Okay, so our wedding has come and gone . . . .I can not thank the members on this site enough for loads of information, encouragement and great ideas that helped us plan our special day. I borrowed a lot of ideas for projects and other elements for our wedding from other brides on this site. I am sorry if I don't recall all the posts, but I need to give credit, where credit is due. THANK YOU!!
The planning process for me has been filled with a lot of ups and downs, but you WILL make it through and everything will be awesome. If anyone has any questions or need any more information on certain things, just ask. I would be happy to help out as this site has been invaluable for me.
WEDDING PLANNER/ TRAVEL AGENT
Since we knew we wanted an off resort wedding we opted to use a wedding planner who specialises in Jamaican destination weddings. We live in Manitoba and I had contacted a wedding planning agency here regarding our wedding and they recommended Ophellia McNight with Bridal Affair Destinations. I should note that Ophellia is based out of the Toronto, ON area and we communicated through lots of email contact and she would call too. We used Ophellia for our wedding planning and as our travel agent. First of all I need to say that Ophellia is very knowledgeable about Jamaica and any question I had she was able to answer and provided advice when needed. We communicated with Ophellia A LOT throughout the planning process. This was a very "up and down" experience for me as I felt Ophellia was invaluable at times and at other times she just increased stress.
Let me explain. As I noted above, Ophellia was our wedding planner and travel agent. At times guests complained that she did not respond to them in a timely manner, but this I do not blame her for because she is clearly a very busy person. Our actual wedding day was (almost) flawless and I need to credit Ophellia for her hard work that made that possible. Some of the things that caused more stress for us was more detail oriented things which I had thought would have been dealt with earlier than they were. For example, we were informed 2 weeks before our departure that we needed our birth certificates in order to get married in Jamaica. This wouldn't have been an issue except my husband was born in another province and did not have his. Ophellia requested that I send her a certified copy of mine, so they would have it in Jamaica. After stressing over this for several days, eventually Ophellia informed me that we could just send her copies of our passports and driver's licence with no certification required. We ended up doing that and were never asked for anything else when in Jamaica. The second big thing was being informed of major extra costs the day before we left for Jamaica despite informed Ophellia over a week prior that we had "extra guests" that invited them selves. In the end Ophellia sorted this out, but it was something that should have been dealt with earlier. There were a few other things that were overlooked such as specifics about how we wanted the wedding cake and the DJ did not have our play list although I had sent it to Ophellia in advance. All in all Ophellia was good to work with and as I mentioned above our wedding was WONDERFUL thanks to her planning and her vendors in Jamaica. Also as you can see on Ophellia's website, she plans GORGEOUS Weddings.
The Resort- Riu Ocho Rios
There are a lot of pictures of Riu Ocho Rios on the net, so I will not post any more on here. Ophellia was VERY VERY helpful in helping us choose a resort.The resort itself is very nice and the staff were great; although, I will note that they have terrible customer service. We had left an envelope at the front for one of the vendors to pick up and when they "lost it" after they told the vendor it was not there, they were not apologetic at all for the situation. Other than that situtation, our stay at the resort was WONDERFUL.
We stayed in a Junior Suite which was very nice and although we had a "garden view" room, we had a very clear view of the ocean which was nice. While we were at the hotel apparantly their phone system was not working properly, so I was unable to make local calls which I was told I would be able to. The hotel staff was not helpful with this and just told us we could buy a phone card. On the plus side there is FREE WIFI in the deluxe wing which we took advantage of and the extra restaurants were a nice bonus too. We ate at Tushima during our stay and it was great! I would recommend this to anyone staying at the resort. We also really enjoyed the Mamme Bay steak house and the St. Anne Buffet. You will definately NOT go hungry at this resort. There is always something to eat. I know it is mentioned in many other areas, but if you stay at this resort you HAVE to try the jerk chicken on the beach! It is AMAZING. It rained a couple days we were there and they moved the chicken outside the buffet which was a nice touch.
Views from our balcany
One thing I was impressed with at the resort was the Entertainement crew. Each show we watched was very entertaining and the staff really made sure guests were involved and having a good time. It did start a little late 9:30PM, but since we were on vacation this wasn't too much of an issue. On some nights our little one fell asleep during the show since it was so late.
While in Jamaica we did Dolphin Cove, Dunns River Falls, Mystic Mountain, and the Culture and Regae Tour to Bob Marley's house. We booked most of our tours through the Sunwing desk at the hotel and it was a great experience. We really enjoyed all the tours we did. If you go to Ocho Rios you HAVE to do Dunns River Falls. It was absolutely unforgettable and kids are able to do it too. The guides are awesome! We really enjoyed Zip-Lining at Mystic Mountain as well.
We booked a "glass bottom boat" tour through Scuba scribe which is approved by the resort. I am not really sure why they sell this as a tour because you can not see anything through the bottom. The captain and tour guide were very sweet though and took us on a "Glass Bottom Sight Seeing Tour" instead. They really tried and we enjoyed it. They were knowledgeable about the different areas in Ocho Rios and even let us get out at a small beach with a water fall to take pictures. It was really nice to get out on the water.