By AmandaBride, · 2,572 Views · 8 Comments
I was married at the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton on April 23, 2013. Here is my review of the resort and wedding day:
I arrived with all 70 of my wedding guests from Toronto on the Saturday morning. The check in process is pretty bad, I have to admit. They make everyone wait until 3pm to get a room. For me this was not a big deal as I do not have children. However, after an early morning flight and a long day of travelling with little ones, most people with children were more than anxious to get themselves into an air conditioned room for a nap.
Once people did get their rooms, they were spread all throughout the resort, not as I had requested ahead of time through the wedding coordinator on my rooming list. So be prepared for that. A lot of people switched rooms throughout the stay. Some complained of moldy rooms or locations issues. I didn't have any issues with our room. We stayed in the honeymoon villa's, which were very private overlooking the ocean. I really enjoyed this room which had a king sized bed, walk in closet, jacuzzi tub and outdoor shower. However, my husband would have rathered the one bedroom suite. The one bedroom suites had beautiful views of the ocean on the top floor and more privacy, as well as 2 balcony's. I must admit, I would get a one bedroom suite next time we visit.
General Resort Info:
The resort itself is huge, with 3 different beach locations and a couple of different pool options. We had been to this resort 3 years ago, so knew what to expect. The service is decent, the food is exceptional and the beautiful sunsets are unforgetable. There is something for everyone at this resort. The majority of our guests had a fantastic time, and found that there was something for everyone.
The food at the resort is much better than any food from resorts that we have had in the Carribean and we travel a lot! I would have to say that the best place to get a steak is at Bubba's steakhouse. Be prepared for long lines. I would make a reservation if your wrist band allows for that. The Indian, Italian, Creole and Asian restaurants are all fantasic. Skip the Mexican. The buffets were best at breakfast (with mimosas!) and lunch. Not a huge fan of buffets for dinner, so we only really went once for our Welcome Dinner the day after we arrived.
I had arranged in advance through my wedding coordinator a "Welcome Dinner" for my guests. Since I had so many people, the only place that would accomodate without an extra charge per person was the buffet. It took me a while to confirm my reservations the day before, as no one seemed to know what I was talking about, but when we arrived at 6:00pm for the dinner, they had a special area to the side for us. I just brought name tags for everyone, and it turned out to be a great way for everyone to introduce themselves to each other before the actual wedding day. I would suggest doing something like this for your guests if you have a lot of people coming, but don't want to spend more money on a private function.
Day Before the Wedding:
The day before my wedding, we met with Nekeisha Ried, my wedding coordinator. It was great to meet her in person, as I had been emailing back and forth with her for months. She took us on a walk through of my wedding location, which was at the cliff top gazebo, back up location which is at the spa and my private reception area at the Blue Lagoon. We then went back to the wedding office to go through all of the charges and pay for the day. We decided to go with one of the most expensive menu's, and originally wanted the lobster and steak dinner, but I was told a week or 2 before the wedding that it was no longer lobster season, so they would have to give us shrimp instead. We did end up getting a discount on the price though, which was $60 per person. This included: salad, crab cakes, and intermezzo of mango sorbet, steak and shrimp with vegetables and a potato pancake and dessert which was creme brule. Because I ordered the most expensive menu, I was able to mix and match from the different set menu's. While I was at the meeting, I also requested that I have the bouquet flowers changed. I got the Island Pearl package, but decided to bring my own real touch flowers from home. So for the bouquet just wanted some white roses instead of the included calalillies. They were able to do this for me without and extra charge, which I was happy with, and I just used this bouquet for the toss bouquet. All in all, the wedding was pretty expensive. But with 70 people coming, it didn't turn out to be anything that I wasn't expecting.
Day of the Wedding:
The morning of the wedding, I dropped off all of my centrepieces for the private reception, placecards, favours, menu's and caketopper at the wedding office with instructions on how I wanted it all set up at the reception. After that, I got my bridesmaids together and we went to my villa to wait for hair and makeup.
Hair and Makeup - Chasity Artistry (Rashel Edwards): I had hired Rashel Edwards to do my makeup and hair, however, she was already booked for my date and sent her assistant and promised me that I would be happy. The hair lady Sophia came before scheduled time and started right away. I have to say that she did a great job with all of our hair. Rachel's assistant came shortly after and started on makeup. Although I think she did a good job, it was definitely not up to Rashel's standard of work. My makeup looked nice in the outdoor pictures, but looked really caked on in the evening pictures. As well, towards the evening, the makeup started to come off and you could see the yellow circles of concealer under my eyes. As well, I was promised false eyelashes for all of my girls, but Rachel only sent ones for me with her. I guess overall it worked out okay, as I dont know if I would trust the spa to do both hair and makeup. Just make sure that you get Rashel herself to be 100% satisfied.
Flowers - Bloom Bridal (Toronto): Once I got quotes on how much flowers were going to cost at the resort, I decided to go the "real touch" route instead. I ordered far in advance through Judy at Bloom Bridal and I was very happy with my bouquets. I ordered 1 bridal bouquet, 5 bridemaids bouquets, 2 kissing balls for flower girls, 8 bouts for guys and 2 wrist coursages for moms and it all came to $600 or so. It's great because you can design exactly what you want, and they look great in pictures. I would highly recommend Bloom Bridal in Toronto.
Ceremony - Cliff Top Gazebo: Time sure did fly by when we were getting our hair and makeup done. I think we must have been about 20 mins or so late for the ceremony. A cart came to pick me and the bridesmaids and flower girls up and brought us over to the ceremony location. Nekeisha was waiting there with my parents, and already had everything set up and waiting at the ceremony. I hired the steel drum band, which was amazing and would highly suggest this. I could hear them playing for my guests as we arrived. I am now thankful that they were there playing as our guests had to wait longer for us in the sun. The ceremony was beautiful and private. It was more than anything I could have imagined for myself on my wedding day. The sun was out, steel drum band was playing, ocean sparkling in the background. It was stunning. The actual ceremony was very quick, and before you knew it, we kissed, signed the marriage documentation and we were husband and wife. After the ceremony, we were greeted right away with a champagne toast (punch and water for kids and anyone else who didnt want alcohol).
Photographers - True Colors Photography - Dwayne and Judine: We hired True Colors photographer to photograph for 2 hours ($900 for 2 hours, plus $200 for an extra photographer paid in advance). We just wanted the ceremony and formals. They whisked us right away to start posing for some garden photos of the group and family. They seemed to know what they were doing, although kept referring to a book of photos for poses and stuff. I kept telling them that I wanted pictures on the beach, but by the time we made our way down to the beach it was almost 6pm, which was the time my reception was supposed to start. I was pretty annoyed because they kept making us stop to do all of these cheesy poses that I knew I wouldn't like. We ended up getting a few on the beach, but then I had to leave to go to the reception. They told me that pictures would be ready within 3 weeks. When I got back I contacted them and if they would respond, would give me a date, the date would come and go and then would ignore my emails. This went on for another 3 weeks. I had to get the wedding manager involved. I just got my pictures back, almost 7 weeks after the wedding. I really didn't appreciate the lack communication from them, and therefore can not recommend them. Another photographer, Stacey Clarke (who I wish I had hired but was booked), was very responsive with my emails to her. Her work is beautiful and all posted on her website and other brides sites. I would sugest looking into booking her if you are looking for a photographer. Her prices are competetive as well. My pictures from True Colours were decent. The group photos, some from the ceremony and the beach ones turned out beautiful, but I can't use about 100 of them.
Private Reception - Blue Lagoon: Our reception was held at the Blue Lagoon. They had everything set up very nicely (although my centrepices didn't turn out, my fault). The sunset was amazing, and people were talking about it all night. We decided not to hire a DJ, but to just rent the sound system which included and Ipod doc, speakers and mic ($500). They actually sent a sound guy to stay for the whole reception which was nice, as he was able to turn the sound down when the MC was talking and for speeches, etc. The food was just ok. It is better at the restaurants when you go with a small group of people. I would stick to the smaller menu for this reason and save the money. I thought the 4 hours would be plently for the reception, but the time came and went so quickly, I wish we had looked into extending it. After the ceremony, which was 10pm, we headed down to the beach to release wish lanterns that I had brought down with me. The wish lanterns were dedicated to my husband's father who had passed, and also to others who had lost someone that we wanted to remember. It was a beautiful way to end the wedding. So many people came up to me at the end of the night telling me how much it meant to them and how beautiful it looked releasing them on the beach. The wish lanters were $100 for 20 from back home.
After the reception, we went upstairs to the infinity bar and partied and then went to the disco for a bit and headed back to our room, as we were exhausted. Our room, as promised with the package was decorated with fake rose petals and the tub was filled with a bubble bath. We were missing the bottle of champagne. Even after I complained the next day to the wedding department, we still never received it. So don't look forward to this.
All in all, the wedding ceremony and reception was beautiful and stress free. I wouldnt have been able to say the same thing if we had a wedding here at home. The issues we had were fairly small. I never got that bottle of champagne, chocolate covered fruit, a keepsake copy of the vows and other little things that were included in the package like a runner for the bar and napkin holders. All not too big of a deal, but when spending that much for a wedding at the resort, you kind of expect them to follow through with what is supposed to be in the set packages for the price. Please also be aware that this resort is probably the most popular resort in Jamaica to get married at. When we were there, there were at LEAST 4 weddings going on per day and it seemed like everyone was with a wedding party. With respect to theft on the resort, I can't comment on, as no one I spoke with out of our wedding party had these issues. Just a tip as well, if you want anything from the reception to kept for you after the wedding, be sure to tell the wedding manager on duty at the end. I spoke to a bride who had her expensive cake topper thrown in the garbage and she was really upset.
I would suggest this resort to anyone. They know what they are doing as far as weddings go, and are pretty organized. My wedding day was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing.
Just let me know if you have any questions!