"I would ABSOLUTELY recommend a destination wedding!"
I’m so blissfully happy! I just love looking at our pictures over and over again! They make me smile every time I look at them! I would ABSOLUTELY recommend a destination wedding! And VIP made it so easy for our guests to book their trip (LOVED the ‘Save the Date’ postcards we mailed out to our friends and family), and ask questions without my having to be a ‘middle-man’ or go-between. Your help as our liaison with Whitehouse was GREATLY appreciated!!! The small group at the small resort was just perfect! Sandals Whitehouse is a stunningly beautiful resort!
The food was outstanding and there were just enough activities to keep everyone busy or allow people to just sit back and relax. Each guest could decide to do things together, or on their own, and yet not lose the rest of the group (this would not have been so easy at the much larger resort we stayed at for our honeymoon, Grand Riviera). My photographer Jeff Salvage and his wife Jennifer (also my college roommate) went scuba diving each morning and got a fabulous underwater shot in HER wedding dress! Check out THEIR idea of a destination wedding that never ends at www.onedressonewoman.com. We LOVED the beautiful rooms and beautiful views! Rich especially loved the french pastry shop that was open early in the morning and stayed open way past dinner! I loved the antipasto buffet at Giuseppe’s, and the jerk chicken and pork at Bluefield’s by the volleyball pool.
The winding pot-holed ride through the mountains to Whitehouse was a bit rough on those with motion-sickness issues, but hopefully they will improve the roads as Whitehouse expands to include a golf course, and adds a family resort (Beaches, I assume??). Glad I knew ahead of time to make Rich take Dramamine! We passed around our bottle of champagne during the ride! We had 2 small buses to transport 20 of us to Whitehouse. When the buses pulled up to the resort, the beauty of it just took our breath away! The decor and the colorful tropical flowers growing everywhere were stunning! All of our luggage made it safely to the resort. . . but Rich’s sister’s and his daughter Lisa’s bags got placed in the wrong room, and it took a couple of hours for the manager to find the bags and place them in the correct room.
Rich loved his massage at the Red Lane Spa! My mani/pedi looked great for the ceremony, but began to chip by the next day. Glad I got it done the morning of the wedding, and glad I didn’t have to pay for it. My nails are still recovering from splitting and peeling. But don’t worry, in my job as a physical therapist in a hospital my nails always look awful because I wash my hands 100 times a day.
Weather was near perfect! Every day was in the 80’s, never needed a sweater at Whitehouse. Only two significant rainfalls… Apparently it rained just before our ceremony, but since I was still upstairs getting myself ready, I didn’t know about the rain! The sun came out when the wedding planner came to the door to collect me for the ceremony, and the clouds cleared away during the nuptials! As we got married on Friday the 13th, we were the ONLY wedding that day! The next day had FOUR weddings scheduled, and it poured that afternoon for an hour! I don’t know if that affected anything for those weddings.
The resort’s wedding photographer was present during our ceremony (at the wedding planner’s urgent begging to allow him to photograph something) and kept getting in the way of my friend who was our designated photographer. No worries, though, as Jeff got lots of great shots! The wedding planner provided music for the ceremony via an ipod, but the clarity was awful, full of static, but no one could really hear it anyway. And I was so happy walking onto the beach with my dad toward our ceremony site at the water’s edge that I didn’t care about the music. She was also supposed to provide the background music during the cocktail hour, but I guess she forgot, and she was nowhere to be found after she took me to meet my dad for the ceremony.The food for cocktail hour was delicious!! The raised gazebo on the beach was perfect for our small group, with its great view of the ocean and shelter just in case it started to rain again. We toasted with champagne 🙂 I think not everyone liked champagne, and I thought there was going to be an open bar during cocktail hour, but at least there was a full, well-stocked open bar for the dinner reception in the garden! The reception pictures were a bit dark, as I think the weding planner may have forgotten a few tiki torches, but we all had fun dancing anyway! We didn’t see the wedding planner again until the reception dinner. She DID do a good job as ’emcee’, and the DJ was FANTASTIC!!! Everyone got up and danced from the moment he began to play. Even my shy wallflower brother got up and danced! The DJ played everything we asked for, and blended everyone’s tastes and requests perfectly! I would use him for functions in the states, if he ever came to Philly. He was THAT good! And he let Rich’s oldest daughter Lisa sing into the mike like she was doing karaoke! The mike also came in handy during Lisa’s hilarious impromptu speech about moving back in with us and making the house messy and how much her family loves each other :-)Everyone kept coming up to me to tell me how much fun they were having, how beautiful the resort was, how great the food was, and how they wished they were staying longer! My mom begged my dad every day to change their flight and extend their stay! The food at the reception was out of this world! Even though they had run out of crabcakes, the rum soaked shrimp we chose to substitute was an outstanding appetizer! The beef tenderloin was sooo good! And Rich’s new favorite dessert is the baked Alaska! Thanks for the suggestion! The resort chefs were outstanding about accomodating all of our dietary issues! My sister LOVED the gluten-free chocolate cake she got for her slice of wedding cake, AND she got to keep the entire layer cake that her slice came from! Mine was dairy-free vanilla, kind of bland, but I’m really a chocolate lover and I really did appreciate the dairy-free baked Alaska! A few of our guests were bothered a bit by bugs during the reception, but we were already prepared with bug spray that helped! Never had any issues with bugs any other night.
Oh and back to the rehearsal/welcome dinner. . . my only complaint would be that we were not given any choices for location of the dinner. The wedding planner made it seem like our only choice was in this nice ballroom that was really way too big for our small group of 22. Our voices echoed in the cavernous room! I didn’t even think to ask if we could have set it up elsewhere, such as by the infinity pool. But the FOOD was excellent! And the SERVICE at this resort was great! Everyone was so friendly! We would consider staying at Whitehouse again, maybe do a small group of couples, especially if they fix the road! Although, next time we might try Negril…we were just looking at the Sandals Negril and the beach online! Maybe for our anniversary!! And a friend of mine just booked her honeymoon at a Sandals in St. Lucia. . . can’t wait to hear about that!
We had a great time on our honeymoon, as Ocho Rios is where a lot of the off-resort excursions are located in or nearby. We went horseback riding on the beach (a lifelong dream for me!), and ziplining through the rainforest (highly recommend this one!)! Grand Riviera was a MUCH bigger resort than Whitehouse. This was nice for having many choices for activities and restaurants and for meeting other couples, but I think it would not have been a good choice for a wedding group. Guests can easily lose each other, between the Riviera side and the Villas side. Staff here was not as friendly or accommodating. Some restaurants got very crowded and did not take reservations and then could not guarantee seating. I knew ahead of time which restaurants took reservations, and so we made them shortly after our arrival. My one criticism of VIP (and I take some responsibility for this) was the lack of specific room confirmation for Grand Riviera. All along leading up to our trip I assumed we were staying in an oceanfront concierge-level room on the Riviera side. But when we arrived, after a 3-hour taxi van ride from Whitehouse, we found that we were booked in the Romeo and Juliet Honeymoon suites on the farthest edge of the Villa side! I’m sure the suite was gorgeous, but it was so far from EVERYTHING on the resort so we immediately requested a room change, which they did arrange within an hour. We enjoyed being closer to all the action by staying on the Riviera side. Even though we could hear the noise of the nightclub after we went to bed, we didn’t mind it on the nights we stayed out late dancing with the nice fun couples we met! One of those couples was staying in the Romeo and Juliet suites, and they said it was beautiful, but one day they had no hot water, and another day they had no water at all! And the shuttles that circulated through the Villas and over to the Riviera side were inconsistent for them, one night waiting 40 minutes! The beach is not nearly as nice as Whitehouse, and they ran out of towels by mid-morning. And you already heard the story about our nightmarish last day from Rich. At least we can laugh about it now! Our private dinner on the beach was super-romantic! Very relaxed, candlelit (and tiki torch-lit to keep away the bugs), under the stars at the water’s edge, and we each got to pick our own menu! And our couples massage was wonderful! All in all, Grand Riviera served the purpose we sought for our honeymoon — a pretty resort on the water with lots of activities on and off the resort,with lots of dining options, with lots of people to meet, play with, party with, eat with, and dance with, and a place where we could relax as well. It was a very different resort from Whitehouse, and I think we were spoiled by Whitehouse 😉 Obviously we LOVED Whitehouse. We liked Grand Riviera.
Wow. Did that answer your questions? Haha! With any of the little glitches that occurred with the wedding at Whitehouse, I don’t think anyone but Rich and I noticed anything wrong! So please don’t think I’m complaining. Just letting you know what happened, so you know for future reference. We had a magical wedding day, and ALL 22 OF US had a fabulous vacation! It was exactly what we wanted! Rich and I were so relaxed during our 12 days in Jamaica that we forgot it was winter! We started to make plans to go to my parents’ condo in Sea Isle NJ only to realize that it was still January! And we flew home to snow-dusted Philly airport. . .
Now we are getting ready to celebrate my birthday at the same wonderful little restaurant where we got engaged last year. . . called HONEY in Doylestown!
Thanks again for ALL of your help!!!