Stretching 20 miles along the northwestern coast of Jamaica lies Montego Bay, or as the locals affectionately call it “MoBay”. Beautiful sugar-like white sandy beaches, different hues of blue waters and gigantic palm trees are just a few highlights about this picturesque city. Surrounded by mountains with large stunning colorful homes protruding from them, Montego Bay is also the home of many resorts, some occupying the grounds of old sugar cane plantations. Jamaica’s second-largest city, Montego Bay is steeping with culture and a very unmatched vibe.
I was given the fortuity to travel to Jamaica on behalf of World Bride Magazine to dive deep into its destination wedding world. By the time I left the island, after learning so much about it from Montego Bay to Negril, I was ready to say “I do!”
Welcome To Jamaica
Arriving at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, we were greeted by the Jamaican Tourism Board who were the presenters of the Bridal Expo.
Breezing onto this beautiful island I was amazed at how laid-back and relaxed the people of Jamaica were. Just a short drive from the airport & steps away from the sea lie Sandals Montego Bay. “Welcome home” is how one is embraced by the lovely staff at Sandals. Despite the beastly heat, once you walk into the open-air lobby and you’re handed a cold lemongrass towel to refresh, you realize you are in paradise. Escorted to Club Sandals Lounge, which is an extraordinary concierge experience! I was handed a crisp glass of champagne while I waited to meet my very own personal butler, Rolando.
During the stroll to my room, Rolando pointed out the many international-cuisine restaurants, the crystal pools, Red Lane Spa, plus plenty more of Sandals endless amenities. Love Nest’s Beachfront Super Luxe suite would be my home away from home for the next few days. Rolando unlocked the door and my eyes expanded wildly at the beauty that laid before me.
I was totally awe-stricken, the room was so bright and colorful. From the sun boasting its way through the wall-to-wall glass door and the Carribean contemporary art. The bathroom was spa-like with a large shower that included two showerheads. Massive bedroom with alluring wood and fascinating furniture. On the spacious balcony, there was a serenity soaking tub overlooking the Carribean sea. Traveling all morning, I felt compelled to sit on the balcony, appreciate the sun and the scent of the ocean. All while sipping on a crisp, cold, refreshing Red Stripe. With the afternoon at leisure, I explored the resort and all the greenery around me. Literally the best of both worlds, the view from the front door displayed those breath-taking mountains I spoke of.
Dining In Jamaica
The Jamaica Bridal Expo hosted a welcome cocktail reception at the Bellefield Great House. Driving up the curving driveway I could see the bright lights bouncing off of this beautiful venue. Occupying an old sugar plantation, Bellefield, and its estate is one of Jamaica’s oldest sugar plantations. We were accosted with delicious cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The setup was very much like an actual wedding.
Floral ceremony arch, beautiful chairs accompanied by silk decorative pillows, alluring lights, pristine table tops and much more. The DJ played all the music to get your feet moving, there was a dance floor with a few “life-of-the-party” people getting down to the tunes. The staff was very warm and welcoming. The fresh seafood I had for dinner earlier still filled my belly but not enough that I couldn’t enjoy the large dessert station they had set up.
Prior to leaving I took a step back in time and went on the guided tour of the Great House. Our tour guide Donna shared with us the history of the house and family which dates back to the 18th century.
Planning Your Wedding With The Professionals
The next morning we woke up early for breakfast and to get ready for a day gaining knowledge of Jamaica and its close relationship with the wedding world. The wedding conference was held at the Montego Bay convention center. For those in the wedding industry, this conference exceeded all expectations when it came to information. When it comes to destination weddings, you do not have to stress over planning. Sonal J. Shah is an event consultant who took us on a journey of the work she has planned for weddings in Jamaica. Absolutely mind blown at how beautiful everything she touched came to life. From searching for vendors to the perfect dress, the bridal party size, the venue & budgeting.
Jamaica’s eco-friendly nuptials are also a possibility. In Jamaica, you also don’t have to worry about language barriers, the weather is always warm and tropical, the perfect ceremony backdrop is free and lastly, your honeymoon location is readily available.
Another vendor whose work wowed me is Dr. Paulette Tai ChunHossman, Tai Flora Luxe has perfected artistic creativity of bringing your vision to life.
Marsh-Ann Brown, director of Weddings & Romance, Sandals Resorts International Jamaica delivered such a moving and powerful speech about letting go of fear, do what you say you are going to do and take a leap! As a bride-to-be can be very challenging but do keep in mind that Jamaica has been creating an unforgettable destination wedding experience for years. Whether your ceremony size is 15 or 150, there is an ample amount of sources for your special day.
At the end of the wedding conference, after receiving a certificate of attendance from the executive director of the bridal expo Jamaica Jo-Anne Paxton, all the good feels for sure. Dinner at Sandals that evening was exquisite, with its intimate 18-century great house style setting and eccentric dishes. After dessert, a little dancing on a beautiful island before bed never hurt anyone.
Resort Options by Half Moon
The following morning I awoke to birds singing on my balcony and the bright sun lighting up my room. Just downstairs from my suite was the Red Lane Spa where I had an appointment to receive a one-hour Himalayan salt stone massage. My masseuse was very attentive and took her time as we talked prior to any concerns I had. Upon leaving and walking out of the spa into the vast greenery surrounding me I felt the impact of truly being in paradise. There was nowhere else I would rather be. Breakfast at Sandals was splendid. After spending some time enjoying the resort and the beach we headed over to tour Half Moon.
The resort gets its name from the shape of where it is located on the beach. Sitting on over 400 acres this resort was literally like its own town within Montego Bay. Granted we were a short drive from Sandals, views of the ocean at Half Moon were a different shade of blue. This property is so large we drove around on golf carts. Half Moon is extending its property and the grand opening for the other half of the resort called East Cove will be complete Winter of 2019. With over 210 rooms and suites and 28 massive villas, this resort has an abundance of space to accommodate any size destination wedding. Even though the rooms are spaced out to provide comfort and privacy, you have the option to hop on bikes or for larger rooms your very own golf cart.
Some activities include and 18 hole golf course, equestrian center, a children’s village and a spa oasis that would simply capture you for hours. The Fern Tree spa is massive and is absolutely indulging, it’s essentially located in a tropical garden. It also features the beautiful Ittal Cafe with over 24 natural raw juices. Andrea Smith the master wedding planner for Half Moon, left no inch of the resort unturned. Half Moon is a charming destination for your nuptials and the staff there are experienced individuals ready to make certain your home away from home is special during your celebration. The evening approached with a remarkable sunset with pink and blue skies.
Now, back at Sandals, I was able to utilize the serenity soaking tub on the balcony. I closed all of the curtains but one just to get a peek of the last bit of sun dipping into the ocean out of my view. Right before my last dinner in Montego Bay, I witnessed a couple having a honeymoon dinner at the end of a long pier in the middle of the ocean. It was so romantic with the waves subtlety crashing, the large white moon in the background and stars lighting up the sky. With the various restaurants at Sandals Montego Bay, the final dinner was at Butch’s Steak & Seafood. A truly grand day spent between Sandals & Half Moon.
Indulge–is the word that we can best use to describe the experience you will engage in this paradisiac beautiful location, filled with the ambiance Sandals can offer as a location for your destination wedding. My time spent here was an unforgettable experience. Sadly leaving the resort I manage to say farewell to the individuals I developed a friendly relationship with, guests and staff alike… until next time Sandals!
To capture your whole experience is photographer Everton Sharpe at A.D.E & Sharpe photography ready to be at your service. He managed to capture the ceremonies‘ most precious moments and create a large size coffee table book for your home and to share with people for years to come.
Now, if your thinking of elopement and want to travel dress free until you arrive on the island, we met with Sara Sanford, the owner of Bliss Bridal Boutique. According to Sara, there is another option, shop locally. Don’t even think about stuffing it in your checked luggage. Bliss Bridal has mastered the art of providing you access to top bridal designers such as Maggie Sottero, Rebecca Ingram and many more.
Not to worry, go try on your special gown and let Sara do the rest. Once you arrive on the island, her team has handled everything and are ready to measure and fit you for your special day, all in a swift time of course. With two days of jammed packed information, I felt more compelled to promote the island of Jamaica as a top place for destination weddings, honeymoons and all things involving love
Stay tuned for part two of our trip to Jamaica…….
Alisha D. May, is an artist and actress who resides in Brooklyn. Her background in theater began early in elementary school productions, and as an adult, she completed her degree in theater at BMCC.
Her love for public engagement has been fostered by many exceptional opportunities across all levels of service and theatrical productions. Everything from hosting at restaurants to taking tickets at event, and all the way up to the stage, Ms. May has done it all!
In addition to her professional proclivities, Ms. May is the mother of a fourteen year old young gentleman who attends SSCH in Brooklyn. When not shepherding her son to and from sports practices, school, and other extracurriculars, they spend time together shuffling between museums and couch days; a necessary break from the drive of the city.
Alisha is coming up on a decade in New York, and while this city is an intoxicating urban paradise, something that Alisha has attempted to impart to her son is the need to get away, and to experience cultures and realities that differ from the day to day of the city. That is always a project at the back of her mind, and always a desire to bring to the forefront.