wedding planner Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios

Weddings in JAMAICA are often less formal than being married at home. 
Still, when it comes to matters like money, bridal gifts and invitations, a few rules apply.
Here are some tips to help guide you through the list of do's and don'ts.

Guest List

With an affair far away from home, you needn't feel compelled to invite your third cousins twice removed. Just remember that in between the cost of airfare and accommodations and getting time off from work and school, not everyone on your list will be able to join you.

Typically, about 50 percent of the people invited to a destination wedding in JAMAICA show up. Couples should never count on guests not accepting their invitation. Since you have selected JAMAICA and many of your guests probably haven’t been there, don’t be surprised if a majority of friends and family make the trip.

What about those who can't go? Throw a party once back home. This kind of "reception" can be large or small, formal or informal, and gives you and your new spouse a chance to celebrate with all of your nearest and dearest. Plan the decor around a Caribbean or JAMAICAN party.  Be sure to have wedding photos or even the DVD on hand to share with those who couldn't attend. Generally, gifts are not expected at this type of party, but well-wishers will probably bring something anyway.

Save the Date

Preferably, "save-the-date" cards for your JAMAICAN wedding should go out six to nine months in advance so that friends and family can work the trip into their budget and work schedule. This way you'll also have an idea early of how many people will be able to attend. While electronic cards such as E-vites are growing in popularity, sending both the save-the-date cards and wedding invitations formally via regular mail are still suggested.  E-vites are fun and creative for casual occasions, but your wedding is a once- in-a-lifetime event.

As the big day approaches, create a simple web site to keep invitees informed of travel and accommodation options.  See our “Free Wedding Web site” page for ideas on setting up this web site.  Be sure to keep the information current, and email guests each time you make significant changes, if you have the time. 

Money Manners

A wedding in JAMAICA generally calls on invitees to pay their own airfare and hotel stay, while you pick up the tab for the extra flowers, along with the private wedding reception, including all food and beverage. We assist your guests in getting a good resort price and booking them into the resort.  If money is truly a concern for your guests, let them know their presence is the only wedding gift you need and make yourself available to assist in any way possible. Perhaps you can also help them pair up in double or triple rooms, if they need the assistance.  JAMAICA is rich with a great number of the all-inclusive resorts, where the rate includes the room, the food, beverages, services charges and most all in-resort activities.

Wedding Gifts

As with any wedding, avoid the mention of gifts on the wedding invitation. In fact, you should appear completely unconcerned with gifts once you've arranged the registry. A family member or member of the wedding party will inform guests where you are registered.  No guest should be encouraged to carry their wedding gift to JAMAICA as their package will be opened by Customs and possibly a duty charged on the contents.

We encourage all our wedding couples to register with our “Honeymoon Registry, a process that works just like a gift registry. Your friends and family can purchase parts of your honeymoon experience as a wedding present.  Our registry is with HoneymoonWishes.com and we have had very favorable comments back from our couples regarding how easy and fun it is. 

Rehearsal Dinner

Typically, the rehearsal dinner is for the bridal party, immediate family and out-of-town guests, but since everyone has traveled to be a part of your destination wedding, it's a good idea to include the whole gang with what we suggest as a beach “Welcome Party”.  This type of celebration can be held right after the bridal party actually rehearses and then gives everyone a chance to meet each other in a very casual atmosphere prior to the wedding taking place. 

Since the next day is usually the wedding, we suggest that this party be held just for an hour or two and then everyone is on their own for dinner that evening.  A private section, of one of the dining rooms at the resort, can be reserved for the bride, groom, bridal party and parents to have dinner together.

Dress Code

The first thing to consider is the temperature in JAMAICA.  As you are probably having at least your wedding ceremony outdoors in a beachside setting or at a lawn gazebo, go for natural, lightweight fabrics like silk chiffon, silk organza and satin crepes rather than a big heavy ball gown. Look for dresses that drape your body rather than cling to it, especially for JAMAICA’S tropical climate.  You might consider skipping the veil, for the outdoors ceremony, and possibly adding some of the Island’s fresh flowers for your hair instead.

For the groom, a white dinner jacket or light, breathable fabrics like linen and poplin are great alternatives to a formal tux. Just make sure you two wear outfits that mix well together. Because your wedding guests may have to travel to a place they have not visited before, it's wise to state the dress code on the invitation and website. Depending on your selection of the resort in JAMAICA, to the actual venue for your wedding ceremony, the dress code can be anything from "cocktail attire" and "dressy casual" to "resort wear" or "evening resort attire". You don't want your guests to feel overdressed or under dressed.

Wedding Favors

There are many ways to welcome guests and show you appreciate their attendance. If the whole wedding party stays in one place, prepare a small treat and leave it at the front desk so that people receive the gifts when they check in. This can be a welcome basket or tote bag filled with local maps, native snacks and an itinerary of events. A beach or tote bag makes for a great keepsake and remembrance of this special time.

Please be advised that some of the resorts, if you are having a large group checking into the hotel, will provide you with a table in the lobby area where you can greet your guests yourselves and hand them their “Welcome Bag".

An alternative to creating and shipping dozens of packages is to give attendees a taste of the Jamaican flavor by purchasing some local items to put into your bag or giving a gift certificate to the hotel spa (for the ladies) or for golf (for the gents). 

Quality Time

One of the great things about a destination wedding is that you get to spend quality time with family and friends for a few days. But just because your loved ones came all the way to JAMAICA, doesn't mean you have to spend every minute with them, particularly not after the wedding day. Declining invitations to socialize with your guests following the "I dos" is neither inappropriate or against tradition.  Many of my couples take my recommendation and book a “split-stay” package to so that the day after the wedding, they are moving on to another resort (more romantic) and possibly even in another geographic part of JAMAICA. 

Nonetheless, since many invitees may stay in Jamaica, for a few days after the wedding,  offer tips on activities they can enjoy in and around the area and introduce them to other guests who are sticking around also.  In each of the resorts, are the tour desks, staffed with personnel just willing and able to tell all about the exciting tours, not only in the local area but throughout JAMAICA the areas of Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios. 
  
If the two of you still feel guilty taking time for yourselves after the wedding, arrive a few days ahead of your wedding party, or simply look at your trip as an opportunity to enjoy the company of your loved ones in a wonderful vacation spot, JAMAICA. After all, you and your new spouse have your entire lives to spend in each other's arms.

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