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~*petals*~ LONG GP Jamaica Wedding Review *PIC HEAVY*


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#1 ~*petals*~

~*petals*~
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    Posted 06 June 2009 - 12:25 PM

    RESORT: Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort, in Lucea, Jamaica.
    # GUESTS: 55 adults, 2 children
    PHOTOGRAPHER: Monica & Chris Zibutis (Click the image to open in full size.

    AIRLINE- AIR JAMAICA:

    We flew on Air Jamaica, direct from Chicago. We were originally scheduled to fly down on Wednesday before our Saturday wedding, but Air Jamaica cancelled that flight. They also canceled the return flight for most of our guests, which was Memorial Day Monday.

    Returning home, Air Jamaica bumped 60 passengers, including my parents and our photographers. They put them up in a hotel for the night, but it was very inconvenient. The reason for bumping them was very strange too—the exit doors in the middle of the plane apparently weren’t working (!) so they emptied all of the seats in the middle of the plane…. Hmm… Well, we all made it home safely.

    But the good thing about Air Jamaica is that we each got to check 2 bags with no additional charge, which was great because we brought centerpieces, OOT bags and our bouquets.

    When we arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica - we went straight to the Apple Vacations counter and were directed to our bus for transportation. We waited on the bus for a really long time, then finally drove out to Lucea. Along the way we stopped for cold drinks.

    THE RESORT (GRAND PALLADIUM JAMAICA):

    Click the image to open in full size.

    We were greeted with rum punch and check-in was relatively easy, except that nobody’s rooms were ready until at least 3:00pm (This is their standard check-in time, so be prepared to kill some time if you arrive in the morning).

    DH and my dress waiting in the lobby
    Click the image to open in full size.
    We’ve traveled to Jamaica quite a bit and typically stay at standard hotels, and everybody in our group thought this resort was gorgeous!

    Click the image to open in full size.

    The property is huge, but all of us got rooms in buildings near to each other on the Jamaica side of the resort, and it was easy to meet up. There are also golf-carts available- you call for them and they will pick you up and drive you to your destination.

    We were upgraded to an oceanview room in Building 11, and although it was a Junior Suite, it was huge and we really loved it. They greeted us with a fruit plate in our room too.

    Click the image to open in full size.

    View from our room
    Click the image to open in full size.

    We spent most of our time at the Sunset Cove Beach, which is the furthest away from the Jamaica side of the resort. It was clean and nice (plus they have the jerk chicken hut over there), and we loooved hanging out there.


    PLANNING PROCESS/WEDDING COORDINATOR:


    One of the most frustrating things about planning a DW is communication (or lack thereof). GPJ was no exception. It was difficult to get responses from the resort, and we spent our first afternoon and the next morning trying to meet with Jascynthia once we arrived. Once we met with her (the day before the wedding), we gave her all the details, all of our decorations, etc. and it worked out fine. It doesn't seem like much is arranged in advance of your arrival, so I wouldn't waste too much time and energy trying to coordinate everything before you get there-- just the basics (ceremony & reception location, # people, etc.) She wrote everything down on a sheet as we told it to her, and made arrangements accordingly.

    Everything worked out beautifully in the end, but as brides-to-be, it is hard to have lots of questions and to be unable to get answers. I think Jascynthia might need more staff to help- seems like she’s doing everything by herself and seemed exhausted by the end of the night, although I believe she has an assistant now.


    REHEARSAL DINNER

    Jascynthia helped us make a reservation for 20 (bridal party & immediate family) at the Xaymaica Restaurant on property. She told us we’d have to do a set menu (one appetizer, one entrĀ©e, one dessert) but when we arrived, thankfully this was not the case! We got to
    order whatever we wanted from the menu.

    Click the image to open in full size.

    Due to word-of-mouth, we ended up with 32 people showing up for the rehearsal dinner, but they were accommodating and placed the rest at all the tables surrounding our huge table for 20.

    #2 ~*petals*~

    ~*petals*~
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      Posted 06 June 2009 - 12:26 PM

      WEDDING DAY
      The morning of the wedding, we ate breakfast and I hit the beach with the girls. It was beautiful and relaxing… then the clouds rolled in… It POURED at midday, and then the sun broke through again around 2pm, when I had my appointment at the salon.

      Renova Spa did an EXCELLENT job on my hair.

      Inpiration picture:
      Click the image to open in full size.

      Wedding day hair:
      Photos by Monica Z Photography
      Click the image to open in full size.

      Click the image to open in full size.

      Click the image to open in full size.

      I had a friend (who worked at the Fashion Fair and NARS makeup counters) do my makeup and she did a beautiful job! Happy to recommend her to any Chicago-area brides.

      WEDDING LOCATION/SETUP
      We originally selected the garden gazebo as our wedding location.

      Photo by Caroline
      Click the image to open in full size.

      However, it rained pretty hard the afternoon of our wedding, and although they pushed back the wedding an hour and a half to see if it would let up, the gazebo area was soaked, and full of mud. So they moved us to the Spa, which is their rain location. I thought it was beautiful!

      Photo by Monica Z Photography

      Click the image to open in full size.

      Non-pro photos:
      Click the image to open in full size.

      Click the image to open in full size.

      #3 ~*petals*~

      ~*petals*~
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        Posted 06 June 2009 - 12:26 PM

        CEREMONY

        We hired the steel drum band to play for 1 hour, and it was the best money we spent! They really set the mood and the feel for the entire evening. They were playing when the guests arrived, and played during the processional, sand ceremony, recessional, and for a while after the ceremony was over. We even had our first dance to them during the mini champagne reception following the ceremony. They were WONDERFUL!

        Click the image to open in full size.

        The ceremony was short and sweet. We had Vincent McKenzie as our officiant. He wouldn’t let DH turn around until I arrived at the end of the aisle (anticipation!), and when he turned to face me, DH got all choked up and tears filled his eyes. DH is not an emotional person, so this really got everyone… everybody started crying (me too, but I was still grinning so hard). That was something I hadn’t seen before (making the groom face away until the bride is standing by his side) but it definitely had the desired effect.

        Photos by Monica Z Photography
        Click the image to open in full size.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        Non-pro photo of crying bridesmaid
        Click the image to open in full size.


        We also did the sand ceremony (DIY with supplies brought from home!). Jascynthia set everything up at a table at the end of the aisle. We didn’t give Vincent a sand ceremony script, but he said some nice words about how the grains of sand are still the same, but can never again be separated.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        We were then seated and he called forward the MOH and BM to sign the marriage register. The steel drum band was playing softly throughout this part of the ceremony, which I thought was a nice touch.

        After the ceremony, Jascynthia & staff distributed glasses of champagne and the steel drum band played on.

        Post-ceremony champagne reception (Monica Z Photography)

        Click the image to open in full size.

        First dance to the steel drum band (Monica Z Photography)

        Click the image to open in full size.

        Two small things to note: my flowergirl pail and ringbearer box were in the suitcase I gave to Jascynthia that contained all of the centerpieces, cake topper, etc. Both items never made it to the ceremony, and I never got them back. So if there’s something you need for your ceremony, bring it with you directly.

        We weren’t too far from the Blue Lagoon, where the reception was held, but the golf cart Jascynthia called for us never arrived. We stuck around until nearly all of the guests had gone over to the reception, but the ride never came so we gave up. I hiked up my gown and we footed it.

        #4 ~*petals*~

        ~*petals*~
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          Posted 06 June 2009 - 12:27 PM

          RECEPTION
          We held a private reception at the Blue Lagoon restaurant and chose a U-shaped setup.
          Photo by Monica Z Photography
          Click the image to open in full size.

          We forgot our placecards at home and had to improvise the day of the wedding, by creating a seating chart and giving it to our ushers. There was some drama with this, but it all worked out in the end.

          We had the seafood appetizer, the asparagus soup, rum, lime and mint sorbet, and then shrimp (substituted for the lobster tail) and the beef tenderloin for the entrees. The food was very tasty.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          It took FOREVER to be served these courses. If there are kids at your wedding, you should stop at the buffet on your way to the reception to get them something to eat. We had to do that for my little nephew, and my niece… and she was knocked out by the time her chicken nuggets and fries arrived with everybody else’s dinner.

          Photo by Monica Z Photography

          Click the image to open in full size.

          The length of time it took for dinner service is one of the main reasons we decided to nix the DJ ($900) and make a nice long reggae playlist on my iPod and rent the wireless microphone and speaker setup instead ($250). They have an iPod adapter, so you can plug right into the big speakers. This worked out well for us.

          We skipped most of the wedding traditions (bouquet toss, garter, etc.) and instead did the cutting of the cake (which was decent- whipped frosting), toasts by the Best Man and Maid of Honor and a thank-you to our guests, and everybody went upstairs to Infinity Lounge and across to the Disco for dancing after dinner was over.

          Photos by Monica Z Photography
          Click the image to open in full size.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          DAY AFTER
          Before we left for Negril on Monday, we did some awesome day-after shots around the property. I highly recommend doing this if you’re bringing a photographer with you. It was particularly special since our wedding day was kind of rainy and the wedding started late in the evening. I LOVE these shots. We got some beautiful pictures in the lobby, in the buildings, Infinity Lounge, one of the tiny beaches where the hermit crabs live, and of course in the giant pool.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          All in all, our guests had a beautiful vacation and lovely time (some are planning a return trip!), and our wedding was special, unique, touching and better than we could’ve imagined. I’m happy to answer any Q’s you have!

          Tina

          #5 ~*DiAnE*~

          ~*DiAnE*~
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            Posted 06 June 2009 - 12:36 PM

            Wow!! You look gorgeous!! Great Review... Thanks for sharing!!! :)

            #6 Butterflyf369

            Butterflyf369
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              Posted 06 June 2009 - 02:43 PM

              Wow, what a beautiful wedding and I love the resort. Thanks for the review.

              #7 jk1101

              jk1101
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                Posted 06 June 2009 - 03:31 PM

                Such a great review and good info for those of us who are anxiously awaiting our turn at GPJ! I'm so happy for you!

                #8 TammyB

                TammyB
                • Sr. Member
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                  Posted 06 June 2009 - 03:37 PM

                  Great review, and contrats on your wedding. However I have to ask, since you didn't mention it... How did hubby react to your BD book?

                  #9 BillysBride

                  BillysBride
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                    Posted 06 June 2009 - 03:59 PM

                    Awwww, Monica!! It looked like it was TRULY everything was gorgeous and magical. Love your attitude about the little stuff - it's little stuff that in the end didn't effect anything and doesn't matter. You had a gorgeous day, and the two of you made a beautiful couple! Congratulations! Now I'm going back to look some more!
                    Savannah

                    http://i17.photobuck....inecollage.jpgThe Fab Four (my quads) Meryn, Kellen, Nico & Layla
                    http://global.thekno...rs/tt265ad.aspxhttp://www.mywedding...nnah/index.html20 STD's w. pre-lim RSVP sent 6/15/09: 7 "Yes" so far/10 guests total!

                    #10 ~*petals*~

                    ~*petals*~
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                      Posted 06 June 2009 - 04:12 PM

                      You guys are so nice!
                      Great review, and contrats on your wedding. However I have to ask, since you didn't mention it... How did hubby react to your BD book?
                      Thanks for reminding me, Tammy!

                      I participated in the Chicago BD marathon with BDW photographers Tammy B, Maura, and Tsleege back in January and made my book on Shutterfly.

                      I gave the BD book to DH the morning after the wedding. He was totally surprised and loved it! He said it was HOT & thumbed through it like 3 times. lol




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