Hi Everyone... This is a VERY long overdue review of my wedding. I got married at the GBP Jamaica on December 06, 2013 at 2:30 pm. I have to admit, that I, myself, had issues with establishing a date and time and getting it confirmed (date changed 4 times, and one of those reasons was because I got double booked - in the end it got cleared up, but it made me desperate to get a confirmation). But, at the same time, once you get there - even though they do seem disorganized and uninformative while we are so far away - they actually do have everything under control and do their best to make your day what you imagined it to be. Vinnette was my coordinator, and she was lovely to work with. We went over everything that was discussed in e-mails at our meeting, and firmed up all the details, numbers, menus, colors, etc. I did suggest that they have a weddings FAQ page, seeing as how lots of people are dissatisfied with e-mail responses from the wedding group at GBP, and often times, it seems that the answers are always different. Don't know if my suggestion was taken or not...but, I do think it would help with a lot of the uncertainty and angst we feel while over seas. But, I assure you, they will do their very best to make your dream day happen! You just have to be patient and wait until you get there - which I know is easier said than done. But, no sense stressing over something that you can't really control. But, if you are absolutely besides yourself, I recommend calling them, even though unfortunately, they do not have a 1-800 #. They are very easy to talk to and it's very easy to firm up details with them when on the phone. Also to note - the GBP does have an app - where you can "find your way" around the resort and book your a la cartes and other stuff. I didn't download it, and didn't know about it until the day before I left, but thought I would just pass it on.
I digress. Sorry...about the wedding. So...as I said, Vinnette was amazing to work with. I had 24 guests, 26 people in total when you include me and my husband. We opted for the free wedding package, but booked a private reception at the Piscis (as we wanted an outdoor venue, seeing as how we were somewhere tropical and wanted to maximize on that!). We didn't get the private bar (wasn't included in the 2013 packages, unfortunately). However, we did ask Vinnette if it was possible to have water and juice at the reception (please keep in mind that if you don't have a bar, they will serve water, wine and beer for your dinner, but I don't think they served any mixed cocktails). At the meeting, she didn't promise anything - however, at the reception, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had set up some pop, juice, water, and even had some gallons of pre-mixed rum punch! On the morning of the wedding, we woke up to it storming outside! I was a little worried - as we getting married at the gazebo and had the outdoor venue. Thankfully, the weather held true to most tropical locales, and the weather cleared up by noon - and stayed clear for the wedding and the nighttime venue. I don't think it started raining again until the next day. Yay!
I actually had my makeup done at the salon, and they did a great job! I am not used to wearing a lot of makeup (as my everyday look is actually no makeup at all), and they did a great job at interpreting what I wanted (fairly natural, but "enhanced") and still making it look good for photos. It was a great way for my mom and I to spend some quiet time just the two of us, as she had booked her hair appointment at the same time. Thankfully, one of my friend's who came for the wedding was a hairdresser, and she did my hair for me. I had already had my nails and toenails done before I had gone down to Jamaica. The only downfall I had with the spa was that I was not able to get a trial of the makeup done. I did book it, but when I had gone for the trial, I was told that they weren't able to do it because the stylist I was booked with wasn't working that day. Blag, I know. But, I just went with it - they assured me that she was really good - and it turned out just fine!
For my flowers - I had actually bought some silk flowers off of Etsy. I was wanted to be able to bring my flowers back with me for a keep sake...and I think that anything I would've wanted from Tai Flora would've been an upgrade - and in the end...my silk flowers would've been cheaper than an upgrade - and will last longer - and could come back with me. It was just a preference. We didn't get a boutonniere for my husband - because we were also doing a lei ceremony (I'm from Hawaii and wanted to incorporate that into our ceremony, we did this instead of a candle or sand ceremony). So, instead of having flowers, Vinnette gave us a tropical center piece, which we used on our signing table, and at our sweetheart table for the reception.
For the ceremony itself...it started a little late...I was a bit panicked in my room, wondering why it was past 2:30 pm, and I was still in my room, waiting for someone to pick me up. I called down, and they came and got me shortly. (I found out after the fact, that my husband - then fiance - had met up with everyone at the lobby bar as they had previously arranged, but somehow missed the fact that I told him to meet everyone there...and then walk down together to the gazebo! So, I guess Vinnette found them there, and had to get them to the gazebo first before coming to get me). For the ceremony and vows - we actually scripted our own (I got TONS of ideas from one of the threads on this website), and we formulated the vows together. Vinnette did say it's okay, but just asked that I sent them to her in advance. I just e-mailed it to her once we had finalized our script (like 2-4 weeks before we our wedding, I think). She said she likes to give it to the minister in advance, as he might need to alter the script a bit in order to make sure certain parts are properly worded to make things, "legal and binding". I was all for it, as that's what I wanted - to make our marriage legal and binding! The minister was really sweet. I think he read the script briefly beforehand - and it was really cute because as he was reading it, he would pause and say things like, "that's true" - so you could tell he was agreeing with what we had decided we wanted said about our relationship and marriage. We also wanted to write our own script to involve the parents (we asked for their blessing as part of our ceremony) and to involve our guests (who were friends and family) and ask them for their support and encouragement in our marriage when we need it. A funny moment in the ceremony is that the minister presented us as husband and wife without the kiss. So, I asked, "Don't I get a kiss?" And the minister quickly backtracked, did the kiss, and presented us again. Hahaha.
I'd say the only thing that didn't happen for the ceremony is that I had asked for the gazebo to just be plain white for the decorations...and there was blue (my colors were green and lavendar!). But, in the end, even though it wasn't what I wanted and it wasn't my colors, it still looks great in the photos. And, since you are the one doing the planning, you are probably the only one who will notice these mishaps, and no one else will! No biggie. :-)
For the reception - Vinnette was awesome, and did our introduction for us, since we didn't think to designate an emcee. We bought a bunch of paper lanterns in green and white and purple for decorations, wedding favors, and a little "thank you" place card idea that I got off of Pinterest. We also brought our own drinking game, sky lanterns, and sparklers for the grand exit. We didn't have a whole heck of a lot for decorations, but it still looked beautiful! I didn't give any direction on how I wanted the lanterns set up, but they did a great job, and everyone loved it. For our meal, we ordered off of the Dolce Vita menu. We had the caprese salad (I read on this forum that the lettuce is bitter, but I actually didn't find that at all, the lettuce and salads at the resort were just fine!), spinach ravioli, the chicken (can't remember what kind) and the profiteroles for dessert. We also ordered the chocolate cake - it was delicious. It was kind of amusing for me, as I have heard this from numerous other brides on this forum (please note that I have read all 544 pages!), even though the cake was delicious, I had asked for it to be as plainly decorated as possible, but still ended up with lots of frosting swirls. But, no biggie. It still looked nice and was great to eat. We didn't see a slice of the cake at all after the reception. They were nice enough to slice the cake after we cut it and serve it with the other desert. It's a lot to eat, and we were full and satisfied by the end of the 4 courses! For our reception configuration, we had a sweetheart table for us (it was nice because we got some alone time and could enjoy our food - but we did end up pulling another chair up to the table so guests could feel free to visit if they wanted) and 3 round tables that seated 8 each. We also had another table that had our kissing game set up (people had to take shots of rum), our sparklers, and our sky lanterns. We also brought with us a bottle of "Hales" wine as our "guest book" (Hales is our last name) and gold and silver permanent markers to sign the bottle and for people to write "wishes" on the sky lanterns. All in all, the reception venue was beautiful. Loved hearing the waves crashing behind us. And even though it was warm, our guests still had a blast (not much of a breeze down there) - and I have heard that sometimes the Grill and the Dolce Vita can get warm...actually, when we went to the Grill for our a la carte dinner, it was pretty warm in there. We had the DJ as part of the venue - and he played his own stuff, and it was great - people danced the night away. We did burn our own CD with about 21 songs - including our pre-ceremony songs, my processional song, our recessional songs, songs for after the ceremony, our first dance song, and also a song for a surprise for my husband - I danced hula for him. Aside from our first dance song and my hula dance song, he played all his own stuff, and took requests. He didn't make any announcements (aside from notifying us when the last song was gonna play), but that was okay.
All in all, we had a lovely day. My husband just wanted to get married somewhere warm, where there was a beach. Mission accomplished. We loved getting married in the gazebo - both my husband and I are rather private and reserved people, so it was nice not having tons of gawkers (there are a few people who will be out on the beach by the gazebo...so they will see you as you walk down the aisle and watch your wedding - but they aren't going to be in your pictures for the most part). Our guests loved the resort and had so much fun there. The food is pretty good, more hits than misses. We did have a couple of comments that some of the staff at the resort were rude, but most were pretty friendly. They have up to 3 weddings a day, but all the staff make you feel really special and almost treat you like you are the only bride present at their resort. We would definitely do it all over again - and do it the same way! If you get rained out they do have a back up venue for you - we actually saw a wedding held in the foyer as they got rained out (it was the day before we left the resort).
As for the pictures, we didn't ask for anyone specifically - we got Nicol - and he took nice pictures. However, I love pictures, and if they were the only pictures I had, I would've been a bit disappointed. I did bring down my own photographer - and they knew she was a professional photographer - but elected not to charge me $800 since it was everyone's first time to Jamaica. Thankfully! And I am so happy that I brought down my own photographer. Here's her blog post with photos from the wedding - and you'll see why I am so happy I brought her. (I hyperlinked it for you guys! And she travels, so if you like what you see, I'm sure you can contact her and inquire. But, she is based out of Calgary.)
Here are some photos from the resort photographer (hopefully the links work):
We also did do an after the wedding photo shoot with my photographer, Cassie, from Cassie's Camera. Thankfully, I took some taxi advice from another bride here, acw271011 - and hired Spencer's Taxi and Tour. Michael, himself, wasn't our driver for the day, but he did arrange us with a great guy, who basically did whatever we wanted for about 4 hours. Michael Spencer did actually go out of his way to meet up with us and introduce himself, which was so sweet. Here is his contact information:
The email is firstname.lastname@example.org and there are 2 phone numbers: 876-842-0527 or 876-326-5436. I just contacted him by e-mail, and he actually arranged to call me at the resort to finalize arrangements. I would highly recommend that you use his services!
We also did go to Dunns River Falls, we were lucky enough to arrange our tour on a day that there wasn't a cruise ship in. It was really pretty and fun, although the hand holding is a little over the top. But, I guess, safety first!
I am sure that there are a million things I may have left out - sorry! I tried to recollect as best as I could (the delay was because we took possession of our first house when we returned from Jamaica, we were there for 10 days, and have been busy with that. I kept forgetting to write the review, and would remember at work, but would forget once I got home.) Anyhow...if you have any questions - please feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer. Best of luck to all you guys in your wedding and your plans! I am confident it will be beautiful!!
oh! I forgot to mention - the other guests at the resort were really cute! As we would walk by (while taking pictures after the ceremony) we got tons of congratulations, cheering, and applause. It was like being a mini-celebrity for the day. It was also a bit of a confidence booster when people stop to tell you how beautiful you look. At the same time, it was nice to go back to being "normal" the day after.
I'm so sorry to hear about these complications - but so happy that it worked out the best for you in the end! Glad that you still had our beautiful day! Congratulations once again on your wedding and becoming a Mrs!