Caribbean

Jamaica: Weddings with Everything

written by | Posted on June 1st, 2009

Jamaica’s wealth of all-inclusive wedding options make the island an ideal destination for couples unwilling to compromise on both budgets and personal style.

Where destination weddings are concerned, it’s hard to think of a place that offers broader services, amenities and pricing than Jamaica. With all-inclusive resorts offering free wedding packages, upscale EP properties willing to cater to high-end couples’ every desire, and everything in-between, the island’s hotel product appeals to client couples of all kinds. And it’s all set on an island known for its romance, with turquoise blue waters, lush tropical flowers and exotic reggae rhythms galore.

upscale “i do’s” One of the biggest challenges in selling all-inclusive weddings is convincing the client that their ceremony will be a unique one, says Preston Bailey, an event designer known worldwide for the weddings and parties he’s put together for the likes of Oprah, Uma Thurman and Donald Trump. Couples can be wary of “wedding factory” resorts churning out ceremony after ceremony with little customization to make the day special for the bride and groom. That’s why he designed a handful of packages for Sandals andBeaches resorts that give couples a wide range of customizations to make their day their own—making your job as a travel seller all the easier.

“I try to do a little bit for everyone,” Bailey says. “I’ve worked with a lot of brides in the many years I’ve been in business. There are brides who want everything to be elegant, all in white and cream. And there are brides in Jamaica who want color—the colors of the Caribbean sunset, or The Water Lily Collection,” he says, referencing one of his four decor packages, this one igniting the ceremony and reception with hot pink accents of water lilies and orchids. “I try to look back at the history of different brides that I’ve worked with, some contemporary and some traditional, and add some elements of nature, which is what I’m known for. And then I try to design something that anyone could respond to. I try to give them all inspiration.”

For Bailey, that inspiration comes from Jamaica itself. Using Negril’s famed sunsets as his guide, he designed The Caribbean Sunset Collection, with floral centerpieces, table settings, bouquets and even the wedding cake done up in the vivid pinks, oranges and blues of the sky at the day’s end. The package is designed for ceremonies to be held as the sun sets, adding even more color to the occasion, particularly in Sandals and Beaches properties on the island’s west coast, including Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa and Beaches Negril Resort & Spa.

And that’s just one of Bailey’s packages, which also include The Sea Mist Fresh Collection, borrowing its turquoise and gold tones from the Caribbean Sea; The Water Lily Collection with its hot pink hues; and The Crystal Collection, which uses Jamaican treasures like conch shells, orchids, seashells and palm fronds to decorate the ceremony and reception. And they won’t stop there. “I’m always thinking up other packages. It’s important to keep it different and exciting,” Bailey says. “I’m possibly doing one that’s green, literally—using all of the leaves of the islands that are green, and working with the leaves to see how that comes out. I try as much as possible to keep the packages fresh as far as design is concerned, and to give it a different twist.”

One of the packages’ biggest selling points, Bailey says, is their value. Many couples’ wedding budgets are tight, especially right now—but that doesn’t mean brides and grooms want to skimp on their special day. “What I think makes our packages very special is the fact that I’ve been doing weddings for 30 years—very high-end weddings, all over the world. And for the packages I created, cost was very important. What they’re getting for what they’re paying is a great value. We managed to take elements from high-end weddings and use them for these packages. For me, the thinking was to do it in a high-end way and make it affordable. And for me, that’s very exciting, in this economy especially. I think it’s great that you can go to Jamaica, to any Sandals, and have amazing people working on your wedding that we have trained really carefully to do every single thing. You have planners who are very hands-on, very service-oriented. The people they work with really care about these weddings.”