Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Wedding & A Show! Who'da Thunkit?

I am sitting in the back of a beautiful Mercedes, traveling from Sandals Grande Ocho Rios to the Montego Bay airport. It takes close to two hours to get there. Let me tell you, compared to the shuttle the crew and I took to Ocho Rios on Thursday, I have officially decided that there is no other way to travel in Jamaica. I am going to recommend a private car to absolutely everyone that stays at a Sandals property in Jamaica. (Fortunately, if you are a butler guest at Sandals Royal Caribbean or Sandals Montego Bay, your private car transfer is included!)

But, I digress.

Since I've got a little more than over an hour in the back of this car, I figured it was a good time to reflect upon yesterday's events. But, where shall I begin?

As you already know, I was fortunate enough to stay in a Oceanview Grande Luxe Plantation Villa One Bedroom Suite with Pool. I was on top of the world-- The last room on one of the many roads on the Manor side of Sandals Grande Ocho Rios. (Specifically, I was in room 7403, in case you want to request it for the amazing view.) I woke up at 7:30am, thanks to a wake up call ("Rise and shine! It's wake up time!"), took some pics of the view, did a little video of the room, then slipped on my bathingsuit and went for a dip in the pool. It was surreal. The pool was actually large enough for me to do laps. It isn't an Olympic-sized swimming pool by any means, but certainly large enough to swim in.

After my swim, I hopped into the shower and got ready for the crew and some Sandals staff to come to my room for a morning meeting. Derron, my fabulous butler, set up coffee, fruit and pastries for our production meeting. By the time I was all ready, everything was set up. The internet connection was spotty in the room, but I was able to get a strong connection on the patio.

Suzanne (producer / field director), David (cameraman), Wendy (known as "Jenna" to the brides and agents she works with as a Sandals Wedding Coordinator), Arla (Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Wedding Consultant) and Ian (Public Relations) showed up to my room right on time. We went over the shot list (what we wanted to film and when) as well as exactly what was going to happen at the wedding. Arla went over a couple of things with us, including a special option for Dawn and Cody. At 9:30, we all headed out. I went to meet Cody and Dawn at Valentino's while Suzanne and David went with Ian to pick up some equipment that was left in David's room.

As I pulled up to the stop for the jitney to bring us down to the Riviera section of Sandals Grande, I saw Cody and Dawn waiting for the jitney as well. I greeted them, and we hopped onto the jitney together. (We actually ended up taking a smaller jitney than the usual shuttle that runs between the two sections.) As soon as we got settled into the jitney, Suzanne, David and Ian showed up. I had a pic snapped of me, Dawn and Cody, and then we were on our way.

The Riviera section of Sandals Grande Ocho Rios is actually the original resort. A hotel across the street was purchased by Sandals later, and turned into the Manor section. Both areas are absolutely gorgeous, and you can't tell that they were ever different hotels-- the only thing to suggest such is the distance between the two areas.

We climbed out of the jitney and made our way to the area where Valentino's is located. Suzanne, David and I decided that we wanted to take a look at the Reef Gazebo, where Dawn and Cody were going to tie the knot. We sent Dawn and Cody to breakfast, then followed Ian to the Reef Gazebo.

I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the view from the Reef Gazebo. "This is where we get our ocean shots!" David excitedly exclaimed as he looked over the railing. The photos I had seen of it just did not do it justice. It is ten times better in person. The Reef Gazebo is located right by the Manor House, off the side and down a little path. It is pretty secluded, which is really nice for a wedding and other private events.

We decided to do a little intro about the Reef Gazebo. It was off the cuff, but was just what we needed to show what the gazebo looked like before the wedding and during it. After we filmed that (which took three takes), we headed down to Valentino's.

I was surprised when I saw that no one else was in Valentino's, except for Dawn and Cody. It is a really beautiful restaurant, and I am disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to dine there during my short stay. Who knows? We might be back sooner than we think to film another wedding, and I will fully take advantage of dining there. Dawn and Cody were sipping coffee, looking over the beach and Caribbean Sea. I greeted them, and told them that we wanted to film my offer for an option that Arla gave me for them, and get their true reaction to it. Of course, they were agreeable. So, I left the room while Suzanne and David set up. I was cued, then entered and gave them their option.

You see, Cody's mom Nancy purchased the Love Nest Romance Package for them as a wedding gift. The package includes the Scents of Love massage, candlelight dinner, and an in-room escapade. Dawn and Cody had decided that they wanted their dinner on the beach. However, I had a really cool option for them... Last week, Sandals Grande Ocho Rios started offering candlelight dinners on a raft in the middle of their lagoon (for lack of a better term-- It's a square dock that the ocean runs into. Look at the pics), and Arla suggested that I offer it to Dawn and Cody instead of the beach. I offered it, and Dawn's reaction was, "HECK YEAH!" and I thought Cody's eyes were going to pop out of his head. They were so excited! So, I called Arla and made the changes.

Suzanne, David and Ian all left. I joined Cody and Dawn for a lovely breakfast. They told me that they had just been speaking about how cool it would be if they could have their dinner on the raft in the middle of the lagoon. They were so excited. I was wicked excited that they were so excited! It really made my morning.

Dawn and Cody went to their room and I went to mine to get ready to film. Dawn had to be at the spa at 1:00 to get her hair done, and poor Cody was suffering from a cold, so he wanted to sit in the steam room for a little while to try to clear up his stuffiness. I needed to get changed into my outfit to do the intro to the show. Plus, my headache turned into a full-blown migraine, and I wanted to take some Tylenol. Suzanne and David were doing some scenic shots of the resort while I was getting ready.

I was all dressed and headed back down to the Riviera section at around 11:30. My head hurt so much, my hair felt as though it was pulsing. It took me like 15 takes (at least) to get the intro done. Plus, it started to rain. I had to walk and talk at the same time, while looking up and into the camera lens. (Suzanne and David were filming down from the top of the roof.) It sounds easier than it was-- I had to pace my walk and my words to match-- I usually talk quickly and walk slowly, but I had to adjust both. Plus, it was really awkward looking up and still trying to be natural.

As we were filming the intro, two couples (Amanda and Cedric from Vancouver and Brandi and Sonny from Kentucky) were recruited to be a part of the scene. Amanda and Cedric were staying at Sandals Royal Caribbean, and Brandi and Sonny were at Sandals Montego Bay-- both were married on September 12 and on their honeymoon. They were given their direction and did a GREAT job. (Thanks again!!) We decided to use Sonny and Cedric for the closing scene. All four of them were agreeable to it, thank goodness.

So, we took a couple of pics of me and the couples inside the Manor House, then headed over to the bar to pick up our drinks for the closing scene, which we filmed on the pier. JUST SO YOU KNOW, the final scene was written by Trygve Olsen, a longtime friend of mine and fantastic writer. I only write this because I know my husband is going to KILL me when he sees the closer. Granted, it's not raunchy or anything, but both Sonny and Cedric end up sitting very close to me. It's pretty darned funny, but I'm not going to write anything else-- You have to watch the show to see it! I will say, however, that it took about 5 takes to get right, because I wasted two takes laughing.

After that was all said and done, I headed back to my room while Suzanne and David went to film Dawn in the spa. I changed into comfortable clothes to hang out for an hour or so. I called Derron and asked him to bring me up something to eat. I just didn't have time to go down to a restaurant, get something to eat, come back to my room, get dressed, and try to relax. I told Derron I didn't care what he brought me, as long as it wasn't fish. A little while later, he showed up with a chicken cesar salad,a plate of food from the buffet and some desserts. I'm not exactly sure what I was eating while I blogged, but it was good.

David and Dawn showed up around 2:45. Dawn sent an email to her daughter, Brittany, while I put on my dress. Then, she put on her makeup as the photographer, Delsena, arrived. Delsena took some photos of Dawn getting ready. Wendy arrived to help as well. It was so cool to get Dawn ready with Wendy, since she and I were the ones that worked on putting Cody and Dawn's wedding together. It was a bit surreal, too.

I helped Dawn into her dress, and Delsena snapped a few more photos. In the meantime, Suzanne was filming Cody with the "B-Camera" in Cody and Dawn's Romeo and Juliet Suite. At 3:45, Dawn's butler Nadine (who was FABULOUS, by the way!!!) showed up with the wedding bus (yes, wedding BUS) to bring all of us down to the Reef Gazebo. Dawn is such a good sport about the age difference between herself and Cody-- She got some good jokes in while she was getting ready, and I got one in on the bus. (You'll have to watch the show to see what!) We got off the bus and were walked over to this little area near the Reef Gazebo, near some trees and right by a barbeque stand. And we waited for what seemed like an eternity.

They were setting everything up for me and Dawn to enter. Unfortunately, whomever set up the music forgot to set up the song that Dawn and Cody wanted to use, even though they had the CD. (Hey-- mistakes happen to the best of us, and that was the only mishap of the whole day!) I heard the music and was told to start walking. I honestly forgot that a different song was supposed to play. I turned the corner and saw Cody standing there in his khaki tux, looking excited, nervous and deleriously happy. I walked to the front and felt like giving him a huge hug, but walked to the side of him instead and stood near Wendy. It wasn't appropriate for me to stand with Dawn and Cody with the minister-- It was their day; not mine. Even though we were filming a television show, it was - first and foremost - Dawn and Cody's wedding.

The ceremony was brief, sentimental, touching and quite humorous. At one point before the vows, the minister instructed, "Cody, I want you to look at Dawn and say her name like you have never, ever said it before." Cody took a deep breath, looked at Dawn and said in the deepest voice I've ever heard, "Dawwwwwn..." I cracked up!

They exchanged their vows, then signed the certificate and took some photos while Suzanne and I signed as witnesses. Then, they went back in front of the minister to complete their ceremony and become Mr. and Mrs. Cody Cousins. Once they were pronounced, everyone applauded.

It was wonderful. It really was. Neither one of them could stop smiling. You could see in their eyes how unbelievable happy they really were. I hope that happiness echoes throughout their marriage, for all eternity.

Congratulations, Cody and Dawn. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your lives, and for trusting me with your wedding. It means the world to me. I am so happy that you have turned from clients into friends, and a truly hope that we hold onto this friendship forever. God bless you both, and may you live happily ever after.

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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