Destination I Do
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Rewarding Jamaican Wedding

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Ken Tan Photography

After getting engaged, Tamara and Jesse sat down to decide what their dream wedding looked like. “We started to look at how many guests we would potentially invite if we held a local wedding,” explains the bride. “We crunched numbers after looking into a few venues and vendors and knew that we didn’t want to go into any debt over the wedding. We finally decided that since we both didn’t have dreams of having a large, local wedding, we would be more than happy with just close family and friends attending. [Also,] we both love to travel and enjoy tropical beach locations, so why not have a destination wedding? We found that it would be a little more cost effective and we would probably end up at a tropical location for our honeymoon, anyway, so why not do it all in one?”

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Before finalizing their plans, the couple talked to those who they knew they couldn’t do without come W-Day. “We initially made sure we talked to our immediate families about a destination wedding, prior to making our final decision,” says Tamara. “We wanted to make sure they would all be able to attend. Any other invited guests that could make it were a bonus! Our family and friends know how much we love to travel and weren’t surprised by the decision.”

Once the couple knew their immediate family was on board, it was time to start planning a destination wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica – a favorite destination the couple first visited in 2013. “We loved the beaches, music, food, people and all around vibe,” says the bride. “We knew we wanted to hold our wedding and stay at an all-inclusive 5-star resort and found the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall Resort.”

However, there was one catch when it came to the couple’s chosen venue. “The hotel wasn’t open yet, but instead was under construction,” explains Tamara. “We read that the hotel used to be the Ritz-Carlton and that millions of dollars were being put into the hotel in order to renovate and add brand new suites and amenities.”

So, after a lot of thought, the couple decided to roll the dice and book their destination wedding venue, site unseen. “We had no idea what to expect besides what was advertised and publicized on various websites. Reading about the hotel possessing pristine beaches, delectable cuisine, luxurious accommodations and just being an all-around amazing island escape, we decided to take the chance and went ahead and booked the destination wedding even before the resort opened.”

Not having a finished, fully-operational venue also caused some extra anxiety during the planning process. “Due to the hotel being brand new and not even opened yet when we booked, we found it hard to picture, imagine, visualize or know exactly what to expect,” says Tamara. “There were no pamphlets or brochures. I was not able to preview photos of what my reception setup would look like, what my flowers would look like and there was no bridal hair trial.”

“I put my faith in the fact that the Hyatt chain is a highly regarded hotel and that what the hotel website advertised and presented was factual and precise. We hoped that any kinks that may occur during its opening would be smoothed out by the time we arrived.”

To try and stay on top of things and plan as best they could, the couple read online reviews and watched videos of the hotel after its opening, very closely. The bride also joined a few blogs of other brides getting married at the same venue to get the inside scoop on how everything had turned out. “Doing these things benefitted us immensely and by the time we were set to arrive, I was at ease, and in return we all had a fabulous time,” says the bride. 

Thankfully, come W-Day, there were only a few things that didn’t go exactly as the couple had planned. However, their guests didn’t even notice and overall the couple was very happy with how everything came together. When asked what advice they would give other couples planning a wedding away, here’s what the couple had to say. “Make sure you allot yourselves more than enough time if you are having professional photos taken between your ceremony and reception. You don’t want to feel rushed and you will want to have some time to freshen up before the reception. The day of the wedding, remember to take a minute and take a step back, look around and take it all in.”

Vendors: Photographer: Ken Tan Photography, Venue, Florist & Bride’s Hair: Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall Resort, Wedding Planner: Julianna McIntosh with Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall Resort, Gown Designer: Mori Lee, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Calvin Klein, Bridesmaids’ Dresses: LuLu’s

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