Jamaica Destination Wedding
I recently visited Jamaica for the first time, hired by a Texas couple that realized hiring a professional photographer was the only way to go, after getting shirked by “friends with nice cameras”. We met over Thai food in downtown Austin, consuming spicy noodles, while talking logistics. I’m a highly experienced traveler, so that wasn’t what worried me. I was eager to add the 25th country to my passport! What concerned me was whether or not I could fit all of the lobster possible into my belly.
Jamaica gave a lot of blessings and a lot of frustrations. I found a surreal familiarity in the country, having lived in Hawaii for ten years, but couldn’t hold back my shock at some of the prices of things.
We’re going to discuss three upsides and three downsides to a Jamaica wedding today, hopefully to prep you for all of the facets of this delightful country!
- Taxis are obscenely priced.
I’m genuinely puzzled why taxis are so much. A taxi from Montego Bay to Negril is $100. To travel three miles down the road can cost up to $20, in a car that may have seatbelts or not. I read that a taxi from Negril to Kingston is $400! ONE WAY. I think about $300 was spent in taxis, for only five days and minimal traveling.
- Customer Service is hit or miss
Welcome to Island Time, mon. You’d think with the average cost of tours being around $110 per person, that service would be impeccable, but you’d be wrong. My couple chose an all-inclusive hotel, something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but worked for their wedding of 40+ guests. However, it almost seemed as if there was resentment from the residents of the country, common in places with stark poverty. Jamaicans earn an average of $75 for a forty-hour work week, while our tours cost double that for a couple hours of thrills.
Where does the money go?
I was also double-charged for an ocean view upgrade and it was made clear that if I didn’t pay, I would have the cops called on me. My complaints and one star reviews did nothing to remedy it. Another $200 down the drain.
- This isn’t some glorious tropical island. While it’s lush and the water is fantastic…this is basically a third world country. The amenities are pleasant at the resorts, but people live in huts outside of these resorts, with minimal everything. Peddlers rove the beaches, interrupting relaxing tourists every few minutes, trying to sell hats, marijuana, and trinkets. One guy walked up and down the sand with his horse, offering brief rides for money. Some may argue this is part of the charm, but I didn’t just buy an $18 margarita to also be asked for the fourth time if I want to buy some wooden idols.
I chose the good parts for last, because who wants to end something as a Debbie Downer?
- Weddings are AFFORDABLE! My couple spent less than $10k for 52 people, with ceremony, decorations and a reception dinner. Granted, they went light on the details, but what is a wedding favor when you receive the gift of an epic sunset?
- The experiences are unparalleled. I personally think Hawaii is more beautiful and cheaper, but the culture and really warm waters make the expenses worth it. There is something so satisfying about having your lobster dinner caught from the water, shown to you and then grilled on the spot. Our first taxi driver got us our first red stripe beers and set us up with some local green. Having free flowing drinks at the resort made life a breeze. Seeing dolphins playing in the water made everything perfect.
- Perfect for guests and a combined honeymoon! There is plenty to do for your guests, so you can enjoy this combined wedding/honeymoon trip! While your friends and family go parasailing or get drunk, you can go with your honey to rum farms and waterfalls. Or sleep by the beach. Or ride horses. Or…or…get my point?
All in all, I do think that Jamaica is a great location for weddings. While it’s VERY similar to Hawaii, the Hawaiian islands don’t have an all-inclusive resort anywhere, so that is something Jamaica has over them! Please, don’t let my fair review of Jamaica frighten you off.
—Jenna Avery, Creatrix Photography