It was nice. We went to Couples Swept Away, but they have 4 resorts in Jamaica, and I bet Sandals and maybe Secrets all-inclusive resorts work the same way. We chose Couples after some research – We wanted to be on the 7-mile beach, and Couples Swept Away was a little cheaper than Sandals, a bit more laid back, but had the most options for dining.
You look at their online calendar pick the date and time of day you want to get married (10AM, 11AM, 2PM, 4PM, Sunset – extra charge for sunset). It’s a $250 fee to reserve your date, and you need to give yourselves 3 nights before the wedding date to arrive (country requires 48 hours residency to make it legal, and the resort wants a buffer day). You stay as long as you want/can after 🙂 Our “One Love” wedding was the elopement package, but it looks like they have added an actual Elopement package as the wedding included with a 6-night stay.
The packages are listed on the website, but what we got with it was all the paperwork processing, the venue of our choice (beach, beach archway, or gardens and an indoor back up if needed for weather), the minister, a coordinator, your choice of cake (vanilla, chocolate, Jamaican Fruit Rum Cake), choice of white or purple orchids for you and your Fiance and to top the cake, and a photographer. We chose an upgrade to our photo package to get 32 prints in a leather bound album AND a DVD to being home to H”s family, but I think you can talk to the photo people at the resort to determine what you want and need. They tell you to ring about 4-5 songs on a flash drive so you can have them played during your ceremony unless you want to purchase an upgrade for live musicians. These songs can also go on your DVD.
When you reserve your date, they ask for your birth certificate and a photo ID for each of you to be uploaded so they can start the license paperwork – they do it all for you. You can then make your room reservation either with a travel agent (we used Trip Guy’s Mitch Toren – he and the whole team was helpful – we’ve never traveled before) or direct through the Couples website.
You can pay all at once, or pick a schedule to pay. The room must be paid by 45 days before your arrival date. Mitch made sure to put us as “honeymooners” so we’d get a bottle of wine and a gift certificate for a couples massage.
When you arrive, the check in desk gives you a nice packet with the resort info, your keys, and a little booklet with your appointment to meet the coordinator so you can make sure all the names are correct on the paperwork, and to go over the timing for the next day, when to be where, etc. Ours was noon the next day, and it took a very short amount of time. Alecia, our coordinator, made sure to ask if we needed any clothes pressed or steamed, and confirmed my makeup and hair appointment.
You should let Tia or Tamika, the main Couples wedding ladies, know if you need a salon appointment on the wedding day about 30 days before the wedding if you can – my wedding was 11AM, they set mine for about 8. While I was getting that done, H showered, dressed, and then went to wait for me at the internet cafe so we’d not see each other. I came to the room, got into my dress, and paced a bit because I got dressed really fast!
Alecia came and got me, H was already downstairs at the archway (I could see it from our room), handed me my flowers and told me where to wait. I met Michael the photographer and the videographer and they took some photos and then gave me the cue when to start walking “down the aisle”.
Rev. Lionel Rose married us at 11AM on the 7 mile beach, the Alecia took us to the gardens to cut cake and have a toast, while the photographer and videographer shot away, and then took us for more photos and video around the gardens, back to the beach, and our photos were ready for us to pick from two days later. The DVD arrived a week after we got home 🙂
It’s a fun resort, the food was good, the breakfast was REALLY good, the other guests were all adult couples, many on honeymoons or celebrating anniversaries. We saw about 3 other weddings in our week there, and people who watched us get married were nice and even if we didn’t learn their names, I knew them by sight. Some people love it there so much they go back year after year – we hope to go back in about 2 more years. All in all, the wedding which was included with the 6-night stay, including airfare was $5,500, but we splurged on a beachfront room. If you don’t mind walking 20-50 more feet, you can get a garden room and save some money. The photo upgrade was about $1500, which was a lot to us, but we needed the photos for H’s mom. My dress was a gift, H’s clothes were under $300, and while we bought some stuff like luggage, we could have made due. Also, while I know there are hot debates on if this is acceptable or not, we went ahead and used the Couples website to create a “honeymoon” registry, so people could contribute to airfare, excursions, or whatever. Our friends insisted, and so we set one up, and it DID offset some of the costs of things like my hair and makeup and the photos.
You WILL need a passport, and if you’re like us and didn’t have a copy of your birth certificates, you will need those, first. So be preapred to do some work to get those set up, it’s not that bad, but the passport drove me nuts!
Feel free to PM me if you have other questions.