You would think that the most amazing part of Jacqueline and Mark's wedding at the stunning Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica would be the relaxing atmosphere, tropical climate and pure excitement, but it's not. Actually, the part of this unforgettable destination wedding that will always stand out for Sheena and I is the time we spent getting to know Jacqueline and Mark and having an entire week to photograph such a special relationship. Photographing a destination wedding can be quite daunting because you need to travel with a limited amount of equipment, you don't know what type of experience you will have spending such a large amount of time with a couple and their families and, you never know exactly what situations you will be put into once you land (at least those are the concerns we've had in the past). However, from the second we landed and arrived at the Iberostar Rose-Hall Suites in Montego Bay, not knowing where exactly we were going or where the guests were, we were greeted by Jacqueline and Mark who insisted that we put away our bags and hang out and have some fun with them and their friends who were lounging by the pool. From that second on, Sheena and I both knew that this was going to be a very special week for us. We had met Jacqeline and Mark several times prior to flying down to Jamaica, but the focus of the conversations was on wedding planning, sorting out the photography schedule and making sure that all the documents and paper work were in order. So, one of the first things we wanted to do in the first couple of days was to spend some time with them and set up a fun engagement-type photography session at the resort. It was really important for Sheena and I to have an opportunity to work with Jacqueline and Mark prior to the big day so that we could practice some basic posing and capture their glowing love for each other with a backdrop that matched perfectly - a warm, setting sun on the Caribbean Sea. We spent an hour or so walking around the resort, heading down to the beach and really just getting Jacqueline and Mark used to being in front of a camera and some lighting equipment. We couldn't have asked for a more easy-going couple to work with and both Sheena and I knew right away that, based on this short session, the wedding day was going to be simply amazing... which it was.
Jacqueline and Mark were getting married on the Friday of the week so we had an entire week to spend a lot of time with their family, friends and wedding guests as we joined everybody for dinners, lunches and drinks each day. We also photographed a special dinner for the out-of-town guests (being everybody!) as well as a sunset boat cruise on a catamaran that took place a few days before the wedding where Sheena and I were treated just like family by all the guests.
Finally, the big day arrived and we were up early in the morning to take the shuttle to the Half Moon Resort with Jacqueline and her bridesmaids. I can't count the number of times I looked to Sheena and said, "The view out the window and from the balcony looks just like a painted backdrop!" Even photographing Jacqueline with her wedding dress on, I kept on thinking that my camera's viewfinder was playing tricks on me as the sparkling ocean with a rustic hut and perfectly formed palm trees in the foreground popped out with each click of the shutter. I then jumped in the golf cart and drove to meet up with Mark in his private villa to grab some pictures of his special part of the day where he learned how to tie a bow-tie, get his hair in pristine condition and make sure he had everything ready for the ceremony. After that, we had some time to drive around the resort with Jacqueline and Mark. We all basically decided that we would let the island vibe guide us rather than have a set list of locations to get to. Pretty much every turn, we jumped out of the cart and had fun watching the both of them fall deeper in love while we captured each moment.
Then, it was time for family pictures followed by a dream beach wedding with the ocean and glowing sun adding to the warmth that was already created by family and friends eagerly waiting to watch the Jacqueline and Mark tie the knot. After walking back down the aisle as husband and wife, we were in for a night of drinking, partying, dancing, and drinking to an island soundtrack including a steel pan band, a reggae band and a DJ who hit the dance floor late into the night. The atmosphere was so surreal that I even stayed around to join the party after 15 hours of photography.
We then had the next day to relax and spend our last hours with Jacqueline, Mark and all their friends and family before saying our goodbyes. We are so happy to have had the opportunity to work with such wonderful people and we can't wait to get together with Jacqueline and Mark shortly and continue building on our friendship. All the best to such a wonderful couple!
Gary + Sheena