Soooo ladies, I just got back from Jamaica and let me just start of by saying that you will not be disappointed having your wedding at the Gran Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay.
Ok so get comfortable because here comes a very long reviewâ€¦ just wanted to warn you all.
Traveling to Jamaica
My husband and I are from Salt Lake City, UT in the U.S. We traveled to and from Jamaica on JetBlue. The airline itself is great; however, they do not accommodate brides, at least they didnâ€™t for me. Apparently JetBlue does not have a coat closet so there is no where to hang your dress on the airplane if you carry it on, and they were actually saying that we needed to stuff the dress in a suitcase. From Salt Lake City to JFK the flight attendants at least let me use a little more overhead space and just fold my dress once in half. When we got to New York, a JetBlue flight attendant was going to make my husband (fianc© then) and I check ALL the rest of our carry-ons, including the ones that would go under the seat in front of us because she said my dress would take up too much room. I said that doesnâ€™t even make sense considering the items going beneath the seats wonâ€™t even affect the overhead space. I wasnâ€™t going to let here check the rest of our items because it had all our glass centerpieces in them and all of our money, passports, etc. I think eventually she realized her reasoning was wrong, and she ended up letting us keep all our things.
We arrived in Jamaica, checked in at the Gran Bahia, and besides a couple hiccups in our reservations, everything went pretty smoothly. We supposedly received an upgraded room (our wedding packaged included it if it was available), but I think they told us we did, but really didnâ€™t. Donâ€™t get me wrong, we had a beautiful room with a good view of the pool and ocean; however, my little sisterâ€™s room/view/patio was nicer than ours. She checked in that same night, in the lowest category room, and her balcony was seriously three times the size of ours with a pool and ocean view. Oh well.
Day After Arrival
Letâ€™s see, so the next day after we arrived, we met our wedding coordinator, Vinnette, at 9AM and spent maybe two hours with her. We went over everything, we got all of our questions answered, and we paid for our package and extras. We went with the Unforgettable package gazebo wedding at 2PM, the semi-private reception at Dolce Vita at 6PM, and the Gazebo with DJ for dancing from 8PM-10PM. We only ended up having twelve family members coming, so having an open bar during the dancing was not an option (need at least 20 people). After asking nicely, we were able to get Vinnette to agree to set up a table, ice, and mixers at the Gazebo for no charge, and my hubby and I were going to go get a couple of alcohol bottles off resort. She then took us over to the photography office were we confirmed our photography package and our photographer, Christopher Lee.
Day Before the Wedding
The day before the wedding, my man was SUPER sick. He didnâ€™t get out of bed all day. So I was kind of stressing, A LOT. Vinnette said, if we had to, we could reschedule it when he got better. She said it probably wouldnâ€™t be at the same time, be it would be no problem if it came down to that. Thank goodness he was feeling better the next day, not completely, but enough to get married and have some fun.
So the day before the wedding, I picked the brain of one of the security guys in the lobby about how to go about going off resort and buying alcohol and where. He told me everything I needed to know and gave me all sorts of advice on how to not get ripped off; I wish I remembered his name so you guys could go talk to him if you needed something. Anyways, so my sister, her boyfriend, and I walked up to the front gate, hailed a RED license plate cab (only take these because the others are just random people), went to the market not even five minutes down the road, and made it back to the resort safe and sound. FYI, donâ€™t use the resort taxi; they were trying to charge us $30 for the round trip and Vinnette told us that that is B.S. and told us to not use them.
Later on that day, I met with Vinnette and gave her all the wedding stuff we brought/made, including the chair ties, music, center pieces, cake topper/cake ribbon, sand ceremony, sign in book, and money for Tai Flora (we upgraded our bouquet and boutonni¨re).
Later on that evening I did the free bridal hair trial at the spa, and Iâ€™m glad I did just to get an idea of what it would look like. Oh and they do just a quick version, so donâ€™t be alarmed when it isnâ€™t exactly like you wanted. I forgot to mention, if you are getting your hair done at the spa be sure to go to the spa as soon as you can to confirm your appointments. A few months before I arrived I booked my hair appointment and trial. When I got there they had me down for completely different times. I told them I wanted the times I originally booked and they said, sorry, we are all booked up. I went to my room and got all the confirmation emails I had from them from the months prior and they at least changed the times to a little bit closer to the original times. Still frustrating though.
The day of the wedding, I got my hair done at the spa at 11AM, which turned out exactly how I wanted and had my sister do my makeup. Vinnette said she would be at our room five to ten minutes before 2PM to give me my flowers and pick me up in the cart. (My hubby was given his boutonni¨re at the gazebo when he got there.) Anyways, Vinnette was on time and my flowers were STUNNING (we went with blue orchids). We didnâ€™t manage to get out of the room until maybe 2:10. I was freaking out a little because I hate being late, but Vinnette told me to stop stressing because the wedding wonâ€™t go on without the bride.
Upon arrival at the gazebo, our photographer immediately started taking pictures. The party catamaran was blaring music when we got to the gazebo, and my sister-in-law screamed at them across the water to â€œCUT THE MUSIC,â€ pretty funny. J They actually listened to her and quit, and then the steel band drum immediately started playing. Everything at the ceremony went smoothly and couldnâ€™t have been more perfect. I personally think the minister could have done a little betterâ€¦ he stumbled through his words pretty bad, but no worries!
As for the weather, that day was on and off rain and we got lucky, the rain stopped right before our ceremony and the sun came out. It was beautiful. Apparently, the first wedding and last wedding that day got poured on. L At least it is supposed to be good luck if it rains on our wedding.
Dinner at the Dolce Vita was at 6:00PM, but somehow everyone in our party thought it was 6:30 so we started dinner late. Luckily, we were able to just push everything back a half hour with out any troubles and were still able to have two hours at dinner and two hours of dancing. All of our centerpiece decorations were set up exactly how I told Vinnette we wanted it and all our chair ties made it over to the restaurant. It was perfect and beautiful. As for the menu, we had a caesar salad with chicken, cream of roasted squash and thyme soup, chicken breast with ricotta walnuts and bacon with basil risotto crunch, and profiteroles with cream and chocolate coulis. All of it was delicious. Our waiter was a bit grumpy, but he did a good job. Our cake, WAS AWESOME!!!! When we sat down for our meeting with Vinnette I told her we didnâ€™t want any of the flowery, fluffy, decorative frosting junk on our cake. I said we just wanted it plain, flat frosting with the ribbon that we brought and our cake topper. It was sooo much better! The cake was actually square too, and I didnâ€™t even request that/didnâ€™t know it was an option!! Beautiful and delicious!!! The cake was chocolate raspberry.
At the gazebo, the DJ and drinks table were set up as asked and Vinnette surprised us with some rum punch and champagne too. If you go this route, I highly suggest asking her to provide water on the table too because we forgot and were dying. The manager guy was luckily there though so he was able to make a phone call and at least bring us a couple pitchers.
For your photographer, book Christopher Lee! HE IS AMAZING! He is funny, always smiling, and a very talented photographer. I am obsessed with our pictures, no joke. I cannot recommend him enough. Be forewarned, he is booked out pretty far in advance so book him ASAP!! The only other photographer is a guy named Nick; I honestly donâ€™t know a thing about him or his work, but I do know that every time we saw him he didnâ€™t seem very chipper. :/ We only did the ceremony and beach package. I am glad we didnâ€™t choose to do more because with the reception only being semi-private we would have had a lot of random people in our photos and at the gazebo for the dancing outside, we were all sweaty beasts within minutes and not looking our best anymore! haha
If you can, extend your vacation to spend some alone time with your new hubby. For us, the wedding week was stressful and just go, go, go. We felt like most of the time we were trying to coordinate with family where to meet and when and we spent a lot of time in the lobby waiting for people to arrive and seeing them off. AND WE ONLY HAD A TOTAL OF 12 PEOPLE COME, SO I COULDNâ€™T IMAGINE WHAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE IF MORE PEOPLE CAME. YIKES! HAHA. We stayed at the Gran Bahia for a week and then went to Couples Swept Away in Negril for five nights. Hands down, the best resort I have EVER been to. If finances allow it, DEFINITELY take a few days extra for your honeymoon; Iâ€™m SOOOO glad we did.
For those of you that are control freaks, like me, if you have Vinnette as your wedding coordinator, be prepared to give her all control because she will demand it and DONâ€™T be afraid to give it to her. She got everything done correctly, and perfectly. She was AWESOME and went above and beyond on every detail. Highly recommend her.
Lastly, if you plan to bring back some cake to freeze and eat on your first anniversary, bring a freaking cake box. We went to EVERY single restaurant at the resort, and not one could even manage to come up with a Styrofoam to-go box; it was sad and disappointing.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Just make sure you have your wedding time and reception location confirmed; the rest of it can be worked out when you get there.
Overall, the Gran Bahia as a resort, was not my favorite, but as for getting married there, it was simply perfect. So those of you that have booked your wedding there, FANTASTIC choice! And for those of you that are considering it, DO IT. YA MON!!
Sorry for the bookâ€¦ Anyways, feel free to ask me any and all questions; would love to help.
All the best,
My bouquet by Tai Flora
Random one from my camera
Another random one from my camera (playing the steel drums)
Some photos by Christopher Lee (AKA the ones I am obsessed with )