By daisymable, · 1,578 Views · 4 Comments
My husband I got married in Montego Bay on July 13th, 2011. We travelled to Iberostar Rose Hall Suites with a group of 32 people. It was a great choice for our group and everything went well except for a few minor hiccups. We travelled with Air Canada Vacations.
Accommodations: The rooms are spacious, clean and modern. All rooms have a great view and it is a waste of money to upgrade. We upgraded to the beachfront suite and because there were so many people around the resort we didn't spend much time in our room or on our patio. Instead we were visiting with family and friends. Besides the larger patio and close proximity to the ocean, there is no difference in the room on the inside. Additionally, all of our guests were on the other side of the hotel so we had to walk a long way if we wanted to visit them. When we did our honeymoon the following week in Negril, the beachfront patio was worth it. However, during the busy wedding week we just didn't get to use it. My only issue with the rooms was the dark lighting in the bathroom and the fact that the room was only cleaned every second day. Overall, the rooms are very nice! I had sent a rooming list to Nicole for everyone to be roomed close together about two months before the wedding. This did not happen and everyone was split up except for a couple of guests.
Restaurants: We enjoyed all of the restaurants. We had read so many reviews that rated the gourmet as the best and the Mediterranean as the worst and we though the exact opposite. The Mediterranean had lots of great seafood and was small and intimate. The gourmet felt cold and too formal with very small portion sizes (some of my guests went to the buffet afterward). The Japanese is good, as good as any Japanese restaurant on a sandals resort. The Mexican was excellent- but order something Mexican, not lobster. The buffet is great and has lots of variety. I found the lunch time buffet just a little repetitive. Overall, we liked the food and did not get bored. The steaks at this resort are AMAZING!!
Beach: The beach is nice and is great for swimming and snorkelling. My guests saw all kinds of marine life out near the rocks past the swimming ropes. There is some grass and seaweed. I have seen clearer water in Mexico and Negril but it was still very nice. All of the guests who had not done extensive travel thought it was beautiful. The grand does have clearer water so you can walk up there to use that stretch of beach if you desire.
Activities: There are all kinds of events going on throughout the day. Some of us participated in the events, while others just enjoyed mingling and spending time on the beach or in the pool.
Excursions: We had only one day of excursions planned for our group. The men went deep sea fishing with Marlin Madness and the ladies went on the Dreamer Catamaran. This was one of the best days of the trip. We had SO much fun! Everyone let loose and danced the day away on the catamaran! Before leaving I thought it wouldn't be a good idea to plan a lot for the guests while there. In hindsight, I would have planned more. Most of my guests wanted to get out and do things together as a group. We ended up doing the luminous lagoon tour on the last night before everyone left. This tour was fun because we had the boat to ourselves and we had a little party on the boat. The lagoon itself however, was a waste of money. Most of the guests also hired a private van to take them into the mountains and onto the plantations. They loved it! Many guests also went into town shopping which they thought was just “ok”. The best shopping is at the airport.
Private Events: Besides the wedding, we had a Welcome Cocktail Hour (the first night we arrived) with a dinner following at the Steakhouse. We hired a Steel Pan drum band. I would really recommend this. This was one of the best nights we had while there. Everyone was just arriving and pumped to be there. Nobody was tired out from the sun and most of us partied pretty late. We did this on the lobby terrace and it was just magical. The band was excellent. My fiance kept sneaking the band drinks and they played a little longer than they were supposed to. After the cocktail hour, we all went to the steakhouse. The food was good but the service was very, very slow. It took a long time to even get some wine. Before going to Jamaica, I had pre-seleced a menu because I had expected that if everyone ordered individually it would cause the service to be slower. When we arrived at the restaurant they handed out menus rather than having the preselected menu prepared. Everyone liked choosing their own meal but as I suspected, it took about two hours before everyone was eating. By that time everyone was really burning out.
For our rehearsal, we had dinner at the gourmet restaurant and then followed that with a bonfire and bar on the beach. We did not hire entertainment as we had our own musician with us who played. It was the night before the wedding so we just had some drinks, chatted and listened to the music. It was really nice! Our private dinners did get mixed up. We had actually booked the gourment for the cocktail night and steakhouse for rehearsal night but they had it booked opposite when we got there. There was a bit of a mix up as we already had the details listed in our welcome books. Everyone managed to end up at the right places some were late because the resort had mixed up the times for restaurant bookings.
These were the only group meals we had booked besides our wedding dinner. In hindsight I would have booked other nights for guests as well and then just cancelled out seats for those who wanted to do their own thing. We found that everyone usually wanted to eat together but we could not get reservations for more than 4 or 5 people at a time for the restaurants. Most people had said they wished we could all eat together and for this reason, we ended up cancelling some of our reservations and going to the buffet. It’s easier to make the group reservations in advance then it is to make them when you get there. It would be best I think to pre-book the dinners and then add to your welcome letter to let you or the groom know if they wanted to do their own thing for dinner rather than joining the group.
Wedding: We had our ceremony offsite with Tropical Weddings Jamaica. This was the highlight of the entire week. It was a little pricey but so worth every penny. The privacy and intimacy of the site and not having to worry about anything was so great. I highly recommend doing this. If you have questions about this, send me a message.
We had our dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant and it was perfect. It was decorated beautifully and was just the right size for our group. Everyone loved the food and thought the place looked amazing. We did not have the dj in the restaurant. Because it was such a small space and a small crowd, we were able to speak freely without a microphone. We had our DJ and slideshow on the beach. We also had the cake on the beach when everyone was hungry again. The cake was so delicious! Everyone raved about the cake even the next day. We had a layer of cheesecake and a layer of gluten free cake (I brought the cake mix from home and they made it for me).
The wedding dance was a disappointment. Our dinner was supposed to go from 6:30- 8:30 but we ran really late with dinner. We probably ended up with less than an hour for dancing by the time we cut the cake, threw the garter and bouquet. After the garter toss the DJ shut down the sound abruptly. I asked for just a couple of minutes of music for the bouquet and he refused. My fiancé tried to give him money to play for just two minutes for the bouquet toss but he was pretty rude about it. After some begging from all of the guests he gave me just a little bit of music for the toss then shut it off in the middle of the song. Most of the guests headed to the disco after this. I am still sad we didn’t get to use our playlist and continue our private dance. Although the disco is fun, it’s crowded and loud and you can’t really socialize with your guests.
We used RG weddings for our video and they seemed to have done a really good job. We are still waiting on our video so I cannot give a complete review. We had originally planned not to do a video but a few weeks before the wedding I felt I might regret it if we didn’t. I am so happy we did. The day went so quickly, everything is like a dream. I can hardly remember any of the speeches that were said, I don’t remember the words we said for our vows, I didn’t look to see many of my family’s faces when I walked down the aisle because everyone was crying. I am so excited to get our video and see all of those little moments that we missed because of the nerves and excitement. Our friends and family that didn’t make the wedding are asking us all the time when the video is coming in. Everyone is anxious to see it. We plan to have a little party and all watch it together when it arrives.
We brought our own photographer (Kelly Lawson) and we were so happy we did. We had so many pictures, not only from the wedding but also from the other events during the week.
Nightlife: We went to the disco a couple of times as well as the piano bar. We loved the entertainment at the piano bar the night we were there. The band even let us get up and sing with them. Some of our guests liked the disco but others didn’t. My biggest complaint about the disco was that there was way too much dry ice. I only managed to stay in there for about two hours before I had to get out of there from a sore throat. Some guests weren’t bothered by the dry ice. Earlier in the night they play Jamaican dance music, later in the night they play more of the top 40 stuff. Most of the older guests, even though they like to party, were not into the disco. Some guests went to Karaoke and enjoyed it. Another night we just all headed down to the beach with one of my guests and his guitar. We took some wine and had an amazing evening just hanging out down there.
Wedding Coordinators: We did not have the best experience with Nicole. She didn’t do an awful job; she was just not very involved. I am wondering if it is because we had our ceremony offsite, she put the rest of our wedding as unimportant on her list. She was nice but did not go out of her way to help out. I don’t want to go into too many details because I don’t like to complain too much. Everything went well. Just be prepared to have people in your family do things for you down there and to double check everything. Assign someone to collect things for you after the wedding and bring things down before the wedding. We had a few issues with them coming and looking for payment about 10 minutes before our wedding. I was lucky enough to have a bridesmaid that told her to go away and that it wasn’t the time to be asking for money. After that, she continued to find my husband in his room and ask the same thing right before he was getting ready to head to the ceremony. Nothing really went wrong; they were just cold and made no extra effort to help out. I called down a couple of times to have my wedding things sent up after the wedding and it never did show up. We went down when we were packing to go home and picked it up ourselves. When we got back to our room, we realized there were many things missing. After I got home, I realized they did not return a very beautiful picture frame that a friend had given me. We did not see Nicole during the wedding reception or during the other private events. I think she came out once to check on the cake or something during the dance. Thankfully I was pretty organized and I don’t stress too much over the little details. That being said, everything at the reception was set up so beautifully and it was the best evening ever!
Tai Floral: Jodi at Tai Floral is amazing. I contacted her a week before my wedding to do my flowers as Nicole told me she would not take care of the reception flowers because we were not also having our ceremony there (she didn’t tell me this until 5 days before leaving for Jamaica!). I gave Jodi very little direction and just a few inspiration pics. I had brought some very small vases for big tables and asked her if she could somehow build them up. I couldn’t believe how beautiful she made everything look. Tai Floral is a little pricey but if you want quality, it’s worth it! Jodi did her best to make everything beautiful and did it quickly. I highly recommend her!!
Spa: We didn’t do any spa services except hair. Only one of my bridesmaids had planned to get her hair done at the salon as we had not heard great things. My bridesmaid went for a trial the day before and it turned out amazing! All the girls booked and LOVED their hair. I have some very fussy girls so this was unbelievable. Most of my girls had some extensions put in and they are more skilled with working with extensions than anyone any of had seen here in Canada.
Overall, it was an amazing day. The other private cocktail hours were amazing too. Everyone loved it. The only thing that could be improved upon are the customer service skills of the wedding coordinators. The fact that I did not hear from Nicole until I was leaving for my flight to Jamaica, is not acceptable for the amount of money you are spending. I do not blame her because she is overworked. I do blame Iberostar for not having more staff to take care of customer service. Even with these few hiccups though, I would choose this resort again for a wedding. If you know what you want and have some close friends and family members to help you out, everything will be perfect. Before I went down to Jamaica, I was stressed about no communication with Nicole, not having flowers and various other things. However, after getting to Jamaica, all of your stresses disappear and you just don’t really care about the small details. It’s all about spending time with the people you love and about marrying the love of your life. When I walked down the aisle the thunder was roaring and the sky was black. I was just waiting for the rain to pour down. I remember thinking, let it pour, I don’t care.... We are here, we are getting married and I am surrounded by my best friends and family. Nothing could ruin it! I just wish I could do it all over again!