These are a few of my favorite picture from the wedding festivities on Thursday night before the wedding. Sean’s uncle took a lot of the photos, and we were really grateful that he was able to capture a lot of the weekend events. Unfortunately due to the way the images were shared with us the quality of the images is not the best. However, in the years to come I will be thankful to look back on the great time everyone had with these pictures. We held a welcome dinner on the terrace of the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall on Thursday September 19. Dinner was a buffet of traditional Jamaican food. Following dinner a group from the wedding gathered in the piano bar for some fun. I love the picture from the piano bar, because there was a cute couple who offered to take the group photo. We followed this up with the silent disco by the pool.
For more on our destination wedding at Hyatt Zilara Montego Bay see this post.
Since we just celebrated our one year anniversary, I thought it was finally time to get busy posting all the deets from our wedding last year. We were married on September 21st at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Overall I have to say it was an absolutely wonderful experience. We had 71 guests in attendance and from what we have heard since then everyone loved the resort.
A few notes on wedding planning, if you read this post, you know that wedding planning was not my jam. I honestly did not care about most of the details and was frankly kind of annoyed by all of it. I was knee deep in MBA school, working full time, and mostly just wanted to have a good time with my people in paradise. We selected the resort and began the planning process in the fall of the previous year.
Once we had finalized the decision on the location, we started to spread the word to friends and family by word of mouth. We sent out save the dates in early January. By the time everything was settled it was nearly Christmas, so we decided to hold off until the holiday rush was over. This allowed nine months for people to plan their trips. Keep in mind that the more notice that you give your guests the more likely they will be able to come. A last minute trip to Jamaica isn’t in many peoples budget or their work schedule.
As soon as we had locked in the dates at the resort and the rooms I began emailing with a wedding coordinator from the resort. We were initially assigned one coordinator, but through her correspondence she just seemed like a hot mess. For example, I had told her that we were going with a mostly white theme, and she sent back an email on purple and burgundy EVERYTHING. So I asked the resort for a new coordinator and they were happy to do so. I gave her an idea of what I wanted and also sent her some pictures I found on Pinterest and she worked really well from that. For the most part she was terrific!!
The only negative I encountered with her throughout the entire process was that she was constantly trying to upsell me on something. I had been pretty clear about our budget and also clear on what I was and wasn’t willing to pay extra for. But every. single. time. I talked to her she was wanting me to buy something else. The resort nickel and dimed us to death and it was frankly really annoying. My only true bridezilla moment was when I lost it on her one day telling her I was not buying another f***** thing because enough was enough. My guess is she works on some type of commission basis so I understand, but it still really got to me.
The way that the wedding works is that you book a package that includes a certain number of guests, hair and makeup for the bride, flowers for the bride and groom, the officiant, a small cake and a few other things that I don’t remember because they honestly weren’t important. Each additional guest over the number in the package is an additional cost per person. That I totally understand due to food, drinks, setup, and servers. There is no decor included, no DJ included, no photography included, just the basics. They are very clear about that up front. But y’all everything is so ridiculously overpriced after the initial package fee. They assume you will not lug suitcases worth of wedding decor to a foreign country so you will pay what they ask.
I HATE negotiating prices with people, some people think it’s fun, I do not. When I told her that I simply would not pay what they were asking for the flowers they were suddenly 40% cheaper. They use an outside vendor which she was apparently able to negotiate with. Because I do not enjoy haggling I’m not sure what else could have been a negotiable price. Much of the decor the resort provides seemed to be non-negotiable prices. $500 dollars per strand to hang lights over the deck…the resort already owned the lights and there are hooks mounted already (the same strand of lights is $45 dollars on Amazon), $1000 dollars to lay a wooden dance floor out in the sand… I know all resorts can be this way, but this seemed really extreme. If I said I would pay for four strings of lights, she wanted me to know six would look better, I agreed to pay for the dance floor and she wanted me to consider the $3000 dollar light up option, I paid for a steel drum band and a DJ, she wanted me to hire an emcee as well. We decided to use a local photographer rather than the one from the resort; it was $1250 dollars for her to step foot onto the resort property (not including what we paid her, plus I still had to pay for her meal although the resort had done NOTHING to actually earn the money). The speakers were included for the wedding ceremony, but if you wanted to play music you had to bring your own auxiliary cable, why not offer the $10 cable too as this is something someone could easily forget (we did and wound up scrambling to find one and what do you know the resort was able to offer us one to use). All of our welcome bags were delivered directly to guests rooms, a nice touch but there’s a charge for that and the resort was “unable” to hand them out at the check in desk like you often see at hotels for weddings.
The upselling and nickel and diming was honestly the absolute worst part. Truly this was the only actual negative that we experienced through the entire process. This is the only wedding I have ever planned, but I hear that it is quite common so this may speak more to planning a wedding than to the actual resort. That aside, I did enjoy working with her, she was really good at her job, and kept everything well organized the day of the wedding.
We arrived on Wednesday, and the wedding was held on Saturday at sunset. It was such a whirlwind that I feel like we didn’t get to experience as much of the resort as we would have liked, but that its very typical with a wedding I guess.
Upon arrival to the airport in Montego Bay, we were actually able to check in to the resort at the airport after clearing through customs. This was a really great option as we didn’t have to do anything except pick up room keys when we got to the resort. (We were able to make a donation to a charity to receive a bracelet that worked as our room key, I would highly suggest this option if you are offered). We found out at check in that our room had been upgraded to a butler suite, which we were beyond pumped about. We took a bus that the travel agent had arranged from the airport to the resort, we waited about twenty minutes for the bus to partially fill up, and then it was about 15-20 minutes before we were dropped off. Also, as a result of the airport check in, our wedding coordinator was waiting to greet us at the front entrance when we arrived which was a nice touch.
After getting to our room we were blown away. We had a gorgeous view of the ocean and the resort. We were greeted by our private butler who provided us a cell phone to use to contact the butler service 24 hours a day. Our room was HUGE and it was so amazing to have the extra space to spread out since we had brought all. the. things. The service that we received from the butlers during our stay was amazing. They were willing to help with anything, and it was so convenient during the weekend events. They also got to know our taste and our routine QUICKLY and kept showing up at the perfect time with wine. What’s not to like about that?
Wednesday night we were supposed to have a private couples dinner on the beach that the wedding coordinator had arranged as part of our wedding package. After arriving and realizing that family and friends were ready to get the celebration started we canceled the private dinner. I’m glad we did as this ended up being our only free night at the resort outside of wedding events.
Thursday morning we had a couples massage in the resort spa that was also part of the wedding package. The spa was really nice, and it was nice to have the time to relax before the weekend got crazy. It was a great massage, but again with the upselling. It was so strange once the massage was over the masseuse walked me backed to the changing room and then she reappeared with a bunch of crap she wanted to sell me. The same thing happened to Sean in the men’s locker room. If anyone from Hyatt is reading this (I’m aware they probably are not)…it’s not a good look for you to have your employees pedaling trinkets in a high end resort atmosphere you worked hard to achieve.
Thursday night we had welcome dinner for all of our guests on the terrace. The dinner was supposed to be in one of the outdoor venues but was moved to the terrace at the last minute due to the threat of rain. The resort was pretty good at making last minute adjustments for weather throughout the weekend. They have a policy that you need to make the call several hours ahead of time so that it allows them time to set up, which is completely understandable. For all of the outdoor events they plan, they keep an indoor location as a backup so you’re not totally screwed which I really appreciated. If you’re someone who would like an outdoor event, but doesn’t want the stress of dealing with the weather I would highly recommend the terrace. It is completely covered but still outdoors and still has beautiful views of the ocean. Following the dinner a big group of us made our way to the silent disco by the pool. It was so funny and so much fun! The resort had plenty of events like this planned, and I wish we had been able to take more advantage of them.
Both Thursday and Friday we spent the day hanging out by the pool and the beach with friends and family. To me this one honestly one of the best parts of having a destination wedding. We actually got to see people and spend time with them. Although at times it seemed like we were constantly being pulled in one direction or another to be with friends, family, the wedding coordinator etc. it was really great to have the time during the day just to spend time with everyone who had traveled to be there with us. As a random side note, the adult pool had events and loud music ALL DAY. Some of it was fun, some of it was over the top. The kids pool was actually much quieter if you’re looking to avoid the bubble party and the random dance offs, stick with the beach or the kids pool. (Same goes for the rooms, we faced out to the family pool and never heard anything.) We ate lunch at the Jerk Hut on the beach both days because it was just that good! As we sat by the beach drinking and eating, different groups of friends and family passed by giving us even more opportunity to catch up with loved ones. If you’re considering a destination wedding THIS would be the reason I say go for it. You’re in paradise, no one has to worry about the cooking or cleaning, and there is always someone there with a refill for your drink, leaving everyone in a much more relaxed state of mind to just enjoy the company of your favorite people.
Friday evening we did a quick run through of the ceremony with the coordinator. Our ceremony was held on the rooftop sky lounge. We chose this location because of its privacy. Most of the outdoor venues available at the resort will still have people passing by, or the be visible from the balconies of the guest rooms. The sky lounge is on the roof of the Ziva side of the resort and was only open to our wedding guest. The view was beautiful and the glass railing allows for an unobstructed view of the ocean. We opted not to have a wedding party so the rehearsal was super quick.
After the rehearsal we met up with all of our guests for a cocktail hour on the terrace. We opted for a cocktail hour only, instead of a dinner because there are so many restaurants at the resort we wanted everyone to have the chance to get out and try the places they wanted, rather than eating what we had chosen for them for diner. I think it worked out well. It gave us a chance to get everyone together and visit but still left our guests with a little free time to enjoy the resort to themselves. I mentioned earlier that we had 71 guests, with this many people it simply was not possible to get everyone together in any of the resort restaurants so it required a private event to gather the group. With a smaller group I think you could certainly choose a restaurant and have everyone meet for dinner. After the cocktail hour, the different family and friend groups went their separate ways each choosing a restaurant. We were able to go with a group of our friends to the French restaurant, which we enjoyed.
We closed out Friday evening with a henna celebration in the hotel lobby. All of the ladies in attendance were invited to have henna done on their hands. A few of the guys even joined in too.
I’m planning to do a separate post with the pictures from all of Thursday and Friday’s events as well as a full post on our wedding day, so stay tuned.
I had the chance to spend a week in Prague as part of my MBA program. To be honest, I didn’t do much research on the area before going so I had limited expectations. I’m usually not fond of travelling with a group, but this allowed me to finish up my program early and visit a new place. Win.
Because I was traveling as part of a school sponsored trip we had the opportunity to do some things that as a normal tourist I wouldn’t necessarily have been able to do, but that also meant missing out on certain things. Each day we visited one or two businesses and had the opportunity to meet with the company leaders. One of the most interesting visits was to Manufaktura. This could be equated to a US version of Bath and Body Works or Body Shop, but on a smaller scale. It was great to see the products being made and all the research going in to new products. I ended up really liking the skin care products I bought. The other business visit I really enjoyed was the headquarters for McDonald’s in the Czech Republic. We met with the Vice President of Marketing who was very engaging and knowledgeable.
Our trip was so planned out that we didn’t have the opportunity to try out many local spots. The few times we did try the local cuisine I can honestly say I was not a fan. It was very heavy with lots of meats and thick sauces. I normally try to take in as much local food and culture as I can when I go somewhere new, but again traveling with a large group in my opinion makes that harder. We ate lots of Italian food, and found it to be quite good most of the places we stopped in. I have since learned that there is quite a large Vietnamese population in Prague. I wish I had done just a bit more research before the trip and maybe found a few Vietnamese restaurants to try. As a side note, dining out in Prague was quite interesting for us, as we were often in larger groups. Typically the wait staff will not split the bill unless you ask, end even then they still may not. I also found that the waiters want to leave you to enjoy your meal, this means they will not check back often. When you are ready to leave you will have to let them know in no uncertain terms you would like to pay and leave, otherwise they will not bring the check. It’s not bad service, just that the cultural expectation is much different.
The city itself overall seemed VERY touristy and was quite crowded. While it is absolutely beautiful there I don’t know that if I had the chance to go back I would stay for a full week. There honestly just didn’t seem like there was that much to see. Walking around the historic areas of the city was really enjoyable (side note it is v easy to get lost as they do not believe in city blocks) and for the most part allowed you to see all the highlights. I did use the metro a few times while I was there and found that it was really easy to use. Overall the city was clean and felt very safe as well. The party scene in Prague is HUGE. That phase of my life is over…. if it wasn’t I would probably have more to report on the late night scene, which I hear is tons of fun!
Here’s a few of the places I visited that I would recommend checking out if you’re ever in Prague:
Old Town Square – The hotel we stayed in was a short walk from the city center at Old Town Square. The famous astronomical clock can be found here. The square will fill up at the top of every hour as people gather round to see the clock. We witnessed some beautiful sunsets here as well. From here you can find your way into high end shopping, touristy shopping, and plenty of restaurants. We were cautioned by the locals to avoid restaurants in this area due to price gauging, but honestly didn’t find this to be the case.
Terezin – A concentration camp that is about a 45 minute drive outside the city. Known for being a “propaganda” camp of the Nazis, it was used to convince the Red Cross and others who were concerned for the safety of the Jews that the camps were actually providing a positive experience. It was truly horrifying to see it in real life, but at the same time having a better understanding of this history is so vital.
Jewish Quarter – This is a neighborhood in Prague where Jewish families were forced to settle. The Jewish Museum and several historic synagogues are located in the neighborhood. The walls of Pinkas Synagogue contain the hand written names of 80,000 Czech & Moravian Jews who did not survive the holocaust. There is a rich Jewish history here that is worth exploring.
Kozel Brewery Tour – Any trip to the Czech Republic is likely going to include lots of beer! The Czech people drink more beer per capita than anywhere in the world and are also known for their beer producers. You will find that the beer is very cheap, cheaper than water! Kozel is a well known Czech beer and they offer tours of the historic building where they have been in production for over a century. We ate at the onsite restaurant here as well and enjoyed the food.
Teresa U Prince – A rooftop restaurant and bar located directly across from the astronomical clock. The view of the city is stunning and the food and drinks were quite good as well. It is located on top of the Hotel U Prince but there are no obvious signs that it is there, ask the bellman when you enter the hotel lobby to show you to the correct elevator. I loved eating lunch and having cocktails solo on the rooftop!
John Lennon Wall – The Lennon Wall sits just over the Charles Bridge from the main part of town. It is about a city block area of street art that is constantly changing. Worth checking out even if you aren’t a Beatles fan as there really isn’t much to do with The Beatles.
Marina Ristorante – A restaurant that is on a (large) docked boat in the Vltava River near the city center. Eat here for the atmosphere and the views, although the food wasn’t bad. The view of the castle and the rest of the city was beautiful. We stumbled upon the restaurant and had no issues eating here with a large group without reservations.
Parlour Bar – Seriously cool cocktail bar near Wenceslas Square. It is off the main road and has no sign, and is definitely not a place you will find many other tourist. The vibe is cool and the made to order cocktails were delicious.
Letna Beer Garden – Full disclosure we walked all the way here and up a massive hill in the dark to get here and it was closed (the hours listed online were not correct). This seems to be a summer time/warm weather/daylight place. Regardless the view of the city is beautiful. There is a restaurant and tons of outdoor seating. I would hike back up the massive hill to actually enjoy this any summer day again.
Prague Castle – It is hard to imagine that the castle was built over 1000 years ago. We did a self guided tour and basically saw the highlights one evening before it closed. It is stunning and the history is unbelievable. I would do a guided tour if I had the opportunity to go back, as the castle is huge and just filled with so much history that I’m sure a guide would do a better job explaining.
Charles Bridge – Beautiful historic (pedestrian only) bridge over the Vltava River that was built in the 1300’s. From Old Town Square you can cross over the bridge on the way to the Castle if you’re walking. The bridge has many historic statues as well as views of the city. Warning…it gets VERY crowded and while Prague was generally safe places like this are known for pickpockets.
Chimney Cake – Also known as a Trdelnik. This is a hollow tube of dough that is covered in sugar. You have the option to fill it with ice cream and different toppings. Based on what we were told by the locals, it is not really a “tradtional” Czech food but instead something that was created for the tourist. Regardless you can’t go wrong with a sugary dough filled with ice cream and chocolate syrup. You will see tourist lined up all over town at spots selling theses.
It’s been awhile since I checked in around this corner of the internet. WOW! Has 2020 been a weird year or what?!?!
Here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my neck of the woods this year.
We got a puppy on January 3rd. She has been the absolute best thing of 2020 so far.
I started a new job on January 6th. I did all the training and traveling and all. the. things. for the job from January until March. The job had not been at all what was promised and honestly turned out to be sort of a dumpster fire. On March 18th I came home to work from home and have basically been in social distancing mode ever since. A couple weeks after working from home I was placed on temporary furlough, and with the job really not shaping up to be what I had hoped, I asked for my old job back. I was beyond lucky to have left on a good note and I was offered my job back. I do not take for granted how many people are absolutely not in this same situation now.
For about the last five weeks I have been working one to two days a week at my old/current job. As things *hopefully* get better I will be able to work in person in the office more and more. Right now things are still a complete mess where I live and only getting worse. As a side note, if you are someone who is opposed to wearing a mask in public I would like to know why you never protested having to wear shoes into Walmart?
I have painted almost my entire house. Planted a garden. (It’s mostly dead now but who’s counting?) Gone for MANY walks. And eaten all the junk foods! But y’all I am OVER. IT. Don’t get me wrong I’m still mostly staying home and following all the rules, but I sure wish I didn’t have to anymore.
In mid May we started to feel comfortable traveling by car to our beach house again so we are VERY lucky to have had the option of changing scenery. It’s obvious that we aren’t alone in needing a new view as I have honestly never seen so many people at the beach. We are able to find a place to keep to ourselves when we go out on the beach and have avoided going inside bars and restaurants so we feel like we are being responsible.
I feel beyond lucky that 2019 was our epic year. We did so much travelling last year and even had a destination wedding go off without a hitch in the middle of hurricane season in Jamaica. I can’t imagine what we would be going through if 2020 had been the year for all of that. I feel for anyone who has had to cancel big trips they planned for months. Planning a wedding was a true nightmare in best case scenario so I feel for you if 2020 was your year!
I had hoped to use all my new found free time catching up on last years trips and photos here on the blog, but we’re officially four months into quarantine and I’m just getting started. Honestly, it just felt so depressing looking back at photos of us travelling and having the time of our life when going to the grocery store now feels like the closest I’ll get to a vacation this year.
One of our favorite things we did on our trip to Oahu was to climb to the top of Diamond Head. There are plenty of beautiful hikes on the island, many that are lesser known and probably less crowded, but we decided to take the path more traveled…
Although I have been to Oahu before this was my first time doing this hike. Parking was an issue the day we went. We waited for quite awhile in traffic to head up the hill to the small parking lot and found that it was full. We drove back down the hill and parked at a nearby school. I had the brilliant idea to take an Uber back up the steep hill, instead of starting our hike a very steep mile sooner than we planned. This worked out great, and on the way back we were able to walk back to the car down the hill with no issues.
The hike is not terribly difficult, but towards the end there were quite a few stairs, and we ended up in a narrow tunnel which I was not prepared for and totally did not like. We also took a turn that led us to a small pillbox that we had to crawl out of to see the view. After the hike we were told that we could have taken a turn to miss both the tunnel and the pillbox, so if like me, you’re not a fan of small spaces maybe do some research on that.
On the way down we saw Yasiel Puig full out running up the trail with his training team as we were coming down. If you’re all who is that? Same. But Sean was impressed.
Overall we really enjoyed the hike and the views from the top were definitely worth the stairs and the tight spaces. We finished off the hike with a Dole whip that was well earned.
unedited sneak peek of the most epic sunset after the wedding
Time for a quick update on life lately. It has turned to full blown fall overnight. If you saw my Instagram post last week you know that I am a summer girl! I live for summer days, flip flops, and sunshine. So while the rest of the world is buying pumpkin spice everything, I’m over here daydreaming about summer.
I can hardly believe that we were married in Jamaica almost a month ago. I cannot wait to share more! I loved our photographer that we worked with; there is a 6-14 week turnaround for the photos so we are anxiously awaiting them! We had the most epic sunset the night of the wedding that I know is going to make for great photos. I’ll probably overshare once we get them! We got married at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and then went to Negril for a short mini moon at the Rockhouse Hotel.
Since coming home life has been all kinds of crazy. In an effort to get in the fall spirit we took a road trip into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The leaves had just started turning, and it was a perfect day trip. Seeing the leaves start to change does give me all the #fallfeels. We visited the Blue Ridge Music Center for the first time. There is a small museum here that explains the history of mountain music, free music outdoors, and a very nice hiking trail. We really enjoyed it. It is right on the Blue Ridge Parkway so the drive in is beautiful as well. On the way home we stopped at nearby Round Peak Vineyards for a glass of wine and to take in the view. Our final stop was at Skull Camp Brewing for a late lunch. Overall the perfect fall day trip.
We leave for our actual honeymoon in Paris in a few weeks and would love any and all recommendations you have on visiting the City of Lights!