Valery and Chauncey’s swanky Jamaican wedding is by far one of my all time favorites. Details from the super-chic bride…
On the choice to have a destination wedding: “Our wedding was a celebration of everything we love: family and friends, music, and pampering our guests! Jamaica is a place that Chauncey and I have visited countless times over the course of our relationship and we have truly grown to love it’s unique spirit. When it came time to plan our wedding we knew we wanted to share the island’s magic with our guests. For the amount of money we would have spent for one night in Manhattan, we did four days of festivities in Jamaica over Memorial Day weekend – a Thursday-night cocktail party, a Friday beach barbecue, the wedding, an after-party that went until sunrise, and a Sunday lunch.”
The signature cocktail? “Rum punch was our unofficial signature cocktail; we like the numb, happy Carib buzz it gives you. When planning food and beverage, it’s key to know your crowd: Do they drink a lot? Ours drank us out of house and home!”
Shell chandeliers cast a sexy glow over the festivities. “The best part?” says Valery, “they were dirt cheap!”
On their unique wedding timeline: “We were weren’t afraid to mix up the expected flow of the day. Our wedding started with the cocktail hour! This allowed us to mingle with our guests and relax before our ceremony. We took all of our formals prior to the cocktail hour, so we could relax and focus on enjoying the rest of the day. After the cocktail hour, our guests were all seated at their respective dinner tables and we had a “dinner theater” style ceremony where we stood in the center, surrounded by our guests. It was intimate and offbeat, and was perfect for us as we didn’t want the usual processional down the aisle.”
What was for dinner? “Round Hill Hotel was originally a private refuge for style icons like Cole Porter, Grace Kelly, and Jackie Kennedy. It has very old-school glamour, so we opted for a retro supper club menu to fit the clubby old school atmosphere: iceberg wedge salad, Oysters Rockefeller, lobster tails, filet mignon, and Baked Alaska.”
On her unique bouquet: “I wanted to carry native ginger flowers. They have a thick stem so I thought I’d just hold one, but the florist surprised me with a bouquet.”
On the importance of music at their wedding: “As Chauncey and I are both jazz musicians (he plays the sax and flute; I sing), we opted to provide the cocktail hour entertainment ourselves. With the help of some of our talented musician friends (who also happened to be guests) we put together a six-piece jazz combo and dedicated meaningful songs to each other: Chauncey performed Art Blakey’s ‘When Love Is New’ and I did Cole Porter’s ‘You’re the Top’ and the Etta James version of ‘Nature Boy.’ It was a great way to include our passion for music in the wedding and share it with our guests.”
A few more details from Valery:
What was your favorite part of the day? If I had to choose a favorite moment, aside from the ceremony, it would have to be our after party. We rented a gorgeous mountainside villa not far from the resort and hosted an all night throw down. Our DJ, Quantic, kept our friends on the dance floor until 6am – it was completely wild, and ended with a sunrise swim in the pool. I will never, ever forget it.
Do you have any advice for other brides? Be true to who you are and don’t get sucked in by pressure from others. It is so easy to go into “please everyone” mode, but you’ll learn quickly that this is an impossible feat. It is entirely possible to be both a gracious host and also remain on track to creating a day that truly reflects who you are as a couple. Also – enjoy yourself! It really is a remarkable occasion. Rarely will you get to see all your loved ones gathered in one place. I tried to look around and soak in that moment as much as possible.