Brenda's Wedding Blog | Fresh Ideas for Creative Weddings

wedding blog + planning guide for creative weddings | inspiration for DIY Brides

Brenda's Wedding Blog is your online resource for planning your dream elegant wedding. Helping you find the "wow" in weddings.

Posts in Venues
How to Plan Your Dream Bahamas Destination Wedding or Honeymoon

Today's post from Jackie, my travel editor, could not of come at a better time. The temperature here dipped down to 12 below early this morning and that was before the windchill was factored in. That would make it feel like 25-50 below zero. Brrrrr. I'm completely going to spend today daydreaming of being somewhere tropical with the ocean at my feet . . . The Bahamas sounds like a perfect place :) Now, here's Jackie . . .

Greetings! Today, I'm sharing some fun travel tips and ideas for planning a dream destination wedding or an intimate, romantic honeymoon in The Bahamas. Most people think of the Bahamas as a chain of a few islands with big resorts and hotel chains, but I'm here to tell you that you can find so many unique experiences on any one of the 700 (yes, 700) islands that are part of the country's chain. While not all of them are accessible, those that are have so much to offer.

I recently had the pleasure and honor of visiting the island of Bimini, made up of three smaller islands just over 50 miles off the coast of southern Florida - the closest of the Bahama islands to the US. It is rich in both history and marine life, and is one of the most popular destinations for big game fishing in the Caribbean. Earnest Hemmingway was a Bimini resident from 1935-1937 where he was inspired to write The Old Man and the Sea and Island in the Stream. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited the island twice to write two of his most famous speeches. Today, Bimini remains a quiet but vibrant island full of wonderful, kind people, pristine turquoise water and lush surroundings.

So, what makes Bimini an ideal location
for a destination wedding or honeymoon?

Even though the island is small, you can enjoy the amenities of a resort but have more intimate experiences should you choose. My host lodging for this trip - Resorts World Bimini - makes it super convenient and affordable to get to the island from Miami. It's just a quick 2-hour trip by cruise ship, and visitors can book affordable packages to cruise and stay at Resorts World Bimini starting at under $100 per person for a 2-night stay! If you prefer to fly directly to Bimini, a few smaller airlines offer flights out of both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and will have you beach-side in just 35-45 minutes!

Should you be looking for destination wedding venue for a larger group, Resorts World can accommodate groups up to 200 very easily. However, if you are looking for an intimate experience, there are many options for you as well. Resorts World offers several different ceremony locations from beach front to poolside to the Casino, as well as options for a romantic, private post-ceremony dinner for two, or a fun reception and party for all of your friends and family. If you’re looking for a completely secluded spot for your ceremony, the resort can also arrange a private boat charter to take to you an isolated beach for a one-of-a-kind wedding experience, complete with setup for dining after the ceremony! Doesn’t that sound like the perfect wedding escape?

If you’re looking to spend some time on Bimini either before or after your wedding, there is plenty to do!
1. Rent a golf cart and take a spin around the island.
2. Must-visit places include Stuart’s or Joe’s Conch Shack for the favorite local (and oh so delicious) dish of conch salad and the Dolphin House, a mini-museum with artifacts documenting the island’s history.
3. The public beaches are also worth checking out, as the water is crystal clear and relatively shallow.
4. Another highlight is exploring the incredible marine life around Bimini: charter a boat and go snorkeling or diving, where you’ll discover sting rays, bottle-nose dolphins, beautiful tropical fish and shipwrecks.

Want to have an extended stay in the Bahamas?

There are so many places to explore, particularly on Nassau, the most populous island of the Bahamas. Learn about the history and culture of the island chain or relax on one of the many beaches. Or head right next door to Paradise Island for a more luxurious visit, complete with world-class dining and entertainment, aquariums, and water activities (including The Atlantis’ lazy river and Mayan Tower Waterslide). Visitors can even purchase day passes to access many of Nassau’s or Paradise Island’s hotels and resorts – it’s a great way to sample everything these islands have to offer! If you’re considering a romantic getaway, an adventurous honeymoon or an intimate destination wedding, I can’t recommend the Bahamas enough! It’s a beautiful place that is fairly easy to get to by boat or plane, and has such a welcoming atmosphere.

Whether you want to spend every day by the beach, swim with dolphins or tour historic sites, the Bahamas has it all. So plan your trip and pack your bags already!

PS: all featured images were taken by Jackie

16 Weddings... 16 Islands... One Priceless Day in the Bahamas

You Are Invited to a Bahamaian Wedding

Today is going to be a super exciting day for 16 couples in the Bahamas and my travel editor, Jackie, is there documenting it all for you on instagram. More than 3,000 couples sent in submissions and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (BMOT) announced that 16 lucky couples will have their dream wedding, on sixteen of its 700-islands chain, all of which will occur at 16:00 hours on January 16, 2015, which is today. The priceless wedding experiences are expected to take place on Acklins, Crooked Island, Abaco, Andros, The Berry Island, Bimini {where the lucky couple Jackie is following will be married}, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Harbour Island, Grand Bahama, Inagua, Long Island, Nassau, Paradise Island and San Salvador, Bahamas and you are invited to attend. I am thrilled that my blog could be a part of on this momentous journey in the Bahamas. Please be sure to follow me on Instagram for all the photos as Jackie shares the day with us.

A little bit about the island of Bimini {where Christina and Rudy will marry}

Favored by famed author Ernest Hemmingway, and the place where the late Dr. Martin Luther King penned his “I Have A Dream” speech, Bimini has always been known for its tranquil setting. Located just 50 miles east off the coast of Miami, the hook-shaped island, is famous for its bone-fishing, boating, and mystical attractions including its Fountain of Youth, Healing Hole and discovery of the Lost City of Atlantis.
— Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

PS: Don't forget to follow me on Instagram for all the "dreamy" destination wedding photos as Jackie shares the couple's big day with us.

All photos above courtesy of @jackiep_citizenuniverse on instagram
3 Truly Unique Wedding Experiences in Jamaica

Happy Friday and welcome to the last of our series on Jamaica! We hope you've been enjoying following with our destination wedding and honeymoon highlights in the Montego Bay area thus far {see Part 1 and Part 2 here}. We've got a few more to share with you today, and then some fun eye candy to share with you next week on facebook {follow us here so you don't miss it}, courtesy of some of Jamaica's best wedding vendors.

In our last post we explored some of the really wonderful all-inclusive resorts that would be perfect for your extra-relaxing honeymoon, or your easy-going destination wedding. But, if you are looking for a truly unique experience in Jamaica - something a little more personalized and with as many options as you can dream up - we've got some great choices for you!

If you like the convenience of a resort but without the all-inclusive package, and access to more amenities, the Half Moon is the place for you. The property is so vast that you'll need to check out a bicycle or hop on a golf cart to get around! But, at the Half Moon there is everything you could need - stunning ceremony locations, 4 and 5 star restaurants available for your private reception, a golf course, an equestrian center, and an award-winning spa available to pamper newlyweds and bridal parties alike. The rooms and suites are set up cottage-style so you don't have to worry about having too many neighbors bothering you, and for larger groups, the Half Moon also has 2 cottages and several villas available. Perhaps one of the crowning glories of the Half Moon are their over-water cabins which can be requested for spa services. It doesn't get more blissful than having a relaxing massage to the sound of the waves, and should you choose, a glass of wine or even a candle-lit dinner to follow. If you are truly looking to pamper yourself, or splurge a little on the Caribbean wedding of your dreams, the Half Moon is truly a special place!
Have you dreamed of having your wedding ceremony on a secluded property, with just you and your guests? Have you ever wanted to take a trip that included a personal chef? Well, I'm sure one of the Villas by Linda Smith will be the perfect choice for you! With over 25 properties in the inventory, ranging from 1 to 9 bedrooms, there's something that will fit everyone's taste and budget. Each property has, at minimum, either a pool or a beachfront location (many have both!), as well as a chef and/or housekeeper. Some include admission to larger resort properties, giving guests access to golf courses, restaurants and beach clubs. These villas are cozy, comfortably and tastefully decorated, and very well-appointed with things like wi-fi and flatscreen TVs. And, the staff chef will prepare whatever you like! However, I'd recommend requesting some local specialties like pumpkin soup and this spectacular lobster dish. The villas can be rented for week-long stays or more, either for group or family vacations or wedding parties - some properties can accommodate weddings of up to 150 guests. With reasonable rates, you can host your guests and celebrate your wedding festivities with them all week long in your own private piece of heaven at the Villas by Linda Smith.
And finally, for a wedding you can truly make your own, consider hosting your ceremony and reception at one of the area's great houses. These large estates {many of which were former sugar plantations} are available to host private events. Many of these properties have sweeping and spectacular views of Montego Bay like the Greenwood Great House we visited, and beautiful gardens and lush grounds to provide a stunning backdrop for your wedding. You have many options to choose your caterers, entertainment, lighting, ceremony set-up and reception style to have a truly personalized experience! The great houses in Jamaica offer the intimate feel of hosting your wedding at villa but at a beautiful, historic venue that can become a canvas for your creativity.
Whether you're looking for an intimate destination wedding venue, a luxurious honeymoon or even trying to plan your next family vacation . . . Jamaica has something for everyone. We hope you have fallen in love with Jamaica as much as we have and that you've booked your tickets already! Now that you've checked that off your list, we've got one last treat for you. Stay tuned for some great Jamaica-infused destination wedding inspiration and eye candy that will be happening over on our facebook page next week. Be sure to * like us on facebook * if you haven't already so you will not miss great decor, flowers, gowns, and more . . . basically everything you'll need to make your day one to remember in Jamaica.
Top 3 Locations in Jamaica for Destination Weddings and Honeymoons

Welcome to Part 2 of our series on Jamaica! So you've decided you want to book a destination wedding or honeymoon in the Caribbean, and you're excited about all that Jamaica has to offer. What's next? Well, today's post will give all of you engaged couples plenty of resources and inspiration for planning a destination wedding or honeymoon in Jamaica! If you are looking for a truly memorable wedding and/or honeymoon experience, Montego Bay has lots of options for you!

We visited several resorts that would make a great venue for a destination wedding or honeymoon. The resorts featured in today's post are all-inclusive, which makes it super easy and affordable for you and your guests! Once you arrive, all you have to think about is whether to spend the day at the pool or on the beach. You don't need to worry about carrying around cash or credit cards - you can relax, sip and snack all day!

All-inclusives are a great choice for those planning to invite families with kids to their destination wedding, as most have on-site activities for kids and some even have their own kids clubs where you can drop the little ones off early in the day and get them in time for dinner. Are you looking for a more relaxing, kid-free environment for your wedding or honeymoon? Montego Bay has adults-only properties as well as several large properties that offer adults-only accommodations in addition to more family-friendly ones. Do you know what else makes all-inclusive resorts an excellent choice for a destination wedding?
— Affordable wedding packages
— Perks based on the size of your group
— Can start your honeymoon right after your wedding without having to pack your bags

Here are just a few of the options we recommend in the Montego Bay area:

[1.] The RIU Montego Bay is a large property that is family-friendly and offers something for everyone. For those wanting a more intimate experience, the neighboring RIU Palace offers an adults-only experience with access to the RIU property. Wedding packages at the RIU start at just $600 for the couple and up to 10 guests with a minimum booking of 5 rooms for 3 nights! Yes, that's a whole wedding - ceremony (yes, on the beach), semi-private reception, cake, and the bubbly . . . Truly an affordable and elegant experience!
[2.] For a unique, adults-only wedding experience or a relaxed but fun honeymoon, the Sandals Royal Caribbean has it all! Ever wanted to get married on your own private island? Well, Sandals can offer you the next best thing! Couples can rent out the Sandals' offshore island for their wedding ceremony and reception! Even though it's just a five minute boat ride from the main property, it will feel like your own! For your honeymoon you can even book a spa treatment (or two) on the offshore island to get a truly romantic experience. With affordable packages and the option to customize your whole wedding beyond the pre-set package options, the Sandals is an excellent choice. Basic wedding packages start at $500 for up to 8 people - free if the minimum stay is met!
[3.] For those looking for more variety and a more upscale experience in Montego Bay, the Grand Palladium properties have so much to offer! The Lady Hamilton side of the resort offers a more adults-only atmosphere while the Grand Palladium Jamaica side is more family-friendly. The resort boasts 10 dining options - both a la carte restaurants and buffets, and the individual restaurants can be reserved exclusively for your wedding reception. There are multiple ceremony locations throughout the property as well, whether you desire sand under feet or a lush tropical garden. You and your guests will have endless opportunities to discover all of the fun things to do at the Grand Palladium during your stay! The Palladium offers several packages for the couple who wants to splurge a bit more, starting at $1050 for an intimate wedding experience for two.

All-inclusive resorts in Jamaica are a great option for simple yet elegant weddings. But, if you are a couple that is more into having a truly one-of-a-kind experience, stay tuned for the third post in our Jamaica series where we'll highlight a few unique venues that can be rented our for your wedding or your honeymoon! ~ Jackie
5 Things You Must See and Do in Jamaica When Planning a Destination Wedding or Caribbean Honeymoon

Have you been thinking about having a destination wedding?
How about a Caribbean honeymoon?
Maybe even a little romantic getaway?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, but aren't sure where to go . . .
well, I've got a great series on why Jamaica is the perfect location for you.

5 Things You Must See and Do in Jamaica When Planning a Destination Wedding or Caribbean Honeymoon | as seen on
Today, I'm happy to welcome Jackie {my marketing manager} to the blog who will be taking over for the day with all things tropical . . .

Hi everyone! I'm sure you have already broken out your sweaters and started stocking up on pumpkin spice lattes in honor of fall, but I'm excited to share a little piece of tropical, island goodness with you to keep that summer feeling going a little longer.

I recently spent 5 days in Jamaica exploring the Montego Bay area, and I'm thrilled to share with you all of the wonderful experiences and places that will create a most memorable destination wedding or honeymoon! But, first I'd like to share a little bit about Jamaica - the island, the culture and some of the unique experiences you can enjoy during your visit.
If you live in the Tri-State area, Jamaica is very easy to get to . . . just a short three-hour flight and you're there. Jamaica is also an affordable destination with each part of the island offering something a little different from the other, so you can even have your wedding in one part of the island and your honeymoon in another. Montego Bay is a particularly great destination because most hotels and resorts are only a 15-20 minute drive from the airport. That means you can be on the beach with your umbrella drink in hand in no time! Not only is Montego Bay convenient to the airport, but there's a large variety of accommodations available for everyone! From all-inclusives, like RIU Montego Bay, to private villas to small boutique-style hotels, Montego Bay has it all. Especially if your destination wedding will include families with younger children, Montego Bay offers lots of family-friendly places to stay and things to do.

Montego Bay has stretches of beautiful white sand beaches and is about as picturesque as you can get for the Caribbean. Located on the north coast of the island, the bay is sheltered from the sea so the water is clear and calm - perfect for floating the afternoon away or splashing with the kids in the gentle, rolling waves. You can also do all sorts of fun water sports like kayaking, paddleboating, windsurfing and snorkeling - many of which are included with your hotel or resort stay! The temperatures stay in the low- to mid-80s year round, and though it can get humid during the rainy season (August - early November), it's an ideal climate for soaking up some sun on the beach or lounging by the pool. Ahhh.....

If you are looking for some special activities to add to your Montego Bay memories, there are so many to choose from! Here are just a few that I experienced, which made the trip so wonderful:
Martha Brae River Rafting in Jamaica : a great honeymoon activity | as seen on
[Number 1:] Just a 30 minute drive east of Montego Bay, you can enjoy a relaxing bamboo raft ride for two down the Martha Brae River. The rafts are all made by hand, and piloted by friendly guides who will tell you anything you'd like to know about Jamaica and Montego Bay. Jamaica is one of the few islands in the Caribbean to boast a river, so this is truly a unique experience! {see Martha Brae Rafting here}

[Number 2:] About an hour's drive from Montego Bay, you'll find two fun activities, both of which were the highlight of my trip! First, just over an hour to the east, you can visit Dolphin Cove Negril where you can learn about and even swim with dolphins! These gentle, playful animals will kiss you and take you along for a little ride. It is a truly memorable and fun experience for kids big and small!
[Number 3:] About an hour's drive west, you can visit Rhodes Hall Plantation where you can make another kind of animal friend. Here, you can spend a few hours horseback riding through a gently rolling trail that takes you through mangrove forests and even a dip in the water. A really unique way to experience all the beautiful scenery Jamaica has to offer.
[Number 4:] And for a truly romantic evening with your special someone (the perfect addition to your honeymoon itinerary or pre-wedding activities), spend an evening taking in a Montego Bay sunset on a Champagne Sunset Dreamer Catamaran Cruise. Drinks and a buffet of tasty snacks are included, not to mention the spectacular view! Oh, did I mention the soundtrack for your evening is provided by a talented jazz musician? I can't think of a more perfect way to end a day.
[Number 5:] If you're looking to hang where some of the locals do, I found a few spots in Montego Bay you're sure to enjoy! Jamaica is full of good food and great meals - Scotchies in Montego Bay is a local favorite for authentic Jamaican food: pimento wood grilled jerk chicken and pork, tasty sides and of course, ginger beer! And, if you're looking to spend an afternoon or evening sipping a Red Stripe with some locals, check out Beth's Summer Breeze Beach Bar {photo from this location is the very first one shown in this post}. The atmosphere can't be beat, and Beth is just a wonderful host.

So, are you ready to book your destination wedding or honeymoon?

Stay tuned for the next post where I'll share some of the amazing resorts in Montego Bay that are waiting for you!    ~ Jackie