Monday, September 28, 2009

Dawn's Blog Entry: My Perfect Paradise Wedding

Dawn was asked to write a blog entry about her experience at Sandals and with Candy Cain. This is her take in her own words about her trip, her wedding and her experience.

We arrived in Montego Bay on September 16 after a very long day of traveling that started with Cody’s hunting knife incident at Denver International Airport and included two layovers. Cody was just starting to come down with a nasty cold so it had not been a pleasant trip to say the least. We got off the plane and went through immigration. At this point we were both so tired we could barely stand up. Then we saw the Sandals lounge near the baggage claim. We were greeted by a very friendly Sandals employee who instructed us to wait in the lounge while they summoned our ride. As soon as we stepped into the lounge, our long tiring day started to just melt away. Candy had arranged for a private car to take us to Ocho Rios. The driver arrived and took us to the car where he had champagne, fruit, and cheese waiting for us. We felt like we had stepped into another, much more pleasant, world. When we arrived at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios about 90 minutes later we were greeted by the night manager, Jackie, who welcomed us like we were old friends. She shuttled us to our Romeo and Juliet suite where we were treated to an in-room check in. Our suite was fabulous! The bedroom and sitting room were separated by a private pool and whirlpool.

The next morning we met with our butler and then went to meet with our Sandals wedding consultant, Arla, to finalize the details for our wedding and choose our menu for our wedding dinner and our breakfast in bed. After our meeting with Arla, we ate some lunch and then headed to the spa for the couples massage that Cody’s mom had purchased for us. It was so relaxing. I wish we could have gotten a massage every day that we were there! After the massage I got a pedicure. I must say that at the end of all that pampering I was really feeling like a princess! Then we headed back to our room to relax for a while in our private pool before getting ready for dinner. We were supposed to meet Candy for dinner and we were very excited to finally meet her face to face. We had some trouble finding out if she had arrived yet or not. We finally got word from our butler that “Miss Candy has arrived,” but dinner would be a little later than we thought.

Cody and I were both starving. Suzanne and David (the producer and cameraman, respectively) came to our room to meet us and they were both very warm and friendly, which took the edge off of us being nervous about them filming the wedding. They filmed us for a little while in our room and then we were off to meet Candy for dinner. I was so excited to meet her that I can’t even put it into words. We had been talking on the phone and through email for months and I felt like I had known her for years, so I was really looking forward to finally meeting her in person. They seated us for dinner and Candy arrived a few minutes later and greeted both of us with a big hug. We had a great dinner and really enjoyed visiting with Candy, Suzanne and David. Towards the end of dinner, Candy said she had a surprise for us and she pointed towards the stairs. There was a woman that I didn’t recognize walking towards us with a big smile. Candy said “That’s Jenna.” I was really excited because Jenna was our Sandals Wedding Coordinator and I had talked with her many times over the phone, so it was great that she was able to come to Ocho Rios for our wedding!

The next morning we had breakfast with Candy to go over the final details of the wedding and she let us know that we had the option of having our wedding dinner on a raft in the lagoon. We thought that was really cool, so we eagerly accepted. After breakfast we had a couple of hours to relax before it was time to get ready for the wedding. I was taken to the spa to get my hair done and Cody also went to the spa to sit in the sauna for a while to try to clear up the congestion from his cold. I’m not sure if it was the sauna that did the trick or the two shots of rum that he had before the wedding, but he was congestion free for the wedding! After my hair was finished, I went to wait for a ride from my butler. When I got upstairs I saw David and Suzanne at the business center where Suzanne was on the computer and David was sitting on the floor with his back towards me. They hadn’t seen me so I snuck up behind David and said “Get to work you slacker!” He turned around with a classic look on his face like “excuse me?!” then he saw it was me and he didn’t skip a beat. He sniffed and said “Go get married”. I was taken to Candy’s room to finish getting ready. Candy had arranged for some lunch to be brought to me but I really couldn’t eat much of it. I was way too excited! I put on my makeup and I was quite proud of myself for being able to put my eyeliner on. I figured that was a good sign that my nerves weren’t too bad! Jenna and Candy helped me put on my dress, jewelry, and shoes and then we all loaded up into the wedding bus to be taken to the ceremony site.

Candy and I stood waiting for what felt like an eternity for Arla to give us the signal that it was time to walk down the aisle. With all sincerity I can honestly say that as soon as I started walking down the aisle and saw Cody waiting there, everything and everyone disappeared except for me, Cody and the minister. I was completely unaware of the scenery, the filming, and the other people that were there. It was absolutely perfect in every way.

After the ceremony, we went with the photographer to get our pictures done. When we started to head back for the reception the photographer stopped us and said that they were moving the location of the reception so we would need to wait for a few minutes. She asked if we wanted to wait in the beachside bar and that was probably the closest I came throughout our whole trip to throwing a fit. I told her that I was absolutely NOT going to sit in a bar in my wedding gown. The other option that she offered was the beachside grill which is basically like a diner with stools. That made me even less happy! So we finally found a table with chairs to sit and wait….and wait….and wait!

Finally we were escorted to the reception where we found out that they had been waiting for us for quite a while. I don’t know what happened, but I decided to shrug it off since it was really the only thing that had gone wrong that whole day. I didn’t find out until we got home that they had piped our first dance song throughout the whole resort and I really thought that was beyond cool! That song has a lot of meaning for us because practically every word of it fits us.

Before we had dinner on the raft, Candy bid us farewell because she was leaving early in the morning. I was sad that we wouldn’t get to see her again before she left. Dinner on the raft was very romantic but had I known how long it would take I think I would have changed clothes. By the end of our three hour dinner I was ready to rip off my dress and swim back to shore!

The rest of our stay was very relaxing. Our butler Nadine took very good care of us. In fact, after I also came down with Cody’s cold, she made sure to have a bottle of water on each of our nightstands every night. The staff at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios is superb. We were always greeted with smiles and everyone we encountered was happy to assist us with anything we wanted.

From the bottom of our hearts we would like to thank everyone who played a part in making our special day perfect. Most of all, we would like to thank Candy. She went above and beyond at every step of the way during the planning of our wedding and during the wedding itself. I feel blessed to know her and I am so thrilled that what began as a business relationship has blossomed into a lasting friendship.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

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