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ROR / Couples SS Review - LONG w/ TONS of PICS!!

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This is a MEGA review. Just a warning.............it's LONG...........so sit down, grab some snacks, and get comfy. For those who didn't see the first set of teaser pics, you can find them here: http://bestdestinationwedding.com/forum/t21622

We took TONS of pictures, along with a TTD and BD Session so stay tuned...............

 

 

Okay, to begin, my week started off pretty rough, but ended up turning out magically!! As mentioned before, I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of BDW Brides (Lizz and Nikki) for a quick second. We flew First Class on Air Jamaica, got married at the RIU Ocho Rios and Honeymooned at Couples San Souci. I am going to try to be as detailed as possible, but if you have any questions (and I know you will..........lol), shoot!!

 

 

Montego Bay Airport: B

They really made massive changes to Montego Bay's Airport. It is much more modern and easy to navigate and it has AIR CONDITIONING now!!!!! It looks like an American airport (the last time that I was there, I had to board the plane outside). At first, they gave us a hard time regarding all of our luggage. I took ALL of my planning stuff with me........centerpieces, favors, menus, programs, table cards, table runners, guestbook table stuff, candles, bouquet, bose soundock, EVERYTHING!!! We had a total of 11 pieces..........I know..........CRAZY!!!!! Since we upgraded to First Class, that allowed us to check 3 bags each (weighing up to 70 lbs each) and we were allowed to carry on 1 handpiece and 1 "purse" each, plus my gown garment bag which also held his suit. I had to go BRIDEZILLA on their butts a few times, spoke to the manager, then the manager's supervisor and finally got the okay to proceed to our flight.

 

 

Airport Transfer: A+

Our ground transportation was booked through GOGO tours and it looked like a HUGE Tour Bus. The funny thing is, there was only 1 other couple on the bus with us, so we pretty much had the entire bus to ourself. The bus was nice, cool, and clean. The driver was very informative in pointing out attractions. They have really upgraded the roads, so the drive was nice.

 

A good tip: When traveling to JA, always bring a couple extra dollars for tips. The airport porter, the driver, the hotel porter, etc...

 

 

 

Riu Ocho Rios

Overall Grade: B+

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Check-In: C

Front Desk: B

 

When you first walk in the lobby, it is breathtaking. It open air concept and decor is truly amazing!! For most of my guest, check-in was a headache. Either the rooms were not ready yet, or the key cards didn't work. People constantly had trouble getting accurate room or phone number information from the front desk. One of my guests told me that they attempted to call the front desk and ask if they could be transferred to my room. The operator told her that there was nobody in the hotel under that name. My guest then told the operator that "Of course you have a guest by that name..........I'm here for her wedding!" What's funny is when my parents checked in, they had flowers and a handmade welcome towel design on their bed...............in my room, they had nada!!!

 

 

Rooms: A-

 

The rooms are beautiful. They are modern, spacious, and nicely decorated. However, a few of my guests complained of having mold in their rooms and had to be switched. Here are some pics of the jr. suite:

 

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After finally waiting for 3 days before getting our upgrade, they put us in a huge jacuzzi suite with a gigantic balcony.

 

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The sad part is my room was always damp and had a very unpleasant smell. I didn't want to deal with the hassle of packing up and moving again, so i kinda just dealt with it and constantly had the fan on and balcony door opened.

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Ceremony Site:

Some of you all asked me to take pics of any beach receptions that I happen to come across, so luckily I had my camera handy when they were setting up for this one:

 

Click the image to open in full size.

 

Here is a closer look at the Lagoon (Pond) Gazebo - the location that I choose:

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The long walkway to the gazebo:

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Ceiling of Gazebo:

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Welcome Mixer: D+

The welcome mixer turned out to be a disaster. I was adamant on starting on time. I had been up for 32 hours the night before and spent all day putting together the welcome boxes.

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Since I was the only one interested in being on time, I had no one to help me bring the boxes down, so I called the front desk to send up a porter to help me transport all of the boxes. Long story short, (after calling 3 times), nobody showed up, so i had to hand-walk all of the boxes down to the bar myself. I was so upset.

 

Secondly, to top it off, none of my guests showed up. The groom was 45 minutes late and guests pretty much came and left whenever they felt like it. I was totally disgusted with my group at this point and time. Lastly, Chandlyn was kind enough to set up some white tablecloths for my mixer, and she informed me that there would be somewhere for me to plug in my bose ipod soundock (specifically purchased for this mixer).............we'll there wasn't any outlet or extension cord near where she had us set up, so we had to go without music which made the situation even worse.

 

Oh almost forgot to mention that my photographer got trapped in the elevator for 1 hour and a half on her first day. The elevators have no AC and the call button didn't work, so she had to pry the doors open and scream for help. Somehow, she still found a way to deliver awesome pictures...........lol

 

Renova Spa (HAIR HAIR HAIR): A

The girls at Renova Spa are really nice and fun!! As you all know, I was truly STRESSING about my hair. I emailed Paula (Director of Renova Spa) pictures of my "inspirational style" and my actually hair texture before I left home. She assured me that it wouldn't be any trouble to replicate that style and also said that it wouldn't be any problem "pressing / straightening" my natural hair. Well as it turns out, I show up at the salon for my trial and the first thing that the girl tells me is that "they only straighten with a blow dryer" and on top of that, Paula doesn't even work in the Jamaica location. She's located in Mexico...........so of course, I'm freaking out!!! Luckily, I brought my own pressing comb and Audrey attempted to straighten it.

 

Here is a picture of what my hair normally looks like when it is straightened:

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Here is a pic of what it looked like when Audrey first did it:

The Front:

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The Back:

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IMG

 

Not exactly straight, but to add to it, the SECOND I stepped outside, it turned into a huge poof ball!!! So I had to resort to plan B:

My Bun!!!

 

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Although I didn't get my "inspirational style", everything turned out beautifully and worked itself out. I also got my hands and feet done by Joy and she did an excellent job!!

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Because of the humidity, for most of the trip, I ended up wearing my hair like this:

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

 

 

Food: B

The food at Riu was pretty good, but after being their for quite some time, it gets a bit repetitive. We ate at the Steakhouse, Japanese Restaurant, and St. Ann's for most of our trip. Last time when we visited Riu (Over 2 years ago), you could eat at any of the specialty restaurants as long as you made a reservation. Now, you can only eat at each of the specialty restaurants once during your stay with a reservation. The way to get around it, is to have other people in your party reserve it under a different room number each night.

 

Beach: B+

The beach at Riu is nice, but it's a bit crowded and sometimes you will get locals attempting to sell you something while you are on the beach relaxing or even swimming in the water. Please beware: I saw several people sunbathing (topless) on the general beach where kids were playing. I also saw one lady who was completely nude (but she was laying on her stomach).

Fitness Center: A

The fitness center is clean, with AC, televisions, and good equipment. Sadly, I only made it in there 1 time.

 

Excursions: A+

 

Lee's Tours was excellent. I cannot recommend Norma enough. She is extremely professional. I had about 26 people RSVP for the tour.........but only had about 12 actually show up. I was really upset because originally, Norma had taken my credit card info over the phone to secure the reservation at the Jerk Center. She even reserved 2 buses for our group, so I was so upset to see people NOT show up. Norma took the situation in stride and told me not to worry. The people that did go on the tour had a wonderful time and it all worked itself out.

 

 

Wedding: A

Despite not having my chair sashes set up properly and the steel band not playing the right song, starting 15 minutes late, and having to DEMAND that the pool aerobics guide turn off that loud music and shut down the "party" at the adjacent pool, everything was great. We had a rehearsal the night before, but it didn't cover half of the stuff that actually took place during the ceremony, but through the glitches, everyone just laughed and we moved on. We got so many compliments on the minister's sermon. Lots of our guests were crying.

 

Note: The brown chairs that appear wooden are really plastic. I really wanted to get the white chairs, but I was told that they were $8 per chair (although one of our BDW brides just got some for $5 per chair)........Either way, it wasn't happening for us because we had over 100 guests and I refuse to spend that much money on plain chairs.

 

Reception: A+

All of my hard work payed off. Our reception was a dream. Everything was perfect. We hired the dancers and fire-eaters (big up tuh mi gyal Michelle!), and Chandlyn put out all of the stuff that I lugged to JA (menu cards, table numbers, centerpieces, cake topper, candles, favors, treasure box, pictures, and seating chart). The only issues is beforehand, I thought that all of the meals would be plated and served, but after meeting with Chandlyn, she said that my group was too big and that everyone may not get served in enough time before our 9:00pm scheduled slot at the disco, so we decided to only do 4 plated tables, and the rest was buffet style. It all worked itself out.

 

Note: Chandlyn STAYS BUSY!!! Before actually meeting her, I had to go to her office 3 times and got lucky with a lead that she was setting up another reception at the Plantation. I literally RAN to the Plantation hoping to catch her before she left. Luckily, I met her briefly there and then we finally scheduled an actual appointment for the following day.

 

Another Note: The night of our wedding, their was NOTHING in our room for us. No special towel design, decoration, rose petals, flowers, NADA. Actually, housekeeping didn't even visit our room. Right before the ceremony, the room looked like a tornado hit it because I was busy trying to get myself ready, and I was hoping to come back to a nice, romantic room with my new hubby, but nope.......didn't happen. Also, we never got our breakfast in bed for the next morning as promised. My TA even sent a letter requesting this and said that if it wasn't complementary that she would PAY OUT OF POCKET for it, and we still didn't get it, but that didn't stop us from having a great night!!!

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Flowers: A

Some of you guys remember the issue that I had with the first vendor that I was going to use........Long story short, I ended up using a vendor that I normally use for the other weddings that I have planned in the past. (The Flower Lab - Special Events, Weddings, Corporate and Private accounts ), The reason why I didn't go there in the first place was because they specialize in fresh flowers and I didn't think they did silk arrangements. DUHHHH!!! I was thrilled to find out that Tweeny (my girl), would do a special silk arrangement just for my wedding. She did a great job. I had her do 2 corsages, 3 boutinnaires, and of course my bouquet. I got so many compliments on my flowers and no one ever knew that they were silk!! They were a huge hit!!

 

 

Cake: B

I paid to upgrade our cake and gave Chandlyn an inspirational pic. The cake looked nice and she put the cake topper that I made on top. I asked her to split the layers (biggest layer on bottom being rum) and the other layers were vanilla and chocolate. Well the staff cut the top and only 1 person (my mom) got a piece of the rum cake from the bottom. By the time I found out (shortly after the reception), I asked them if I could have the rest of the rum cake for my Jamaican family, and they told me that they threw it out. That sounded fishy to me, but oh well.

 

One other thing, during dinner, our cake started to lean and melt. I was worried and watching it almost the entire time during dinner, but I think my photographer got a good picture of it before it started to head south.........lol.

 

Disco: C+

We reserved the disco following our reception from 9-11pm. Nobody ever came to get us so we just went on our own. When we first arrived, I didn't notice that there was a very unpleasant smell inside the disco, but towards the end of our session, it was very overpowering. We were never introduced and also, I had to go to the DJ numerous times to ask him to switch up the music. I told him when we first arrived that I wanted him to play a nice mixture of reggae, soca, calypso and r&b, but he was ONLY playing soca..........My hubby's family is American and NONE of them were on the dance floor, so i felt bad because it almost looked as if they weren't enjoying themselves. I had to go and specifically request certain songs in order to get him to switch up the genres. None the less, me and hubby danced all night and made the best of it.

Photography: A+

Puman Beam was my engagment, wedding, TTD, and BD photographer.............ENOUGH SAID!!!! I used her for EVERYTHING because she is AWESOME!!!! She also brought along her partner (Jennifer Davis) who was a second photographer. They captured all of our magical moments and I absolutely LOVE my pictures. She surprised me with an impromtu shoot outside of the resort at Shaw Gardens in Ochi. I saw her in the lobby and she said, let's go and do a shoot, so I'm like......okay!!! .........I wasn't prepared for this one, so please excuse the lack of make-up/hair:

 

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Here is a slide show of some more pics that she posted on her blog: A Show of Slides!: Marsha and Brian - Punam Bean Blog. - Punam Bean Photography

 

Video: B

I actually met with Michael to discuss getting my DVD done. He is very nice, professional, and accommodating. Unfortunately, there was another reception going on at the time during my wedding, so I had to share the videographer, but it was okay because the DVD turned nice. The problem arrived the next day when I went to go and get my musical cd's (the ones that I gave them to add background music to our DVD)..........well, they couldn't find them so I have to go out and re-purchase 3 cds. It's partly my fault because I didnt have time to burn them to one cd and make copies beforehand. I should have never given them my originals.......oh well!!

 

Security Drama: F-

The morning that our guests were scheduled to depart, we escorted them to the lobby and watched as they got on the bus to head back to Montego Bay airport. One particular bus (which was blocking the exit) had been sitting there for quite some time and people were worried about possibly missing their flight. To make a long story short, one of the resort guest who actually was another groom and happened to have gotten married on the same day as ours, got out of the bus to question the driver as to "why he was blocking the exit when people needed to leave". All of a sudden, I heard all of this yelling and cursing. Then I see the groom push the driver and then they were on the floor. When the "recent bride" sees her husband involved in this altercation, she then jumps in and starts to physically "fight" the driver and he returns PUNCHES to her!!! My new husband decides to jump in to get the driver off of the girl. After he separates them, he comes back over to me and some random guy comes from behind the other bus with a lead pipe. It turned into utter chaos and the sad thing is that security did not show up until 15 minutes after all of this happened. The bride and her groom are in the process of pressing charges.

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Couples San Souci:

Overall Grade: A (Definitely Returning - Already planning our next trip!!)

Check-In / Front Desk: A

When you first pull into Couples San Souci (after leaving Riu), from the outside, it looks as if you would be disappointed. It is much smaller and doesn't leave a big impression, but the minute you step into the small lobby, it instantly feels intimate and comfy. We were greeted with Champaign and check-in only took a couple of minutes. The staff here is EXTREMELY friendly and accommodating.

 

 

Rooms: A-

 

The rooms are very comfortable. Our room had just been renovated, so we had 2 flat panel tv's in our suite, a full living room, double his/her sinks, with a walk in closet and a huge balcony.

 

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View from our room!!

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The only thing that I didn't really like was the shower, but other than that, the beds felt good and the housekeeping service came twice per day to make up the room and turn down the bed.

 

Spa: A+

Since we were celebrating our honeymoon, couples treated us with a ocean couples massage. Yipppeee!!!! It was on top of a cliff and you could just hear the waves crashing on the rocks! It was sooooo good! Atmosphere was lovely and massage was great too!

 

Food: A

The food here was excellent! I was very pleased with all of the restaurants (total of 3 restaurants, but we only ate at 2) and even their in-room dining service (which we ordered several times for some late night snacks). 2 of the restaurants require reservations and formal attire, but the one that we frequented often was casual dress, did not require a reservation and was outdoor right on the beach. It was very romantic. They also had a live band playing every night during dinner. Their presentation and quality of food selection was excellent!

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Beach: D-

The beach at Couples San Souci is terrible. I only got in the beach once and never returned. It's filled with slimy seaweed at the bottom and lots of debris. The water was very cold (which i couldn't understand, because the outdoor temp had to have been over 90 degrees. Also, the sand felt like dirt. However, their mineral pool is wonderful. They have several pools on the property and a mineral grotto which is said to have healing properties. They also have a separate "Au Natural (NUDE)" beach on the property, but hubby and I were not that adventurous this time around.

 

Fitness Center: A+

I tried to be good and make it to the gym at least 2 times while staying at Couples. The gym at Couples was great. It had flat panel tv's, AC, and good, new equipment:

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Marsha, you were a gorgeous bride and you had every detail done perfectly. I think I told you before... I totally crashed your reception so I could check out the set-up and it was perfect. It was so nice to finally meet you. Congrats again!!!!

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Excursions: A+

Couples SS offered FREE excursions that were included in the price. We got to do snorkeling, horseback riding, dunn's river, margaritaville, cayoba gardens, shopping into town, golfing and countless other things for FREE:

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Ceremony Site:

You guys know that I got married at Riu, but I took this picture of the gazebo at Couples in case any of you needed it. It's right on a cliff overlooking the ocean........just lovely!!

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So, there it is...........my LONG review!!! Hopefully this is as helpful as all of you have been to me. BTW, I'm actually thinking about going into wedding planning full time, so if any BDW bride is interesed, PM me.

 

I will be posting some TTD and BD pics when I get them!! To summarize, Riu was perfect for my large group. All of our guests fell in love with Riu and are already talking about their next trip........... and Couples San Souci was perfect for just us 2. It's quiet and intimate. Much of the whole time, we felt like we had the entire resort to ourselves. All in all, I wouldn't change a thing. Everything was magical!!!

 

Finally, my pics.......still waiting to get more, but for now, I took a sneak peak at Punam's Blog.......Be sure to click on the play button to start the slide show. Enjoy!!

A Show of Slides!: Marsha and Brian - Punam Bean Blog. - Punam Bean Photography

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okay, several things. First, you look amazing! I tried to catch you when you went into to the disco but I was too late. your wedding looked great! Second thing, I think the nude woman was situated near my grandmother on the beach, she told me about seeing too much of one lady! LOL

Third, your security drama was seen by my sis-in-law and her boyfriend. They came out to the pool and said you are never going to believe what we just saw. That is some crazy stuff!

I am glad that you had a great wedding! Thanks for the pics, i need to get mine up!

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    • So, this will be another one of those venting it all out topic but it won't be the last one (Well last one done by me)😂.   I got engaged back in the August bank holiday last year when covid restrictions were lifted. I knew this problem would occur so I wanted to get things rolling with my group of friends asap. I have 2 sets of friends that I plan on inviting to my DW (Next year). The first group are from the UK and the other group is from the other side of the world. Before I get started, we are planning our DW as normal with the hope that covid will be as less impact as possible. Me and my SO planned our guestlist and we would predict that there will be problems with both sides of invites. We both predicted that the UK groups would pose possible problems due to costs etc. Our other groups (Other side of the world) most of them will come barring any restrictions but all of them pretty much confirmed it. Now, this is where it gets interesting. My UK group (JAWSNA they're the initials of people within this group) posed the problem straight away when I announced that me and SO will have a DW (Even though A, A and W knew of this before I got engaged!). This group revolves around the first A and W.  A - I have known A since I first started university and it happens that A lives in the same city as me. Common sense will dictate that A will be the bestman of the wedding. Before I get started if it weren't for A then I would not have met everyone from the UK lot.Everyone knew including the test of the groomsmen knew I would ask A to be the best man. In total 3 groomsmen and a best man. I asked W to be one of the groomsmen and he gladly accepted it. The other 2 spaces were filled up by 2 people from the other side of the world group which means all I had to do is ask A to be the best man.  So forward 2 weeks after I got engaged I asked him. At first he paused for a few seconds then A went onto say "I feel the other 2 (Referring the 2 people that I asked to be part of the groomsmen from the other side of the world group) are better placed to be your best man because I feel suitable". When I heard that my heart literally stopped. He then went onto say "If the other 2 are still not up for it according to you then I will be your best man". That was the first warning sign. I didn't say much to A the following few days but I was adamant that A will be my best man. Ovdr the next month or so I kept at it to the point when he said "Sorry I do not want to be your best man so you can now do that 'group' you kept on saying" (Referring to my earlier point where I knew this will be a problem.  Things calmed down and he said that "We will have a heart to heart talk about your situation and will talk about the best man position" right until this day I have been waiting to see him in person. I know there wete 2 lockdowns but at the same time before the lockdowns occured couldn't A find the time even for an hour to talk about this? He said he wanted to do this face to face which is why he does not want to have this conversation over the phone but it's very hard considering we're still coming out of lockdown and easing of restrictions. This is where things take for the worse. From last February I kept in contact with A with everything and I let it slip that out DE will be next year. He went into a rant where he was "shocked" to find out that the DW was happening next year and warned me if I do not have a clear concise figure then people from the UK will not out effort into the DW. This is where I started a group from my side of the guest lists with the UK group and the Other side of the world group and effectively telling both sides of the group that DW will happen next year at this location (I do not want to disclose the location so I can remain as anonymous as possible). The other side of the group all confirmed they are going and this is where the UK group start to say their views. S and W sugfested that I was "loaded with money" whereas A start to say that I needed really clear figures otherwise people will not turn up. Ever since A messages that text the group has been stone called silent. A is literally impossible to get a hold off. I live really close to him yet he always has excuses to why he is not free. These ranges from "I have been getting a property", "Lifes busy man" or "Work gets in the way". Because of these lists of excuses I started to question whether I want him to be the groomsmen or not. He keeps on making excuses and I even tried to lie to him I was down the road from him to which he said "I have to get this furniture in place, watch the football then I need to get to bed by 9:30 pm)." I will invite him to the wedding but at the same time serious doubts are there whether I should or not and regarding the groomsmen? 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This may be true but at the same time I have had to save and budget out money throughout my life so I do not see a major problem although I do understand where A is coming from. That's it for now for A. We move onto W who has been unsupportive but not to A's scale. W - as I have mentioned he is the other person I asked to be the groomsmen. Unlike A, W accepted straight away. I told him that the wedding would be abroad back in September and he was excited about this. Fast forward late February where I made the group telling people that it will be a DW, I felt something was wrong with him. I called him up a week later to which he said "I'm not going to lie, it seems pretty expensive. I have been saving up for a holiday since 2019 with a couple of the lads in the UK group. The destination we are going? It is a lot more less expensive than your DW. We wil be going to this destination for 2 weeks whereas for your DW it is for a week. Not to mention the costs. 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He would have like to come but at the same time I know it will be very difficult for him because A2 and his wife wilk struggle to save up. I have already prepared my Plan B. Unfortunately I would like to not to use plan B but hearing from the consistent moaning of A and W's comments made me do this. I am planning for the worse and everyone from the UK group will drop out which is why I am ready to execute plan B. Forgot to mention. My SO's UK lot? We both feared it would have ended up the same situation as my side but to our pleasant surprise all of them confirmed they were coming! We were shocked to find out they are already booking that week off to celebrate our wedding! To make things worse, my SO's UK group's salary are a lot lower than my UK group yet her UK group can make it? Time to evaluate the friendship of my UK group!!!   /Rant over
    • Hello Guys, Can you please suggest me the best destination wedding places on globally, that must be with greenery and price must be cost-effective. i have searched on google too, its showing a-lot of places. But this is the platform where i can found real-time experience people.   
    • Greetings. I'm really confused because my younger sister's marriage is fixed. Now the date is fixed for April 15th. We are planning to conduct a function only with minimal members. I neec to find out a best wedding venue or organizer. I need your advice which will be really helpful. Thank you
    • I’m sorry but I just noticed this original post was from a few years ago. 
    • Hi girl, I was in the the exact same situation as you. I’ was a second timer too,  at the time my daughter was 16 when we had our DW. He also had a daughter from a previous marriage who was 28 at the time with a 3 year old son who we’re residing with us. His daughter was in no financial shape whatsoever to pay her way to Fiji. My husband said it meant so much to him for her to be there. We argued for months about us funding her way to go with us. I felt like the evil step mother too but put my foot down. It almost got to the point that we were just not going to go but finally my fi gave in and said we would  not pay for her. Talk about stress! We went with my daughter and a few friends and got married. I could see the sadness in my husbands eyes during the ceremony.It all hit me right there. He wanted his daughter there so bad that it crushed him. In fact none of his family were there and the friends I mentioned were all my friends. I thought to myself, why did I do this to this wonderful man who is so good to me and my daughter. He rarely asked for things for himself. I felt awful. He did his best to hide it from me. It’s the biggest regret of my life girl. He never got over that his daughter was not there and it destroyed me. I wish I could go back in time and do it all over again. I allowed $3,500 that we easily could afford, ruin what I wanted to be the happiest day of his life. If you can afford it pay for it, do it. It’s not worth the pain.It was  not worth doing that to him just to prove a point. This was 17 years ago and it bothered him for the rest of his life. He passed away last October and I still cannot forgive myself. That’s my two cents - Shel  
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