Cali's Long awaited Riu Ocho Rios Wedding Review (Long 6 pages in word)
Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:17 PM
We got married in a beach gazebo on December 18, 2007 originally planned for 4 o'clock but got married really at 4:30 (sunset!!). I'll explain in a minute. The wedding was beautiful but it was the most stressful day of my life!!!
We flew out of St. Louis on the 14th with American Airlines. The night before we called to see if we could check in online and were told we had no reservations. After freaking out we realized our travel agent had cancelled our flights and rebooked them without telling us. So all of our flights were off a little. But everything turned out fine. We made our connection in Dallas and our plane was delayed about half an hour. Both flights let me hang my dress in the forward closet. The first FA was a male and never bothered looking to see what I was hanging but all the female attendants were so excited and helped me. However flying back I did have to put my dress in the overhead but I always got a bin to myself. Then flying southwest from Denver to STL I did have to fold it a bit in some bins!!
We flew into Jamaica and immigration and customs was so fast. We breezed by without a problem. The customs lady asked if we had any perishables and I said no forgetting I did have candy but she just said ok and let us by. No one checked our bags or anything. We waited for our bus for about 30 minutes before everyone was there (we got red stripe at the Margaritaville bar while waiting). The bus ride took about 2 hours. Our driver told us at the beginning "The right side is the wrong side, the left side is the right side, the right side is suicide." Don't let the driving scare you it's just the way they do it.
We arrived at the Riu and checked in pretty fast. They give you stickers to put on your luggage to be taken to your room but we figured we could do it ourselves and I wasn't letting my dress out of my sight and I wanted to change and not wait for the bellhop to do it. So we lugged our luggage to our room. We got a regular room and we loved it. We didn't need any extra room and since we weren't there a lot it was perfect. We got a gorgeous view of the garden gazebo AND the ocean! Perfect! We changed because it was soooooo HOT and we had just flown from cold, cold weather. I just wanted to say I read some reviews about keys not working. Our key was an actual real metal key so there was no problem with it. But in the junior suite building they use card keys and both my guests had problems with theirs but could always get an extra one at the desk.
That first night we just relaxed on the beach and checked out the resort. On Saturday we were so busy. First you have a meeting the day after you arrive with the people you booked with. So the funjet lady had us meet at 9:30 am. Mostly, she tells you all about the resort and your package and tells you where everything is. She then goes through all the tours you can do and when they are and gives you your voucher to get home. You can go to that person any day and get information or book a tour or anything you like.
At 10 we had our meeting with Chandlyn. We went to the lobby, but I had no idea what she looked like or where to meet her in the lobby. So we told the front desk we were waiting and basically stood there. Finally, she showed up and she knew who we were b/c I stood there with a huge folder and notebook. I brought all the emails we had and our documents and such just in case. Thankfully I didn't need them. She took us up to her office where I proceeded to trip on the top stair after she told me to watch it. BEWARE THE STAIR! Anyways, we sat down and she went through each thing with us. We chose the beach gazebo. She showed us flowers and I went with daisies, which my Dad got for my mom when I was born. We chose the plain cake and opted for 2 bottles of champagne at dinner. (We took one home with us to open on our 1-year anniversary.) I gave her the words for the sand ceremony and our music cd. She told us for my DH to meet her in the lobby at 3:45 and then she would come for me in my room. After that we went downstairs and paid. And that was that. We then went for lunch and then waited for my new in-laws to arrive. We helped them check in saw their room (right on the ocean) and then waited for my DH cousin. He was a little late so we went for dinner and he arrived soon after.
Second day/Stress begins
On Sunday we relaxed and took in the resort, took alot of pictures and basically hung out. I did go down to the spa to book my hair appointment. I wouldn't worry about booking it ahead of time they were not booked really at all. I asked later during our stay how many people the resort had and they told me it was full. So I wouldn't worry too much. My dad arrived that afternoon so we took him around and had dinner with my DH's family.
On Monday my mom was due to arrive and this is when things went downhill. She was due to arrive around 5. So after a while we went to our room to change. Close to 5 the phone rings and my Dad tells me that my sister just called (my mom lives with her) and says my mom's flight was cancelled and they were trying to get her here but she might not make it. I almost broke down. But knowing my dad sometimes over exaggerates I decided to call my sister. I called her on our cell and she called me right back at the resort (much cheaper). She proceeded to tell me what happened. My mom's plane had "technical failures" and instead of letting the passengers off and making it to another plane, which would of taken them to Miami, they let them sit on the plane for 2 hours and missing the other flight entirely. They cancelled the flight entirely!!! So my sister got on the phone with AA and the flight attendant and finally got my mom on a flight to Atlanta that night and AA put her up in a hotel that night. She would fly out Tuesday morning to arrive in Jamaica and AT the resort at 1pm. However, her luggage was on another flight on the way to Miami and on to Jamaica. The wedding was at 4. However I had forgotten pictures for my hair and my mom was bringing those thanks to wonderful BDW helping her get photos. But she was to arrive at the same time as my appointment. So it was looking up. Relieved I hung up. On the other hand, my MIL decided since it was FI's cousins birthday we should go out to eat special. I agreed. She decided to eat at the Mammee Bay. Even though we told her we didn't want anyone to eat there since on Tuesday we'd eat there for our reception and it had been planned for months. We wanted it to be special and new for everyone. However she would not back down and said we could eat anywhere we wanted. Finally I caved already being stressed and we ate there. It totally pissed me off and more stressed to know we ate in the same place twice in a row!!!
So, Tuesday morning we got up and went down to do some paddle boating and relaxing with our guests. We also hung out at the swim up bar and had our picture taken with a parrot on our shoulder. However, my dad, genius that he is decided to sunbathe and get some "color". Without sunscreen. I can guess you figure out what that means. Around 12 I went up to my room to shower. My DH was to wait in the lobby for my mom and then bring her to the spa where I was getting my hair done. When I got to the spa my mom wasn't there so I had to wing it. I had no idea how to explain what I wanted. So I vaguely told her and she said "no worries" that she would try different ways and could change it and that we had plenty of time. Miraculously she did an amazing job with no pictures!! However it was now 1:45 and no mother! I walked to my room (veil in place and lots of stares). I was alone in my room with no mom to help me dress. I was almost in tears. I had no idea what was going on. I called my DH parents room and asked his mom to go to the lobby and find out what was going on. My DH called me back and said my mom was still not there! I finally called my sister who told me MORE bad news. My mom's flight from Atlanta had been delayed and my mom should arrive at 3:45!!! That's fifteen minutes before the wedding!! I called my DH back and his parents went down to tell Chandlyn. Chandlyn was a hero. She said don't worry that we could wait for my mother! So I proceeded to do my makeup (alone) and trying not to cry. DH let me borrow his mother, thank god. She came to my room and helped me dress. But, all my jewelry was with my mom. The pearl bracelet both my sisters wore at their weddings that belonged to my grandmother and a blue and diamond necklace that belonged to my aunt who died while my mom was preggo with me were both with my mom.
At 4:00 Chandlyn was not at my room and we started to wonder what to do. Chandlyn called and said she was still waiting in the lobby and hung up. We didn't know was she waiting for us or my DH or my mom. So we called the front desk back and she told us the whole party was in the lobby! And we could come down. So we trekked down to the lobby and realized my DH was standing right there! HELLO! He's not supposed to see me. However, he told me that about 10-15 people stopped by to ask him if he needed a hard drink before tying the knot and he had to continually decline saying he was fine. So I stayed back a bit and my MIL went to find out what was going on. She came back and Chandlyn said we were running out of time. My FIL went down and told the officiant what was happening and he said it was fine he wasn't busy. And FIL went and told Michael and Michael said that thank god we told him before he went down or we would be charged for the extra time!!! I asked my MIL to go see if they could walk my fianc© down. She came running around the corner with my MOM! Thank god! My mom ran over and gave me the jewelry. My mom had been in the same clothes for 2 days! She looked fine though. Finally my groom had walked down with everyone else and Chandlyn handed me my bouquet. Finally we were ready! She escorted us all down to the beach. I stayed back on the stairs with my dad while my mom and MIL went down to the beach. Chandlyn said to stay there Michael wanted pictures. Of what, I don't know. Then she said never mind he'll do them later. DUH! Finally she signaled us to go down. My fianc© great that he is never turned around so he wouldn't see me. She started the music and I walked down. After all the stress things just went crazy after that. First they had move all over the place. "Move to the left, move to the right" "Move your veil" Seriously guys just let me get married. But it was pretty hysterical. The wind would not leave my veil alone. All my pictures my veil is blown to hell. The officiant messed up a little with the sand ceremony by repeating the beginning twice but it turned out great. When he asked for the rings and we gave him the seashell he said "Girls...always little trinkets." and such. He took out my ring and then proceeded to knock my other ring into the sand. Thank god my fianc© watched the entire time and watched it fall. We would of never found it. He picked it right up and put it on my finger too. We said our vows, I had tears but every time I started to cry something happened and I ended up laughing. When he said does anyone object and no one said anything he said why would anyone come to Jamaica just to object and had us all laughing. We finished our sand ceremony and he announced us man and wife. He then had us sign the papers and stand and present them. We didn't really walk back down the aisle. There was no point. We just hugged all our parents. We had a guy there make us drinks and we all toasted. Chandlyn left with the judge. The music turned out great. I made a cd of 12-15 songs and she played each song when I told her. We walked down to "Somewhere over the rainbow" and we played "Wouldn't it be nice" when we hugged everyone. We also had "Is this love" by Bob Marley during the signing papers. She then put them on shuffle and repeat and the whole cd played during picture time which was nice.
Michael was wonderful! After all the horrible things I've heard about him he was great! He was so funny. He stayed a little longer that he should and didn't say anything. He took a ton of pictures!! At one point he pointed to a tree and said lean on this tree, it is my picture tree. Just as we were about to lean on it someone screamed and said EWW! We looked and someone had hung a dead fish. He made us point to it and make gross faces and made me scream! He let every single one of my guests take pictures with him. He even counted down to make sure they all got the same shot. He said he was out of a career with my family being photogs. He was very gracious. At one point he made all the guys lift me for a photo. And then joking he said "higher" and they put me over their heads!! Talk about scared! Because we had stalled the wedding, my wedding was around sunset. Our pictures are at sunset which I would of loved to do in the first place but 4 pm is the latest they do. So if you really want a sunset wedding, just have one guest run late! Michael made a comment that I was so lucky that we got to wait till sunset to take our pictures. It was gorgeous!!!
After the pictures, my mom had not checked in yet because she came straight to the wedding and me. So I took her in to check in and take her to her room. My FIL and fianc© took our sand and stuff to our rooms. This wasted the tiny bit of time before our dinner at Mammee Bay. The reception was wonderful. We each had something different. I had the red snapper, which was amazing, and I had the steak the night before. It's delicious! They brought us our cake, which I asked for plain but somehow plain means strawberry. So there was strawberry in it. It's wasn't amazing but it wasn't bad. The other photographer came for the cake cutting. He took a few pictures. He came at the beginning to tell us he'd wait for the cake and come over when it came. Our champagne didn't show up the entire time, which was fine. Our waiter Dwight however had special drinks made for us. My drink was AMAZING. It was the best drink I have ever had!!! I asked him how to get it and he said to go to the bar across from the Mammee Bay and ask for Mai King and tell him Dwight sent me. I went to that bar a few times and he was never there. Sadly I never got that drink again but I sure wish I knew what it was!! We finally got Dwight to go get our 2 glasses and 2 bottles, which he put in ice. We then took that to our room to toast privately!
The next day was my mom's last day. She still didn't have her luggage and didn't receive it until December 29!! We decided to take her to Dunn's falls since we wanted to go anyways. So we three went. Somehow I thought we would climb on rocky stairs on the side but no you jump right in the middle and climb with all that water pushing you down. It was so fun though!! However, when you leave do NOT go through the craft market. Go out the way you came. We thought you exited that way. So as we walk through a man yelled "Hi we know you we recognize you from the RIU! The bus is this way." He was lying but not before he convinced us to buy two wooden people that he engraved our name and Just married on. We got him down from 50 dollars a piece to 30 bucks for both. Do not stop haggling!! However my mom was taken to a different booth and she didn't know and ended up spending a hundred bucks for her souvenirs. Including a t-shirt so she could have more clothes. American Airlines said they would reimburse her for clothes but b/c she did not have a receipt they won't. We didn't have money with us so we had to walk to the front gate to pay them later that evening. They said they would take credit cards but somehow I didn't feel good having my mom do that. So we paid them both in cash and had my mom stay back. (It's a long walk.) We had my mom go with us to proof our pictures and pick the ones we wanted. We had most of them printed to frame. But I asked and they keep the pictures for an unlimited amount of time so if I would like more later (when we can afford more) I can always email or call and buy more. That made me feel better. The pictures turned out great. We had one printed the wrong size and on our last day when we realized it they had it rush printed in town and had it to us before 11 in the morning when we left! If you're taking prints home I recommend bringing a hard folder so they don't get bent on the way home! We also went to the beach party. At first they played a movie on Bob Marley and we didn't want to watch that so we just walked down the beach. Then they tried to get people dancing which didn't really work that well. Then they had some acts perform. Some dancers and a guy balancing a chair with a kid on his face and then a contortionist. We didn't stay after that to see what else happened. It was already 8:30 at that point, so we left. I took pictures but they didn't turn out b/c it was too dark.
Sixth day/Last full day
My dad left that day and my in-laws, and my mother left the next day. So we went on a horse back riding trip our last full day. It sounds amazing. And it starts out amazing. You ride an hour down to the beach. Beautiful. Except my horse was lazy and no amount of kicking got him to speed up! They unsaddle your horses and put this like water saddle, no thicker than a towel to put on with a handle to hold onto. The horse's spine then lodges itself in your butt crack as it gallops around the ocean. Add that to all the traveling the next day our butts hurt till Christmas! It was beautiful though. And the horses even pooped in the water for you.
All in all it was an unforgettable trip. Even with all that went wrong, my wedding was amazing and gorgeous and I loved it! My DH was wonderful and patient even when I was crying my eyes out. I'm glad I stayed laid back and relaxed. If I was a bride-zilla I might of not made it. I'm so glad I picked the RIU. The staff is so nice and helpful. We got a bottle of rum with shot glasses as a present and received 2 other gift baskets on other days. They folded towels as swans with hearts on our wedding day. We visited the three gift shops in 3 hours and won the raffle, which won us another gift basket.
I do recommend a few things I wish I hadn't forgot. I did not know that the "Sir" restaurants required men to wear close toe shoes and tailored pants. We had the pants but not the shoes. So we could not eat at those restaurants. So don't forgot those and dresses for ladies. We did try all the other restaurants. I loved the Asian (Mandalay Bay) was very delicious and of course Mammee Bay. We always had something different to eat and we loved the food. I also brought an air freshener for our room b/c I heard it could be musty. It never was but it did help with our wet horse stinky clothes!! I did use the internet to get in touch with you guys. It's 9 dollars for half an hour and theres only about 5 or six computers. Sometimes it was hard when all the kids were on myspace. I really only used it for our hair emergency which I ended up not needing. And about all the fuss over things being stolen. We brought a lock and put all our money in a pocket of our book bag and hid that under the luggage bench. We left it on a certain number and it was never messed with. My dad even tested them out by leaving money on the bar. It was not touched. I never heard or none of our guests had any problems. My FI's cousin left his laptop, digital camera, and Nintendo DS out 24/7. It was fine. Everyone else used the safe and was fine. I think it depends on the staff you have of course. But I think they've gotten stricter. My dad is pretty nosy and he asked the staff how much they're paid. Ten dollars a day! The craft guy we bought from actually works at the resort, which is why he met us at the gate. He cannot receive money (other than tips) on the resort or he's fired. We also tried to share a drink with our waiter and he told us eating or drinking could make him lose his job. A lot of them this all they make and don't want to risk in losing it. We were very happy with all of the staff. Be nice to them and they'll be nice to you!
I hope I didn't bore you with such a long review. A lot happened and a lot of stress but overall I am so glad I went with a beach wedding in Jamaica at the RIU. I wouldn't change it. If you have any questions I didn't cover feel free to ask. You girls have nothing to worry about. If mine turned out great with all that went wrong, you'll be fine!!
Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:38 PM
Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:44 PM
I can't believe your MIL had your cousin's bday dinner @ Mammee Bay! Not cool!!!!
Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:45 PM
Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:55 PM
Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:56 PM
Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:58 PM
Did you go to the plantation? Just curious cuz that's where my reception is...
Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:59 PM
I don't know how you managed to keep it together despite all that happened on your day. I KNOW I would have had a complete melt down. But in the end, its good to know that you had a wonderful time.
Can't wait to see your pics!!!
Posted 03 January 2008 - 08:01 PM
Posted 03 January 2008 - 08:01 PM
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