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Hello! Although I am not a blogger,  I just had to make a post on this site to share and thank the people who were invaluable to me during my wedding planning by helping others. Planning a wedding is daunting, especially when it is in another country and you've never been there! After we got engaged, we decided to do something different and plan a destination wedding. We were the first of our friends and family. We got engaged in June 2012 and sent out the "save the dates" for our December 2013 wedding. We wanted to give people plenty of time (1.5 yrs) to save up and make plans to join.  I think the extra time paid off because we had 65 people join us to celebrate! It also gave me plenty of time to do little projects for the wedding and make it stress free!
 

married!


 
RESORT:
We chose Secrets: Wild Orchid which is actually connected to Secrets: St James in Montego Bay based on a friend who had been there's recommendation. They each have their own pools but share the restaurants, the spa, and entertainment. There is a boardwalk on the beach that runs the length of the 2 hotels. Secrets Wild Orchid (SWO) is a little newer and more modern and is closer to all the restaurants. You cannot go wrong at either and we had guests stay at St James (SJ) because SWO was sold out. Everyone was saying this was the nicest place they had ever been! One of our guests had the swimout room in the preferred club which was pretty cool during the day because we could hang out in the lazy river and be close to the room!
 

my sparkly dress (mori lee)


 

 
PREFFERED CLUB:
We stayed in the preferred club which was gorgeous. The best thing about it was that there was your own bar in the lobby filled with different tapas at all hours of the day, one night we didn't even go out, we just ate there! there also is a bar filled with grey goose, ciroc, crown royal etc - all top shelf liquors that you can make however you like!  sometimes the fruity drinks become too much!  Im not sure if it was 100% worth the extra money only because ALL the resort is soo nice. Some other brides I spoke with even said they were bumped up to it for free!
 

secrets wild orchid


 
 
TIPPING:
One things I must note is how nice all the staff is. They are all kind and try to know you by name. They really really appreciate any tips so I recommend bringing as many $1s as you can. change is hard to come by and trust me you just want to tip these sweet people. $1 American is = $100 Jamaican dollars so your tips are really making a difference in their lives.
 

wedding day


 
LENGTH OF TRIP:
We came down on Fri and our wedding was on Tues. We stayed until the following Sunday and I think 9 days was just the perfect amount of time. I wouldn't have wanted to leave any sooner! Monday we hosted a welcome bonfire in lieu of a rehearsal.  We chose Tuesday for our wedding which seemed to work out the best because it is definiately the most fun leading up the big day! Most guests left Wednesday after the wedding (fri-wed).
 
DRINKS:
Our guests favorite cocktails were: dirty banana (kinda like a chocolate banana smoothie with alcohol), grasshopper (tastes like a thin mint cookie), espresso martini from the piano bar, all different flavors of mojitos, jamaican smile, purple rain, bob marley (that's the tri colored drink in pictures), and icebergs (red stripe draft beer with a floater of margarita on top)  YUM-O!!
 
FOOD: 
All the food was very good! For breakfast there is a buffet at the world café which has everything. There is also the coco café which is a coffee bar that is open all the time and serves hot and cold drinks including blue mountain coffee and some that have alcohol in them. That is how I started off all most everyday!
 

view of resturants


 
My favorite lunch spot was the restaurant at the st. james pool.  they had a nacho bar daily, and pizza, and many great dishes was a daily soup. the restaurant oceana at the wild orchid pool had different wraps that you could customize. there is also a snack bar in between each resort on the boardwalk that has soft pretzels, and the best little "meat pies' and Saratoga chips. This is all serve yourself which is great for a quick bite.  Lastly there is staff that walks the boardwalk for 2 hrs each day and serve fresh fruit, jerk chicken, and fresh coconuts! (you can take them to the bar and they will add some rum too ;)
 
For dinner if your want to go to the Japanese restaurant, make a reservation as soon as your arrive. there was a 2 day wait for a table while we were there. It is delicious and you must try!  The French restaurant Boudaeux has filet and lobster but make sure your hubby brings pants or else your cant get in! I would skip Portofino - the Italian restaurant. You can get much better food at all the others. El patio is the Mexican restaurant and was delicious.  One thing to plan around is that Saturday night is all you can eat lobster night! YUMMY The Jamaican restaurant Blue Mountain was also very very good. The crab cakes and pumpkin soup are tasty and my husband loved the goat?!  
 
Our entire group probably wiped out the room service staff because we were all obsessed! the fried cheese triangles were to DIE FOR! they ran out multiple nights lol. The club sandwich was fab and the fish sandwich. It was such a luxury! we would order after dancing all night at DESIRES the nightclub!
 
WELCOME BAGS:

welcome bags


 
 
CEREMONY:
We initially were going to have the ceremony at the big gazebo where the cocktail hour and reception was held but at the last moment switched to being on the actual water. I truly think it is even more private because the beach front gazebo is on the walkway between the resorts and closer to the public while the beach location is in the corner of the resort next to the preferred club beach. This was the best decision by far!  The wedding coordinator, Rocio  picked me up from my room with a golf cart and drove me over so I didn't sweat!  Many other guests at the resort watched the wedding and every time I went out afterwards, someone would come up to me and tell me how beautiful it was or that they liked my dress! haha it was very sweet.
 

me and my mom


 

set up on the beach for ceremony


 
Instead of having bridemaids I asked all my girls to wear purple dresses to the wedding.  I wanted to save them money since they were already traveling to come to my wedding and it looked beautiful in all the photos!
 

my girls in purple


 

my bridemaids in their own purple dresses


 

 
COCKTAIL HOUR:
 

my sister playing with the steel drum band


 

bar in paradise


 

During the cocktail hour, we upgraded from the Jamaican Trio to the Steel Drum Band which was $200.  They were absolutely fabulous!! All the guests were impressed. The Secrets Ultimate Wedding package included a photographer so I utilized him to take photos of all the guests during the hour while we were with Misha Earle (our photographer)  This worked out perfectly and we got to chose 50 5x7 photos and they placed them in an album. The resort photographer pics were surprisingly gorgeous!! I love the album.  The wedding package also included a 30 min DVD of the ceremony, clips of the cocktail hr, cutting of the cake, and the first dance.  This was priceless! I am soooo happy we got this package and all the extras. The DVD is my favorite!  We had a viewing party back at home with family and friends and every thought it was great. They truly did amazing. You even get to pick the songs featured in the video. Both items are treasured memories.
 

reception


 

reception


 

 
DECORATIONS:
From home I lugged the table runners and chair sashes that I ordered from weddinglinensdirect.com. I brought candles and center piece rings, I made table numbers in little frames I purchased from the dollar store, and I sprinkled blue and purple crystals along the tables.  The resort provided tea lights on the tables and cocktail tables as well.  I also brought some purple and turquoise tulle that was wrapped around the gazebo.
 

different view of the turquoise and purple reception


 


purple & turquoise


 

chinese lanterns made it glow


 

DJ Blu from Margaritaville


 


more decor


 

From the resort we purchased the Chinese lanterns ($390) that were strung across dinner. It gave such a beautiful ambiance and I felt was worth the splurge!  We rented  12 tiki torches that $8 each which had double duty. We used them to line the aisle at the ceremony and then the staff moved them around the dance floor and reception tables after the ceremony! 
 
I ordered shell and starfish frosted glass drink coasters from favorwarehouse.com.  Each seat got 2 so a couple would get 4! People were even asking me for extra. One thing about these was that they were very heavy so I had to spread them out among guests to bring to Jamaica! Thanks you everyone! lol  Got them on labor day sale so there was free shipping - great deal on them in bulk too.
 

favors


 
My friend Danielle made us the programs which we had on each seat at the ceremony. It was pretty warm so everyone was using them to fan themselves! great idea...
 

wedding programs aka fans made by my friend danielle


 
 

CAKE:






We chose the vanilla cake which was delicious - moist and we got a lot of compliments. We had a 2 tier cake and wanted one chocolate and one vanilla but that was a $50 upcharge so we declined.  I purchased the cake topper off of etsy and got the butterflies at joann fabrics. Adding this on was no extra cost and it looked gorgeous!
 

vanilla cake was yum!


 
We also had the welcome sign on the cake table:
 

thank you sign on cake table


 

 
GUEST MAP:
In place of a guest book I will never look at again, we ordered a vintage map of Jamaica on Amazon and brought gold sharpies for every one to sign! We now have it framed in the basement!
 

directions for "guest map"


 

signing the "guest map" of jamaica (in place of guest book)


 

 
GLOWSTICKS:
I ordered glow sticks in purple and blue. I got 2 cases of necklaces and bracelets. I placed them in sand pails I got at the dollar store and filled them with crystals from the dollar store so they would hold them up.  This was the best idea for sure! All the guest loved them and even the staff at the wedding was weaing them! I made a sign that said "you've made our future bright, now lets so the same for tonight! grab a glow stick and light up the dance floor" I made a couple of my friends pack them and bring them to Jamaica and they were not happy with me haha but after the wedding they said it was totally worth it!!
 

glow stick table


 

get glow sticks - trust me!


 

glowsticks were the best hit


 
PRIVATE CANDLELIGHT DINNER:
This is a must! It is included in the honeymoon package if you stay as the resort for 7 nights.  You can also purchase if not and use some of the resort coupons. It was ~$350 for the lowest package.  On our last day there, we had a romantic day at the spa with the hydrotherapy circuit and a couples massage.  The spa is very high class.  Later, we went to the barracuda bar and waited for our private waiter to get us and take us to our table. It was set up on the ocean at sunset. It was absolutely breathtaking. He served us a 3 course meal of the best food we had the entire time we were there with a bottle of champagne. This was the perfect way to end our trip!
 

private candlight dinner on the beach - aHHmazing


 
 
All in all, the wedding concierge has done this many many times before.  They will eventually respond - don't forget they are on island time.  There is no need to stress because it will all be amazing, so relax and enjoy every moment. After all, you are in paradise. <3
 
 
I will post more and the trash the dress shoot when I get my professional pictures back! Edited by SWOK
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OMG! Thank you sooooo much for posting this!!! I've kind of came to a stand still with wedding planning due to having to study for a big test at work. I haven't gotten to check out the site for anything new in a few weeks. I'm sooo glad that someone has posted RECENTLY about their special day at Secrets! Everything turned out absolutely gorgeous!! I'm still at a loss for what all I want to do as far as decorations, location of ceremony and reception, upgrades, all of it!! Lol. I too have booked Misha Earle! Did you love her? I'm totally excited and hope its worth the extra money!! I am going to do a TTD session with her as well! Did you use your same dress? Are you  having an AHR when you guys get back?....I know I've probably asked you all these questions before but it's hard to keep everything straight...especially when they changed the site!! I would love to know more about all of your planning and decision making, also..how much you ended up paying for extras, ect. Thanks again for this post! It made me feel soo much better!

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Love, love, love this review. Definitely borrowing some of your ideas. Thank you for posting this.

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I am booking Misha Earle for my wedding how did she do?  Did she really interact well with you? Family?  Did you have to figure out your own poses? Sorry about all the questions, I am just a little nervous about the photography since I have heard other brides horror stories.

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@ WesnKris

 

haven't gotten my pics back yet, but I can tell you that as a photographer and a person, she was great to work with. we did nothing but laugh! she even put my husband at ease who is someone that hates getting his picture taken! she came prepared knowing the shots that she wanted to take and was open to my suggestion of some! ill let you know more when I get the pictures which is 4-6 wks from wedding and should be coming up soon!

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Thank you for the beautiful pictures and the detailed update. I loved the idea about asking your girls to wear purple, I don't want to make my guest spend the extra money on dresses. I wanted to know if the resort provided the white table clothes or did you have to pay extra?

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@@cassandraragin - I glad you liked it!

 

the table clothes and the chair covers were included in the Ultimate wedding package for up to 20 people (including bride and groom)

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@@SWOK - Did you use the Secrets spa for your hair and makeup? I know the package includes that for the bride but I haven't found any reviews on the actual salon! I'm trying to figure out if bringing in an outside vendor for hair and makeup is worth the extra cost. 

 

Thanks so much for your review! 

 

-Cora

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absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful review - very helpful.

 

Did you upgrade your bouquet and bout? Was it a big upcharge?

 

Thanks and congratulations!

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