This will be lengthy and more like my story, but as I found when I was planning myself that there were not a lot of full reviews for the Tower Isle Package so I wanted to let you know why I felt the price tag was worth it!
My disclaimer: I am a very unique individual who wants what I want when I want it. This package gives you your own island for a wedding. That was probably my #1 reason this sold me. The second was the Jamaican sunset. My heart lies in the ocean and I wanted nothing less than its beauty to be the background of our wedding. Finally, I wanted a wedding experience for our guests that was unlike any other. I wanted everyone to look forward to our day and share a family vacation rather than feeding and impressing 300 people who I just met that day.
When we started looking into a destination wedding, I of course came across the Shoe place. Yes, I could still personalize everything, but only to an extent. Even being as much me as possible, it was still just like any other. The feeling of it was not right for me. We knew we would have quite a few going-we had 16 total with us. Some smaller venues with a really unique experience were a bit too small to accommodate us. If your party is smaller, you may want to give some of the places a glance with more yurt like housing-that's what I was originally trying to find. So we were after something intimate, but large enough to hold us. Then I found the island of my birthstone, Sapphire Island, and knew it had to be mine. Yes, the small au naturel island has a name.
Looking into Couples Resorts, they seem to be the preferred all inclusive that was adults only. Any that received higher ratings with the wedding package that is offered, were at celebrity level, honestly. If you're wondering about that upgrade, check into renting a mansion with full wait staff for you and your guests. There are even some on small islands. However, they come at a price that was a bit lofty for us. Couples was the way to go in order to give our guests an over-the-top experience.
The planning was easy to book and we did use a travel agent. From my own experience, that was probably the only thing I would go back and do differently-she gave me a headache. We were told that unless we wanted major specifics, then we could sit back and wait until we arrived to make our choices for everything with the wedding coordinator. This was the moment I made the most stressful decision of our trip-not to make decisions and plan details. My need to perfect down to the laces and buttons was let go and given up to a wedding in paradise where the view of a lifetime would be more important than choosing the right centerpieces. It was hard, I was nervous, but it was worth getting to smile at stressed out brides.
Ahead of time, my DH got his passport, and we just had to upload our documents. We had to pay for the $250 Jamaican marriage license, which takes 14-16 weeks after to arrive. We choose our inscriptions for the knife and server set, toasting glasses, and certificate holder. We choose the steel drum band over the mento band for our ceremony and cocktail hour. Other than that, we just got to plan and pack for our amazing trip.
The boards on here were great for packing tips and what to expect. We did also refer our guests to find more information on these boards and the website. We had to be on the island 72 hours prior to the ceremony. We arranged for our guests to mostly come in the day before the wedding so we had some time to ourselves before hand. In retrospect, we did that backwards, but it worked out. I carried my dress on the plane as a personal item in lieu of a purse and still had a carry-on. I decorated the garment bag in a ridiculous and eye catching manor and we set off!
For a wedding party, we just had my best friend and his brother-in-law. Could have gone larger, but I really wanted to stray from the stereotypical bridesmaids, duties, dresses and stress. I wouldn't even give my friend an idea on what to wear-she ended up making me choose from one of her dresses and she objected to my choice, but she looked stunning and it matched my dress-it was black, full length, and low cut. You do just need two witnesses and no wedding party is required.
I booked both myself and my matron of honor for hair and makeup the day of. This only required a 15 minute consultation prior to the appointment. If you want a specific style, I recommend having an idea of what you would like and pictures to go with. No explanation required! We did book the appointment a bit close to the time of our ceremony for comfort and I was actually late for my own wedding (yes, I take a lot of credit too)-BOOK EARLY!
We got manis and pedis the week before and our nails were wrecked by the day of. The cost at the spa for this was not that much and I would have preferred that to trying to do them while getting my hair done. Those gals were wonderful and had enormous amounts of patience for us! Do them there and make a day of it.
We met with Latoya the day after we arrived-but we did stop in and say hi our first day. She is very busy, but takes time to make you feel like you're the only guests there getting married. She was a sincere pleasure to work with and met all of our requests with grace. It was fabulous to sit back with a rum punch and pick out our details with a view of our island behind us. We did also request flowers for our family and wedding party. We got to choose our hor'devours, breakfast the morning after, and what we wanted as signature drinks at the bar on the island. You still get a full bar, but you can order a bunch of premixed like rum punches (yes) and yellow birds.
There was not a lot of coordinating with all of our guests, which then was up to us. Not a huge deal, but I would have even done personal greetings in their room, ceremony time reminder cards, and personalized thank yous before they left. To request extras for all of your guests comes at a cost, so be prepared, or bring some fun things, cards, and favors from home-great way to save space for the trip back! The front desk was happy to bring up a the few small gifts we brought for some and would have done more if we had it! These small things would have cut down on running around between that many people-it gets tiring after a while.
I got my dress pressed at the resort as it turned into a wrinkled mess on the trip down. The cost is not too high and it was easier than trying to baby it on the way. There was an iron in the room for my DH to press his outfit. You pay for this service at the front desk in cash upon pick up.
If you would like larger party combined dining, you will need to book these with the wedding coordinator and may incur some cost for this. We only ate as a group on two occasions-the reception and lunch the day after at the buffet. Restaurants were very accommodating for larger parties and I almost felt that we got better service when we were a big group. We did try to respect the intimate couples atmosphere while still enjoying our time being 9 couples that knew each other. We did also see several large parties and groups all booked at the resort-with mixed responses from some guests, but its all in how you take it. We were too busy having fun!
I did make the excuse of 'checking out our wedding venue' to my DH as a way to get him to try out the au naturel. In doing so, we did draw some attention as they do put up signs indicating that the island was closing early on Saturday. That was a neat part of the experience all in and of itself though-highly recommended.
We did not choose to do any kind of rehearsal or rehearsal dinner as I wanted our guests to enjoy other activities. With a 15min ceremony, we figured we could wing it! All we asked of everyone was to be at the dock at 4:30pm and spend the evening with us! We did get to do several fun activities as a group ahead of time like Dunn's river, Cata cruise, and zip-lining.
Everything was great with the ceremony. It is very windy on the island, so plan accordingly with dress and hair. We should have plastered my hair a bit more as it became a pain almost immediately. The sound of the ocean and the view out over it was amazing. Seeing all of our family join us on the island in Jamaica was so moving and very worth it. After the ceremony, our guests dug into the food and drinks. I would recommend pausing to enjoy a beverage and taste your wonderful selections before you are whisked off by the photographer-we didn't even get to try two of the things we picked out.
The photographer was great! We did not give him a list of specific pictures or poses, but I'm sure they would be open to working with that. I trusted him to know his scenery better than I did. Just as the sun was setting, we took off for the other side of the island to capture the most perfect pictures that I could ever ask for. The sun setting over the water made for some priceless wedding pictures. He even had the patience for us hopping in the water with my dress on for a mini trash the dress and some unbelievable shots. Fair warning-you will then be cursed with a 50lb dress hanging from your backside-good luck!
After sunset, it gets really dark really fast. I dragged my dress over to cut our simply beautiful cake. I do believe, for a price, they will do special decor to the cake. Wedding cakes were my one obsession and I do wish that I would have requested that with ours. We ate our hot food items, gave toasts, and enjoyed some cake. We choose all three flavors, but the Jamaican fruit was my favorite. They will let you save the top of the cake and bring it home by simply asking for it upon check out (which we forgot to do and realized shortly after, I still need to call them :S
We did get to do a bouquet and garter belt toss-I just made everyone play, even the staff! They were not expecting to be involved, but were great sports and a lot of fun. Latoya was a bit overwhelmed by our craziness, that's for sure!
It took two boat trips to bring us all back. While waiting for the second trip, in the ocean we went again! Do be careful not to get out too far with a heavy dress. I was told a horror story before we did this about that and stayed closer to be careful. You will feel the current pull you pretty hard.
Our ceremony was on a Saturday night and was followed by our guests joining us for a reception table set up at the Gala Buffet (not a private reception). They did this with no charge and also graced us with our own server so we didn't have to move. The set up, lighting, live music, and food were more than anything I could have dreamed of for a reception. We even had guests who we'd met through the week come up and congratulate us. Their live performers were great and included Gem Meyers-look her up, you probably have heard of her! I was in disbelief and sheer gratitude for most of the event. The staff were so nice and catered to our every whim.
When we returned to our room, we were greeted by a fantastic display of pedals and decor on our bed. Our only major complaint came when the next morning we did not receive our breakfast in bed and had to reschedule that for our last day at the resort, no problem. We got our massages (those come with your package, btw) the day after and took some time to enjoy ourselves.
Picking out our pictures took a few hours. Plan for that being a long process. The package comes with 24, but you can get more printed out or on a disc. You own the rights to them upon purchase. We could not go below 30 with ours. My only wish would have been to get some pictures of us all done up around the resort as well-this is an upgrade you can do with the resort or hire someone off resort. After getting back and seeing some of the off-resort jobs-I'd do it. They all turned out wonderfully though, just wish we had more. We did have several family members taking pictures as well and that added some fantastic shots.
I hope that this helps anyone that is curious about the island or giving it consideration. Just do it. I have no regrets over choosing the island or Couples as the place for us to start our lives together.
Things I would have done differently:
Booked the resort and travel myself
Booked a longer honeymoon (duh)
Gotten our nails done at the Spa, not a week before.
Requested a detailed cake
Gotten an off resort photographer for pictures around the resort
Personalized greeting cards, ceremony reminders, and thank yous for guests to be placed in their rooms by staff
Why we did it:
The brides entrance on a boat!
The intimacy that will make you feel like a star
A Gala Buffet reception that was more over the top than I could have ever arranged
If you would like to see pictures, I would be more than happy to share. Whether you are wanting to see what yours will turn out like or just wanting to see, please feel free to email me! I'm not shy and I'd love to show them off. : ) I can either send a few or add you on fb so you can see our ridiculous collection! Any questions or comments are welcome as well. I'd be happy to help someone who is doing this also. firstname.lastname@example.org
Congrats in advance and happy planning (or lack thereof!)