By X-Tina, · 1,610 Views · 8 Comments
I wish I would have had time to write this right after we got back, but life kicks back into gear and four months just fly by.
Travel Agent (F): We thought about who we were going to use for our travel and went to many wedding shows in the GTA. After our failure with Flight Centre (don’t even try them) we found Weddings by Oceans. Everything started out wonderful with them and they were able to provide us with fair quotes and very accommodating because we had family fly from both Ottawa and Toronto. After we paid to hold 20 spots about 6 months before our wedding, all hell broke loose. They would never call us back, they didn’t give us a contract, they would call many of my family members and mess up their names and phone numbers. I do understand when you have a large group that mistakes can be made, but it was just getting ridiculous. Three days before we were about to fly out we were still fixing names on tickets and I would have to call and beg them to fix it as soon as possible. Anyway, I DO NOT recommend them to anyone who wants a smooth booking and flight.
Check In/Rooms (A): As soon as we arrived (after a 3 hours delay, darn snow) we were given our room keys to our ocean front suite. Because we flew from two different airports we arrived at two different times. The group that was delayed and flew from Toronto was able to check in right away. The group that flew in from Ottawa and arrived earlier in the morning had to wait quite a while before they were able to access their rooms. The rooms were gorgeous and had so much space for our four suitcases of goods. After we were all settled, we put together our welcome bags and handed them out at dinner.
Meeting with Nicole (A+): For all those ladies who are worried (I was one of them), relax. She has everything under control and she knows exactly what you are talking about. All we had to do was have a quick 30 minute meeting to discuss music, tables, and any extras. We handed off one of our suite cases filled with chair ties, vases, fingerprint tree, table numbers, and everything else. All I can say is that is such an amazing woman.
Welcome/Rehearsal Dinner (A++): We wanted to do our dinner at the Japanese restaurant and because we were staying at the Suites (and the Japanese place is at the Beaches) we had to wait until one week before the wedding to book our group. The wait for the reservation was daunting, but totally worth it. We were able to book 40 people and had an amazing time. Most of my family are very traditional with food so this was very exciting for them to try something new. The hibachi grills and cooks were super fun and great entertainment. We also invited our photographers to come to this dinner with us to capture the dinner photos, but also we wanted to ensure that they could get photos of the release of thirty-five wish lanterns after the dinner. (I will review our photographers later). We e-mailed Nicole a few months before our wedding to ensure we were able to light these lanterns and let them go on the beach and she allowed us. The only scary part was getting them on the plane and down to Jamaica. I wasn’t sure if our luggage was going to be searched and the lanterns seized because they have “fuel” in them, but we made it with everything we packed. YAY.
Food/Drinks (A+): My husband and I had stayed at the Iberostar a few years before our wedding so we knew that the resort was exactly what we wanted. My family is very picky about what they eat and drink (not because of allergies, but because they like their Canadian food), but EVERYONE enjoyed the food and drinks. My father who only drinks Labatt Blue actually loved Red Stripe. Most of the time we ate at the buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also a snack bar by the beach called Aunt Ruby’s that has some of the best jerk chicken and the hottest jerk sauce. Yum!
Spa (A): I brought some photos on my iPad of what I wanted my hair to look like which helped. Nicole booked all of my nail and hair appointments prior to arrival. They also did my mother and mother-in-law’s hair and did a wonderful job. The only pet peeve I have is that they pull it back a bit tight and loaded my thin hair with too much hair spray, but the curls stayed in all night J We also opted to have a couples massage the day after our wedding. They were wonderful.
Tai Flora (A-): After much debate over whether or not to spend the money and get real flowers, we caved and looked for a flower shop. Tai Flora is recommended by the resort and after reading many reviews of how other people’s flowers turned out from other florists, we decided to bite the bullet and fork over a bit more cash to ensure we ended up with what we wanted. Tai Flora was great to work with and would always e-mail back within a few hours. The ladies there must we so organized there. I was given quotes and we did have a misunderstanding at one point, but Tai Flora was able to resolve it very quickly and professionally. Our flowers looks beautiful down the isle and then we brought them into the reception area and put them on vases (instead of renting them) that we brought down with us. The only reason they have an A- is because the roses on my bouquet weren’t the best. They started to brown very quickly and fall apart.
Wedding Day (A+++): This was the most amazing day of my life! My husband spent the night with his brother so I woke up alone and headed to the spa to get my hair done. I had no worries about how the wedding site would look or the chair ties were tied. I knew Nicole had everything under control. After hair and make-up, my crew and I headed down to take some pre-wedding photos of prep and getting into the dress. We also decided to take photos together before the wedding (best idea ever). We had enough time to take some amazing photos together and so we could have enough time after the ceremony to take family photos on the beach. Our wedding was schedule for 4:30pm. Unfortunately it was about 15 minutes late because the minister was caught in traffic, but the steel pan band played a bit longer so our guest could enjoy the music. I loved the band, it made it feel very romantic and tropical. They played some Caribbean music as my ladies walked down and then switched to “One Love” for my entrance. They did a wonderful job. We didn’t do anything special to change up the ceremony except for a sand ceremony, but the minister was wonderful. He made it feel very light and fresh. Amazing man. It helped me keep my tears away.
Reception (A+): Originally we wanted to have our reception at Aunt Ruby’s, but we didn’t have enough people so we opted for Calabash. They were VERY accommodating on the food selections and changed a few of the plates to make them more traditional (chicken, steak, and lasagna). The courses were wonderful and the desert was delicious. Our D.J. was great and played all the right music for our range in guests. We brought candles, table numbers, a fingerprint tree, nametags for the tables, and cake toppers. Everything was perfectly set up and when I entered in the hall it blew my mind. The restaurant itself was gorgeous and perfect. I was glad we didn’t have our dinner at Aunt Ruby’s because Calabash made everything a bit more elegant. The only thing that made me sad was that we had to leave at 11pm. I understand that the staff needs to tidy the restaurant and prep for the next day. We waited too long to cut our cake and ended up only having a small piece of it. It tasted great, but I wish I could have enjoyed it a bit more.
Over all it was an AMAZING week. Our family loved every minute of it and they are still talking about it almost six months after.
One tip: when you want to bring anything extra, make sure you aren’t 40 pounds over in luggage and if you are, distribute the luggage to other family members who have packed light. Such a hassle, but the extra stuff was so worth it.
One more thing!
Photographers (A+++): We did an engagement shoot with a young photographer and loved the way they turned out. We didn’t want to risk finding someone new in Jamaica, so we decided to fly them down. We opted to do a four-day package deal from another travel agent that would get them down in time for our rehearsal, wedding and a special trash the dress session right before they left. They are both very talented and amazing people and would recommend them to anyone in the Toronto area. http://andrewmarkphotography.com/blog/?p=1903
Here are a few shots from our trash the dress session: