Omar and Samantha Walden tied the knot on October 28, 2018. The Waldens chose a destination wedding at the RIU Hotel in Ocho Rios, Jamaica over a traditional one.


The couple explained the perks of destination weddings and the process of planning one.


Photo courtesy of Omar Walden


Travel Noire: Why did you decide on a destination wedding?

Omar: A huge part of our relationship was and still is traveling, so we wanted to incorporate that in our wedding.  Samantha’s family is from Jamaica and that’s one of our favorite places to visit as well. While there last year visiting, we decided to have a destination wedding.  We also wanted to give our loved ones a trip and of course, it was more affordable to do a destination wedding, especially over doing one here in NYC.


Travel Noire: How did you plan everything? Did you use a wedding planner?

Omar: We planned everything on our own.  We initially went to Prestige Weddings in Manhattan, but once we decided on a destination wedding we no longer needed what they were offering, outside of the men’s tuxedos.  We also have a lot of creatives around us including interior designers, actual designers, a seamstress (Natasha Taylór) who made my wife’s wedding dress from scratch, photographers, event planners, DJs, etc. So outside of just us, our close friends and family helped us plan everything.


Photo courtesy of Omar Walden


Travel Noire: What challenges did you face in getting to the big day, planning wise?

Omar: Some challenges that we faced were the fact that although we have visited the island many times, we never stepped foot on the resort. When trying to plan and arrange everything we had to pretty much guess when it came to certain things.  Corresponding with our guests, the travel agent, plus the resort would sometimes be challenging as people’s schedules differed and such.  Making sure everyone was accommodated and completely informed was also challenging at times.  The fear of leaving something behind, the over or under packing was a concern as well.


Photo courtesy of Omar Walden


Travel Noire: How did the big day go? Were you satisfied with having chosen a destination wedding over a traditional one?

Omar: The day was smooth.  It was definitely a great feeling having set a goal and being able to watch yourself accomplish the goal was a separate satisfaction in itself.  It was a day full of love and joy honestly.  The resort did run a little later than what they told us due to their chair shipment being in traffic but that was minor.  They also didn’t give us the full cocktail hour that we paid for, but aside from those minor mishaps, we couldn’t be happier.


We were very satisfied that we chose to do a destination wedding for so many reasons.  Financially it was best for us. What we would’ve paid for just a venue here, we paid for the entire ceremony plus some in Jamaica.  Again we were also able to get a trip, a honeymoon, and a wedding in one.  We’d highly suggest destination weddings to everyone especially if you enjoy traveling and if your loved ones enjoy it as well.  It was also our first major group trip and all of our friends completely enjoyed it. From the moment they arrived, they had the same things to say, “it’s all love out here.”


Photo courtesy of Omar Walden


We feel that this experience brought us all closer, as we were able to spend days together prior to and even a little after.  Our families were able to bond over time as opposed to just a day and in paradise!  The scenery was set on its own, everyone also had an experience from the moment they stepped off the plane until the moment we said I do and after.


Related: Ocho Rios, Jamaica Restaurants: Best Local Food


Travel Noire:  Any advice or tips for others wanting to plan a destination wedding?

Omar: Advice to those looking to do a destination wedding, make the decision as soon as the idea comes to mind.  We didn’t decide until 11 months out.  I feel it would’ve been a little easier and cost effective to have done things earlier.  A huge upside was that we were put on a payment plan so we were responsible for one payment per month. If we would’ve made the decision earlier, things like gifts for the wedding party, favors, and small things would’ve been less stress towards the end.  Also, I’d say to make sure you have a great travel agent to help.  We used Destify. That made a world of difference and made things easier.