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Negril Escape wedding review - 01/06/10

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Better late than never! We got married earlier this year at Negril Escape, Negril, Jamaica and it was the greatest day of our lives. We couldn't have done it without this forum and I am extremely grateful to the forum operators for offering this service. I hope this review will help other brides with their planning. I would be more than happy to answer any questions. There is so much more I could add but then this review would go on forever =) Hope you enjoy!




We had 40 guests with us in Jamaica, nearly all of whom stayed for an entire week. Most were in the 25-30 years old range, with about 10 guests in their fifties.


We ended up arranging a group package to Riu Negril ClubHotel for the week, but chose to have the wedding itself at Negril Escape. With so many close friends and family travelling down, we wanted to give them a chance to get off the resort and have a great private party.


We could not be happier with how this decision turned out! The location is absolutely breathtaking, the Negril Escape team of Don and Natasha were a pleasure to deal with, and whole event exceeded expectations.


Overall, I donâ€t think we would have changed a thing!




We found Don and Natasha very easy to deal with. A system which worked pretty well was to collect a few questions … phone them to understand our options on each one of those topics, and then confirm our decisions by email so there was an easy paper trail. They were great about reflecting the decisions in a central spreadsheet to make sure we were all on the same page.


I should add that there were no surprises on the final bill – it was exactly what we were expecting –costs are detailed by line item into their planning spreadsheet so itâ€s always easy to go back and see where you are allocating your budget.


We considering using an outside planner but decided to do some of the planning ourselves (flowers etc.) and work with Natasha and Don for the rest. As you will read below, this was a great decision for us and I am happy that we did so.


Pre-meeting and Location


Our wedding was on a Wednesday, so on the Monday after arriving in Negril we had a pre-meeting with Don and Natasha at Negril Escape. From the moment Don picked us up we knew we were in good hands. They were extremely organized – had all our correspondence printed and knew what final topics we needed to discuss. We had our own list as well of course .


When we saw the location that day it was breathtaking – even better than the pictures on their site.


If you are bringing any of your own decorations down (we brought some paper lanterns) – bring them to the pre-meeting so that Natasha can work with them in the morning of your wedding day.


I met with Debra Barrett at Queen Bee Salon which is on the hotel grounds for a trial run of hair and make-up. I had brought a few photos and Debra did a great job of interpreting my ideas for my hair type and length.


Wedding Day: getting ready


My bridesmaids and I were picked up from the Riu Negril at 11am (right on time) in a van. We met Natasha there and handed over some last minute items and information. We had pre-selected our room during the planning meeting so we headed there when we arrived to settle in. My two bridesmaids headed to the salon to get their hair done and my maid of honour and I relaxed and got organized. It took about an hour then we switched places with them. We all hung out in the salon together while our hair was being done and shared a champagne toast with Debra and her staff. They took great care of us and we were all really pleased with the results. Once we were done, we all headed back to the room to finish getting ready.




The ceremony was scheduled for 4:15pm. It started about 10 minutes behind schedule – we werenâ€t sure what the delay was but it wasnâ€t a big deal. The bus with our guests arrived on time and they had a chance to look around the property before taking their seats. We did not meet the minister ahead of time and had only discussed the ceremony briefly so I didnâ€t really know what to expect other than being married at the end =) Reverend Barrett did a wonderful job with the ceremony. We had requested a civil ceremony and he delivered one which was meaningful and touching. Everything went perfectly including the music coming in on queue. It was a short ceremony, probably about 15 minutes. As it finished, Natasha had arranged for rum punch to be served to the guests while they mingled. We hadnâ€t asked for this so it was a lovely surprise. This was just one example of how Natasha went above and beyond to make the day really special. There were many small things that she added in throughout the day that enhanced the experience for us and for our guests.




We were really happy with the dinner. We paid a little extra to have the Caribbean Rock Lobster which was fun. The curried goat also scored very, very highly! (We are going to try and make it ourselves next week). Negril Escape has legitimate, authentic Jamaican cuisine. (We had a fantastic breakfast the next day as well)


We werenâ€t interested in having a big wedding cake, so asked Don if they could provide a variety of pie / other desserts that our guests could choose from. That ended up working really well and is another example of the great customization that Negril Escape was able to offer.



Natasha set this up for us getting everyone from the Riu to Negril Escape and back again. They were great about setting up three waves for us – myself and the bridesmaids in the morning, my husband and the groomsmen in the afternoon and then the rest of the guests shortly after. Don and Natasha matched a rate we had been quoted by another transportation company.




After much debate we settled on three entertainment choices. The Negril Escape staff were excellent in helping us sort through options.

First, we had a steel drum band to keep the crowd entertained while the two of us were off taking pictures after the ceremony. Didnâ€t get to hear them much personally but the feedback from our guests was excellent and it just added to the vibe in a nice non-intrusive way (it was at a nice volume where it made for great background music as opposed to a loud concert)


Second, we had a fire dancer who gave a performance after dinner but before the dance party started. This was pretty memorable. The dancer (“Jungle Kingâ€) first got the two of us up there for some interactive fire-dancing (!) and then did some solo work that was entertaining. Again we were pretty happy with how this turned out – itâ€s a relatively brief performance but enough to keep everyone excited and keep the energy up after a big meal.


And of course we had a DJ. DJ Gemini was actually there from the ceremony through to the end of the night to make sure all the sound went smoothly. He was fantastic – everyone loved him and the entire audio setup went off without any issues and without us needing to be involved at all … all we had to do was send in the songs we wanted to play during the procession, and some rough guidelines for the dance party afterward – he was brilliant.


Flowers and Decorations


Part of the appeal for me of having a wedding in Jamaica was being able to have a setting so spectacular that required very little extra in the way of decorations. I was only looking to have a few accents that would make the setting extra special. We opted for the décor package offered by Negril Escape. The description of what would be provided was vague but essentially Natasha just decorates the whole area for you which was perfect. They use flowers from the property and a variety of other items (tulle, palm trees etc) to decorate the ceremony area and the reception area. I had brought paper lanterns from home to hang above the tables. I had asked Natasha about them specifically before coming down and she suggested bringing them myself as it can be difficult for them to source some things in Jamaica. I also brought down items for the tables including wedding favours (starfish wine stoppers), place cards, and table cards. I handed all of this to Natasha and she arranged everything perfectly.

I worked with Floral Fantasies on flowers and table arrangements. The flowers were waiting when I arrived back from the salon. They were spectacular – Floral Fantasies did a wonderful job. We had only communicated with them via email and they handled everything perfectly. I ordered bouquets, boutonnieres, and wrist corsages and everything was as requested. The orchids in the bouquets actually lasted beautifully for a week and a half – I had to discard them before getting on the plane to come back. The table arrangements were very simple and elegant – cylinder vases with floating orchids and candles. Unfortunately it was very windy that day so the candles wouldnâ€t stay lit. Natasha had to work hard to secure everything to the tables so things wouldnâ€t blow away! The table arrangements were nice but in hindsight, I think I would have just saved the extra money and had Natasha take care of it.



I found our photographer, Misha Earle, through the Best Destination Wedding Forum. I communicated with her by email and she arranged to meet with us once we arrived. She came to the Riu the day before the wedding to review the plan for the day. We had only booked a 5 hour package so we needed to have a clear plan for the photos. Having the ceremony at 4:15pm also meant that we only had about an hour and half of light after the ceremony. She worked with us to ensure that we could fit in all the shots we wanted. On the day of the wedding, she arrived on time and got right to work on the detail shots. We did the bridesmaid and groomsmen shots before the wedding to save time. She was great about keeping us on track. When I saw the photos, I could tell that she was using every moment to get shots of the site, our guests, whatever was going on at that time. Misha was a great fit for us – she was a lot of fun and she was laid-back while still being professional. The photos took longer than she had initially quoted us to arrive – it ended up being about 6-8 weeks which wasnâ€t a problem. We ended up with 450 high-quality images and have printed our favourites.


Elizabeth & Chris


Riu Negril ClubHotel


I figured it was most helpful to focus this review on our wedding at Negril Escape. That said, I should also mention that the Riu Negril was a great spot for the big group to stay during the week. There are a bunch of negative reviews of the Riu on tripadvisor … after having been there I am pretty sure most of them are fake ... itâ€s a great resort – especially if you have a sizable group coming down. Rooms, food, bars etc. all met or exceeded expectations. Only downside is that the beach is fairly thin sand – so not as nice as 7 mile beach. But our group of 40 guests had a great time and we were thrilled with the whole week!


It was a big decision from a financial and planning perspective to have the reception off-site. We really wanted a private wedding and reception so for us it was the right decision. There were some great weddings at the Riu that week though including Lisa from this forum. We actually met in the airport on the way down! Her photos were lovely and her group really enjoyed the Riu as well.




All of our guests headed home at the end of week. We traveled back to Montego Bay with them then continued on to Couples San Souci. We absolutely loved the resort and would highly recommend any of the Couples resorts.


I hope you have enjoyed this review! I would highly recommended Jamaica and especially Negril to anyone for a wedding or a vacation. We are already planning a trip back for our anniversary next year!

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So Beautiful! I think Negril Escape is such a beautiful place to have a wedding! Congratulations, I'm so glad everything turned out well. BTW, the fire dancers look like an awesome addition!

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