Dream Destination Wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica
I am still in shock by the fact that our Wedding is over, but also that it was such a success. I could not be happier with the way it turned out. It was exactly how I dreamed it would be and more. What made it so amazing was that all of our dearest family members and friends were there. We had 120 guests who travelled from all of the world to share our special day with us. It was incredible and I wish I could go back to Jamaica and relive that week again.
We started planning the Destination Wedding in December 2016 right after our baby was born and yes people said I was crazy to organise a Wedding after having a baby. Everyone kept asking me how I stayed so calm while managing to take care of a new born, attend baby and mom activities, rent out our second flat and organise a destination Wedding. Looking back it was a very smooth process and I hope that with some of my tips I will be able to help other couples feel at ease and organise a destination Wedding. Not to mention I could not have done this without the support of my incredible best friend and husband.
Some of my suggestions if you are considering organising a destination Wedding (not in order of importance):
Spend a few months researching on the right Hotel.
Determine if you want adults only or family Hotel. For us we needed to find something to accommodate both groups of friends, those with children and those without, bearing in mind we also have a daughter who we also wanted there with us. We wanted to find a place so that nobody is excluded. I contacted various hotels in the Caribbean and asked them for details around their Wedding packages, etc. That brought our list down to 5 hotels.
Create a checklist of important elements.
In the end I picked the Hotel based on the following factors: guest feedback in relation to resort & the food, the responsiveness of the Hotel Sales & Wedding coordinator, the group rate, the Wedding packages offered and the pictures of the Wedding venues. *Guest reviews was very important to me, because I wanted to make sure the people who spent money to travel would have a good stay. This would also help attract your friends & family to come as they all look at the reviews as well.
After a few months of research and considering the above points Hyatt Ziva & Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay was the winner. Finding a place where the employees were responsive was important to me, as I was not able to travel over to Jamaica to see the venue. This meant that I would have to speak to them a lot over email or telephone and you need re-assurance that things are going according to your dreams and plans.
Select a Travel Agent
We selected two travel agents to be the points of contact for our guests and help book the rooms. The companies used were the Holiday Place (London, UK) and Valtur (Sao Paulo, Brazil) to assist with the group bookings. I think if I was to book for everyone I would have gone nuts 🙂 Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like their details. Otherwise I have added a hyperlink to their webpages.
Hotel Wedding Planner
Ask for Denisha if you are looking into having your Wedding at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall. I would not say that she was very hands on, but that was probably because I already had a vision and knew what I wanted in terms of decorations. All in all she did a great job. Denisha answered my questions right away and coordinated a Wedding to fit 120 people. She ensured everything was set up the way I requested and everyone had an incredible time. Due to the risk of rain we did not have the Reception at the Ocean Gazebo which was my original vision, but I am happy we did not have it there in the end. Anyone thinking of having it there make sure you speak to Denisha about lighting as it is quite dark along the beach walkway and Ocean Gazebo at night.
We decided to have the steal band play for the cocktail hour to give it that Jamaica feel and the DJ for the Wedding reception. My husband and I were both extremely happy with both selections.
We asked & paid for the hotel to supply a babysitter for the infants during the Wedding reception and the childminding team was excellent. We informed our friends with kids about this option as well when we sent the invites out.
Decoration & Wedding ideas.
I used Instagram and Pintrest to look for decoration ideas and shared those with Denisha for suggestions and feasibility.
Quality of Food & Drinks
The food at the entire resort was extremely good and the same goes for the food on the Wedding day. I was happy with this and thats another reason to read everyones reviews about the Hotel.The Wedding cake was to die for. We ordered the super moist chocolate cake with white icing.
None of the guests complained about the alcoholic drinks. The bartenders were really good and the drinks were definitely not watered down.
None of the guests complained about the food selections as there were plenty. So many options that you were able to eat at a different place every day. The breakfast place choicez was really good especially for those with kids. Having been to some all inclusive places before you can get bored with only two Restaurants for the entire week.
Activities outside of the Resort
As my husband is Jamaican/Canadian his family had contacts to people who would be able to rent a bus and take various groups of friends on tours. Our friends selected the location and negotiated a price with the driver.
Bachelorette & Bachelor Party on site
We had the bachelor and bachelorette parties at the hotel and it was great. Some of our rooms had swim up rooms next to each other and we did it there. We ordered room service and each friend ordered a bottle to their room so we did not have to pay extra. The guys went to Margaritaville in the evening and had a blast. There was a bus service that took people home every hour on the hour after 12am.
We hired a spectacular Wedding photographer
Miriam Salgado Canoa, she is a friend of ours, but also had to travel to Jamaica which is a big commitment and we were so grateful to have her there. My husband had not met her before as they moved from London to Tampa prior to me having met my husband.
Miriam does an amazing job and you can see this from her portfolio on Instagram she is incredible. I highly recommend contacting her and do not forget to mention my name if you do. (Click here to go to her website). Miriam is very creative, has a lot of experience, will help give suggestions and is extremely good and you want to make sure those beautiful moments are captured properly.
Budget & Cost
If you are on a budget keep in mind that a large cost of your Wedding are the Wedding guests. We anticipated on having 90 people of the 150 we invited and turns out everyone wanted to go to Jamaica and we ended up having 120 guests. Calculate approx 100$ per head for hotel guests and see if that is still within your budget before you start inviting people. I think the fact that the hotel had great reviews and the pictures looked amazing helped people decide to come in the end. Of course after the fact that they love us and vice versa heheh
Anyhow I am not sure how many people will be reading this, but I hope this has been somewhat helpful. I will be updating this page if I feel that I forgot to mention something, but I think I covered most of the aspects. As long as you find the right hotel with the good reviews, with the set up that you imagined and use Miriam as your photographer 🙂 it will be perfect. If you have any more questions in relation to my planning process please drop me a line at email@example.com or DM us on Instagram @jetlifebaby
Please also feel free to view my hotel review on Tripadvisor here if you like.
Happy Baby Happy Travels,