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.

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.

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
IMG_3871

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!

We’re Getting Hitched!

You guys! We’re getting married! This post is long overdue, as we got engaged about 6 months ago, but I am still absolutely over the moon. We got engaged at sunset on the beach at one of my favorite places in the world. It was perfect and I could not be happier!

oak island engagement

beach engagement

engagement party

As soon as we got engaged everyone’s all wedding plans, and I’m all wedding schmedding…where should we go on our HONEYMOON??? Like priorities amiright??!

I initially thought I would plan a simple wedding in the small town where my family has a vacation house. I spent a lot of time there growing up, and it is still our happy place. It is where we got engaged and will hopefully continue to be a favorite place to visit for many years. As soon as I started looking in to planning the wedding there I hit the stress overload QUICKLY. It is a small town, and vendors would have to come from other cities, and it was going to be hard to accommodate the number of people we were anticipating attending in such a small town. I’m in MBA school as I’ve mentioned before, and I work full time, and if we’re being honest wedding planning is not my jam. There are girls who have dreamed of their dress and the flowers and the venue their whole life. I am not that girl.

So I jumped ship, and I can happily report that we decided on a destination wedding in Jamaica. We will be getting married at the Hyatt Zilara in Montego Bay. We are working with a great travel agent who is in the process of booking all of our guest. She spent a lot of time in the beginning asking questions about what we liked and didn’t like from previous vacations and resorts that we had visited, asked a lot of questions about our guests and their needs, and talked to me a little about what I had in mind for the actual wedding. After that conversation she and her team ultimately came up with two resorts that they felt fit the bill. After weighing the pros and cons of each and doing some research we settled on the Hyatt. The travel agent was beyond helpful in this situation. There are SOOOO many resorts that you could choose from and you could literally go crazy trying to dive in to researching them all (Don’t do this I tried). Luckily I have a good friend who works in the travel industry, and also had a destination wedding herself. She suggested this travel agent right away and the rest has been pretty smooth sailing.

wedding dress shopping

The resort has provided a wedding coordinator who is helping to plan all the details. I’ll probably do a few updates on this as the wedding gets closer. But honestly, I just want to have a great time with our family and friends and celebrate. The little details about where they put the flowers and what kind really don’t interest me. I want a white cake with white icing because that seems easy. Being able to pick from food option one, two, or three for the guests was ideal to me. It hasn’t been totally without stress though. We are anticipating about 80-100 guest, and trying to get that many people organized is never simple. Being able to actually spend a few days with all of the people who travel to be with us is one of the best parts to both of us. It always feels so rushed when there is just a few hours for the bride and groom to greet and thank all their guest, so we are hoping to have a little more time to spend actually hanging out with everyone.

miss haley paige wedding dress shopping

wedding dress shopping

And then there’s the honeymoon! We will stay a few days longer in Jamaica at a separate resort for a mini-moon which we are really excited about. But, we both still wanted an actual honeymoon and felt like if we don’t just go ahead a make it happen we will look back and wish we had. The list of places that we wanted to go was oh so long, and we were having a really difficult time narrowing it down to just one spot. However, we feel pretty sure that we have settled on Paris. We will be going in the fall so if you have any recommendations on what to do send them on over.

emerald cut engagement ring at sunset

I’m off to Prague this weekend and from there ago to visit some friends in Switzerland. I’ll also be attempting to ski for the first time in a few years, so wish me luck! If you have any Prague suggestions or even destination wedding planning tips send them my way.

Life Lately

Happy 2019 friends! I may be a month late on the well wishes, but I hope your year is off to a great start. It’s been a minute since I checked in. Full time job, MBA school, and trying to be a real human (you know the ones with friends and a family and a social life) gets hard sometimes. I started this blog for fun to keep track of all my travels. So with all the other stresses of life it’s nice to have a creative outlet I enjoy, but not pressure myself for it to be anymore than just that!

We kicked off 2019 in Hawaii, and it was a wonderful weak full of sunshine, palm trees, umbrella drinks, and sunsets. I truly cannot think of a better way to start the year. We arrived home to full blown winter, and are now just over here counting down the days until summer. 2019 is shaping up to be full of lots of adventures, so stay tuned!

hawaiian sunset

2018 was a good year. We got engaged, and bought a house which we moved into. I survived what was possibly the worst semester of torture in MBA school. We had the opportunity to visit several places for the first time and to spend plenty of time in some of our favorite places.

We are now fully in the thick of wedding planning which I can’t wait to share more about. Hint it’s in a really fun place. I’m in my last semester of MBA school and it’s starting to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m heading to Prague in a few weeks, which really snuck up on me but I could not be more excited about. So bring it on 2019 we’re ready for ya!

Stay tuned for more on the engagement, the trip to Hawaii, and all the fun 2019 has in store!