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Jamaica
Wedding at Secrets Wild Orchid
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This is a review of:

Secrets Wild Orchid / St. James All Inclusive

Detailed Ratings
Accommodation Value:
5.0
Communication:
2.0
General Location:
5.0
Wedding Sites:
4.0
Wedding Value:
4.0
redpoppies

By redpoppies, · 1,282 Views · 2 Comments

We hosted a beach wedding at Secrets Wild Orchid Barracuda Beach on April 27, 2015.  We chose Secrets after creating a spreadsheet of all the Jamaican resorts vrs. our needs and chose Wild Orchid because it looked beautiful, had a sand beach for our "toes in the sand" theme and offered so many activities for our varied guest list.  Then I spent 6+ months reading every TripAdvisor review and Q&A, and tons of organic searches on the web for comments.  So we knew what to expect from the resort...wonderful staff, lots of activities, gorgeous site and landscaping, modern rooms and mediocre food.  Secrets delivered everything as expected.  We provided welcome kits to our guests for some anticipated needs like bug repellent, tummy and pain meds, bath salts, tote/backpack, and key: insulated, imprinted mugs with covers and straws.  A tip from an AI fan told us to do this and it was an awesome idea.  The bartenders gladly filled the mugs and the insulation meant that in 90 degree weather we had ice in our drinks for hours.

 

The PROs:  The staff is very attentive, housekeeping well done, the buffet for bfast and lunch is tasty and has something for everyone, the nighttime entertainment area around the restaurants and the piano bar is wonderful.  The beach/sea was full of snorkeling options, sea life like rays, octopus, urchins, jellyfish and starfish. The loungers plentiful, the towels large, the pool clean.  We spent 7 days discovering new places on the resort, and our guests really enjoyed the surrounds. THE WEDDING was beautiful, although hot, and the provided music in the Ultimate package was delightful, the appetizers presented nicely, the bartender attentive, the venue much more private than the other options of gazebos. The tent we rented with liner and chiller units made it possible to eat the reception food (although the soup was not a hit...too warm!) in relative comfort.

 

The CONS:  The wedding concierges at this location as you have read elsewhere did prove to be difficult to work with, communicate with, and ultimately did not manage the event to our expectations.  Fortunately we were located in an oceanfront room directly overlooking the venue, which was a gift in that we initially had the incorrect ceremony seating, the wrong configuration of the orchids on the wedding arch, and tent set-up.  We used all their vendors for linens, custom flowers, entertainment and cake.  We brought a photographer from the states and rented the tent from their provider but negotiated a better price direct.  That was 2 VENDOR FEES of $300 each, even though the photographer was a 4 day paid guest at the resort.  We were told they would budge on $150 of this $600 charge, after a lot of complaining.  We never had ONE contact to manage our event, and so you would need to repeat requests in multiple emails that were exceedingly slow to come back, and never correct the first time.  The challenges were for anything upgraded and custom.  If you chose a wedding package and use the resort's options as your only upgrades, I'm guessing that you would have less complaints.  They have forms.  If it doesn't have a place on the form, pay attention.  

 

We never were offered a groom's room on the eve of the wedding, so the MOB slept on the couch.  Not ideal, but not a big deal.  Golf cart from spa (no wi-fi) to room after hair/make-up is a must.  Golf cart bride to ceremony, same idea.

 

The Wild Orchid servers, bartenders, room care and reception staff (really, anyone you come in contact with, even security) did a wonderful job with a smile and often a song.  Tipping at your discretion, but  you will want to leave small bills for these delightful people tending to your every whim.  You get great service either way, but a couple of ones as you order a drink at the bar can result in a stronger pour...but you are drinking constantly so it's a personal choice.  

 

The only items bringing the rating off from a perfect 5 is the lack of care from the wedding concierge (NOT the staff) and the beautifully presented but not so great dinner food (we ate at all 7 restaurants).  

 

If you are considering a destination wedding in Jamaica, this venue is beautiful and full of activities and services for your guests.  Just moderate your expectations from the wedding planners, and you can still have the wedding of your dreams here.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments


Hi redpoppies - Congratulations on your wedding! Sounds like you had a beautiful day! I've been to Wild Orchid before so I already know how beautiful it is. I'm in the middle of planning my wedding at Secrets Wild Orchid in February 2016 and have already experienced the lack of communication/response from the wedding coordinators too. They do seem very inflexible. My FI and I really don't want the videographer and have told the coordinators but they say we have to take it because it is part of our Ultimate package. We even said we are not looking for a substitution and having a videographer will make us uncomfortable but they still insist we have to take it....very frustrating! Anyway, since you've had your wedding there recently I have a few questions:

 

Did you use the make-up hair stylist at the spa? if so did they do a good job?

Did you bring any decorations from home and did they charge your for setting them up?

How did you find their pricing for upgraded flowers? I really hate daisies and carnations....thinking peonies but afraid they will be outrageously priced so may have to look into "real touch" flowers. Such a shame to be in the tropics and not have real flowers but don't want to pay hundreds of $$$ for something I can't keep after the ceremony since I won't be able to bring real flowers through customs.

 

I'm also trying to work with the booking department to arrange packages/block of rooms for our guests but they either don't understand my request or don't want to help me because when I asked for a price, a block of rooms and if there is a special rate for weddings all I got back was if 6 rooms are booked from the same source we get one room free. I love our guests but have no intention of paying for all their trips :)

 

Did you deal with the booking department for travel or did you just tell guests where to go and let them arrange their own travel?

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@2ndTimeMrs - I haven't had my wedding yet but I have had a good experience with using a travel agent to arrange your guests travel. It does not cost you anything and mine even gave us free save the dates and set up a website where our guests could book online through our negotiated group rate. She reached out to the resort and got the group rate for us and we also have the book 5 rooms get the 6th free. When you do it through a travel agent you can put those free rooms towards your stay.

 

I have had similar issues with the wedding coordinators they take a long time to get back to me and some of the prices are outrageous. We were trying to save money by bringing lights with us and they wanted to charge us around $700, if you get the lights from the add on pamphlet its only $370 I went back and forth not understanding why it is half the price if I use theres but if I bring my own its double the price which doesn't make sense but kept getting round about answers. The vendor fee is also ridiculous I dont understand why I have to pay a fee just because I choose not to use your vendors.

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