Rebecca’s trip to Jamaica and review of Sandals WeddingMoons | uk wedding blog

facebook-profile-picture By Rebecca

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Have you ever considered a destination wedding and honeymoon all in one? I hadn’t until last week when I was lucky enough to be a guest of Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica to look at their Weddingmoon packages, which are such amazing value. In essence a Weddingmoon is where you fly out to a Sandals resort in The Caribbean a couple of days before you want to get married, most of your wedding would have been pre-planned but you’ll spent a bit of time finalising a few details, champagne in hand, before perfecting your tan by the pool. Then you’ll get married on the beach {or in the gardens for those brides who don’t want to get sand on their wedding dress} and once you’ve said I do and enjoyed your reception and wedding breakfast, your honeymoon seamlessly begins.

It was my first time visiting a Sandals resort, they are all couples only and everything, yes everything, is included. They’ve been voted as having the World’s Most Romantic Resorts for fourteen years running and after a four night stay on one of the most beautiful beaches that I’ve ever seen, I was seriously impressed. I always thought that a destination wedding would be stressful to coordinate and organise from a different country but Sandals organise and offer everything you could ever wish for, you don’t need to fly a photographer out or arrange a florist, you have a built in wedding planner within the package. You can personalise your day as much or as little as you like, it’s your wedding, your style.

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My trip started early last Wednesday morning with a pick up by a Blacklane chauffeur to take me to the airport, booked via their handy iPhone app.

At Gatwick, I was whisked through premium security and started my journey off in the No1 lounge at Gatwick with breakfast, magazines and free fast wifi overlooking the planes until it was time to board my flight to Montego Bay.

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I was the first to arrive out of the rest of the wedding bloggers whose flights from America were coming in the next day. It was lovely to have an extra night and maximise my time in the sunshine before we all met up for dinner with the Weddingmoons team on Thursday evening.

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I spent my first day exploring the resort, wandering the two mile stretch of beach in the hot sunshine {that felt so good in November when it was wet and cold back home} pinching myself at how beautiful this place was. The water so crystal clear and the sand so white.

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Hammocks are strategically placed along the beach in case you get too hot or tired to carry on.

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And if you get bored of sunbathing on the beach, head over to the watersports guys who will hook you up with a kayak, a paddleboard {which was my favourite}, a hobie cat sailboat or take you out waterskiing. Everything is included in the price.

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If you like to dive or snorkel, again this was complimentary with a couple of trips running everyday as well as glass bottom boat trips to watch the fishies.

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The rest of the resort was equally as beautiful as the beach with palm trees and hibiscus flowers everywhere you looked and Jamaica’s largest swimming pool along with two other smaller pools.

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There are seven restaurants to choose from any time of the day, from sushi to jerk chicken or Italian and you won’t need to bring a purse with you as even tipping is included. Don’t mention my favourite, Cafe de Paris which baked amazing cookies fresh everyday and served crepes and ice cream, I certainly did not visit twice a day… Ugh that trip made me feel so fat from all the amazing food, buffet breakfasts are dangerous.

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The evenings were magical after the sun went down with live jazz music and candlelit tables. I loved the blossom falling from this tree outside Eleanor’s, the most formal restaurant with white-gloved dinner service. I felt a bit lovesick watching all the other couples walking hand in hand to dinner, missing Ben! Some couples sat by fire pits on the beach after dark too.

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One night we took a catamaran out for a sunset cruise where you could swim off the boat or just sit sipping a cocktail watching the pretty sky and flying fish leaping out of the water. There are a whole SnapShots Photography Team wandering around the resort that will take your photo, I saw some photogenic couples having some shots taken at various times, when they were out kayaking in the sea or whilst watching the sunset or dressing up to go for dinner. There is no pressure and you can go and view the photos before you leave, choosing to purchase some if you wish. The photographers have an amazing kit and are super skilled, I watched them taking some casual shots of couples and they took a lot of our group. I was impressed and saw some of the wedding photography also.

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I stayed in a butler serviced suite, all of the rooms are cleverly designed so that they all have views of the ocean. It came with a mobile phone and ‘Omar and Joy’ programmed in, my butler’s for the four nights. They were so great and if you can afford it {Sandals often have deals to get a free butler upgrade with your room so it’s worth signing up to their email offers} I would go for a butler to make everything that bit easier. They can make restaurant reservations for you, unpack for you, leave little treats in your room or run a petal filled bath as a surprise but the best part was reserving you your favourite beach chairs with a cool box full of drinks and a bottle opener!

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Ok so enough of the honeymoon part, a lot of resorts can do that well. But what really makes Sandals stand out is their wide range of wedding packages. From the moment that you get engaged, or hey maybe you’re keen to plan your dream day before you get a ring on your finger, take a visit to The Sandals Wedding website where you can start choosing a resort, set a date and then start selecting all the options to personalise your day. From colours to cakes, flowers and food, there are hundreds of options for you to choose from. I was really surprised by the large range of options that are available, I imagined destination weddings to be quite limited with some set packages but with Sandals you really can put as much effort into it as you want like you would with an English wedding. In fact Sandals probably offer more personalisation than a lot of British venues.

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To keep your day as stress free as possible, you will plan most of it online and via email with your resort wedding planner beforehand. Have a peek at the Wedding Customisation part of the website here if you like. You can fly out for a couple of days with the Test Drive Your WeddingMoon package where you can have a resort tour, meet the Wedding Team and the photographers and have your cake tasting and wedding decor sampling etc. For the American’s on the East Coast who live just a short hop away from the Caribbean it’s a good idea if you have the time but for us in the UK it’s a long way to go. Most couples only arrive two days before their wedding which is enough time to finalise the last couple of bits, have a hair/make up trial and get acclimatised before you tie the knot.

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We had a tour of the resort with the wedding managers and got shown the most popular places to get married but you can choose any location to get married in. If you see a jetty that you like the look of, a couple of trees that you think would look nice with a drape across them or if you’re one of those brides that wants a beach wedding without the sand, Sandals will sort it for you. You can then decide where you want the reception to be held and the main meal, depending on how many guests you have attending. We created our own wedding, I loved the trees on the beach, they’re so gorgeous as the sun sets right over the ocean as a backdrop. So dreamy to imagine an aisle lined with shells and candles as your dress blows in the breeze… I digress.

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To get the full WeddingMoons experience, it was important that we tasted the cakes…  Vanilla, red velvet, caribbean fruit {that tasted like carrot} and chocolate. Experertly iced, there are a range of pretty designs you can choose from or you can send your own design for the pastry chefs to create.

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We discussed colour schemes and the types of flowers that we liked. There are a few distinct themes you can choose from on the Sandals website or completely customise one. We chose a seaside theme for our ‘wedding’ and then headed to the beach for cocktail making for our wedding reception the following evening.

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Followed by food tasting, these chefs were incredible.

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On the day of our ‘wedding’, we all spent the morning as we wished getting breakfast, lounging around the pool or snorkelling and then met at the spa to see how a Sandals Bride would get ready. We all had mani’s and pedicures but the main focus was discussing bridal hair and make up.

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It was then time for the big reveal, a wedding at Sandals. There were actually five real weddings during my stay which were lovely to see from a distance. There’s such a sense of calm that you just don’t get in England. I guess the number of guests help to keep things more stress free, you can have as many as you like, the average is just 4 guests but they have had over 100 guests before. Sandals is a couples only resort meaning no children but children can stay at nearby Beaches resorts – the family and child friendly version of Sandals and get a free shuttle to your wedding resort.

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This is the Dutch Gazebo with the seashell theme, there are shells lining the aisle, an Island style version of Canon’s Pachebel in D playing and the sun setting. It was really beautiful.

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The flowers were stunning, I always assumed that English cottage style blooms would be out of the question on this tropical island but within a day of me choosing my favourite flowers of hydrangeas and blousy David Austin type roses in creams and pinks,  a perfect bouquet was waiting for me! How on earth did they get that arranged so fast?! Sandals work with some really amazing wedding suppliers in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.

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We all had fun playing Bride again with our bouquets and wedding evening. Others chose lillies or more tropical orchids to match the Caribbean feel.

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The sun set and the sky turned bright pink, we enjoyed a champagne and canapé reception on the sand before walking over to our wedding dinner.

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The set up for our wedding dinner was gorgeous and outside in a walled courtyard lined with palms, I felt like we could have been in the Mediterranean somewhere, there was a sax player in the corner too and cocktails flowing all night. This is the shell seaside theme that we had chosen.

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The food wasn’t bad either, such an amazing evening to finish our trip with and say our goodbyes. I was lucky enough to have most of my last day in the sunshine with a late flight home compared to the American’s who left early, this cool dude drove me to the airport as I waved goodbye to heavenly Sandals and the fab WeddingMoons team.

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If you’re wondering how much it all costs: 

Sandals Whitehouse prices  for seven nights, Luxury Included {all inclusive} accommodation in a Beachfront Deluxe Room, with return flights and resort transfers from £1735pp. Prices valid for travel between 4th May – 26th June 2015. And as above but for a Honeymoon Beachfront One Bedroom Butler Suite from £2399pp.

When you book a minimum three night stay or longer at any Sandals or Beaches resort will receive a free Beautiful beginnings wedding worth $500 which includes a bouquet and boutonniere, a table for eight, centrepieces, cake and spa treatments. If you want to upgrade to a different wedding package you can use the $500 towards this. 

WeddingMoon bookings of six nights or more at a Sandals or Beaches resort include: A personal pre-travel wedding planner, Personal resort wedding planner and dedicated resort wedding team, preparation of marriage documents, musical accompaniment, witnesses upon request, Reception with sparkling wine and cold hors d’oeuvres for the bride groom and six guests, Wedding gift, Free wedding website and gift registry, Decorated honeymoon room, Mimosa breakfast in bed to kick off the honeymoon, Manicure for the bride, 35 minute massage for the groom, Honeymoon dinner at a resort speciality restaurant with white-glove service and a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine, Complimentary 5×7″ wedding photo and more.

Sandals and Beaches have also introduced a new $1500 WeddingMoons Credit Offer where altar-bound couples who book a stay or six nights or longer in any room category will not only receive the existing $500 Wedding Credit offer and $500 bonus credit but will also receive $500 credit towards your very own Amoro for Sandals jewellery. 

There is so much more info available on the Sandals Wedding Website here.

I had the best few days away and will certainly be recommending Sandals WeddingMoons and the Whitehouse resort to anyone thinking of a destination wedding, but if you are planning one can you make sure you include me as a guest please?

Rebecca xx

{If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me. I’ve planned my own wedding over the past couple of years and learned a lot about the WeddingMoons packages last week so I’d love to help with any queries. Just invite me when you jet off to this paradise, ok?!}

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