Create Your Own Wedding Photo Booth

How to Create Your Own DIY Wedding Photo Booth Using Photo Booth App

Let’s face it, it can be pretty pricey to have a wedding photo booth. But they’re so much fun and guest love them! Plus you will love having a copy of all the pictures of friends and family having a blast on your wedding day. So why not DIY a photo booth for a fraction of the cost? Using the LumaBooth app and an iPad we were able to set up a simple photo booth at our wedding. The app is free, but requires a $19.99 monthly subscription to be able to access all of the features you will want for a wedding day photo booth.

To set up your DIY wedding photo booth you will need an iPad, a tripod, and a light. You could get fancy with the light source, but we found this cheap clip on selfie light did the trick. You’re also going to want plenty of party props and a sign pointing out the set up for your guests. I ordered most of the party props on Amazon; I found a few at the Dollar Store, and some at Hobby Lobby. The Selfie Station sign is from a template I purchased on Etsy.

Using the LumaBooth app you can create an event, and set up everything in advance so that all guests have to do is press start. The app will direct them for the rest. LumaBooth also allows you to customize the layout of your photos which I really liked. I was able to use the template that I purchased on Etsy so that the prints matched everything else at the wedding. I thought this was a cool feature. The app allows for regular photos, GIFs, and boomerangs. I selected to just use the photo and GIFs. Guests can select for the images to be sent to them via text message or email. One other feature that I really liked is that all of the photos are saved directly to the iPad you set it up on. You have each of the individual photos as well as the final photo grid. I loved being able to look at them all after the wedding. This would be fun to use for a birthday party, or other gathering as well. It was so easy to set up and the photos are such a fun memory.

And for the best part… here are some pictures from our wedding photo booth.

For more on our destination wedding click here.

Makeup Essentials for a Perfect Bridal Look

When you have a destination wedding there are a few things that are just not going to be the same as if you got married in your home town. Finding the perfect makeup artist with a few trial runs might be one of those. Some people find it in their budget to have a hair and makeup artist travel with them, I however did not. Some people practice and do it themselves, I considered this but decided against it. And some people are lucky enough to have a friend or sister who can do it for them.

I had my makeup done at the resort spa and was ultimately satisfied with how it turned out. I feel like she did a good job (especially for not having had a trial run). However one of the best tips I got was to bring ALL of my own makeup with me for her to use. I would highly suggest that if you are planning a destination wedding you consider doing this as well. You do not want to find out on your wedding day that you are allergic to the mascara they used or that not a single shade of foundation they have is gonna work for you.

When I looked into the price of hiring a makeup artist locally, it turns out that buying and bringing your makeup actually ends up being FAR MORE economical, even when you buy high end makeup. Plus it’s yours and you can use it more than just one day.

I am definitely not a makeup expert but I have watched my fair share of YouTube tutorials and have spent WAY TOO much money at Sephora trying products! So here are all the products that were in my makeup bag for the perfect bridal look.

  • Foundation – This particular foundation holds up really well (legit lasts all day) and makes your skin look flawless. Notice that it has no SPF, any foundation with SPF should be off the list as it can make your skin look strange in flash photography.
  • Concealer – I have tried a lot of under eye concealers because I have dark circles even when I’m well rested. This one works especially well for brightening up the under eyes and doesn’t crease like some concealers can.
  • Mascara – Waterproof mascara is essential for your wedding day look. There is no need to spend top dollar on high end beauty brands as this particular one is in the makeup kits of all the pros.
  • Setting Powder – Lock your makeup in place and keep the shine down. Also helps give your skin an airbrushed look. I have tried several and the Make Up Forever is my favorite, but this one is a close second.
  • Eye Shadow Palette – Choose one that has colors that go with your skin, eyes, and hair while still feeling fairly neutral. I loved this one by Stila, but you can get good eyeshadow palettes at many different price points.
  • Blush – You will see I included two. The Bobbi Brown (Sandy Pink) would be my go to for a wedding look if I could just pick one. The NARS colors are much more pigmented and have a shimmer finish. I did use a bit of both because I like how they mix. Be careful with shimmer as it can make you look shiny in photographs. For this reason, you’ll notice I specifically didn’t include any highlighters on this list.
  • False Lashes – I love these lashes. They are the easiest to put on and are completely comfortable to wear. Plus they are v cheap. This particular style is my favorite for a more natural glam look.
  • Setting Spray – This truly does make your makeup last longer and keeps it all in place. Exactly what you need for your wedding day.
  • Corrector – To me this product is the holy grail for dark under eyes. It is designed to neutralize and brighten any darkness. It is used in combination with a concealer under the eyes, do not use it alone.
  • Brow Powder – I have tried tons of different brow products (pencils, pomades, gels) and for me personally, I like the look of powder the best. I feel like it holds up well without looking too overdone. I also add in this clear setting gel.
  • Liquid Liner – I have to give credit to the resort makeup artist for this one as I hadn’t tried it before. It is $3 dollars at the drugstore, doesn’t smudge or run, and is by far the easiest liquid liner to use I have ever tried.
  • Shadow Stick – I have these in lots of colors. They are super versatile for different looks and have serious long lasting power. It takes practice but I also use these as eyeliner. Usually I line the inside of my eyes and my waterline with them and it makes my lashes look so much thicker.
  • Lipstick – I wanted a natural looking pink for a more timeless look. Faux by MAC fit the bill. This is a satin finish so it not drying and holds up well.
  • Shadow Primer – This is the perfect primer for eyeshadow. It perfectly evens out the eyelid tone and gives a great base for shadow to stick to.
  • Lip Liner – I prefer a natural looking lip liner that blends in with the lip color and your lip. Dervish by MAC goes well with the lipstick I chose.
  • Bronzer – This is a great bronzer because you can use it as a contour shade as well as a bronzer. It is also matte so it is good for photography, unlike a lot of bronzers that have shimmer in them.
  • Primer – Starting with a good primer to even the skin and give the makeup something to stick to is important. This primer helps to give an airbrushed flawless look to you skin and definitely helps makeup last.
  • Lash Glue – This is hands down the best lash glue. I always get the one that dries clear. Often lashes come with their own glue, you don’t want to use it – buy this instead.

Proof that my makeup lasted…

I hope that this post is helpful for creating your perfect wedding day look! This post has more details on our destination wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica if you want to know more!

Our Wedding Day at Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall

We were married on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We chose this date because it is my Mom’s birthday. We recently celebrated our first anniversary and it was so wonderful to have the chance to have all the good vibes associated with this day now. While we will always be missing her on this special day, it just felt good to think about all of our friends and family gathered in paradise to celebrate us, instead of think about how we don’t have her here to celebrate another year.

Because we had asked everyone to travel to Jamaica which wasn’t cheap, and because I was pretty non traditional about everything anyway, we did not have a wedding party. I didn’t want them to have the added expense of matching dresses and shoes and hair and makeup etc. I also wanted everyone to feel like it was as much of their own vacation as possible, so keeping wedding things to a minimum helped give them more time to enjoy the trip themselves, in my opinion. I had asked a few of my friends who I knew would be coming to be my Brides-Baes, and it worked out perfectly. They were there for all the “bridesmaids duties” but there wasn’t the same stress.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early, my girls joined me in the suite, and we ordered room service breakfast for everyone. We had planned to hangout in the room all day, but thought better of it after seeing what a beautiful day it was. We wanted to go out sailing on the resort catamarans, but the catch was that Sean’s family was out on the beach doing a tumeric ceremony for him. Sean and I had decided we didn’t want to see each other the day of the wedding, so the girls devised a plan and we headed out onto the beach. After nearly being caught we made it to the ocean where we waited for our turn on the boats. I am so glad that we had the chance to do something fun, instead of just stay in the room all day.

While we were out on the beach we discovered that my dad was quite sick. No one had wanted to tell me I guess, but some of our friends came up and asked if he was feeling better. I had no idea what they were talking about and they realized they had let me in on the news. I could see them start to panic as they said “oh I’m sure everything is fine” and they hurried away. I knew I couldn’t deal with it so I quickly texted Sean and told him to (Sorry!).

After coming back from the beach I showered while the girls ordered room service and champagne. A few of the other ladies stopped by the room while we were eating and getting ready. My hair and makeup appointment was set for 2:00. While I went to get done up, the other girls went back to their rooms to get ready. My aunt came with me to the appointment to make sure someone approved. One of the best things I did was to bring my own make up. I am seriously no expert, but I have watched my fair share of YouTube tutorials. Your wedding day is not the time to find out that they don’t have a foundation to match you or you are allergic to their mascara of choice. Overall I felt like she did a really good job with my make up, my hair was fine, but I should have given her a little more guidance on what I wanted. Bring lots of pictures and don’t be afraid to speak up. Looking back I had done my hair and makeup myself for the events leading up to the wedding, and I think I did fine, but I could have had it done, so that I would have had a chance for a trial for the wedding day.

Our wedding photographer showed up to just in time to capture some shots of me having my hair and make up done. We decided against the resort photographer and hired a local wedding photographer in Montego Bay. She brought an assistant who was with Sean while he was getting ready. If I am being honest, I loved her personally, but I am very “meh” about the photos. She was so much fun to work with and had a wonderful personality. She was prompt, she gave great directions leading up to the event which was important since I never met her until she was there to shoot, she worked well with the large group and had no issues giving the group instructions. But overall I don’t really love how the photos turned out. We were married at sunset and the sunset was absolutely magical that day. Many of the photos don’t show this at all and many have either been edited or modified to the point of it looking nothing like what it actually looked like. Several months after the wedding I got the courage to ask her for the unedited images, and she claims that she did not really edit them, rather its the lighting that she used that changed the color of the sky and scenery. I don’t know enough about photography to know if this is true or not, but I do know I’m not a huge fan of the photos. (Just an FYI I am not linking to her or mentioning her here because I have seen MANY positive reviews about her, and frankly I really liked her as a person. She has a portfolio and Instagram full of gorgeous photos so maybe she was just having a bad day. Also because I have re-edited basically every photo that you see here that she took….)

During hair and makeup my aunt had been talking to my dad and my uncle. We had asked my uncle to be ready to walk me down the aisle in the event my dad couldn’t get it together. My dad said he thought he was going to be able to make it but still wasn’t too sure. Trust me something will go awry on your wedding day, no matter how much you plan, and no matter chill you try to be about the whole thing.

After my hair and makeup we went back to the suite to get me in my dress. All of the girls were there ready and waiting with champagne. I hopped in my dress and we had some pictures taken before heading to the ceremony.

A side note on my wedding dress – I really had kind of dreaded going shopping for my dress. I guess because my mom couldn’t be there and because it just wasn’t something I wanted to get super into. When I tried on the dress, I liked it a lot but the voice in my head was saying “it’s SO FLUFFY.” I said to my aunt and my cousins I really like it but it’s just so fluffy. Well I bought it anyway, and to be honest I really liked it each time I went to try it on. The day of the wedding when I put it on I still really liked it. When I look at the pictures now I wonder why the hell I am wearing that fluffy dress. It’s pretty, but very not “me.” I don’t think they did the best job altering it and as I got hotter in the Jamaican heat it stretched out so the top part of it doesn’t fit correctly, and I feel like I am just swallowed in fluff. I had worked out so much and was in probably the best shape of my life and the dress really doesn’t do anything to show that off. Listen to the voice in your head friends.

The ceremony was on the rooftop Sky Lounge of the the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall. I waited with the wedding coordinator to go up the elevator until everyone was in place and Sean was heading down the aisle with his mom. I didn’t see my dad until I got to the top of the elevator, he didn’t look great but I was very glad he was able to get it together to be there. I walked down the aisle with my dad to Van Morrison “Into The Mystic.”

The view from the ceremony was stunning. I loved that we chose the rooftop location. I also loved the wedding officiant. He had the perfect Jamaican accent that just added the perfect touch to the vibe. I had written our entire ceremony, and sent it to the wedding coordinator a couple weeks before the big day. I loved that I was able to do this, as we aren’t particularly religious and much of the traditional wedding ceremony wording just didn’t fit us. We also were able to add in a Hindu tradition of exchanging the Mangalsutra necklace. The ceremony was less that fifteen minutes and was exactly what I wanted. We walked back down the aisle to Bob Marley “Is This Love.”

<When I say I have no idea what the photographer did to edit the photos this is what I mean. This is the same picture. She took the one with blue sky, and someone else took the one with the actual sunset with an iPhone. The iPhone shot is honestly what the sky looked like. It’s not that she took bad photos as much as I don’t understand how she changed the actual time of day or why!?>

After the ceremony we asked all of the guests to stay on the rooftop for a quick photo op. Since we had no wedding party, and because we wanted everyone to be part of the day we took group photos of everyone, and then from all the different groups who had come. It was one of my favorite things we did, but again the photos aren’t what I had hoped for.

Again, this is an iPhone shot from a friend and you can see it looks not much like the images she sent…

Following the ceremony we went with the photographer to get our photos, and the guests went to a cocktail hour on the lawn. We had a steel drum band and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. We made it to the cocktail hour just in time to hear the last of the steel drum band.

The wedding coordinator helped get everyone moved to the location for the dinner and reception while we stayed behind. Once they were all seated for dinner, we made our way in. Much to the dismay of the wedding coordinator I elected not to have a seating chart. From what I could tell it worked out perfectly fine. We entered to Maren Morris’ “To Hell and Back” and did a quick first dance. As a side note, her album “Girl” came out while I was away in Prague, and I listened to it for the first time while I was on the plane heading back to the US. When I heard the song for the first time I sat on the plane and cried because I couldn’t believe how much it told our story too.

After our dance we were seated at the head table and the guests were allowed to serve themselves dinner. We had a buffet of all traditional Jamaican food that I am told was delicious. We were served a plate of food by the staff, but I honestly don’t remember it and neither does Sean. I hadn’t planned to dance with my dad, Sean hadn’t planned to dance with his mom, and we had kind of said there would be no toast unless my dad decided spur of the moment that he wanted to. (I told you I don’t like traditional.) Once we were served our food we looked around to see if my dad might be making a toast. He was nowhere to be found, and we realized he had gone back to his room as soon as the ceremony was over. It was a big bummer he couldn’t be at the celebration, but I am thankful he made it to the ceremony. So there were no toasts at our wedding and I was 100% fine with it.

As soon people finished up eating the DJ had them on the dance floor and he kept the party going all night. We had an absolute blast on the dance floor, and so did all of our guests. It was nice to have been able to send him some of the songs that were must play’s in advance and also the songs that were on the under no circumstances will you play this. He did a good job mixing in songs that we requested with songs that he knew would get everyone going. He was even prepared with Jay-Z “Punjabi” when the family requested Indian music. I don’t think it was what they had in mind, but they seemed to like it none the less.

I had also elected not to cut the cake, again with the traditions. I looked around at some point in the night and people were eating cake. The staff had cut it and served it, and it worked out perfectly. Do not feel like you have to do anything you don’t want to, because the tradition says you should or somebody’s grandma said that’s how it has to be. It’s your day and you focus on what will make you enjoy your day.

As the night wrapped up I told the photographer that I was going in the pool in my dress before she left. She came and got me a few minutes before it was time and we went to the pool to set up. It ended up being a bit drawn out because the people from the resort tried to talk us out of it, but we went in all our wedding finest to end the night. We got out of the pool and the DJ was playing John Denver “Country Roads.” Everyone circled around us and sang while we danced soaking wet, a little tipsy, and oh so happy! It could not have been more perfect.

As soon as the party was over we went back to our room to change. My dress was a sandy soaking wet mess. We got into our swimsuits and went to a friends room where everyone had gathered. They had a room with a private swim up pool. We kept the party going as long as we could, but the resort staff really wasn’t too happy with us. The party kept growing and the night kept getting later, and they finally asked us to take it somewhere else. We went to the sports bar on the resort for a just a few minutes before realizing it was time to call it a night.

It was the absolute perfect day in paradise and I am so thankful that we always get to look back on everything from that day as “our day!”

For more on our wedding check here, here, & here.

A Review of the Rockhouse Hotel, Negril, Jamaica

rainbow at rockhouse jamaica
rainbow at rockhouse hotel jamaica
double rainbow at the rockhouse hotel
double rainbow over the ocean at the Rockhouse Hotel
Rainbow over the ocean at the rockhouse hotel
Rainbow at the rockhouse
new wedding rings and a rainbow at the rockhouse hotel
rockhouse hotel boutique and art gallery
the rockhouse hotel
the rockhouse hotel Negril Jamaica
The Rockhouse Hotel View From Bed
Rockhouse Hotel Spa Aqua Detox
Rockhouse Hotel privat sun deck
Rockhouse Hotel
Pool Views at the Rockhouse Hotel Negril Jamaica
Tropical foliage at the Rockhouse Hotel
Pool view at the Rockhouse Hotel
Jumping into the ocean at the Rockhouse Hotel
breakfast at the rockhouse restaurant
breakfast at the rockhouse restaurant
breakfast at the rockhouse restaurant
fresh fish sandwich at the Rockhouse Pool Bar
stray cat at the Rockhouse eating leftover room service
relxaing by the ocean at the Rockhouse Hotel
lime daquiris from the Pool Bar
Negril Jamaica Party Boat
sunset at the rockhouse hotel
watching the sunset at the rockhouse hotel
sunset at the rockhouse hotel
sunset at the rockhouse hotel
Negril Jamaica Sunset
sunset at the rockhouse hotel
Jamaican Sunset
Sunset at the Rockhouse Hotel Restaurant
sunset at the rockhouse restaurant
specials of the day at the rockhouse restaurant
the rockhouse restaurant
the pushcart restaurant Negril Jamaica
Dinner at the pushcart restaurant Negril Jamaica
fresh fish at the pushcart restaurant Negril Jamaica
rockhouse restaurant

After our wedding at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, we left early the following morning for a mini honeymoon. We stayed at the Rockhouse Hotel in Negril for three nights. It is a little over two hours to drive from Montego Bay to Negril. Our travel agent had suggested several resorts that were near the Hyatt, for a quicker getaway. In hindsight, I may have taken her advice but we wanted to see Negril, and I had been wanting to stay at the Rockhouse or the Caves for years.

Our driver arrived at the Hyatt in the later morning and we were off for Negril. About halfway into the trip he pulled over at this small roadside store/shack for us to use the bathroom. While we were inside several people offered to sell us pot, no big deal since this seemed pretty standard in Jamaica. We weren’t interested so we got back in the car which is when he went around to the side of the car and peed. OK. So maybe they wouldn’t let him use the facilities since we didn’t buy any pot?! Unclear. Also at this stop, the owner of the company driver worked for appeared out of nowhere to tell us that we hadn’t paid enough. This had all been arranged through the travel agent so we were unsure what was happening. He decided that we had paid the rate from the airport to the hotel in Negril, but since the hotel in Montego Bay was a bit farther from the airport we owed more. We said fine and assumed we would pay it later. We got back on the road, and headed to the hotel. The same man must have followed us to Negril, because once we arrived at the hotel he appeared again asking for $30 dollars. We paid it to get rid of him, but it was just strange.

After the week of festivities and staying up late celebrating the night before I was EXHAUSTED (see below). Once we arrived at the hotel the check in process was SO SLOW! They wanted to show us around, and tell us all about the resort. Nice, but all I wanted was to finish my nap and to order room service. I finally had to tell them I was not interested in the tour and please take me to my room. We ordered food and spent the rest of the day resting.

The view from our room was amazing, we could see the water and partially see the sunset. The rooms are thatched roof individual huts. The bathroom is inside, but the shower is in an outdoor area off of the room. We loved the room and showering outside was fun. While it is outside, it’s private and still feels clean. There is a mosquito net that pulls down over the bed at night, we used it nightly but didn’t see any mosquitos in the room. Our room had a little porch area with chairs and water views, as well as its own private sun deck with nice lounge chairs. Pro tip – the air conditioning in the room is connected to the main door, when you open the door the air cuts off. We found the way around this was to leave using the sliding glass door – this left our room unlocked but it stayed nice and cool! The resort was the perfect place to rest and relax after a crazy week. It is so tranquil, and peaceful there. Because, everyone is in their own little hut, you don’t really see or hear other people, and basically anywhere on the property has a view of the water, you can hear the waves crashing, and feel an ocean breeze.

On our first morning we woke up to the most beautiful double rainbow over the ocean. I mean are you serious with that rainbow. We took some pictures and then had breakfast at the Rockhouse Restaurant. The food there was fantastic. They have fresh squeezed juices and you can tell everything is prepared to order. We really enjoyed it. As part of our honeymoon package we were treated to an Aqua Detox foot soak in the spa. It was very strange. You put your feet in this vibrating tub and the water turns dark brown and foamy over time. It claims to be removing toxins through your feet. It was free with our stay, but I don’t know that I would pay for it since it didn’t really seem to do much. The spa looked really nice, but we did not have any other services done since we had just had a massage before the wedding. After our spa treatment we headed out to the pool and spent the day by the pool. We LOVED this pool. It never really got crowded, they play great music all day, and the food from the pool bar was SO GOOD. The drinks that we ordered from the pool bar were all really good too! The location is the best part, the ocean breeze, the view, watching the sunset. This pool is amazing. We had dinner that night at the Pushcart Restaurant. Again it was an excellent meal. I had fish that was fresh from the ocean. SO GOOD.

The next day was more of the same. Breakfast. Pool. Sun deck. Lunch at the pool bar. Drinks. Sunshine. Nap. Sunset. Dinner at the Pushcart. Good stuff.

I did rent snorkel gear from the pool and venture out into the ocean. There were some waves and a bit of a current but I felt safe. Sean wasn’t interested in snorkeling due to the waves and current. I saw a few fish, but nothing amazing. I wanted to jump from the bridge at the hotel in to the ocean but, Sean said absolutely no way he would let me. We considered going out to Rick’s Cafe to see the famous cliff jumpers and also considered taking the hotel shuttle out to the sister property Skylark, but ultimately decided the food, the view, and everything we had at the hotel was all we needed. It is so tranquil there. I honestly can’t think of many more relaxing places I have been.

But this is where things get weird. That night before bed I noticed a few VERY SMALL blood spots on the bed. I mentioned it, and we decided that maybe one of had a bug bite that we scratched and we didn’t worry too much about it. BUT. The next morning we woke up and there were more. And I FREAKED. I immediately went to google, and determined that it was probably bed bugs. (Before you’re all like don’t ruin this for me, I have friends who work in the travel industry who have assured me that almost every hotel you or I have ever stayed in has dealt with this). I panicked for a second and then we decided to call the manager to our room. We were packing up to leave for the airport anyway so we felt like it was our responsibility to tell someone so they would know before the next guest had the same experience. I was very nice and just told her to look at the situation and we wanted her to know so that she could do whatever she felt she needed to with the information. She immediately got angry and defensive and told us that couldn’t possibly be what was wrong and she knew it was just sand fleas that had gotten in under the net. That made me absolutely FURIOUS and left such a bad taste for the whole stay. Everyone who worked there had been so friendly and helpful for the entire stay, and all she had to say was thank you I’ll take care of it. Whether she did or not was up to her, but denying the situation was infuriating.

Our driver showed up early, and we quickly loaded up to head to the airport. At that point I was OVER IT and ready to get home. It was pouring buckets and several times we mentioned to him that we were so thankful he could pick us up early since the weather was so bad it was nice to not have to hurry to the airport. Well he didn’t take the hint. Everyone there drives like complete maniacs. The roads are narrow two lane roads, and the rain had been coming down so hard they were flooded out. Despite this I fell asleep. I woke up to a big crashing sound. We were in a car accident. On the wrong side of the road. I have no idea what we were doing on the other side of the road or how the accident happened because I was sleeping. But y’all as if the the bed bugs weren’t enough we got in a car accident too!

We quickly got out of the car because the front end was smoking. And as we are standing there in the mud with the rain pouring down on us, locals keept appearing out of nowhere. A few were arguing about how the accident happened and who’s fault it was, but most of them wanted to help us. They started throwing our stuff out of the car (I get the feeling I wasn’t the only one who was afraid the car was going to catch on fire). Then I said we were going to the airport, what are we going to do. And that’s when “Captain Black” saved the day. Everyone started tossing our stuff into another car, and before you know it we were in a car with a stranger named Captain Black headed to the airport. Before we ever even had time to think about if he was going to kidnap us and murder us we got in the car with him because we needed a ride to the airport, and because the day had gone from bad to worse. He ended up being very nice and he took us right to the airport. The company the driver worked for never reached out to see if we were hurt and never offered a refund, so definitely would not recommend them.

So would I recommend the Rockhouse? It’s tough because we loved it there. It is so tranquil and it feels like you are in another world because of all the beautiful foliage, the thatched roof huts, the ocean breeze, the sound of the waves. The food and drinks at all the restaurants was amazing. BUT. We got bed bugs. And the manager told us we didn’t. [Oh. And they refunded 20% of the cost of our stay. Just incase it might have been bed bugs. Because it was.] But the truth is almost EVERY hotel you have ever stayed at has probably dealt with this, so this could have happened anywhere. And at least the bugs have a nice view there.

For us, Montego Bay is a two hour direct flight, and there are tons of nice resorts within 30 minutes of the airport. So on our next trip we probably won’t go back to Negril because it’s just easier to stay closer to the airport for a nice quick getaway.

When you got married the night before…

me sleeping again… 11:16 am

7 minutes later…

Prewedding Festivities Part 2

On Friday before the wedding we spent the day hanging with friends and family by the beach and the pool. We had a quick run through of the ceremony before meeting all of our guests at a cocktail hour on the terrace. Again, Sean’s uncle took lots of pictures that I am very thankful for. After the cocktail hour everyone went their separate ways for dinner. We went with a group of our friends to the French restaurant. After dinner we met up in the lobby for all of the girls to have henna done. I spent my last night before the wedding having a slumber party with Kristin and Annie. It was only fitting that after 30+ years of sleepovers with Kristin we have one the night before my wedding.

For more from our wedding see here and here.

Prewedding Festivities

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.

Our Destination Wedding at Hyatt Ziva-Zilara Rose Hall – A Complete Review

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.

Want more details? Here’s the pictures and update on Thursday and Friday‘s events as well as a full post on our wedding day.

Life Lately

Fall at the National Parks
Blue Ridge Music Center
Hiking at the Blue Ridge Music Center
Hiking at the Blue Ridge Music Center
Fall Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway Music Center
Hiking at the Blue Ridge Parkway Music Center
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fall day in the mountains

Wedding Sunset in Jamaica

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!

Planning a Destination Wedding

Time for a little wedding update. So remember when I told you that we were getting married I said that wedding planning was not my jam so we were having a destination wedding. With just under two months until the big day I can happily report that wedding planning is still not my thing.

wedding dress shopping

hyatt ziva zilara montego bay

We are getting marring at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We picked this resort for a few reasons: 1) I was in an absolute tizzy and the travel agent said it was a nice place, 2) my dad said he wouldn’t come if we got married in Mexico and I didn’t want to start a fight, and 3) his mom said anywhere was better than where I originally wanted it. [Wedding planning is so fun.]

All kidding aside, those are all real, but not why we actually went with the resort. For one thing the resort is kind of a two in one with a family friendly side and an adults only side. We thought this would be ideal for any of our family or friends who didn’t want to travel internationally and leave kiddos behind, but still give us the option to have the adults only feel. We have a lot of people with dietary restrictions who will be attending, and this resort unlike some others in the Caribbean (so we have been told, not speaking from actual experience) is able to accommodate them all very well. I have not been to that many all inclusive spots, but many of them cater specifically to people traveling as couples, we wanted to avoid that, as we wanted ALL of our guests to feel welcome. And finally the place seems like they know how to do a wedding. They are set up to be able to accommodate multiple weddings per day, and as someone who is not AT ALL into the details, they seem like they can handle it.

As of right now, we have 71 ticketed and confirmed guest, which I am blown away by! People are traveling from as far away as Nairobi, Kenya to be there and I am still in disbelief. My dress is ready to go, his suit is ready to go, all the big stuff is done! And I am ready to pull my hair out with the little details. How do people get so into this stuff?

I found these images to use as inspiration for our decor that I sent to our wedding coordinator and then kind of left it up to her. Have I mentioned that I am not into wedding planning?

tropical decor wedding inspiration

destination wedding decor inspiration

palm wedding decor

tropical palm wedding decor

palm wedding decor inspiration

monstera palm wedding decor

A few tips from my observations thus far:

  • We have never actually been to this resort (never even been to Jamaica for that matter) if this stresses you out leave yourself PLENTY of time to visit the resort, change your mind, and then visit another resort.
  • I will not have a “trial run” with my hair and make-up. I will have it done at the spa at the resort. I’m fine with this, as worst case scenario I will wash it off and do it myself. If you are not fine with this consider another plan.
  • I have seen two maybe three pictures of the different venues where we will host events. I assume they know what works best in terms of layout and design if you can’t trust that they know what to do – go visit so that you will know yourself.
  • Much of the coordination has been done by email. People are on island time. Your email is unlikely to be answered today, or maybe even tomorrow.
  • The wedding planner is more than happy to call you but you may have to ask them to do so. In my experience she has understood much more what I am asking for via phone, or things get overlooked in the email conversations.
  • The resort will literally try to sell you everything under the sun because you NEED this at your wedding. You do not NEED dancing elephants at your wedding. Stay strong. Although you may be upfront with the resort in telling them you do not want ALL THE THINGS, they will likely still try.
  • The prices for everything will be more than you are expecting. From planning other events I know resort fees can be steep, but these seem somewhat outrageous in comparison. While the resort will prepare a nice package for the wedding EVERYTHING else will have an additional fee. They know you cannot put a dance floor in your checked luggage therefore you will pay.
  • If you choose not to use the resorts vendors you will pay an additional fee to use someone else who is charging a more reasonable price, in most cases making it no longer cost effective to use the alternate vendor (you may still come out ahead using a local vendor since they are aware of these resort fees and charge competitive rates – we found this to be true with our photographer)
  • That being said the price of *almost* everything has been negotiable. Some people enjoy the thrill of haggling. I do not. I find it infuriating.
  • I found a Facebook group of brides who have or are planning to get married at this resort or its sister resort in Mexico. The group has been tremendously helpful!

Overall our experience with the resort so far has been positive and we cannot wait to be in Jamaica with our friends and family! In talking to friends who had traditional or similar nontraditional weddings everything that I have mentioned is sort of to be expected. And in general it seems that there is no “winning” with wedding planning. Someone will have something to say about whatever you choose to do, no matter what. So do you girl and keep it moving has been my motto. Happy weekend y’all!

If you are interested in reading more about how our wedding at Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall turned out see this post.

Engagement Photo Session

winston salem engagement photo shoot

winston salem engagement photo shoot

lilly pulitzer engagement photo shoot

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emerald cut diamond engagement ring

engagement photo shoot

engagement photo shoot

downtown winston salem photo shoot

lilly pulitzer engagement photo shoot

casual engagement shoot

engagement photo session

engagement shoot

lilly pulitzer couple shoot

photo shoot

Dress | Shoes

Since it has been just over a year since we got engaged I thought I would share our engagement photos, that we finally took. We had the photos done by Amber Dalholt. It was a lot of fun working with her and I think the pictures turned out great! We took them on a Sunday morning in downtown Winston-Salem. Downtown was quiet and peaceful with no one awake yet allowing for some really great photo spots!