By sfox4214, · 3,568 Views · 4 Comments
My husband and I were engaged September of 2011 and were on track to be married in our hometown May 2013. Our planning was well underway, vendors booked and deposits paid, but one day in August 2013 out of the blue I decided I no longer wanted to deal with the stress of planning. I came home from work and told my then fiancé, that I wanted to have a destination wedding and he immediately jumped on board. This website was crucial to my perfect destination, and after several hours of research I decided on Iberostar Rose Hall Suites in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We were married May 29, 2013 with 22 of our closest family and friends. It was an amazing wedding, and an unforgettable experience !!!
Travel Agent: A+
We used Barbara “Babs” Vong with Wright Travel Agency to get our group rates at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites. The rates were reasonable and the contract had extra perks like booking 20 people and getting the 21st free, free upgrade for the wedding couple, private check in and welcome drinks upon arrival – if guests arrive at the same time, and a special welcome dinner. Babs was always easy to get a hold of, and very accommodating to my guests. I had some SERIOUS procrastinators in my group … some that didn’t get their plane tickets until 2 days before we left !!! Babs kept her cool (unlike myself) and made sure everyone had their transfers and rooms taken care of. I had a few moments when I lost my cool with the resort, and Babs was awesome !! She even called me to talk me down when I wanted to cancel my booking. I am very thankful for all her help, and would recommend her to anyone.
Transfer from airport to the resort was TERRIBLE. We checked in to the Jamaica Tours LTD desk at 1:50p after a long 3 ½ hour flight and standing in line for customs for another ½ hour. We were checked in immediately, and escorted to a large bus outside. We were so excited to get to the resort and most of us had not eaten yet for the day. We sat on the bus for an HOUR before we departed for the resort. It then took another 45 mins to get to Iberostar Rose Hall Suites because we had to drop all the other passengers off at the other resorts. My advice - hire a private transfer, we used Rocky’s Tours on our way back to the airport from our honeymoon in Negril and it was worth every penny.
Check in: A
Check in went well. May is slower for the resort so there was no one checking in except the people that arrived with me. We did not get a welcome drink, but some of my guests that arrived at a different time did. I didn’t really care about this, as my guests that were there already went and got me a drink at the lobby bar while I was checking in.
The rooms here are AMAZING !!! It doesn’t matter where your room is the inside is all the same and the views are all beautiful regardless of where they are. I will say, my husband and I were upgraded to the Ocean Front Suite, and our view was untouchable … it made for awesome photographs before the ceremony. Each room is a suite and has a decent sized sitting area with table, sofa and coffee table. The rooms also have a flat screen tv with cable included and dvd player. The cleaning service did a great job, the mini bar was stocked every other day and the turn down service was nice. The air conditioning turns off when the doors are open, we found this out the hard way when our door was cracked open just a teeny tiny bit the first night, but it worked well for the rest of our stay. The bathroom was nice, double vanity, huge tub and the shower had good water pressure. The shower has shampoo and body wash dispensers, but we brought our own so I never used them. The bathroom had a hairdryer, (a real one, not one of the tiny ones) … but it was pretty weak and I’m glad I brought my own. The room also includes a safe, which if you read the directions carefully, will work I promise ! I will also say, that when our bellhop brought our bags up, she made it a point to tell us to lock up everything valuable. No one had issues during our stay, but everyone definitely used their safes. There is also an iron and ironing board, we never used these as we had the laundry service press and steam our wedding garments for a nominal fee (my dress and his suit was $14.60 each).
Restaurants and Food: A+
Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to hit up many a la cart restaurants, as the resort was slow and they shut down the Mediterranean and Mexican restaurants. This in turn caused the other restaurants to book very fast. My husband and I did manage a reservation at Calabash, but ended up doing the buffet instead to dine with our other guests that couldn’t get a reservation. We had our wedding dinner at Aunt Ruby’s, and Rehearsal dinner at Samurai, both of which are reviewed below. We enjoyed Miranda Hill Buffet for breakfast and dinner. For breakfast they had an amazing juice bar, and an endless array of breakfast foods – hot and cold. For dinner they had themed nights. I’m not sure what theme it was the first night, but the second night we went it was Mexican themed. We ate our hearts out here, and everything was so good J We usually had a late lunch at Aunt Ruby’s, they had a good selection of food, and it was never really busy so we could just relax and enjoy the view. One of the days we were there they had a Jamaican BBQ lunch at Aunt Ruby’s. I would highly recommend, it had some of my favorite food of the trip. Watch out for the jerk sauce on the side, it is HOTT !!! Sadly, Lobster was out of season while we were there. When we were on our honeymoon we found out that the sea is terribly over-fished so the government places a law during certain times to stop residents from catching certain sea creatures. April 1 - June 30th every year.
I just wanted to make a comment on the hotel grounds. Everything here is beautiful … and well kept ! You will always see someone hard at work on the lawn, bushes, trees, and pools when they close down. They work so hard to keep this place beautiful and it really shows. I never once saw garbage on the beach or near the pools. Every morning they were out scrapping the ocean bottom for sharp objects and sea urchins. It was our first time in Jamaica, and I won’t lie … when we were taking the bus to our resort … after stopping at the other resorts to drop people off … they don’t compare the Iberostar complex !!!!
We loved all the bars !! It’s hard to say which one was our favorite as the bartenders floated around to all of them and that’s really what makes the bar. Our favorite bartender was David, and he makes a fantastic fruity concoction called …. “The David”. We liked him so much we had him for our bartender during our beach reception J The drinks at this resort are TASTY … and get stronger by the hour ! Don’t be afraid to ask the bartenders for recommendations, we discovered several yummy drinks this way J My suggestions – Dirty Banana, Jamaican Smile and the Zombie !
Our group had a TON of fun during our stay at IRHS, there is stuff going on all the time – sports, dancing and contests on the beach ! The only thing is, if it rains they shut down everything L Star Friends are wonderful, and make no mistake, are probably some of the hardest working employee’s there. They start at least by 9am (I was never up before that, so maybe earlier ! J ) and work up until 12am at night. We hit the theater a few nights, but it’s definitely a hit or miss. Our favorite was the show “Ideal Couple”. My husband and I ended up being participants and won – 2 bottles of rum and a medal !!!
We went with the 30 min couple massage included in the wedding package. Definitely a good choice. The spa was very nice, staff was very professional and the massage was heavenly.
Tai Flora: B
I brought my own bouquets, bouts and corsages from home, so Tai Flora allowed us a credit to go towards a flower arrangement for the chuppah. The flowers were a tropical assortment with similar colors matching my real touch flowers. The chuppah arrangement was nice and large. We used the arrangement for our sweetheart table at dinner, and the registry flowers sat on the cake table. Tai Flora is almost impossible to get a hold of, and while their flowers were beautiful … there are other vendors you can use that will charge you less and be much more attentive. (Check out Floral Fantasies – no vendor fee if they drop off and resort sets up).
Sharon Naggasar Designs: A++
I struggled with the thought of spending $700+ on flowers I would only get to see for 24hrs at the most, so I elected to go with real touch flowers. I purchased the orange tropical collection through **************************. Their customer service was outstanding, and the flowers were very easy to order. I simply filled out the order form, and noted flower and ribbon color and the way I wanted the flowers wrapped. I noted the date I needed them by, and they arrived about 3 weeks before we left. The designers send you an email before shipping with pictures of your assembled flowers for your approval to ship the final product. They turned out perfect, and looked so real! I put them in a large purse I carried on the airplane, and they didn’t crush or crease. The seller gives you instructions on how to fix them if for some reason they do get juggled around during travel. I cannot recommend this vendor enough … amazing pricing and product !!
We used Misha Earle for photography … if you are looking for a photographer, BOOK HER. She has an amazing personality and absolutely LOVES what she does. We chose her because her work was so artistic, and really fit our personality and style. I actually ended up booking her after my photographer from home bailed on me 5 months before my wedding. I am so happy I did. I emailed her with my ordeal hoping and praying she still had my date open, she responded within the hour to confirm she did and I booked her right away. When I got stressed out about planning, she always calmed my nerves and accommodated any request or question I had. She even drove out to Negril a few days later while we were honeymooning to do my TTD. This was a 2hr drive for her !! My guests loved her, she gave good direction and had some really fun ideas. This women is amazing … book her if you haven’t already !!
We chose to use the resort videographer. I was skeptic after the bad reviews of Digipix photography, but I’m very happy with our final product !! The videographer does some shots right after the ceremony and uses them as kind of like an into and outro to the ceremony. The video itself was about 40 mins altogether. We originally weren’t going to do a video because of how expensive other vendors are, but we made the final decision the day before … very happy we did J
We booked DJ Kevan through the resort as he is their preferred DJ. I was very frustrated with him in the beginning because when we contacted him directly, the prices he quoted were $40 more an hour and he told me he would only do a minimum of 3 hours. I did not have enough guests to do a private reception, so I only needed to use a DJ for 2 hours at my beach reception. When I told him this, he never responded back to me. After a few back and forth emails with the WC’s (which took weeks by the way), I had DJ Kevan booked at the price the resort quoted and for 2 hours. I really found it easier to just deal with the resort on this one … however if you are inpatient and really want to book him, go through him. I didn’t have to pay for his services until the day of our meeting with the WC (the day before the wedding). I did have to pay it in cash, but I’d much rather do that than pay an additional $80 on a CC to book with him directly. His services the night of the wedding were great! There was about 10mins where he played nothing but hits from last year, but my husband said something and the music definitely made a turn for the better. He takes any requests and can pull just about anything up on his laptop immediately. He even played some oldies for my grandma … had her doing the alligator in the sand !!! He brought some disco lights at no extra charge. It was so awesome to walk over to the reception spot from dinner … all you could hear was the music bumping and lights flying all over the beach. It was such a great way to get the party going. DJ Kevan announced the first dances and even let my sister grab the mic to sing to one of my favorite songs J He taught my guests a Jamaican dance and boogied down with my mother in law to a few songs! At the end of the night he helped all of us get our wish lanterns up (it’s not as easy as it looks !) Besides the booking issue, he really was amazing !! I would HIGHLY recommend him to any bride.
Steel Pan Band: A+
Loved !! The band is called Sun Island and you can find them on youtube if you’re wondering what they sound like. They consisted of 2 guitars, a drummer, and 2 steel pans. They started about 10 mins before the ceremony while the guests were seated, and played for about a half hour after the ceremony finished. They also played while we were signing the registry. It was nice to have them while we toasted, and took our group pictures on the beach. I highly recommend using them for your ceremony.
Hair and Make-up: A
I booked Rashel Edwards for airbrush makeup on my bridal party and myself. Communication is pretty good with her, and booking her was very easy. She does book very fast, so I suggest anyone considering her jump on the chance if you haven’t already. Rashel did a fabulous job on everyone ! It is definitely worth it to get airbrush makeup, it stays through just about anything ! Rashel’s hairstylist Sophia was awesome as well. Everyone’s hair was amazing and didn’t move a bit the whole night, even after dancing for hours J I went into it blind really, told her ideas and she worked her magic – turned out great !! I will advise if you are using Rashel and her hairstylist, to ask them to arrive early. We had a total of 5 people getting makeup done, and 6 people getting their hair done. Rashel told me they would arrive at 10:30 am. Sophia showed up around 11am and Rashel didn’t get there until 1pm. Sophia was done around 3pm, but Rashel did makeup up until it was time to go down to the ceremony. This was really an inconvenience as my photographer had limited space to take my getting ready pictures as Rashel took over most of the lower area of the suite. Also, my mother in law had to rush to get ready because her makeup was finally finished 15mins before the ceremony started.
Rehearsal Dinner: A+
We had our rehearsal dinner at “Samurai” Japanese Restaurant at the Beach Resort. We both LOVE Japanese Steakhouse’s and we frequent them where we live. The entertainment was great, and lively !! The chef really knew how to get our group going! The food was delicious. They served sushi and tempura veggies for an appetizer. I loved the veggies and I don’t eat sushi but my husband said it was ok … nothing special, a lot like sushi you would get at a Chinese buffet. After apps we were served soup and salad. For dinner we choose between two meats that consisted of Steak, Chicken, Octopus, Calamari or Shrimp. The meat was served with grilled/sautéed veggies and your choice of rice. I loved the steak and chicken. My husband chose to be daring and ordered the Octopus and steak. He liked the steak, but says the Octopus was very very chewy. I ordered a Mai Tai here, and it was terrible … nothing like what I’m used to, and probably the only bad drink I got my whole stay. One thing to note, the tables only seat 18, we had a group of 24 so 6 of our guests had to sit at another table. They had just as good of time, but I wish we could have all sat together.
We decided on a 4pm ceremony on the beach. The set up is in front of Aunt Ruby’s Steakhouse and was actually much more intimate than I thought it would be. Aunt Ruby’s shuts down their lunch service at 4, so there were no hotel guests dinning by the time the ceremony started. We had nothing but thunderstorms and lightening whole day of the wedding, and around 3pm I got a phone call from Nicole telling me they were preparing to move the ceremony to the staircase. I had already had the whole day to prepare myself for that, so I wasn’t too upset. After I hung up the phone, Rashel (makeup artist) told me to call her back and tell her I wanted to wait. Rashel said to me “you didn’t come all this way to get married in front of the staircase, it rains like this all the time … try to see if you can push the time back to wait it out, the beach is worth it”. So I called Nicole back and told her I wanted to try to wait it out. So glad I did, because at 4 o’clock on the dot it stopped raining !! At about 4:15p, Nicole arrived to my room to take us down to the ceremony. We sat at the door for a little while because the driver of the golf cart my grandparents used took them to the wedding at the Beach resort ! They did arrive eventually and about 4:30p the ceremony began. We had the steel pan band play for our ceremony and it was so beautiful and unique. The bridal party walked down to “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and I walked down to “Canon in D”. The minister was great, read off a copy of the vow’s I had sent to Nicole months before, with no slip ups. His voice is awesome … so compassionate, it feels like he’s known you and your husband your whole lives. After we exchanged rings, we walked over to the registry table to do our signing. We walked back to the huppa and he declared us. We walked back down the aisle to Etta James’ “At Last”. As soon as we walked down the aisle there was someone there handing us champagne, our bridal party and guests walked down the aisle as well to receive a glass themselves. We stood around for about 10mins hugging and chatting … and drinking of course. Afterwards we did our group pictures on the beach, and went off alone to do our couples pics. Some of our guests went back to their rooms to freshen up, and some stayed at the ceremony location, as dinner was right there. I wish I would have had some kind of cocktail hour for my guests, as the bar in Aunt Ruby’s was shut down from 4-6:30p and the beach bar was shut down at 5p. The only bar option my guests had was the lobby bar, which was quite a walk. This was my only regret.
Wedding Dinner: A+
We had a non-private dinner at Aunt Ruby’s Steakhouse. It is the open air restaurant so I was kind of worried that it would be too hot for my guests. However, the breeze was awesome and the humidity died down at night, so I’m glad we stuck with it. I had previously arranged with Nicole to give my guests the option of Tenderloin, Salmon or Jerk Chicken for dinner. The servers ended up asking everyone what they wanted again, which worked out well because quite a few of us changed our minds last minute !!!! Our appetizers came out first, it was a jerk chicken wing and an onion ring. It tasted good, but nothing to write home about. Next our guests were told they could go up to the salad bar. Our servers came over and asked what my husband and I would like on our salads. They went to the salad bar and made our salads for us. My husband had a Caesar salad and they made me a salad with spicy shrimp, it was delicious. Our entrees were next, my husband and I chose the Tenderloin, but the servers surprised out with Tenderloin AND Salmon. The entrees were served with corn on the cob and a baked potato. The Tenderloin was seasoned well and very tender and tasty, and the Salmon was amazing. I’m not a big Salmon fan or fish fan for that matter, but it was so flaky and moist, and the fruit salsa on it complimented the fish perfectly. Our guests raved over the Jerk Chicken as well. After dinner, our MOH and best man did their speeches and we cut our cake. I want to add that because it had rained all day the bugs were everywhere ! No fault of the restaurant, but they were all over my cake L When we cut the cake, we cut a spot that had no bugs … and it was awesome !! We had our bottom cake chocolate and our top cake vanilla. Our piece was chocolate, and had a chocolate mousse filling … very very yummy. After we cut the cake, the servers took it away immediately to get a whole new cake !! We decided to have the cake brought down to the reception on the beach later, as this would allow them more time to get another cake ready and give our guests something to snack on. For dessert at the restaurant they served a chocolate brownie. Sadly I didn’t like it … It looked pretty, but was hard as a rock and very dry. We had 2 servers for 24 guests, and they made sure we were all taken care of. Everything was brought out very quickly, and I never felt like we were waiting forever for anything. They were good at keeping my husband and I’s drinks flowing, but I did notice my guests would get up and go to the bar in the restaurant because they waited longer than they wanted to. No big deal though, the bar is only a few steps away!
Beach Bonfire Reception: A+
We really wanted a private reception, but did not have enough guests so we chose to do a bonfire on the beach with open bar and a DJ. Very glad we did, it was perfect!! After dinner, we walked a short distance down the beach to the bonfire. They set it up right in front of the infinity pool. They set up about 15 chairs and 4 cocktail tables, and the DJ was to the left of everything next to the pool bar. The pool bar is the bar they use for open bar, guests can just walk up and order whatever. We did the national open bar, and our guests were served everything they had been ordering the whole vacation. The bonfire was off to the right … the far right, not really close to the dancing at all. It was just there to be pretty, no one really hung out by it. They brought our cake out a little later, bug free J and our guests really enjoyed this, as they had been drinking and dancing up a storm and needed the snack ! At about 10:00p Nicole showed up to start the wish lanterns. We had already discussed that would do them at 10:30p, as I did not want to waste any DJ time. I told her she had to wait. At 10:30p our lanterns were sailing in the sky J It was very funny to watch everyone try to get them lit. It really is harder than it looks. They were so beautiful though, and so worth it. If you order these, make sure they are eco-friendly with no wires. We had no issues at all transporting them J
Wedding Coordinators: F
I’m going to be brutally honest about this part of the review, because I feel every bride should know what they are getting themselves into. I really felt the Nicole and Tiffany were horrible, and in no way made my day any easier. They take a week minimum to get back to you on anything, and most of the time give half answers or no answers at all to your questions. I relied heavily on this website and facebook pages to plan my wedding and get my answers. I found Tiffany to be very rude in her responses, and made that known to PR. I know these ladies are busy, but there really is no excuse not to reply back to a bride who is leaving in less than a week. That’s right … my wedding was in May and the last time I had heard from the WC’s was in March. When I emailed them to ask my final questions 5 days before we left, they never responded. I didn’t get answers until the day before my wedding. Yes, Nicole is very pleasant, and makes you feel like she has everything under control but I came very prepared to Jamaica, brought tons of décor and detailed instructions with pictures on how to set everything up and somehow it still didn’t come out right. I gave the instructions to Nicole the day before the wedding along with all my stuff. The huppa was beautiful, but not the quite what I asked for … the picture showed the fabric to be more flowy, but the bottom was wrapped pretty tight. Whatever though, because it ended up looking beautiful. The seating arrangements however were very frustrating . The tables were not set up how I asked, and they set one of our tables up directly behind a pillar …. It blocked the view of about 5 people and looked terrible L. Every time I wanted to say anything to anyone on that side of the table, I had to lean way over in my chair. The seating chart I gave her didn’t even look like it was used, and my sister had to go rearrange everyone right before we sat down. I will say the décor the tables was pretty spot on though. We saw Nicole for the 20 min meeting the day before the wedding. Later that day for 15 mins during the rehearsal. She was present to take me to the ceremony, and she stood by the beach to make sure no guests passed through during the ceremony. After the ceremony I did not see her again until about 10p when she showed up at our beach reception to start the wish lanterns. When I told her we weren’t ready, she left and a staff member had to get her when the appropriate time came to do them. We never saw her again. The day we left the resort (2 days later) … she was nowhere to be found and we had luggage and some décor we needed to pick up in her office. We had to have PR open the office for us to get our things, we only got back our luggage though, as all our décor was missing. We were never asked if we wanted to get rid of it, so this bothered me. All in all my wedding was amazing and it was no thanks to the wedding coordinators, it was simply because I was marrying my best friend in the whole world in paradise J If you are looking at this resort for your big day, consider hiring an outside planner or bringing someone extremely detail oriented with you to fix the screw ups. You’ll need lots of patience too !! Good luck !!