Negril's spectacular limestone bluffs and mellow reggae vibe attract many a wedding couple. But for Washington, D.C.–based Megan and Ben, it was the intimate Rockhouse hotel that drew them to the island. The 34-room inn was small enough that Megan and Ben could book the whole compound, guaranteeing their guests a truly private getaway. More important, though, was the friendly spirit of the place and the people who work there. "By the end, the entire staff was part of the wedding," explains the bride. "Even the maintenance men would stop and cut you down a coconut."
Authentic Jamaican activities helped the 100 guests get a feel for the island. Three days before the December celebration, Ben, a professional soccer player for the D.C. United team, organized a match in town that pitted locals against wedding guests. The rehearsal dinner was held at a jerk chicken shack, where family and friends gathered at picnic tables as a bonfire blazed nearby.
The day of the wedding, Megan spent her time like anyone else on an island vacation—lounging by the pool, pausing only to leap off the cliffs for a quick swim. For the short, nondenominational ceremony, the group gathered on the hotel's stone deck as a guitarist strummed in the background. The relaxed mood continued poolside, with guests mingling over Dirty Banana cocktails and local Red Stripe beers, then digging into homey local dishes like coconut chicken and pepper steak. Orange and beige lanterns glowed overhead and the waves played backup as a steel drum troupe, then a reggae band and finally a DJ jammed into the early morning. —Leigh Newman
3 Things Megan Learned
Don't Blow It: "Never underestimate the wind factor!" The gusts below the cliffs whipped off Megan's veil and the flower in her hair. Her advice? Go heavy on the bobby pins.
Play Cruise Director: "The activities before the wedding really brought together all the different people from our lives." One of Megan's favorites was a catamaran sail along the coast, with a stop for a sunset group jump off the cliffs.
Mix It Up: "We burned CDs for our guests—they included Jamaican reggae music and love songs." The CDs were placed in welcome bags, along with bottles of water, bottles of sunscreen and decks of playing cards.