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Married offsite in MB, Jamaica - stayed at GP Lady Hamilton! May 2009!


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#1 marriedinjamaica

marriedinjamaica
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    Posted 01 August 2009 - 03:20 PM

    HELLO BDW LADIES! I HOPE THIS HELPS ALL THE LADIES GETTING MARRIED IN JAMAICA AND STAYING AT THE GP COMPLEX! I DECIDED TO POST THIS ON HERE AFTER MONTHS OF CREEPING ON HERE AND USING THE CANADIAN FORUMS. I HOPE THIS HELPS! CONGRATS TO YOU ALL! JAMAICA IS A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY & AMAZING PLACE TO GET MARRIED!

    Better late than never! I’ve finally taken the time to do a proper review of our destination wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I have been getting lots of requests for info for our photographer as well as wedding planner and reception site reviews, so I thought I really should just sit down and do this! I remember loving reading Amarillis’ review and how it was organized, so I’m going to try really hard to do a similar style review! Hope this helps anyone planning a destination wedding in Jamaica!

    Chapter One – Getting There!

    We started planning our destination wedding two years ago, as soon as we got engaged. We planned all along for a beach wedding in Akumal, Mexico. That’s where we were engaged so it seemed fitting to have our wedding in Mexico as well. We chose the Akumal Beach Resort to host out wedding and were originally supposed to fly with Sunwing Vacations. We had 52 guests leaving from Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. However, 9 days before our flight to Mexico our wedding was cancelled due to the H1N1 virus outbreak in Mexico. With the help of our fantastic travel agent, Ronnie Lee (more info below), we were able to rebook with Air Transat Vacations to Montego Bay, Jamaica (the only other option with such short notice was a 7 day cruise to Anchorage, Alaska)!

    Air Transat Vacations

    Air Transat was one of the only Canadian tour operators who added additional vacations to other destinations during the swine flu outbreak. We were lucky to get a full refund from Sunwing Vacations (thanks to my Dad) and had our entire group rebooked within 48 hours of having our trip and wedding cancelled. Air Transat was great and upgraded Ryan and I on both flights to Montego Bay. For our group, an added bonus was that our plane took off from Vancouver, where I got on with 40 of our guests and then picked up passengers in Calgary, where Ryan got on with 7 more of our guests, and then flew direct to Montego Bay. The food in Club Transat Class was great and we enjoyed champagne and unlimited drinks on the flight. A few of our guests were also upgraded randomly and we switched around with our group members sitting in the back so we had a chance to visit with everyone. There were tons of other “displaced Mexico DW couples” on the flight with us and most of them were also sitting in Club Transat class. I was lucky because I had got on in Vancouver and was able to lay my dress above the other passenger’s luggage. However, the brides getting on in Calgary sat with their dresses on their laps because there wasn’t any room in the over head bins or the steward’s closet.

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    Travel Agent

    Originally, when we were getting married in Mexico, we were using Megan Crouse, of Weddings By Oceans, as our travel agent. However, when our wedding was cancelled and we were given a full refund from the tour operator, we made the decision to rebook with a different travel agent. This is kind of a long story, and as we didn’t use Megan in the end for our wedding I’ve decided not to review her services in this review. Yet if any future brides are looking for a review please feel free to PM me. We used Megan and Weddings By Oceans for about 10 months before rebooking with Ronnie Lee of Departures Travel in Victoria, BC. Ronnie literally saved our wedding and had our entire group rebooked within 48 hours of our wedding being cancelled. Although Ronnie doesn’t specialize in destination weddings she put all her other work on hold to accommodate our group and worked on our file non-stop in the week leading up to our departure. I am so thankful to Ronnie and all her staff at Departures Travel because with out them we wouldn’t have been able to have our destination wedding. Ronnie even made the extra effort to contact the wedding coordinator at our resort to book a wedding time for us. I can’t say enough great things about her!

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    Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton and Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa

    This resort is truly amazing! We had never stayed at a Grand Palladium resort before and were shocked when we arrived. We were originally supposed to stay at 3.5 star resort in Mexico and this resort was a beautiful 5 star resort! The complex is actually two resorts in one (and apparently more resorts and amenities will be added in upcoming years) and we stayed on the Lady Hamilton side.

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    Location and Appearance

    This resort is amazing! I honestly can say that everyday I was thankful that our Mexican wedding was cancelled (definitely not thankful for the stress and tears, but thankful for the amazing resort we got to stay at in Jamaica). Although the Akumal Beach Resort was a small and intimate resort, the Grand Palladium out shown it in every way possible. The grounds were breath taking and the staff was so friendly and easy going. There was always staff available if you had any questions or needed help finding anything!

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    #2 marriedinjamaica

    marriedinjamaica
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      Posted 01 August 2009 - 03:24 PM

      Chapter Three – Resort Life!

      Rooms

      As I said above, the rooms were great. We stayed in the Junior Suite while all of our other guests stayed in Junior Rooms. Everyone was greeted with a fresh fruit plate as a bottle of Jamaican Rum, and an added bonus were the mini bars in every room. They had bottles of beer, water, and pop and some people even managed to get restocked with bottles of vodka and rum, or bottles of red and white wine if they left a note with their request. We never tried this, but my parents were left a bottle of white wine every day by their bar boy! In some reviews I had read on Travel Advisor people had complaints about the air conditioning in the rooms as well as the mosquitoes. No one in our group complained about either, however, for some reason during the second week we had a lot of problems with mosquitoes. One night we called guest services and they sent someone over to spray the room. We didn’t ask for this again because I didn’t like the smell of the spray. Luckily, we ran into an old friend from high school the second week that was staying on the Jamaica side of the resort. They had brought a citronella candle with them and hadn’t had any mosquito issues so gave us their candle (this was probably Ryan’s favourite wedding present as we never had any mosquito issues after that)!

      Inside of our building!
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      Beaches & Pools

      I honestly expected more from the beaches in Jamaica after hearing all the rave reviews. However, because the Grand Palladium in on a cliff/cove area of the coast, the beaches weren’t like the ones you see in Negril (famous for the 7 mile white sand beach). The beaches around the resort were nice enough but definitely not the soft white sand beaches you might expect to find. Most of our group spent most of their time around the main pool (swim up bar) & the adult pool. We used the Sunset Cove beach the most, and that’s also where we did our trash the dress photos. Sunset Cove also had the non-motorized water sports, like kayaking and snorkeling. This beach was fantastic because it had the Jerk Chicken hut, where you could get fresh Jamaican style Jerk Chicken and rice everyday between 11am and 3 or 4pm. I should also mention that we had 3 medical issues that happened at Sunset Cove: one jellyfish sting on my 10 yr old cousin who was snorkeling in the swim area, and two sea urchins stings (or bites? I’m not sure what they are called) on guests who were snorkeling outside the swim area. None were too serious and everyone was treated at the first aid area on the beach.

      Boys @ Sunset Cove
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      Kayaking @ Sunset Cove
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      View @ Sunset Cove
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      The pools at the resort were fantastic! We loved the main pool and the activities that we always on the go! The younger crowd (our friends in their early twenties) spent most of their time around the pool and beach bar and the volley balls courts. The older crowd (over 30s, mostly family) preferred the adult pool and Sunset Cove. During the second week, Ryan and I discovered the spa pools. We spent tons of time using the spa pools because there was a huge hot tub with awesome jets and then a large cold pool and lazy river for swimming in too. The spa pools look like they might be private and only for use if you are using the spa facilities but they are open for anyone staying at the resort to use. Because of this, they are usually very quiet and peaceful. The only downfall was that the closet bar was the sports bar underneath the lobby, a 5 minute walk. Our group loved the adult pool at night too, although it was only open till 10am there were many nights we had members of our group in the pool until 2 or 3am! The night guards never kicked us out and only told us if we were being too loud. Several times the activity staff jumped in the adult pool with us after the disco had closed for the night! One thing about the pools is that there are broken pool tiles everywhere. Several members of our group cut their feet on broken tiles in the main pool or adult pool. I think this is concerning because the resort was finished in early 2008. So, if tiles are breaking already…

      Main Pool
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      Activities @ main pool (Jamaican dance lessons?)
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      Restaurants

      We thoroughly enjoyed all of the restaurants at this resort. As we’ve only been to Mexico in the past, we were really impressed with the food at this resort and Jamaican food in general. We only ate at the buffets for breakfast. And we usually skipped lunch or had the Jerk Chicken at Sunset Cove. For dinners, Ryan and I were able to try each of the A La Carte Restaurants at least once, as we stayed for an extra week. The A La Carte restaurants were unlimited, so you could eat at one every night! All of our guests enjoyed all the restaurants. Our favourites were the Indian Cuisine, Jamaican, and Seafood. We asked guest services if we could have a welcome dinner for all 50 of our guests at one of the restaurants, at first we were told no, but then they called our room at told us we could have a set menu for the Asian restaurant. This worked out great and gave us a chance to see everyone at the same time at the same place and give a little thank you speech. I found it interesting that we were able to do this free of charge because I met another bride who had done the same thing and paid $15 a head because it was a “rehearsal dinner”. During our extra week at the resort, we checked in every day at guest services and asked for a reservation. They always said yes and some days even had the reservation made for us before we arrived in the mornings!

      Welcome dinner @ Asian Restaurant
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      Breakfast on wedding day in the buffet
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      Bars

      The Grand Palladium complex had a total of 12 bars spread over the complex and we definitely had time to sample all of them. Our favourite was the Infinity Bar on the upper floor above the main pool. Every night there was live music and Ryan and I spent lots of time sitting up there in the evenings during the second week. This also seemed like the place where many of the brides who got married at the resort went with their wedding groups if they hadn’t reserved the Blue Lagoon Restaurant for a private reception and dancing. After our off site wedding we went to the Infinity Bar in the evening to hang out and listen to music. Our group also loved the disco (at least the younger crowd did) and was there almost every night. The music was fun and it was usually full! I saw a couple brides in the disco during our week there but it seemed the most common place for wedding parties was the Infinity Bar.

      One of our guests taking over the Disco bar! This was a frequent occurrence!
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      Entertainment

      We really didn’t spend too much time watching the evening entertainment at the resort. However, there was a huge open air theatre there was a kid’s show and then evening show every night. We only watched the show one night and it was a newly Wed game which was pretty funny. The entertainment staff was awesome and always practicing during the day. The night that I watched it I went with a bunch of my girlfriends for a stagette type night and it was fun for all of us. Ryan and I enjoyed the live music in the Infinity Bar more. But the kids’ show was popular with my younger cousins who were thrilled to participate in the show a couple times!

      #3 marriedinjamaica

      marriedinjamaica
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        Posted 01 August 2009 - 03:25 PM

        Chapter Four – Excursions

        Booze Cruise

        Ryan planned this excursion for the day after the wedding. Everyone is our group was invited to come but only about 25 people decided to join in. This was probably one of the best parts of our trip for me. It was a great time to relax with our friends and chill out with all the wedding stuff said and done. Ryan and the groomsmen did all the planning and booked the trip through the girls at the Scuba Caribe hut on Sunset Cove. It was $50 per person and Ryan and I got to go for free. The girls had the boat stocked with Heineken, Red Stripes, and way too much Rum Punch! We left Sunset Cove at 12pm and went to Negril, past 7mile beach and then to Lobster Island where locals were grilling lobster and garlic bread over a huge fire. It was extra if you wanted the lobster but most of the couples shared a plate for $10. After Lobster Island, we went snorkeling… but by this point most people were a little too tipsy to snorkel. The cruise then headed along the cliffs to Rick’s Caf© where we had about 2 hours before a bus picked us up and took us back to the resort. This cruise was a huge hit and the highlight of the trip for many of our friends!

        The girls @ Lobster Island
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        Snorkeling
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        Shopping in Negril/Rick’s Caf©

        Ryan and I did this excursion the second week we were in Jamaica. It was only $22 total for both of us to do this tour. It was through the Air Transat desk in the Lady Hamilton lobby and left at 1pm and returned at 8pm. The tour took us to three shopping areas in Negril and then to Rick’s Caf© for the world famous sunset. We didn’t really like this tour because the three shopping locations were some tourist stores, a duty free “mall”, and a craft shop. Our friends did a similar tour but paid $15 per person and went to 7 Mile Beach in Negril as well as the market where there were way better deals then the shops we went to. We enjoyed the sunset at Rick’s Caf© but didn’t enjoy the shopping and only purchased a few things because we knew the prices were unreasonable compared to the craft market where bartering was possible.

        Rick’s Caf©, Negril
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        Zip Lining in the Rainforest

        This was another excursion Ryan and I decided to do for fun the second week. We booked through the Adventures Shop next to the Bob Marley shop on the Jamaica side of the resort. I think it was $70 each, but well worth it. It was about 5 hours and included fresh fruit and water at an organic garden in the rainforest. It poured with rain throughout the morning but we had an awesome time. I don’t have many photos because it was raining so hard I didn’t want to take photos and ruin the camera. It was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it for couples who stay an extra week. We met another couple who had paid for all 35 of their guests to do this excursion and everyone had had a blast doing this as a group outing!

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        #4 marriedinjamaica

        marriedinjamaica
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          Posted 01 August 2009 - 03:29 PM

          Chapter Five – the Wedding details

          All photos from this point on, are professional photos from Becky Repp of RRimages in Calgary, AB.

          Getting ready: Hair

          I only used the Spa services once during the trip and it was for a touch up on my French tip manicure. The service was quick and easy and the girl was friendly! I never planned to use the Spa Salon for my hair or makeup because my mum is a hair stylist and one of my girlfriends does makeup. However, as the wedding day approached my mum got more and more nervous about doing my hair and thankfully one of my girlfriends who is also a hair stylist offered to do my hair. It was so awesome that she was able to do my hair because on the wedding morning one of the zippers on the bridesmaid’s dress broke and my mum was busy doing last minute sewing repairs while I was having my hair done.

          Hair stylist: Mirjana Rousseau of Salon Astoria, Victoria BC

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          Getting ready: Make Up

          My make up was done by a great friend who works as a make up artist as a part time job. She did exactly what I asked for and kept it simple and beachy!

          Make Up Artist: Kim Omule, Victoria BC

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          Wedding Dress

          I got my wedding dress from Click the image to open in full size.

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          Bridesmaid/Junior Bridesmaid/Flower Girl dresses

          I got all the dresses for my girls at David’s, dress store in most Canadian malls. I found them in spring but waited until the end of the summer to purchase the dresses. My mum did all the alterations for the bridesmaids and added the white sash. The dresses were simple but looked beautiful on the beach.

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          Groom and Groomsmen attire

          We purchased the groomsmen outfits from Old Navy. And the grooms attire from RW. We wanted to keep in simple and within our budget as we were paying for all the clothing for our bridal party. I’m happy with how these outfits turned out and would definitely recommend Old Navy for the destination bride on a budget. The linen line usually comes out in early March and goes on clearance in early May each year. The groomsman starfish boutonnieres were a DIY project, which I saw on WeddingBells from another DW bride.

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          #5 marriedinjamaica

          marriedinjamaica
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            Posted 01 August 2009 - 03:31 PM

            Wedding DIY Projects

            Pretty much all of my DIY projects were found on WeddingBells or MarthaStewart.com, if you have an questions, feel free to message me. I thought I’d include them in the review because by doing these myself I ended up saving lots of money!

            Ring shell – carried by Junior Bridesmaid
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            Bridesmaid bouquets – from Michaels Arts & Crafts
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            Starfish boutonnieres – I saved a ton of money by doing all these and the flowers at home
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            Fan programs – these were a pain in the neck to make, especially when we had to re do them because of the change of date/location/etc. but they were a hit! I’m so glad I did them!
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            Photo Centerpieces from Martha Stewart.com
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            Travel Mugs

            We ordered these in early March and they arrived at the beginning of April 2009. We ordered from 4imprint.ca and I was very happy with their customer service. We had the mock-ups within 3 hours of submitting our order. We couldn’t afford to do welcome bags for everyone, so instead we added a few small things inside these – a swine flu mask, hand sanitizer, hand wipes, gum, etc. These were literally the hit of the trip! I handed them out in the boxes they arrived in at the airport and on the plane! Everyone told us all week how much they loved them and we got tons of compliments at the resort. The only problem was that throughout the week the imprints started coming off the mugs so by the end of the week the people who were using their mugs the most had no imprints left at all. It seemed like the mix between the sand and sunscreen rubbed it right off. However, when we came home 4imprint was very helpful and offered to re do the mugs for us or give us the discount on all the imprinting. I would still use them again because I think it was just the mix between the cups we chose and the sand and sunscreen. I know some other DW brides who have used 4imprint.ca and had no problems!

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            #6 marriedinjamaica

            marriedinjamaica
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              Posted 01 August 2009 - 03:34 PM

              Chapter Six – Our Wedding, May 13th 2009

              Wedding Planner – Kareen Smith of Exclusive Tropical Weddings Jamaica

              I can not say enough great things about Kareen and Tropical Weddings Jamaica. In the week leading up to our departure date after we found out we would have to get married at 10am at the resort and I STILL hadn’t got a return email or phone call from the resort’s wedding planner, so I decided to send out a blanket email to EVERY wedding planner/coordinator/organizer in the Montego Bay/Negril area. I literally sent out 20 emails and was calling people every day for about 24 hours. Most emails I got back said that pulling off a ceremony with 50 guests in 7 days was not possible. However, Kareen returned my email with a phone call and said she would love to help us. After I called the Jamaican Tourism Board to get the company checked out, we started going ahead with everything. Kareen was amazing! One of the best things was that we originally weren’t having a legal ceremony in Mexico because of the paper work and blood work, however Kareen was able to get a rush on all our paper work and we were legally married in Jamaica. Kareen planned everything for us and it ended up being WAY cheaper than having a legal ceremony at the resort! It was unreal! We had a private air conditioned bus pick our guests up at 3pm and take them to the ceremony site; I followed in a sedan with my parents. The bus also transported our guests to the reception venue and then back to the resort later that night. The private beach location was beautiful and the sand was much nicer then any at the Grand Palladium. Kareen set up a gorgeous site with white chair covers with orange bows, as well as a gorgeous arch and conch shells lining the aisle. There was also a table for the legal paper work as well as the sand ceremony. Kareen also provided my bouquet and Ryan’s boutonniere as well as a bottle of champagne and cake for a traditional beach mini reception after the ceremony.

              Kareen Smith-Lawrence– Click the image to open in full size.

              Ceremony set-up

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              My flowers

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              The Ceremony

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              Mini-Reception

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              #7 marriedinjamaica

              marriedinjamaica
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                Posted 01 August 2009 - 03:35 PM

                Day O Plantation Restaurant & Bar, Montego Bay

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                The two wonderful ladies who planned our beautiful Jamaican dream wedding! Jennifer & Kareen!
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                #8 marriedinjamaica

                marriedinjamaica
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                  Posted 01 August 2009 - 03:41 PM

                  Rebecca Repp – RRimages, Calgary, Alberta
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                  Paul Dipp – DeliciousImagery, Burlington, Ontario
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                  Happily ever after…

                  I hope this review helps some brides in the planning of their weddings, especially those brides who are considering getting married in Jamaica or staying at the Grand Palladium. I saw some beautiful weddings in the two weeks we stayed at the GP, with one of the most beautiful being a wedding that was rained out on the beach and moved to the spa. Another note, the photographer who joined us for the TTD shoot mentioned that the gazebo was hard to shoot in because of the lighting and shadows. Again, I hope this helps! I know I spent hours and hours reading other bride’s review and looking through endless photo albums. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me! Don’t worry… be happy!

                  #9 jk1101

                  jk1101
                  • Sr. Member
                  • 2,582 posts

                    Posted 01 August 2009 - 04:12 PM

                    What a fantastically detailed review - thank you so much - it really does make a GP bride feel good about my choice! Your pictures are beautiful and I love your hair and veil! You did such a great job with everything, especially when you had to make a switch in the middle of everything!Congratulations on a beautiful wedding!

                    #10 baj

                    baj
                    • Sr. Member
                    • 1,555 posts

                      Posted 01 August 2009 - 04:12 PM

                      Congrat's, loved your dress, review and photo's thanks for sharing




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