By starrysim, · 1,992 Views · 5 Comments
We had a wonderful wedding with 29 guests at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach resort in November 2011. Overall I’m happy and would recommend this resort for weddings. There were just a few minor issues, but it was overwhelmingly a positive experience.
Preparation, pre-travel communication
The wedding co-ordinator, Silvia, and others in the PR office are usually quick to reply to emails, though there is the occasional one that gets missed. The only issue for us was that she missed two of my emails the week that we left, which included room preferences of guests (who needed double vs. king beds, who wanted rooms next to each other, etc). Otherwise, I got most of the answers I wanted ahead of time, though that might be because of the helpful community here at the BDW forums.
Arrival and planning meeting
Silvia greeted us as we were checking in, but she booked our meeting for the following day. When we met with her, she was very organized and had all our information in front of her. We filled out yet another form with the final details, and at this point we could make changes still and give the final number of guests. The only issue was that we had pre-arranged a welcome party for that night, which was a bonfire on the beach with appetizers and open bar. She realized that she needed to give 2 days notice to the kitchen for the appetizers, and our party was that night, so she had to do some extra leg work to get it to happen, but she did.
We had a very varied group – some had been to many all-inclusives in the caribbean, and for some this was their first trip. Everyone unanimously loved the resort, as did we. It’s clean, well maintained, the staff are absolutely amazing, and the food is always hot and delicious. My only minor complaints were that the rooms smelled musty (more of a problem for my husband than for me, actually), I found the bed uncomfortable, there was no make-up mirror in the bathroom, and desserts weren’t particularly good. We were upgraded to an ocean-front junior suite, which wasn’t super fancy or anything, but at least it was more spacious. Some of our favourite things were the pools, the warm ocean water (lots of seaweed though), the overall look of the resort, the food, and the service. There were always lots of free loungers, both in sun and shade; there was no need to reserve at all, which is a very welcome change from most resorts we had been to.
Welcome party – Bonfire
The bonfire was fun, though we could’ve done without appetizers. Most of our guests were still full from dinner, so barely picked at the food. The ambiance was nice – the food table and the bar were very nicely laid out, and there were lanterns strung up on the volleyball net. The site of the bonfire is right where the volleyball court is. We paid for one hour, but stayed on afterwards just to hang out. I think having a DJ would’ve made it more of a fun party.
Wedding day – getting ready
I don’t think I could’ve ever been this relaxed on my wedding day if I had a wedding at home. We were planning on sleeping in separate rooms the night before, but the other couple was out late partying at the disco, so we fell asleep and ended up waking up together anyway. We had a leisurely breakfast, and then the groom went to hang out with people on the beach, which I headed back to the room to do my nails and shower. When my bridesmaid arrived, we ordered room service lunch and hung out. It was so nice and low-key. We did have an issue getting an ironing board – we called twice, two different people, and were assured both time that we would get one. Eventually one of our guests brought over theirs, and we never did get one. Other than that, things turned a bit sour because our hair & makeup girls were an hour late. I booked Rashel Edwards for make-up, and the hairdresser she works with. I had read to many positive reviews, that I wasn’t worried about anything at all, so I didn’t even think to write down her phone number. We were waiting and waiting and waiting, and there isn’t wifi in the rooms, so I couldn’t even find her phone number. They finally arrived at 1:30, an hour and a half before our 3 pm ceremony, and an hour after our agreed-upon time of 12:30. I politely expressed my disappointment, and instead of apologizing, she brushed it off, which I thought was very unprofessional. So we quickly got started on hair for me. She didn’t have her usual assistant, she used a girl named Colleen. I told her I wanted soft waves, no hard or tight curls. She proceeded to hairspray and curl my hair into hard curls anyway, but we were in such a rush that I was barely paying attention, and she was assuring me that the curls would open. I think my hair is the thing I regret most about the day, but I guess that’s not a huge complaint when you look at the big picture. While my hair was being done, my bridesmaid was getting her makeup done. She was happy with the final look, and she did look great. Then we switched and I went for makeup. I gave her a picture and instructions to give me a slightly smoky eye, and to match my skintone instead of trying to make me fake-tanned. She applied false lashes as well, which she provided (I totally forgot to pack mine). The final look was more harsh than what I had hoped for, but again there wouldn’t have been time to fix it, and from what I’ve seen from our guests’ pictures so far, it looked good in pictures. There was chaos all around us anyway, as the photographers had arrived, my bridesmaid dress was being ironed by my mom and MOH, and Silvia was in and our with flowers and instructions – there was just no time to stop and think or fix anything. As soon as my makeup was done, Colleen quickly put my veil in – I didn’t even have a glance at how my hair and flower and veil looked. I just quickly threw on my dress and jewelery and ran out the door. I even forgot deodorant. We didn’t have time for any pictures with my mom, or my girls, or anything posed. I’m curious to see what the photographers got our of my frantic getting-ready session, but I really wish we could’ve had time to savour the moment and take some nice pics.
The Ceremony – 3 pm
Our ceremony was on the lobby terrace. It’s such a beautiful location, and very private. Our guests had been told that the ceremony would be at 2:30, so by the time I arrived shortly after 3, everyone was ready. My groom had a chance to have a few words with the minister, which was great because he told him what names to say (not my legal name). We had the steel pans band playing starting at 2:45, which I hear was really nice as guests were mingling and waiting for me. We gathered just inside the lobby door and lined up for our walk down the isle. That’s when I realized that we all forgot to call my dad! He had come to my room with my mom when my hair was just being done, and seeing that there was no place for him, he went back to his room to wait for our call. In the big rush, we all forgot. So we waited a few more minutes for him, and then it was showtime! From here on everything went off without a hitch. The band played the Canon in D for my entrance with my dad, and my handsome groom was waiting for me with a big smile on his face. It was really wonderful. The ceremony was quick and simple – we went with the standard vows. We signed the papers right after, the only thing I regret is that we didn’t use the pretty pan that my MOH got for us – the minister or someone gave us a random black pen, and I didn’t even realize until we were done signing. It’s such a crazy time, you can’t pay attention to it all - we also forgot to tip the minister and the band. Then we walked back down the isle to the band playing, had champagne, mingled a bit with guests, and then cut the cake. The cake was beautiful - we didn’t ask for anything specific, and they decorated it with green orchids to match my theme. It was so delicious! We had one tier chocolate, and one tier vanilla. Then we quickly took some family and guest pictures, then went off for pictures with the bridal party around the resort and on the beach.
We hired Marcia Roberts for photo and videography. She arrived with her assistant and the videographer on time, and came up to our room while I was getting ready. Like I said, we didn’t have time for formal getting ready pictures, and it was such chaos in my room, but I know they were photographing, so I’ll have to see what comes out of it. For our photo shoot, they were pretty efficient and helpful with directions and suggestions for poses. I guess I can’t review them fairly until I have seen the pictures, but they were pleasant to work with.
We went with Tai Flora because it’s the easiest, they’re the house florist for the resort. Our flowers package cost just under $500, and included an upgraded bouquet for me (extra $50 from standard package), broom’s boutonniere plus 2 more, two wrist corsages, arrangement for signing table, arrangement for arch, 4 centerpieces (each one consisted of two vases filled with rocks, water, orchids and a floating candle on top). My bouquet looked a bit wilted when it arrived, and random flowers were falling out during out photo shoot, but I think it will look nice in pictures regardless. For some reason the dads didn’t get their boutonnieres – I only realized this when I saw pictures after we had returned home. I’m not sure if this was Tai Flora’s fault for not including them, or Silvia’s for not passing them on to the dads. The arrangements for the signing table and the arch were very nice. They were both moved over to our reception by Silvia. I didn’t have a good look at the corsages. The centerpieces were perfect, and added a very nice ambiance to our dinner tables. The only slight issue was that one set of vases were over-filled with water, so the candles were too exposed and kept getting blown out by the wind.
Dinner – 7-8:30 pm
We had a semi-private dinner at the Steakhouse, 7 – 8:30 pm. It’s an open-air restaurant at the far end of the beach. We had a U-shaped table set up, with the two of us, plus our MOH and best man and their partners on either side of us, and everyone else on the two legs of the U. For our party of 31, this worked perfectly. It was set with formal white tablecloths, and our centerpieces. We used the signing table arrangement for our head table centerpiece, and the arch flowers were on a half-wall behind us. Silvia also put out our favours, and we had given her all our guests meal preferences ahead of time (I walked around with a list for the first two days, asking everyone which meal they preferred). The meal was good, service was good. Other guests didn’t bother us at all, I’m not sure if we bothered them J Silvia also moved our guest book from the ceremony location to the dinner, and then kept it for us to pick up later in the week.
Disco - 8:30-11 pm
At 8:30, Silvia had the little golf carts come to the Stakehouse and take us all over to the Disco, which is located at the Suites. This was great, because it saved us about 20-30 minutes of walking, and made sure that we wouldn’t lose guests going back to their room or wherever. My groom and I arrived first, and the DJ was already there. We gave him my iPod with a playlist of two songs for our first dance and the father-daughter dance. I also told him when to fade out the song, and it all went perfectly. We also asked him to introduce us and the dances, no problems there. We have him brief instructions on what kinds of songs to play, and tipped him a few times. He ended up playing right through to 11pm when the regular DJ arrived, instead of stopping at 10:30. Many of us stayed and kept partying once the disco opened to the public. Note also that the disco rental include open bar for 30 people, we just payed the premium for upgrading to international open bar.
We had breakfast delivered the next morning, at the time we requested. Then we had our half-hour couples massage at the Spa (included in the package, either this or Digipix photography), which was really nice, but it was only a back and shoulder massage. After a night of partying in my wedding heels and dress, I really could’ve used a foot massage, too!
We went on a group trip to Dunn’s River Falls with 17 of our guests. We did manage to secure a group discount, so we booked the full-day trip, which includes shopping, and then the falls. The morning of shopping was terrible – the first plaza we went to was a typical tourist shopping destination with overpriced souvenirs made in China and fake luxury goods. That would’ve been ok, but then it got worse – they took us to a local craft market, and the people there were extremely pushy and made every single person very very uncomfortable. The bus driver wouldn’t open the bus to let us back on early. We’ve been to Mexico, Dominican Republic and Cuba – not classy places, but I never had such an uncomfortable experience with locals anywhere. The only reason I’m mentioning this is because I strongly discourage anyone from going on the full-day Dunn’s River Falls trip. You pay extra to make them money, then pay $15 for a terrible buffet lunch with half-spoiled food, and the actual falls trip is only about 2-3 hours at the end. Climbing the falls was great, but I really wish we had done the half-day, falls-only trip.
We were booked for 2 weeks at the Beach, but were hoping to upgrade to the Grand. They were charging us $180 extra per night, so we agreed to go over for only the last 3 days. When we did move over, we absolutely loved it. The Beach resort was amazing, but the Grand is out of this world! We really wished we had splurged and upgraded for the whole week. A detailed review of the Grand is beyond the scope of this review, so check our TripAdvisor, or ask me specific questions and I’ll be happy to answer.
I loved our wedding, and overall I’m happy with the resort and the service provided. All our guests had a great time, and loved the resort. My biggest complaing is with hair/make-up, but this isn’t resort-related, and the flowers, which are only partially resort-related. I would be more than happy to answer any specific questions.