Destination Wedding JamaicaWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of The Burks Photography
Michael and Ashleigh knew from the beginning that they wanted a completely outdoor wedding – no ballrooms, no banquet halls. After several months of looking at local venues, the bride couldn’t find anywhere which just felt “right.” It was at that time that Michael suggested they look elsewhere – like outside the U.S. elsewhere! “His suggestion sparked the idea that we get married in Jamaica, the country where my family is originally from,” says the bride. “The idea of a trip to a tropical island with our friends and family sounded perfect to us, so much so that we completely stopped considering any other venues in the states.”
Because Ashleigh hadn’t been to Jamaica since she was a small child and wouldn’t be able to visit before the wedding, her and Michael depended largely on online reviews when it came to picking their venue. “We chose Moon Dance Cliffs as our venue because of all the amazing and positive reviews the property had received from previous brides and guests. We were also impressed with the pictures we found of the property online which were all pretty amazing.” Despite the resort being an hour-and-a-half from the airport in Montego Bay, the couple moved forward with their venue of choice since Moon Dance Cliffs provide a shuttle service to and from the airport for all of their guests – making the logistics a cinch.
The Internet was a lifesaver for this bride: “A few resources I used quite often to help with planning were wedding websites and forums…bestdestinationweddings.com and Wedding Bee were my go-to websites to read and ask questions from other brides-to-be and former brides on everything from budgeting and bridesmaids dresses, to guest travel and local excursions.”
While some sites were extremely helpful, Ashleigh cautions other brides against some of the more popular sites. “I’d be remiss if I did not add that websites like Pintrest and Etsy also came in very handy when it came to finding all of the unique, small touches that I wanted to add to our wedding. I will say, however, that you have to be very careful not to spend too much time on those sites. There’s so much to look at and so many options for literally every category of wedding fare that you could ever imagine, that it’s easy to get side-tracked and even more confused on what you’re really looking for.”
While Michael and Ashleigh didn’t originally plan on a destination wedding, they have no doubts that it was the right decision for them and their guests. “Of course planning a wedding comes with a certain amount of stress – like any bride, I obsessed over making decisions on both the “big picture” and small details of the wedding (from color palettes and bridesmaids dresses, to music selections and floral arrangements),” says the bride.
“Despite the expected headaches along the road, I know that planning my destination wedding was leaps and bounds less stressful than it could have been planning a traditional wedding that was closer to home. Because I had to pack and carry any wedding supplies across country, it kept me from going overboard with buying and making decorations and favors. I’d also have to say that the convenience of having a wedding coordinator was a tremendous help. She answered all of my questions…even the stupid ones!"
This bride has some final words of advice for other couples considering getting married away: “It’s really easy to get caught up in trying to plan everything down to the last detail, but trust me, the simpler you keep things, the better! I remember changing the design and flavors of our wedding cake at least five times…the bakery was super annoyed with me, I’m sure! When the day of the wedding actually arrived, I must have looked over at the cake all of two times and literally had one bite of it (which was amazing I must add). I was so engrossed in enjoying the day, that I didn’t have time to even worry about how the cake looked.”
Vendors: Photographer: The Burks Photography, Ceremony/Reception Location: Moon Dance Cliffs Resort in Negril, Jamaica, Wedding Planner: Kerry-Ann Parkinson with Moon Dance Cliffs, Gown Designer: Casablanca Bridal, Florist: Floral Fantasy, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Men’s Wearhouse, Bridesmaids’ Clothing Designer: Liz Fields, Videographer: Dream Weddings Photography, DJ: Paul Dilworth with Sound Illusions
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