Best wishes for your wedding next November. I am getting married at the Now Jade in just 11 days and to be completely honest, if feels like a mistake to have selected this resort. I am hopeful for you that having a full year to deal with the resort and make plans will result in a more positive experience. Here are the reasons I regret chosing the Now Jade:
1. Communication with the wedding planners is slow, almost entirely via email, and when you do manage to get a telephone call scheduled, a lot gets lost in translation due to the language barrier. There was so much back and forth discussion via email about which venues were available to us that finally I demanded a telephone call and was still disappointed with the end result. There was no explanation as to why certain ceremony and reception venues weren't available. When I asked if there was another wedding, there was one at the Pergola, with cocktails at the Mix Bar, and reception at the Bamboo room, but they still wouldn't make the fountain available to us so we ended up choosing the beach for the ceremony as a last resort even though there is nothing else booked at the other spots. She simply wouldn't explain why it wasn't available. We had already told guest that we were booking here because we planned all of this on a very compressed time table (3 mo), so we couldn't go back.
2. Trying to book a group rate through the resort was a complete waste of time. They simply seemed uninterested in our business. Each time they quoted rates that were outrageous compared to publicly available rates on Bookit.com and Expedia and I simply wasn't going to try to get "free" nights for the groom and me on the backs of our guests. That just seemed really shady to me. I even sent them hotel confirmations from the online bookings I made to see if they would match them and they refused. Total fail on the group reservations front.
3. They nickle and dime you for everything. I booked the Divine package simply because if you have more than 10 people they set up fees and extra chair/champagne and meal fees eat you alive so you might as well start with the 25 people that the Divine package includes. The outside vendor fees, set up fees and taxes are really annoying since it's supposed to be a package and how dare you want an upgraded photographer, makeup artist, or flowers. For this reason, we are schlepping a crap load of decor with us and I'm going to buy roses locally at Wal-Mart or Costco for some small little centerpieces to add to the included single centerpiece in the package. We are even bringing our own portable PA speaker and microphone because they were going to charge us for the equipment and setup at each site and you can buy one and pay the extra bag fee to bring it down there for a fraction of the cost.
4. Bait & switch - some of the things that are shown in the photos in the wedding guide are not actually included in the package. For example, the cakes that are shown in the Divine package are all three tiers and have flowers or other decoration...but the cake they give you is only two tiers and they include a disclaimer that the cake may not look like the one you chose. WTF? So on this one, I'm just rolling with it because the cake isn't the most important thing to me, the vows are....but it's just another annoyance.
I'm not trying to rain on your parade and I think that if you know all the ins and outs, you'll be better prepared to ask for the moon and hopefully get what you want. The reason I chose this resort is because the Jade got such good reviews from brides on this site and because it was more affordable than a lot of the other alternatives I could find. My suggestions would be: a) spend the time to negotiate with a travel agent and/or the resort directly for competitive room rates. I found rooms on Bookit.com for the week of Thanksgiving for around $181 per night a few months ago and now the room are all more than $300 per night. I suggest doing your own research on rates and then comparing and asking them why they can't meet or beat publicly available rates; they will reserve a non-private area for you at one of the bars if you want to schedule a welcome cocktail gathering for free - make sure you ask for it and include it in the contract. They will try to upsell you on food etc, but unless you want to spend more money on a private affair, you can get this for free; c) ask for a signature cocktail - I read that someone got them to do it for free so I asked and they agreed. There will be an upcharge if the ingredients are out of the ordinary or the drink is time-consuming to make; d) send pic of bouquets you like because the ones in their catalog are limited. I sent photos and they claim they are going to match my request for the bouquet, centerpiece, and boutonnieres with no upcharge. I will share some pics after my wedding if that helps. We are doing beach ceremony on November 28 with cocktails and dinner at the Carnival Terrace because we only have 23 people total. I would have wanted the bamboo room or Castaways if it wouldn't have dwarfed our small group.