Hello Everyone, We just got back from our wedding and trip and while all the small details are still fresh I wanted to share our experiences; Arrival: Sunday We had 25 guests who traveled with us and our time getting through the Montego Bay airport put us all a little bit off schedule. We didn't arrive to the resort until approximately 10:30 - 10:45PM and everyone was tired, flustered (a lot of 1st time travelers). My Husband and I tried to help everyone through the process. GBP had all our welcome packages for us on the bus and there was a little confusion but nonetheless everything seemed to work out. We were able to laugh about everything because it felt like we were "herding cats". **Note - if you are traveling with anyone who has dietary needs (including diabetes) if you are arriving at the resort between 10:00PM and 11:00PM there is nowhere to eat and the distance between the buffet and the snack bar seems like a million miles away. We had to fight to get the snack bar open quickly and slightly early as we had a guest who needed to eat quick. When we finally got to our rooms we had a letter from Chandlyn with a meeting time of 11:00AM on Monday. The rooms were wonderful, large, clean and cool. Ok, so some rooms were short a towel or two or a bathrobe etc...nothing that couldn't be fixed. Monday Our meeting with Chandlyn was great, 30 minutes, we met with her and her assistant Stephanie. I was shocked at how easy all the final details took to decide on. We chose the Grill as our dinner/reception and the Gazebo for the wedding and dance. We also confirmed the time for the golf cart to pick us up by our room (bride and bridesmaids). We decided to go with the Silver package for the pictures ($350) which was 40 photos and we decided to get the ceremony and a session after the ceremony. Everything else we figured we would just use all the guests photos to capture everything else. Altogether we chose the Unforgettable Package and in total the entire wedding day cost us $3000.00 US. We had a rehearsal scheduled for 5:00PM that day which meant we spent the rest of the day trying to track down the room numbers of our parents, bridal party etc because we weren't that organized 24 hours in. **TIP** - Schedule a breakfast/brunch (SOMETHING) for all guests the day or day after you arrive to exchange room information if no one has their cell phones. Our rehearsal was great, took about 45 - 60 minutes (closer to 60 minutes because one of our groomsmen was enjoying the all inclusive bar) but it was hilarious. Stephanie was there and ran the group through exactly where to stand, what would be said, who was walking in with who etc. Tuesday - The Big Day!!! Our wedding was scheduled for 11:00AM - which meant for us women to be ready by 10:30AM and downstairs for the golf cart by 10:45AM. I had my sister (MOH) and a few other bridesmaids and guests do my hair and make up (as someone who doesn't wear make up ever, I was not spending $250 on hair and make up) and I'm so grateful for the ladies who did such a great job!! We didn't have time to go down for breakfast so one of my bridemaids called for room service and we had fruit trays and ham and cheese sandwhiches and (coffee - made in our room). The resort staff were fantastic and as soon as we mentioned wedding day we got a yes for everything. Something happened between 10:45 - 11:00 (my father was down at the gazebo, one of my bridesmaid were late, now I was stressing) and somehow we missed the golf cart and someone called the front desk to see what happened. They told us to come to the lobby - once that got sorted out we were treated to mimosa's in the golden club bar and then travelled down to the gazebo. I was about 20 minutes late but the driver just told me everything was good, no problems, no worries - which was so nice to hear. Finally, I'm in line waiting to walk down the aisle - I met Chris the photographer right there and the pictures started. He was great, so easy going, very natural and very friendly. The steelband was playing (they sounded amazing) and then the ceremony happened. Ceremony - the ceremony was beautiful, that's all I can say - I couldn't have imagined anything else. Our minister was so soulful and we truly felt he was there for us and speaking directly to us. We cut the cake and did the cake pictures and what not. We were supposed to cut the cake and eat it with the guests and champagne but because we were running late (and they do 3 weddings a day there) we agreed to cut the cake and then serve the cake at dinner. (Our cake looked like it was melting, literally, like the leaning tower of pisa - but you couldn't tell in the pictures lol) Our picture session with Chris lasted about one hour - it was great. About a few poses in I began to feel so bad for our bridal party (even though none of them complained) because it was so hot and I let Chris know it was ok for them to leave and my Husband and I would continue with our private pictures. **TIP** - Make sure you apply sunscreen before the ceremony, and 1/2 way through your pictures or just before the pictures to avoid a burn if you are prone to sunburn. Our group came back together at 4:00PM for cocktails in the Golden Club Bar (AC!!) until it was time for dinner - 5:30PM. We arrived on time for the 5:30 reservation and we had to wait an extra 30 minutes to get in. We had 36 guest in total and once we did get in we realized 2 of our guests who were staying off resort had brought dates we weren't expecting bringing us to 38 guests, so they had to make 2 extra seats and we said we'd square up with Chandlyn after - this created major tension between us and the staff there. I was quite appalled at how he spoke to us and then how he kept walking back and forth, during the dinner, counting my guests. A friend of mine spoke to him on the side and he backed off. The meal at the grill was horrible, but our group just laughed and made plans to go to the buffet after lol. We had the speeches there and during my father in law's speech a group across from us began singing "happy birthday" making it very difficult to hear him **TIP** - Do your speeches somewhere else, somewhere where you'll have a little more privacy or control over the atmosphere.
Our cake was never served during dinner - we actually never saw the cake or the cake topper again and didn't realize it until we got home. Obviously - this wasn't a big deal to us. We then proceeded to the Gazebo again for lanterns and the dance. We opted to purchase our own booze at duty free ($150 Canadian) and a couple guests threw in a bottle or two as well, we had a staff at the resort during the day ask if we "needed" anything at the dance portion and we let him know it was only mix we needed - $70.00US later we had mix, ice, cups and 2 bartenders for the night (2 hours - 8:30PM - 10:30PM) - **TIP** - YOU CAN BARTER FOR ANYTHING. We even ended up with left over bottles and just gave them to the bartenders and DJ as a thank you. The DJ came with the Gazebo rental - you can bring your IPOD with music you like or have a "must play" list. Have your special dances labeled and let him know when to play them. DJ played good music (top 40, old 90's dance etc) kept our younger crowd going but not our Country loving parents and ourselves lol but it was still a great time. Overall - I loved our wedding. If you "don't sweat the small stuff", it'll be a magical and beautiful memory for the rest of your life. Here's a list of pointers I think might be helpful to pass on: - get your guests room #'s - DO NOT spend one moment of your time worrying about everyone else - they'll figure it out - The Dress - omg, I didn't have a 2nd dress, I wanted one dress and once dress only... needless to say I spent the time between the pictures and the cocktails in the tub in cold water - where my new husband and I laughed about the morning/ceremony portion of our day. It's hot there - just remember that. - Both our parents are divorced, remarried, and don't get along here - but on an island, on your day, nothing else should matter (it worked!) If you're looking for more information around the financial/bartering pieces, or any questions at all here's my email address - firstname.lastname@example.org - we can talk there. Good luck to everyone and congratulations xoxo Jessica