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Negril Escape Resort and Spa Wedding Review by Chickadee024


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#1 chickadee024

chickadee024
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  • 140 posts

    Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:41 AM

    Resort: Negril Escape Resort and Spa
    # Guests: 33 adults (plus the two of us)
    Image Credits: Stacey Clarke Photography; Joshua Albanese Photography; guest photos


    Travel Agent: Debbie Chapman (All About Honeymoons) I gotta break this down into two parts 1)Debbie Chapman herself and 2) Divine Tours in Jamaica. Debbie was awesome - super friendly, very organized, on top of the communications, pretty much everything you'd want in a travel agent. In fact, when Divine Tours put an extra charge on my sister's card that bumped her into overdraft, Debbie cut her a personal check until things could get figured out - she's that awesome. Divine Tours, on the other hand, were a pain in the butt!!! They took forever to charge people's cards for the rooms - we were a week away from departure and the cards hadn't been charged - and they are still trying to tack on additional charges for things like the transfers (that I paid for before the wedding). I don't think Negril Escape was very happy with them either. The other thing Divine Tours did was visit us (almost every day) to try and sell tours and packages - which was extremely annoying. Our group did do a zipline tour, but arranged it through Natasha at Negril Escape.

    Airline: Not bad. My stepfather (who departed with us) is a head-honcho with TSA so we had a group of TSA agents carry our luggage through the airport and we were escorted through the VIP security line pretty fast. The awesome part was when people in other lines tried to jump in ours because it was superfast, only to be denied because they weren't VIPs (or relatives of TSA folks.). Sweet. I didn't expect to be bumped to first class or to be able to store my dress in the attendant's closet, which is a good thing because neither happened! My dress fit just fine in the overhead compartment on top of the bags. What was funny is that there were 3 other brides on my flight - Jamaica is a popular wedding destination!
    The trip home was another story. We had purchased a bunch of rum from the Appleton Estate to bring home with us. We packed it up nice and tight in our luggage and were surprised when we saw several people on the plane from Jamaica to Detroit with rum in their carry-on and overhead. When we got to Detroit, we took our rum out of our suitcases to carry on the plane like we saw so many others do, then re-checked our bags. Big mistake. Apparently, liquids are allowed on-board from Jamaica to the States, but not on flights within the States. So we had to throw our rum away in the Detroit airport (and we weren't the only ones). This made for a very crankypants husband. Lesson learned - keep all rum packaged in bubble wrap and in your checked luggage until you get home.

    Shuttle: All I'm going to say here is that if you want to sample some of the stuff Jamaica is known for, wait until you get to your resort and ask a groundskeeper. Some of our guests got hosed by the shuttle driver. Otherwise, all was good - the ride was much more smooth and calm than I expected.

    Resort: I know this is a biggie for some of you readers - this is one of the very few reviews on Negril Escape. If you've booked, I can promise you won't regret it! Negril Escape was FANTASTIC!!! I knew from the very beginning that I didn't want to be in an AI and that I didn't want to be on the beach. After reading the forums at Click the image to open in full size.

    Click the image to open in full size.

    Rehearsal Dinner/Welcome Party: The rehearsal dinner was....interesting. We found out about 2-3 weeks before our wedding that another wedding would be taking place on Friday night (ours was on Saturday), although the other bride and groom and their guests wouldn't be staying at Negril Escape. Which meant that we were in the Captain's Ballroom for the rehearsal dinner while the other wedding was taking place on the Lifeboat Terrace. Which also meant that our plan for a steel pan band during the rehearsal dinner was no longer an option due to conflicting music/sound systems. I hoped for the best (hoping the other couple had good taste in music) and decided to view this as a chance to see Negril Escape put on a run-through. The Good: the resort pulled off a great wedding for the other couple The Bad: The bride used the same aisle-song as I used, so it lost some novelty for the guests The Ugly: The bride and groom and wedding party all decided to do a night-jump from the lighthouse late into the reception and proceeded to get stung by some of the thousands of jellyfish that amassed in the cove that evening. There is something to be said for learning others' lessons. And don't swim at night - it's fine during the day but it seems that the light from the lighthouse may attract the jellyfish or something after dark.
    The food at the rehearsal dinner was excellent. As for the rehearsal part - Natasha was pretty busy working with the other wedding on the Lifeboat Terrace, but she found enough time to come and talk us through the steps for the wedding day. There were a few differences, but we had all just watched a wedding take place and honestly, we've all been in or to a few weddings and know how they generally work. It's not rocket science and I had faith in our wedding party's ability to walk and hold flowers. The only thing I regret for the rehearsal dinner was having such a long bar - with the wedding downstairs and no steel pan band, there was really no reason to stay at the Dinner/Welcome Party and many of our guests left early to do their own thing.

    Wedding Day: I truely cannot believe how calm I was on my wedding day - I'm sure this had a lot to do with how well things were organized at Negril Escape. We were nice and relaxed in getting up and getting moving, and I'm pretty sure the groom did some swimming/jumping off the lighthouse in the AM. We had a nice bridesmaid lunch and I went back to my room to start laying out my wedding stuff. It rained for about 1.5 hours in the afternoon (the Jamaicans call this liquid blessing), but the skies cleared about an hour before the ceremony and everything was fine. More than fine, in fact, because it wasn't as humid after the rain. And from what I understand, Jamaica had been experienceing a really dry spell, so they were really happy for the rain. Plus, I hear it's good luck. While it rained, I sat on the lounge-couch outside our room and copied our vows to index cards. I think a lot of reality hit me in that hour I spent on the porch.
    I didn't use any of the spa services offered at Negril Escape and instead chose to do my own make-up and hair. Not that I didn't have faith in their abilities - rather, I wanted to buy a bunch of MAC make-up and this was the perfect excuse. Plus, one of my friends who came is awesome and make-up and I'm not too bad fixing my own hair. I did a few trials back home and didn't have any issues. While we were finishing getting ready, Natasha came to the room to deliver our beautiful bouquets, our photographer(s) came to snap a few goofy getting-ready shots, and the videographer walked down to catch some tape of us leaning over the balcony, checking out the setup. Then it was time to go.
    The order of people-going-down-the-aisle was a little different than it is in the States, in that the groomsmen also do a little journey down the aisle instead of just waiting with the groom. I think one of our groomsmen was thrilled at this prospect, because he literally strutted down the walk - we caught it on camera and it is hysterical. The ceremony was beautiful. After the ceremony, Negril Escape servers were on-hand with drinks and appetizers while we did pictures. Speaking of, the servers at Negril Escape were awesome. We did one of those guestbooks that are pretty popular on here (from the guestbook store) and one of the servers, Vevienne, filled out a page. We laughed so hard when we were going through the guestbook on the honeymoon and discovered it. She also danced with my (very drunk) father at the reception, and he developed a crush on her that lasted the rest of the vacation. This is what I mean when I say that we felt like family.
    We were having such a rocking time at the reception that Negril Escape extended our time by at least 1/2 hour at no charge - I like to think they were having fun too.

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    #2 chickadee024

    chickadee024
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    • 140 posts

      Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:45 AM

      Wedding Location/Setup: It was absolutely gorgeous. The Negril Escape staff started early, collecting flowers from the aisle from around the resort. Yes, you heard (read) me right. The vibrant blooms that paved my path came fresh from the resort on the wedding day. They also used flowers from around the resort to decorate the arch. Words can't describe how happy I was to see them. They also started setting up the potted plants pretty early. Like I said earlier, it did rain before the ceremony, but they had everything set up perfectly in time. The pink and orange chair sashes popped against the blue of the ocean, and my straw fans and programs all made it to the chairs, tucked behind the sash so they wouldn't blow away. I had totally forgotten about decor for the certificate-signing-table, but Natasha had made sure there were pretty chair sashes on the chairs for a little pop of color.

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      Ceremony/Reverend: This was a part that I was kinda worried about, but had no reason to be. In one of our earlier communications with Donald, we asked him about customizing our ceremony and specifically, writing our own vows. His response was kinda vague, pretty much 'it's your big day and you can do what you want.' I interpreted this to mean that we could write the whole ceremony - which I did. We sent the 5-6 page draft to Donald, who told us it might be a little heavy for the reverend. We revised it and cut out the handfasting piece and sent it back. We didn't hear anything else from them about it, and I just assumed it was approved by Donald and the reverend. On the wedding day, Ben was standing up at the altar with the reverend waiting for my grand entrance, and noticed that the reverend was using the pre-edited version - and quickly told him to disregard the handfasting piece. The reverend removed it and all was perfect. I had thought he might struggle with some of the more obscure references in the ceremony, but he rolled right on and I was totally impressed. And very happy.

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      #3 chickadee024

      chickadee024
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        Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:46 AM

        Reception: The reception was also awesome! (I really feel like I'm getting full use of the word awesome) I had brought down the chair sashes, table runners, paper lanterns, table numbers and menus, starfish placecards, blumeboxes, and supplies for the guestbook table and the memorial table. Natasha and I discussed the setup for everything when we met on Thursday, and everything was set up the way we had discussed. It's tough to describe, so you'll have to wait for my pictures post, but it all looked pretty magical. While we took picutres, the guests filled out their guestbook page and helped themselves to the drinks and appetizers. When we were done with pictures, they gathered everyone together so they could announce us as husband and wife. We danced in to Weezer's 'Island in the Sun,' spent a few uncomfortable moments being photographed and stared at while we danced around like dorks (dance, monkey, dance!) and finally sat down at the sweetheart table. Although we had a buffet set up, there was a server assigned to us personally who took our orders and delivered our food to our table. Now, I love me some shellfish, and was all about the lobster. The only problem was that I didn't think both me and the lobster could fit in my wedding dress. I sampled everything on my plate, though, and it was all excellent. They also gave us champagne, even though we had eliminated it from the budget - free champagne, sweet!
        Moving on to the cake. I really didn't have any big plans for the cake - I knew I wouldn't be eating much, and I was already obsessed with so many other details that this got pushed to the backburner. I put it completely in Natasha's hands on Thursday and was happy with the cake we had on Saturday. We had a mix of chocolate and vanilla for the 3-tier, white icing cake. There were pink and orange ribbons on the base of the layers and pink and orange lilies decorated the top. I honestly don't remember how it tasted - we did the cutting and were whisked off to our first dance. Stacey, the photographer, did have us do something a little different - she said it was the 'Jamaican-style cake cutting' that involved eating cake out of each others' mouth. It's really not as gross as it sounds, more like baby birds or something. Check out the pictures to see what I mean.

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        #4 chickadee024

        chickadee024
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        • 140 posts

          Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:47 AM

          Photography: We had Stacey Clarke as our photographer. She was incredibly friendly - when she arrived in my room, I stuck out my hand for a handshake, but she gave me a big hug instead. Cute! One of our good friends (and groomsman) is also a professional photographer, and he was impressed with her technique. She took awesome pics, did a great job corralling our family together for all the required group shots, made excellent use of the setting sun, and took some of the best reception pics I have ever seen. We got the CDs (2 copies) in the mail about 2 months after the wedding. Really, her work speaks for itself.

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          Videography: Honestly, I was less than impressed with the videography. We weren't able to hear anything that was being said during the ceremony because the only thing the video picked up was wind, when we finally recognized our recessional music, we could hear cell phones ringing in the background (either the videographers phone or whoever was doing the post-editing) and our first dance was cut short. The dance part was the most disappointing, since we had choregraphed our first dance with a special ending. Instead of catching the whole dance, it faded into waves before our grand finale. I would say that $400 would be better spent elsewhere.

          Florist: We used the florist that was recommended by Negril Escape, Floral Fantasies. They rock! Our flowers were gorgeous, from the bouquets and bouts to the centerpieces. I didn't specify the types of flowers I wanted, I just left it up to their judgement and gave them my wedding colors. Beautiful! The centerpieces blew away my expectations. The only recommendation I would make here is to bring ribbon (or other supplies) to wrap the stems yourself. The ribbon they used seemed kinda cheap. The gorgeousness speaks for itself:

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          #5 chickadee024

          chickadee024
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          • 140 posts

            Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:50 AM

            DJ: I'm not really sure how well I can review this, since we brought our music on an iPod and CDs - we just needed his equipment and for him to introduce us. There was one point where he deviated from the playlist and started doing Elvis re-mixes, but I only needed to give my husband a look and he went to tell the DJ to stick to the list. I must add that the pre-ceremony and cocktail hour music that was provided by the DJ wasn't bad, and they extended the party about an hour past the normal quitting time (no charge) because we were having such a good time, which was very sweet.

            TTD Photos: see TTD post: http://bestdestinati....jamaica-45369/

            Other: OOT bags I really can't fault Negril Escape for anything here. I mentioned the OOT bags to Don a couple of weeks before the wedding and then again when we arrived. I took all of the bags up to the front desk with instructions for distribution, but our guests weren't getting the bags - I had to keep running up and grabbing them and taking them to the guests myself. We had built a charge into the budget for the delivery of the bags, but they waived the charge without us having to say anything. I think the OOT bags are probably still a bit new to them, but they are planning to start a whole wedding division and I'm sure they will become familiar with all the wedding ideas we destination brides have pretty soon.

            Summary:
            Overall, we were extremely pleased with everything. Our guests were thrilled with our hotel selection - the rooms and buildings were full of character and the location on the West End/cliffs was a perfect choice for our adventurous group. Our group would rather go to a place like Alice's or 3 Dives over places like Margaritaville. I know some brides might be concerned that it might be a bit 'rustic' for their taste - don't be. Negril Escape provided a customized package to our taste, a stellar location, a devoted staff, and the true vibe of Jamaica.

            To see more (and some of the same) of our wedding pictures, check out the slideshow that Stacey Clarke put together for us: Ben & Rachel
            And if you are a bride who is considering Negril Escape for their wedding and want to see some of our guest photos of the grounds - not just the wedding - you can check out the photobucket site we set up for guest photos. Just shoot me an email to get the username and password.
            And finally, (whew, this is long!) if you have any questions about my wedding at Negril Escape, send me an email at chickadee024@yahoo.com.

            Many thanks to all the ladies on this board who provided tons of inspiration and guidance throughout the wedding planning process. You rock!

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            #6 TammyB

            TammyB
            • Sr. Member
            • 10,630 posts

              Posted 22 October 2009 - 11:05 AM

              Awesome review, and everything looks just amazing and beautiful. congrats to the both of you.

              #7 sweetiecat

              sweetiecat
              • Jr. Member
              • 186 posts

                Posted 22 October 2009 - 12:34 PM

                Absolutely beautiful wedding! Congratulations!

                #8 weddinggirl72

                weddinggirl72
                • Newbie
                • 139 posts

                  Posted 22 October 2009 - 12:53 PM

                  Thank you for the detailed review! I too was thinking about getting married in Jamaica, I ended up choosing Mexico in the end do to travel costs for my guests. It sounds like your wedding was amazing!!!!!!! The pictures look great! :)
                  So far 68 RSVP's and 56 people are booked to stay at the resort!

                  #9 cutedimplestee

                  cutedimplestee
                  • Jr. Member
                  • 487 posts

                    Posted 22 October 2009 - 02:30 PM

                    Everything was absolutely gorgeous!! I'm having the same colors for my wedding.

                    #10 Preciousmi811

                    Preciousmi811
                    • Jr. Member
                    • 342 posts

                      Posted 23 October 2009 - 12:48 AM

                      Everything looks beautiful congratulations! Your pictures are really good and you look so happy in them!
                      One Love

                      ClubHotel Riu Negril May 14 2010 wedding date. Anyone want to share a photographer? I am flying my photographer out regardless, if you want to split travel cost let me know!!!!

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