Okay, I promised myself that I would return the favor to the message board because of everything that I got out of it! I like everyone else obsessively accessed the board everyday, literally until we left, just in case I missed somethimg that wasn't there the minute before the last time I checked, LOL! So grab your glasses, and your printer, because this is going to take a while, lol! I hope that my post is as helpful to others as the ones that were helpful to me!
I started the planning process in August 2009. We knew that it would be a destination wedding, and we knew it would be Couples.
My first mistake in this whole process was handling the group's travel planning myself. I own and operate a travel agency, and thought that it would be easy breezy handling the arrangements myself. WRONG! I had so many last minute air plans, additions, cancellations, the works, that it added to the stress of planning. So for any other travel agents out there who are thinking of handling your own groups, don't! However, Gisele Spalding in the groups dept absolutely ROCKS!!!
Couples Tower Isle is the location!
We chose Couples Tower Isle for our location because I was impressed with all the renovations and the Tower Isle ceremony option. So we chose the tower isle wedding. A platinum wedding was not in our horizon so this was the next best thing. It was within our budget and incorporated all that we needed. Debbie Hall in the wedding department absolutely ROCKS! She answers any and every question you can come up with at anytime. After choosing tower isle, however, I was a little nervous because I couldn't find anyone on the board who had done it, or pictures of it, other than the stock pictures that Debbie provided. The one easy part of a destination wedding is the planning is streamlined. No hall to pick out, flowers, church, limo, etc. This doesn't settle your nerves though.
At about 90 days prior, you're supposed to be transferred to the wedding coordinator onsite, but this doesn't happen right away, so you become more nervous. But when that transition finally happens, all is right with the world! LaToya the coordinator at Tower Isle, ROCKS beyond any measurable element on earth! We had some email contact before I got to the resort, merely finalizing guest count, etc. The real magic happens when we got to the resort.
This is an ongoing debate on the boards, both pro and con the resort photographers. This isn't because the resort photographers aren't good, because they are, but because this is our wedding and we want our pictures to be GREAT. Our package included pictures, so I fully intended to use the resort photographer, however, I also brought my own. Pictures are just one of those things that are not subject to negotiation. They must be perfect. Period. The resort photographer ended up being Sheldon, and the photographer that I brought with me was Robyn Robinson, of robynrobinsonphotgraphy.com
Who knew that a year's worth of anxiety and wondering could be wrapped up in just a few hours? When we checked in on 10/7/10, there was a letter in our keys from LaToya with our appointment time the next day. So off to the bar...
On 10/8/10, we (my mom, maid of honor, aunt and I), met with LaToya in her office and went through the entire process from start to finish. She had a wedding in between, but it was no problem getting back with her after lunch and drinks. She even got the cake samples for us AND I forgot to mention, we forgot our music, and LaToya was able to download the song for us. Total time spent with her was about 4 hours, throughout the day. We picked our appetizers, made our dinner reservations, makeup appts, mani/pedis for those that needed them, and start time. 4:30pm 10/9/10 on the tower isle...
Rain, Rain, GO AWAY, NOW, Please?
We wake up Saturday morning, you can see the clouds coming. All we can hope is that they stay where they are. The morning was great, there was a morning wedding that was able to go without a hitch, and then wouldn't you know it, it stormed cats and dogs. No problem, we know how it rains in Jamaica, it rains monsoon for a while, then stops, and you never knew any difference. Ha! Of course this would be the rainiest October in the history of human events. So it rained most of the afternoon. You could see the delineation between the rain and the clear sky and I just hoped that the clear sky would win! LaToya did an awesome job of keeping in touch throughout the day to make sure we knew what was going on and what plans, B-AA1 were. Plan B would have been to have the ceremony at Bayside restaurant. We did have the option to wait until the next day, but I'm so glad we didn't, it rained even worse on Sunday. The sky did finally clear up, just long enough for us to have our ceremony on the island. Getting on/off the boats was a minor issue becuase we thought we were using the glass bottom boats, but learned that the water was too shallow at the dock for those boats. Of course that's when it started back raining. At least this time they were minor showers though. The ceremony was awesome, even the band was awesome. We ended up having our reception at the Verandah, and our dinner at 8 Rivers.
I've included a link to the pictures taken by the resort photographer, and a blog from my photographer who has just started compiling her photos and has shared a sneak peak. The resort photographer was good. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about Sheldon, but Robyn was great!
This was the most amazing experience I could have encountered for a wedding. Even with the rain, I couldn't have asked for more. We spend the whole year anxious, nervous, scared, happy, and it's all wrapped up in a matter a minutes. The entire couples staff did everything they could to accommodate us in anyway possible. From the back office in the groups dept and the wedding dept, to the front office in LaToya. I am impressed with everyone. Even after having to implement plan J , it was all worth it.
Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, and as more pictures become available, I'll post them!!
Wow what an excellent review. 4 hours with the wedding coordinator, holy molly, thats a long time. I was hoping for like 1 hour.
I am also a travel agent and making the group reservations, but after reading your review I am having 2nd thoughts. I will be booking travel and hotel arrangements thru one supplier as in Canada its much easier that way and more affordable.
I can't tell you how happy I was to read your post! We are doing the tower island package wedding on May 14, 2011 and I have been getting really nervous since no one had posted pictures of this one. It sounds like you had a great time and experience, and I cant wait to see all your your pictures. From what have seen so far you looked beautiful and the ceremony awesome! Congrats!
@sunstarsmoon - Yeah, I would definitely give deep thought about handling the group yourself. I had a tough time getting people to understand that I was wearing two hats and didn't have the time that I normally would have to watch flights, make sure they're payments were in, roommates decided, etc. I had one aunt who I booked her flights from PHL, literally the Saturday before we left. Our group was about 24 people total. Not all travelers were like that but the ones that were, were enough to drive me crazy. If you choose to handle your group, I'm not sure of your group policies, I would suggest making your cancellation/change fees as strict as you possibly can. I can even send you a copy of my forms if you'd like, just email me.
@texasbeachgirl - If you'd like to follow-up with me, once I get all of the proofs from our photographer, I can email the link so you can get a feel of the whole island. It really is beautiful, and had we been able to use the whole island the entire evening as planned, it really would have been magical. We were going to get a DJ, but there's just something about water and electricity that made that a bad idea, lol! Also, another thing that I didn't think about before hand was that they don't pratice daylight savings time. So for me we had to start earlier than planned because of that. The "islanders" weren't to happy about that :O). But in May, you should be fine...
Hello Oshana and thank you for posting such a great review of your experience at CTI. I am sorry about the weather on your big day. But I had to post a reply after looking at pictures on BOTH sites. First of all you and your bridal party were so beautiful and elegant. The resort photographer's photos were nice. BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT. Robyn? The moment I clicked on her website I knew the pics would be fabulous. And they absolutely were. You and your groom along with your party looked like Movie Stars!!!!! A world of difference. I really got a glimpse of the beautiful water while you were doing your vows. The coloring was simply perfect on the photos and the men were looking like someone had painted them on the screen. lol! Congrats on your wedding and continue to enjoy your great memories of your wedding day.
Last edited by voiceangel; October 19th, 2010 at 04:38 PM.
gdstravel, wow saturday before you left nothing like leaving it to the last minute. I am booking everything thru a tour group here in Ontario. They have 2 weeks to book into the group rate, if they don't they book at a higher rate. All deposits are non-refundable with the group rate. So really I have it easy, all I do is contact the tour operator they let me know the rate, Everyone thats wants the group rate hands in their deposits and if they don't make their final payment date they lose it. If I had to start booking flights and hotel separatly I would go nuts. We are all leaving from Toronto. The only one that is booking on her own is my daughter because she lives in Vegas! Most of the group is my side of the family and they have been asking me daily when I will be booking the group. So I am hoping I don't have any problems, but time will tell lol.
Hi Oshana, this reply is definitely late! I had been looking for your review for over a month. I never thought to come to this post. I was looking for it on the main MB. Great review!!! I was wondering how everything turned out. I stayed on your wedding site all the time just looking for updates and wedding information. I am so glad that CTI did a wonderful job. My husband & I will b there 09/2011 to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. CTI always IMHO seems to get a bad rep on the MB but, I am so glad that everything turned out great. Sorry for the rain though.
BEAUTIFUL PHOTO'S!!! Thanks soo much for coming back and posting the photo's!~ And rain is good luck.. I know it probably was not what you wanted. But think of it as god blessing your wedding! Congratulations!! I love the comparison post! And I agree with voiceangel!!