of it. On the day of, she was calm and collected, but also super excited, and really handled all the logistics fabulously. There were a few twists and turns, and she was able to improvise without changing any of the important “vision†aspects. She kept us updated throughout the whole day, without being in-your-face about anything. Guardian angel, really. And she wouldn’t leave until she was absolutely sure we didn’t need anything else. Favorite Kerry moment? She came to the reception table to let us know the “surprise†would be here in 5 minutes….we were like “what?â€â€¦.we had planned to have a fire dancer come during the reception as a surprise to the guests….and had completely forgotten ourselves, LOL. The guests loved the fire dancer. It was a fun addition. I think I had nightmares about him doing this crazy spider walk thing, though….it was creepy! But I really think everyone enjoyed it, it was captivating. Overall, the wedding was perfect. Even though it rained and some things changed last minute, I honestly believe that in 5 years we’ll forget it even rained. It was the wedding of our dreams, and we owe it to those vendors, the MDC staff, and Kerry. If you want a wedding that is unique, classy, elegant, surreal….MDC is it. Don’t fall for the wedding factory resorts, it will never compare to what MDC can do for you. Sure, it’s pricey, I know…but I wouldn’t bat an eye to do it all over again, exactly the same way. Our guests are still talking about it. I will never stay anywhere else in Jamaica. Good luck, brides!
  3. Patpresh - Sorry none of us have gotten back to you. Are you doing all-inclusive?? To semi-answer your questions: 1.) We also have a lot of younger guests, and when I read about the "shut-down" at 11, it worried me a bit as well. However, we have all the villas so we just figure we'll go hit up the bar in the villas. So...usually the bride and groom are in a villa...not sure what your plans are for the evening, like if you're going to spend alone time with your hubby or hang out with the party crowd past 11...but you could always hand out a few bottles from your villa bar to the people you know will still be up and partying. 2.) Sorry for sounding cliche, but you're going to spend whatever you want to spend, and it all depends on how much fanfare you want. I started to get a pretty good idea about the costs from reading this entire thread, but it really comes together in the last 3 months. Do you have any specific cost questions? The live band is $1000 for a 3-hour set, and you can expect a great photographer to be $400-600 per hour. Have you considered flying down a photographer? Paying for their stay in return for their services? I tried that with a few local photographers I found and liked, not a lot of them jumped at the idea, but some were interested. It's at least an option to consider. Also, be prepared for the floral budget to be one of your biggest spends as well. I was apparently clueless with my $1000 estimate. 3.) We are planning a welcome party on the night before the wedding, which is the day the majority of the guests arrive. Then on the wedding day, we have the ceremony and reception. The day after, we have a brunch and then arranged for a shuttle to come and give us a ride to the 7-mile beach, and after 3 hours at the beach, we'll get shuttled over to Rick's cafe for drinks and cliff-diving (shuttle = $8/person). That's all we have planned, and the beach trip is totally optional. While you may be concerned with making sure everyone isn't bored, also remember that this is a vacation for everyone. You want to also consider giving them their own time to do whatever they like. That said, you know your group of guests-I'm not trying to be rude or preachy-I felt the same way when I was first planning. Just playing devil's advocate. Everyone - I picked up my dress today and I could not be more excited! We leave Wednesday, and I'll be back early Feb. I will make sure to let you all know how it went! <3 You all have helped me so much, I could NOT have planned this without you. Seriously, all of your comments, ideas, price comparisons, etc have been VITAL to our day coming together. And at this point, a week out, I can tell you that Kerry really hears every idea, every detail - don't worry when she takes a while to e-mail back, because when it's closer to your time, she's on top of it and responds very quickly. I can't wait to meet her! Wish me luck! <3
  4. Jacki-- SO glad to hear it went well! Thanks for letting us know!! So excited for you and your new hubby! <3 <3 <3
  5. Laura and Mark, We had planned for a resort takeover by placing down a deposit for all of the rooms for a 3-night stretch of our wedding weekend. We did this in Feb or Mar of 2011, and with our wedding date of Jan 28 2012, we were able to hold the entire resort for bookings until about 6 months before our wedding date (Jul 2011). During that time, if any of our guests called to book a room, they would then put down a 20% deposit to hold their individual room (essentially releasing our deposit on that room). In July, we had not filled all of the rooms with guests yet (i.e. we had not completed the "takeover)...but based on their policy we were allowed to withdraw our deposit. Their policy is that there would be a 3% processing fee to do so. However, we actually saved ourselves that fee by "withdrawing" the holds on the rooms, but letting the resort keep our deposit money as our "wedding account". So now that full amount will be used to pay for cake, flowers, off-site guest fees, the bands, etc. We also used some as credits towards the cost of the rooms for our bridesmaids/groomsmen. Just a few things to note about this approach...first of all, you need to make sure you withdraw your money by the date in their policy, otherwise you stand to lose more/all of the deposit (which, considering it's for all the rooms, was not necessarily pocket change...thanks Mom & Dad LOL). So just make sure you're organized and have it as a reminder in your phone, or on your calendar, or whatever, and keep in mind the working hours at their office are central time zone. Another thing I've learned through all this money-juggling was that Miriam and Kim are very on the ball with this kind of thing. Whenever I calculated what the refund should be, or what the remaining amount of our "wedding account", Kim and Miriam always came back with the same amount. The upside of this strategy was that during Feb - Jul, a time when we felt like we had to put on our sales & marketing caps to convince our nearest & dearest that we couldn't picture our day without them/they deserved to give themselves a vacation/Jamaica is the best place to be in January/this resort is worth every penny.........for all of that time, we didn't have to worry that random strangers were making reservations for our wedding weekend. So...although we didn't end up taking over the whole resort, and after the rooms were released we do in fact have some "randoms" who will be there, we did take over 2/3 of the resort and I'm happy with that. And, if I had to do it all over again, I would still do it the same way. A lot of our guests booked relatively "last-minute", so I was glad that there were still enough rooms for them to join us. Jacki - I'm guessing you're already down there!! How exciting Have a great, relaxing, fantastic wedding day!! We are all anxiously waiting to hear how it went and see pictures!!
  6. Hi everyone! I just wanted to thank all of you for weighing in on the tent issue. So I've since e-mailed Kerry and told her we DEFINITELY wanted the reception at Annie's, so no tent. We will stick to the trees for the lanterns. Speaking of, has anyone found good prices for them online? Or does the resort have any on hand? Chris and I are starting to get very nervous that we haven't heard from the DJ (Kevan Stewart) since April of this year. I've sent him a few confirmation e-mails in the past month, with updates on the playlist and key songs (first dance/cake cutting) etc....and no response. I know it's "Island time" and everything....but my last e-mail interchange with him was right after the PayPal deposit was put down, he confirmed he received the deposit...I asked him to reply with a copy of the contract with his signature...and never heard from him since. Has anyone used Kevan? I see tons of great reviews, but I'm really getting nervous at this point. Jacki - 1 month from today!! Hooray!
  7. Where's all the brides at?? Jacki, I'm so jealous you executed the resort takeover! That was our plan, but our guests apparently think otherwise. Are you excited? You are just over a month out! You must be in the throes of planning. Any advice? Anything you left out of planning earlier that you realize now? Anything you wish you'd done earlier? Anything you wish you hadn't fretted over? We just got a price and flavor list from Noida Cooke last week. We like her work better than the other (Marjorie? I can't remember) name that was given to us by Kerry the WC. But it took FOREVER for her to send us a list and everything - island time. She quoted us $430 for a 3-tier cake (10", 8", 6" rounds; 35-40 ppl). Is this standard? It seems a little high. >$10/slice. Anyone else have an idea? Also, we have been planning for this tent the entire time and now that Kerry and I are in closer communication, with the date only 3 mos. away.....she is asking us whether we want it or not. So...now I'm confused, because for the past 6 mos. we have been thinking it was mandatory. We didn't really want it, but because it was "forced" on us we came up with tent lighting/decoration ideas and warmed up to the concept. So now we're stuck - ball lanterns and capiz shells or open air? Especially because having the tent means the reception is on the lawn, not on the deck of Annie's. Who wants to dance on the lawn in high heels? Has anyone else found that they are able to choose the tent or not? (Jacki?) I wonder if it's because we are right on the cusp of 30 guests, which is the # where the tent becomes mandatory? Anyway, good luck Jacki! And girls, let's get this thread back up and running!!
  8. Jacki--Thanks for the heads up! I didn't know it was within walking distance. That's great news! The plan was, drop everyone at the beach, then pick us all up, drop off those who wanted to go to Rick's (half my guests don't drink) and then drop the rest back at MDC, then come back and get us at Ricks' later...now I know all the drunkies can walk back together, then we don't have to make the shuttle schedule all complicated! Arnriv--Congrats! I haven't been there, but with the help of this thread, I am confident that my wedding weekend will be a dream -- and yours will be too! Have a great weekend, everyone!
  9. arnriv--I will be having children at my wedding at MDC. The parents will have to sign a waiver regarding the cliffs. Because I haven't been there in person, I can't really tell you how safe it is...but I'm not worried about it. If it's really all that dangerous, we'll just have the kids stay away from it. In terms of not being on the beach, it is kind of a downside. But the way I look at it is...anytime I go to the Caribbean, I'm on the beach. The cliffs make it a unique and beautiful setting that is a little unexpected, and I like that. That said, I am planning to have a group beach trip the day after, where we will all go to 7-mile beach and then to Rick's Cafe. Lisa--How exciting! I am so happy for you!! Have a great trip and savor every moment! We'll be anxiously waiting to hear about your trip!!!
  10. Jacki--Thank you thank you THANK you for all that info! I know it's all "island time" I just thought that 2 months would have been long enough. I am so glad to hear that she had more planned than you had known through e-mail. To know that she's organized but might not e-mail every idea/update is a relief. Also, I'm going to check with the reservations office about the tent thing. Either way, if I MUST use the tent, it gives us an opportunity to string up capiz shells, which I always thought would be pretty...... Robin--I'm so glad you posted this! I am so glad your wedding went so perfectly! I am happy for you And thanks for pointing out that all the brides come back and gush--you're right. If you can share pictures with us, we would all love to see them!!
  11. double--I agree that it's ridiculous. Every other all-inclusive place I've heard of has free transfers. I was trying to find some way to avoid having my guests' first experience after landing being reaching into their wallets. I wanted it to be all booked/paid for, just hop on the plane, show up, relax, no worries, get pampered, and feel the love. But I guess that's not happening. I don't have the time or resources to find some other ground transportation and coordinate everyone's travel or foot the bill, so I'm disappointed about the whole thing. Mallory--I HATE THE TENT TOO. And I've asked Kerry about it--I understand that they don't want to be held liable for weather ruining the whole event, and that they've had to do last minute re-locations of the reception due to this. But, in my opinion, I don't mind paying the $500 to have a tent on-hand in case we need it. But I don't want it to be set up unless we need it. And I've asked her this, and apparently it needs to be set up. However small a part it may be, PART of the reason we picked MDC was based on the "aura" of the reception, those pictures on the website of the beautiful tables set up with that view, in the open ocean air. Could you imagine what those pictures would look like with a tent over the tables? Ugh. I'm not happy about it And yes, everyone, I'm being a grumpy complainer, I'm sorry! I just got done writing an e-mail to the coordinator about the fact that over 2 months ago, I sent her the tentative "schedule" (which was really just ideas we had) for the events of the wedding weekend. (Rehearsal lunch/welcome dinner/spa treatments/time schedules for ceremony, cocktail, reception etc). She has yet to confirm whether the ideas we have are feasible ideas and whether the timeframes are right. Meanwhile, I've entered into 2 contracts (photog and DJ) based on the schedule that she has never confirmed. I know that everything will turn out fine, and we still have like 9 months to go, but......I just think she could have found time in the last 2 months to let me know if I was way off on any of the items. I just don't want to have this "idea" of how the weekend will go, for like 6 months, and then find out 2 months before the wedding that some part of it is not even a possibility. Someone cheer me up! !!!
  12. Thanks, LaraJo! I will definitely talk to them about this.
  13. LaraJo---so jealous that you have FREE transport to and from the airport!! When did you book? They have quoted me as $80 each way for airport transfer, with a maximum of 4 people splitting the cost! I was really hoping it was free (like every other all-inclusive in the Caribbean), because I don't want my guests to shell out cash the very first second they step on the island. Jacki--same question....when did you book? I am all-inclusive, too! Lisa--I looked for other bands, kept running across "Hiyah Grade" and "Indigo band" on other threads, found a few YouTube videos. Also looked for mento bands as entertainment for a different day, but the old men I liked on YouTube may have thrown in the towel by now! Anyway, I just gone done booking Kevan Stewart (DJ Vaun) as the DJ for the reception! I am thinking of having the band play for the welcome party the night before. I'll wait for LaraJo's demos to come thru on a PM before I make that decision though! I am so glad to have your ideas/support/info, I can't thank you guys enough. I also e-mailed the florist, and she is already running through a bunch of ideas with me! This is so exciting !!
  14. Has anyone booked the Front Page band that Kerry recommended? I am wary of hiring a band that I can't hear beforehand. Does anyone know how to get a video of them on YouTube or a demo audio of them or something? Are there other bands that you have booked? Also, how is everyone shuttling people back and forth? Are you using the airport transfer offered by MDC, or have you found a different, cheaper way? Thanks ladies!
  15. Thanks for all the info! I have already booked Michael Saab as my photographer...he's pricey but I love his work, so I am forfeiting a couple hours to be able to afford him. I figure that other people's cameras can capture the dance floor pictures, right? I am getting so excited! I wish I didn't have to wait so long!
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