Well, Iâ€™m finally getting around to itâ€¦shame on me for waiting so long. I apologize â€“ but in my defense, the wedding was so perfect that we both plunged into a post-wedding period of back-to-reality semi-depression and I have been busy just keeping my household together. No excuse though â€“ this thread was my lifeline for planning and I should have let you all know how it went earlier. But here goesâ€¦..
When we first arrived to the resort, it was an uncanny feeling â€“ we had stalked pictures of the resort and in some ways, it felt like we already knew the resort inside & outâ€¦.but then, it was so breathtaking in person, it was like a slap in the face. Beautiful. I mean stunning. The difference between MDC and the beach resorts is so striking â€“ you wake up everyday to UNBROKEN horizon as far as you can see. A local fishing boat here and there, but mostly just ocean. Itâ€™s really relaxing, as opposed to seeing parasailers and jet ski rentals and people everywhere. The grounds are so well-kept. Their staff was up every morning tending to the landscaping, but it was never obtrusive. And all the staff, whether housekeeping, landscaping, waitstaff, butlers, conciergeâ€¦..they are SO friendly. Always smiling, making sure youâ€™re comfortable, willing to talk if you want. Some of the bartenders (Ralston, Rayon, Douglas, Omight, Tracey, Randean, Johnny Walker, Angie) taught us about local Jamaican customs, language (Patois) and activities. I am seriously facebook friends with half of the staff because when we left, they were like old friends.
About the wedding â€“ the groom and I decided to use some of our budget to pay for the guestsâ€™ arrival transfers to the resort. I truly did not want our guestsâ€™ first experience on the island to be shelling out cash/hailing a cab to the resort. It was a lot of upfront planning to get all the guestsâ€™ flight information (well, honestly, the reservations officeâ€”Kim and Miriamâ€”would have asked for that anyway), but it all worked out. I think we had one mishap where the bus didnâ€™t make it for one guest, but luckily he is a world traveler and had no problem finding his own ride. In fact, once the resort realized that happened, they actually reimbursed him for the taxi fare he paid on his own (amazing customer service, Iâ€™m telling you). Otherwise, they did a great job arranging times for pickups based on arrivals from even different flights to maximize the # of people per transfer (read:our costs) but minimize the guestsâ€™ need to hang around the airport.
Upon arrival, they greeted everyone with a tropical drink. Because half of my guests donâ€™t drink due to religious beliefs, they even took a specified list of who was to receive alcoholic welcome drinks vs. non-alcoholic, and they got it right. It was fabulous.
Once the guests all arrived, we had a welcome dinner with a live band. They set tables up in the lawn area and had a buffet of Jamaican cuisine (the curried goat was AMAZING). The band played great, and was very interactive with the crowd. We all ended up leaving the tables and dancing with the band by the end of the night. I have to say, the waitstaff is incredible â€“ seriously on top of things, and you can tell they literally are happy to be there, because even the kitchen staff came out to hang out for part of the party.
The groom and I also enjoyed a sunset melt massage down in the cave near the cliffs. Let me tell you, WORTH EVERY PENNY. It was so relaxing. They had soft music playing, they were so professional, and even gently let us know when to look up to see the sun slip below the horizon. After that, Iâ€™m pretty sure I slipped into a hypnotic trance from the relaxation of it all. It was perfect to get us in the mood for a weekend of â€œusâ€.
I treated each of the bridesmaids to a mani/pedi. The on-site salon/spa (Kamala) made sure that I met with them a few days prior to schedule the girlsâ€™ appointments, and Ross even did a run-through for my bridal updo (which he perfected in seriously like 5 minutes, heâ€™s so good at what he does). I appreciated the time they took in making sure the salon scheduled accordingly to get all the girlsâ€™ pampered without any hectic rush. On the day of the wedding, I was awakened by our butler Titanya, swept away to the spa for a body scrub and massage that made me feel like a queen! Ross and Peggy were willing to come to the villa for the day to do our hair and makeup instead of having us hang out in the salon all day (which meant that the groom definitely didnâ€™t see me since I didnâ€™t have to sneak through the resort after my hair and makeup was done). I canâ€™t say enough about what a great job they did. Ross was able to put each girlsâ€™ personality into the hairdo and makeup style (I know that sounds cheesy, but itâ€™s so true). And the QUALITY. My hair was EXACTLY how Iâ€™d pictured, and stayed put ALL night, through rain, through dancing, through the after-party. It retained curl like it never has before. And my makeup never needed touching up. I have never looked so beautiful, the makeup was stunning but natural looking.
Rosemarie of Floral Fantasies did our flowers. During planning, since I couldnâ€™t lock down # of centerpieces til we had a final count, the flower contract came relatively late in the game. Because of that, I had a little bit of a budgeting issue. Through e-mails back and forth, Rosemarie helped to bring down the floral budget by scaling down some of the centerpieces and aisle markers that we had decided on. Itâ€™s amazing that by e-mailing from 2 different countries, someone could â€œgetâ€ my vision so impeccably. The aisle markers were stunning tropical sprays that were also featured at the reception site â€“ many of our guests were seen oohing and aahing over them. I will say that my bouquet wasnâ€™t exactly the lilies Iâ€™d envisioned, but it was striking and so beautiful (I really didnâ€™t mind â€“ it was exactly as weâ€™d discussed, Iâ€™d just pictured a slightly different color). And it was so well crafted. I had asked the wedding coordinator (Kerry) to re-use the centerpieces for the next morningâ€™s brunch, but they actually lasted so long that they made several appearances for events after the wedding as well.
Noida Cooke provided the cake for us. I had kept up on her FB page to see pictures of her cakes, and I liked her presentation better than the other recommendation from Kerry (started with an M, I canâ€™t remember). We had a 3-tier cake with a different flavor/filling for each tier. We sent her a picture of a cake from Pinterest that we loved, and they did an amazing job recreating it. My only complaint was that I was so caught up in all the hype that I never got to taste all 3 flavors. But the slice of lemon I had was moist, delicious, fragrant and packed with flavor. I was disappointed I never met her in person, she really did a great job.
We had the steel drums play during cocktail hour. During planning, I was pretty sad that we were going to be taking pictures while they played because I was worried I wouldnâ€™t be able to hear them. Wellâ€¦.the rains came RIGHT after we ended the ceremony, so it kind of threw our plans for a loopâ€¦.we had to move the cocktail hour inside the front lobby. It was a little hectic, as the staff had set up an elaborate bar with signature cocktails on the lawn by the gazebo, and the storm ended up kinda wiping that out. Having the steel drums in the lobby was honestly a little too loud for guests to hang out there, but a lot of guests were following us around with the photographer, so it made for great background music while we were on the grounds/cliffs. The hors dâ€™ouvres were delicious but Iâ€™m not sure if they ended up getting passed â€“ the staff was busy rearranging our reception site to the lobby because of the rain. But, itâ€™s possible they were passed earlier in the cocktail hour, honestly I wasnâ€™t there, so I am not quite sure. By the time I got to them, they were on a table in the lobby, but either way, itâ€™s obvious the guests enjoyed them because there wasnâ€™t much left once we got there!
Michael Saab did our wedding photography. Because of his prices, I was only able to have him there for a few hours, but my god I have the most amazing pictures ever. If you can swing it, thereâ€™s NO OTHER CHOICE. He captured such amazing moments and details. Also, his editing is fantastic. He and his wife, Olive, were very professional and sweet. I was amazed that he could get such amazing quality photos with portable equipment. And, you canâ€™t beat the turnaround. Within a week, he had posted the proofs for all to see, and within another week, we had the CD delivered to our house with full rights to print. Our contract was for 4 hours, and we received 440 pictures. However, because the rain caused a slight delay in the activities, Michael came to us and told us they would stay longer to make sure they got the cake cutting and the first dance. (But..we kinda moved the cake cutting up so he could catch it right before they left).
DJ Kevan (jamaicanweddingdj) provided the entertainment for dinner/reception. I was so impressed that he made the trip up there a day or two before so he could meet us, get our vibe, go through all the â€œmust-playâ€ songs to make sure he had the right versions, go through logistics, get the names/pronunciations of the wedding party, etc. On the day of, he was there early, did his set up inconspicuously, and was ready to go when we needed him. He was very professional and fun. He kept the party going, and would play songs that pumped the party up, or appropriate background music for moments when the attention needed to be elsewhere. One thing that I will say is that I got a little frustrated that during dancing, he would stop the song to make commentsâ€”BUT he asked me if he could do that during his pre-visit and I had said yes. I just didnâ€™t realize when he asked, that it meant he would literally stop the music to say things. So just be aware when he asks you if he can do that, thatâ€™s what he means. On the other hand, Iâ€™m not sure I would have enjoyed it if I had answered differently â€“ because he did end up teaching us some Jamaican dances and stuff, it was really fun. And, bless his heart, when we were in the middle of our (surprise) choreographed first dance, and we completely BLANKED and had to START OVER (eek!), he helped to make light of it and got the crowd pumped back up to make it less embarrassing!
And it all couldnâ€™t have happened without ::::angels singing::::: Kerry, the wedding coordinator. Kerry and I communicated for probably 9 months in total. She was very helpful with logistics during the early months, but there were also periods of time where it took a little while to hear from her. Itâ€™s honestly because she is 100% there for her current brides. So try not to get frustrated. The weddings she pulls off must be a lot of work, and itâ€™s all her. That said, when it gets down the wire, and youâ€™re a few months off, sheâ€™s e-mailing you back and forth and sheâ€™s on top of it. I remember she e-mailed me a wedding overview a month or two before the big day, and she had remembered details from e-mails at the very beginning of the planning stages â€“ whether she really remembered, or had just taken the time to review hundreds of e-mails, either way, it was obvious she really cared about every little need/want. When I finally met her, there wasnâ€™t any hesitation to greet with a huge hug. She was there every step of the way, and was able to come up with last-minute solutions to some unforeseen circumstances. She met with us prior to the wedding day to go over details and to deliver the things weâ€™d asked her to get for the guestsâ€™ welcome bags. (Iâ€™m fair skinned and had to stay out of the sun before the wedding day, so I assembled the bags myself and the staff helped distribute themâ€¦.there were a few mix-ups so I would say ask for a list of room #s and help the staff out by writing room #s on the bags or something). Kerry also collected all the things Iâ€™d brought myself (pashminas for the guests at the reception, our â€œguest bookâ€ frame mat, cake topper, etc) and I didnâ€™t have to worry about any of it. On the day of, she was calm and collected, but also super excited, and really handled all the logistics fabulously. There were a few twists and turns, and she was able to improvise without changing any of the important â€œvisionâ€ aspects. She kept us updated throughout the whole day, without being in-your-face about anything. Guardian angel, really. And she wouldnâ€™t leave until she was absolutely sure we didnâ€™t need anything else. Favorite Kerry moment? She came to the reception table to let us know the â€œsurpriseâ€ would be here in 5 minutesâ€¦.we were like â€œwhat?â€â€¦.we had planned to have a fire dancer come during the reception as a surprise to the guestsâ€¦.and had completely forgotten ourselves, LOL.
The guests loved the fire dancer. It was a fun addition. I think I had nightmares about him doing this crazy spider walk thing, thoughâ€¦.it was creepy! But I really think everyone enjoyed it, it was captivating.
Overall, the wedding was perfect. Even though it rained and some things changed last minute, I honestly believe that in 5 years weâ€™ll forget it even rained. It was the wedding of our dreams, and we owe it to those vendors, the MDC staff, and Kerry. If you want a wedding that is unique, classy, elegant, surrealâ€¦.MDC is it. Donâ€™t fall for the wedding factory resorts, it will never compare to what MDC can do for you. Sure, itâ€™s pricey, I knowâ€¦but I wouldnâ€™t bat an eye to do it all over again, exactly the same way. Our guests are still talking about it. I will never stay anywhere else in Jamaica.
Good luck, brides!