Although I didn’t post any threads while planning my wedding, I did use BDW on several occasions and feel as though I owe it back to post this thread as a review of my wedding and some things I would or wouldn’t change. Just FYI- it’s a long thread! I hope this helps some of you in your planning!
Dress: I loved my dress. It was purchased on clearance at David’s Bridal- a choice I made knowing that I would be “trashing” it after the wedding. Still… it’s really not that trashed, and I still really love it. So win-win! There were no closets to hang this in on the airplane so I ended up laying it across the luggage stored overhead and it was totally fine. Secrets steamed the dress and my grooms outfit so I assume any wrinkles from travel would have been removed regardless.
I had 5 bridesmaids, 4 of which came to Jamaica (one had a baby!). I told them to find any coral dress they wanted and it worked out perfectly. I’d be lying if I said waiting to see if the colors matched didn’t give me any anxiety though. It worked out great in the end! I made them monogrammed beach bags and filled these with a flower for their hair, sunglasses, a necklace and earrings in a travel jewelry roll, and I made them a jewelry dish, passport and luggage tag holders, and barefoot sandals. I also paid for half of their hairstyles at the resort. My girls are awesome!
small DIY items:
I am an art teacher and I had a lot of time and materials available to me. I did not want to pay the ridiculous prices for décor from the resort, so most of our details were made by me. These fans were purchased from Michael’s and put on each seat for the reception. I also bought these paper straws and made the little tags for them (not all of these on one straw!)- we put them at the bar and had the bartender put one in each drink. Being the art teacher I wanted to have paint brushes there. I kept seeing cute ones saying something about brushing away sand, which inspired our escort cards. Our favor for the wedding was a magnet. The photo on the front is a print of a painting I made from one of our photos of a past Secrets trip.
I stalked Hobby Lobby until their RealTouch flowers were 50% and bought all of my florals from there. It cost me $90 for my entire bouquet and 5 bridesmaids bouquets. That was the cost of ONE bouquet from the resort! And you wouldn’t be able to bring it home with you. I had these in my carry on and they travelled really well. Now they are in my living room. I really just grabbed a bunch that I liked and put them together. Love them! We did get a real rose boutonnière for my husband because I didn’t like the way mine came out. Oh well. It was $40 just for that though! Yikes. We used the florals included in the wedding package to decorate around the reception area. I added little charms to the girls’ bouquets with their initials and wrapped mine with a broach that I wore for my sister’s wedding.
Since we only had 3 tables and a sweet heart table, I decided to use the bridesmaid bouquets as the flowers in the centerpieces. This worked out AWESOME. I wrapped gray ribbon around a clean spaghetti jar and added the sand dollar with coral ribbon. I used a gold paint pen to write the table numbers. I made four of these and numbered 1-3, I left the last one blank incase one broke, but none did so I drew a heart on it and used it at our sweet heart table instead. Once there, we filled them with a little bit of sand at the bottom to help hold the flowers upright. I bought handkerchiefs for the centerpiece to sit on since everything the resort provides is white. We used fake tea lights because real ones would blow out on the beach, and instead of using glass votives I made little coral paper mache cups that were way less heavy. I made turquoise tiles stamped with starfish for the jar to sit on… these said Montego Bay on the back, and were scoffed up pretty quickly by our guests as the end of the night. Lastly, some pink gems and additional starfish/sand dollars were added for decoration. I put all of the candles in the mason jars and then wrapped them in bubble wrap in my carry on. Again, no problems at all! Nothing broke. We also didn’t bring any of this home except one jar.
We brought all of this with us and assembled once we got there. The following were included: Welcome sign/door knocker, bookmark, tissues, suntan lotion and aloe packets, sweedish fish, hand sanitizer bandaids, gym, instagram signs, a note with when to be at the wedding, a mix CD of island songs, and granola bars. I found the welcome/door hanger signs somewhere online and recreated similar ones in Word. We didn’t include any drinks and not much food because it was an all-inclusive resort, but everyone seemed to really like the bags and appreciated the thought. We gave the bags to people as we saw them instead of paying the $4 fee per room delivery fee that the resort charges.
This resort is absolutely beautiful. We were there on vacation in 2012 and decided that if we got married it would be there. Fast forward two years later, we got engaged and booked our wedding without further discussions. We used a travel agent to handle our trip because it was a group of 27 people! I highly suggest someone to handle all of the details for you so you have less to worry about. We were also upgraded to the preferred side of Wild Orchid when we arrived.The view from our room was incredible.
Aside from the beauty of the resort, they are not incredibly easy to work with. I understand the whole concept of email taking a while to respond, but I was made to feel like a crazy bride pulling out all of the stuff we brought with us (or maybe I just really was a crazy bride???). There was also a very strict schedule the day of the wedding. The ceremony started at 5 but guests had to be in their seats by 4:30. There was a fee for every little thing. The only thing we rented from the resort were tiki torches. They do provide lights that look like lamp posts (but don’t tell you about it) so you probably don’t need the 12 we got. They were really good about setting everything up- it looked just how I had imagined it- and never charged us a set up fee at all. We had both the ceremony and the reception at the barracuda beach which is by the volley ball courts. Our photographer was amazing and covered the vendor fee, but we had to pay for her to have a guest pass to come back the next day to do a one hour trash the dress session. It was just a feeling of being nickel and dimed for every little thing when you were bringing the resort a ton of money with a group of people and a wedding. They did give us an extra room the night before the wedding for the groom to stay in. We decided to stay together anyway, so I used the extra room the next day to get ready in with my girl since it didn’t have the luggage clutter and he got ready with the groomsmen in our room since they didn’t really care. It worked out nicely.
Myself and four girls used the resort spa for our hair and I also had my make up done because it was included in my package. This was all fine until we got out on the beach and it was super windy. The extensions started to come out. Luckily my mom is a retired hair dresser and was able to remove them and pin up what was left before the ceremony started. The make up was nice and stayed all night- a few weird things were: they lined my lips on the outside of them… making them look huge, they added black to my already dark eyebrows and I felt like Frida Kahlo, and they lined my eyes with eyeshadow instead of pencil. The brows they fixed right away by seeing my reaction, the other things were fine, just different. I wiped off the extra lips and lined my own eyes when we got back to the room.
By far, we spent the most amount of money in this area and it was 100% worth every penny. Misha Earle was incredible. She was so flexible creating the photo package that we wanted and our photos are stunning. I can’t stop looking at them! She kept us laughing all day long and was everything you could want in your wedding photographer. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a photographer in Jamaica. I did a lot of research before choosing her, and don’t regret it one bit. We did get photographs from the resort included in our package—and they are fine. But not comparable to Misha’s photos at all! (There was also a video included with our package… if not included, it would not have been worth the money. The quality is terrible and graphics are quite tacky.) Within 2.5 weeks of our wedding we could view the photos online and within a month we had our photos on a flash drive at our door. I can’t say enough great things about her!
We upgrade to the steel drum band for $200. From what I hear, they were awesome. We were off taking pictures with Misha so we only caught the very end of it. We did a first look before the ceremony (my favorite part of the day) so all of our bridal party could enjoy happy hour.
We used the house DJ- I don’t actually know what his name is, but he was pretty good. We didn’t have a choice of who we wanted. He played all of the songs that we requested ahead of time and kept us dancing all night. I only wish we had met him ahead of time to go over the order of when things were happening. My brother in law sang and played our first dance song for us and he didn’t know he was about to play until he was announced. Minor details, but would have been nice to know ahead of time. He did bring a mic/stand and made sure he had the right guitar plug ins for us though, as requested through the weddings manager.
The food was really good in the buffet. Some brides say that they don’t have time to eat at their wedding but we didn’t have any problems with that. J They gave us a personal waiter who made us plates from the buffet. We got chocolate for our cake flavor and that was really good. They wrap up the top of your cake and give it to room service so you can order it whenever you want for the rest of your trip. Our last night, we took the cake and a bottle of champagne to the beach and enjoyed what we could before we left! I made the wire cake topper, and we brought the ribbon (left over from my bouquet) with us which they added to the cake. We never got the cake topper back, but then again I never asked. The flowers pictures are the ones included from the hotel.
***********having trouble with the photo uploader... guess you'll have to visit Misha's website to see the cake!
Welcome Party and Rehearsal:
We didn’t do one, technically. I watched some other Secrets weddings on YouTube and basically just paired people up so they knew who to walk with. I walked with both of my parents and we had 4 girls, 6 guys so that was the only coordinating we really had to do.
I tried to make reservations for the whole group ahead of time at hibachi. They wanted to charge us $30 a person to book this (at one of the resort restaurants, nothing private). So we didn’t book it. Once we were there we tried again with our hotel concierge and they made the reservation for 27 with no additional charge. Because it was hibachi the tables seated 10 each so it was a little divided, but it was nice to have everyone together this first night.
I’m sure there are other things I’m forgetting, so feel free to ask away. You can see a feature of our photos from Misha at http://mishaearlepho...ts-wild-orchid/ and if you click on slideshows the rest of them are there. I’ll post a few, just so you can get an idea of how seriously incredible she really is!
Edited by TammyWright, 25 December 2015 - 11:19 AM.