When it came time to plan their most important celebration as a couple, Jennifer Merrill and Dhruva Rajendra knew exactly what they wanted. "We decided we wanted a vacation with our favorite people in the world," she says. Their vision: A destination wedding in a tropical location where they could spend memorable quality time together over the course of a weekend.
The couple met through friends at a Washington, D.C., wine bar in 2014 and were engaged at their favorite inn on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but turned to Jamaica’s Round Hill Hotel and Villas for the big trip. “We were drawn to the classic and timeless style of the entire property,” says Jenny. “It is luxurious yet understated and low-key at the same time. We loved the idea of getting married on the water at sunset with sweeping ocean views, then moving to a more intimate location for the reception.” Seventy of their favorite people flew to Jamaica to witness their nuptials and dance the night away. Says Jenny, “We wanted to embrace the Jamaican location with local music, drinks, and food.” To that end, the celebration felt very local while being full of personal touches that held meaning to the couple.
A. Dominick Events, a full-service wedding planner in D.C., was key to the process of making sure all the creative details fell into place, and Sam Hurd Photography was there to capture every single detail—from the welcome boxes to the surprise finale.
“I loved creating a custom invitation suite reflecting the tropical and playful vibe of our wedding,” says Jenny. “It was classic but included whimsical details and language, reflecting our desire to not take ourselves or our wedding too seriously.”
The tropical weekend kicked off with an informal rehearsal dinner. The invitation suite's pineapple theme carried through to the colorful escort cards, which were placed on mini pineapples.
The rehearsal dinner's decor couldn't have been more different from the wedding's and that's what the couple wanted! They dressed long tables in colorful linens and added fun, festive touches like mini pineapples (again!) and wooden turtles that doubled as favors. They even included a pineapple motif on the dinner plate's rim.
Guests were greeted by an adorable guest, who was decked out in colorful flowers for the occasion.
Jenny knew her criteria when she went shopping for her gown. "I wanted something stylish, modern, and unique, that would fit well in a tropical climate," she says. When she found Lela Rose’s the Lake style, a plunging V-neck gown with open back, she noticed the light airiness of it compared to others she’d tried. “I loved the feeling of being able to move freely throughout the wedding day,” she says, adding, “the fabric was so unique. It had stunning details but was so light to the touch.”
Though she planned to wear shoes, she spontaneously removed them during the first look and later walked down the grass aisle barefoot. She wore a Tiffany & Co. necklace her groom gave her as a wedding gift, and Oscar de la Renta white statement tassel earrings. Dhruva went with a blue suit from Suit Supply with a monogrammed chambray J.Crew tie.
A highlight of the day, Jenny remembers, was getting ready—with ocean views and fun music—with her mother and sister and their glam squad of hairdressers from Washington, D.C., who had made the trip to Jamaica. “Keeping the bridal party to just my sister was key to keeping the stress level low.”
Jenny’s younger sister, Ashley, was her maid of honor, and together they selected a short white dress for her with a ruffled back. Their bouquets almost matched, with Jenny’s incorporating white anemone, ranunculus, spray rose, stock with seeded eucalyptus, dusty miller, and Italian ruscus wrapped in white ribbon.
The color scheme was navy and white, which played beautifully against tropical greenery accents like monstera leaves and pineapples.
For the ceremony, which took place on Round Hill’s Spa lawn, the couple opted to go native with bamboo chairs and a four-post bamboo altar decorated with monstera leaves, hanging green amaranthus, and large pineapples lining the aisle.
The ceremony was performed by the couple’s close friend, Eric, who told personal stories and anecdotes throughout. In addition, the groom’s grandfather—who had traveled from India to be there—read “Seven Steps,” a Hindu wedding blessing.
As they newlyweds recessed to “I’m On Top of the World,” by Imagine Dragons, the guests threw white confetti.
For the reception, the couple chose full greenery garlands with ruscus, eucalyptus, and ivy interspersed with white floral blooms. These were enhanced by gold aged urns filled with free-flowing florals (white hydrangeas, white garden roses, white lisianthus, white peonies, eucalyptus, jasmine vines, ivy, and Italian ruscus), and the chairs for the bride and groom were covered in lush monstera leaves and greenery.
On the long tables—where the guests enjoyed local lobster and fish—were navy and white striped linens, glass chargers with gold rims, white china, and gold mercury votive candles for a romantic ambience.
A local Jamaican reggae band started the party off, and a DJ took over later. The couple ended the night with a surprise for guests: a firework display over the ocean as the DJ played Katy Perry’s “Firework.” “The cheers from our guests and the photos during the fireworks were priceless,” says the bride.
Venue, Catering & Cake: Round Hill Hotel and Villas
Planner: Aimee Dominick and Cindy Bastron of A. Dominick Events
Bride’s Dress: Lela Rose
Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers
Bride’s Earrings: Oscar de la Renta
Groom’s Attire: Suit Supply
Hair & Makeup: Nadine Matar and Winston Thompson, Prat Partners
Floral Design: Tai Flora
Invitations & Paper Products: Cheree Berry Paper
Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: A. Jaffe via Smyth Jewelers
Guest Book: Beaches by Gray Malin
Photography: Sam Hurd Photography