I first started covering destination weddings more than a decade ago while working for Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel. Why budget travel? Because given the ballooning costs of holding a nice knot-tying even in your backyard, resort weddings can be surprisingly affordable, both allowing couples to better control costs as well as enjoy a luxurious experience (with or without guests) in a beautiful tropical setting.

Jamaica’s an especially popular place these days for couples to combine getting hitched with a great tropical honeymoon, and while many resorts offer destination weddings, I found that the elegant Rose Hall Suites near Montego Bay goes the extra mile to pull out all the stops for couples. The “Golden Coast Wedding” package not only provides the basics – marriage license, minister fees, wedding cake, champagne, decorated venue, and music of your choice – but great extras such as a couple’s massage at the beautiful on-property spa.

It’s a pretty simple process – you can show up just 24 hours before the ceremony (though it’s recommended that you come two or three days ahead to meet with the wedding planner and iron out the final details. I recently caught up with the planner at Rose Hall Suites, Nicole Barnett, to get the nups 911:

How did you come to your job here at the Rose Hall Suites?

I came to it in 2009 from the resort’s public relations department, and it has been fantastic. I enjoy the enthusiasm of people planning their weddings; it’s honestly been an amazing experience so far.

How far in advance do you recommend couples book?

The most popular months are March through July, but regardless of the month, I’d recommend that couples try to book their dates at least a year in advance.

How many spots on property are available as a wedding venue?

We have four locations for a wedding ceremony: the beach, the lobby terrace, the lazy river island, and the pool gazebo, plus a backup-plan location if it rains: our lobby staircase.

What’s the most unusual request you’ve had?

A bride who wanted me to rent a white horse for her to ride down the aisle.

Can you share with us a particularly special moment you remember from an on-site wedding?

The most memorable experience I have had was a Hindu wedding that lasted  for two whole days. They asked me to participate and I even got my hand painted! The most memorable wedding thank-you I have received  was from a special couple, Andrew and Jennifer Parker. They were so loving to each other, and instead of focusing on the materialistic aspect of the wedding, they gave me their ideas and left the planning  and organizing to me.  They were always concerned about ensuring that the family was included and taken care of. Despite their anxieties, they never lost sight of what was most important to them and that was their love for each other. In the end the wedding was beautiful and they thanked me ever so often by always sending emails from time to time to say how they are doing and to check on me.

by David Paul Appell

For more information, write to weddings@iberostar.com.jm or call 876-680-0000 extensions 1525 and 1516.