Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Todd & Erin's Wedding at Sandals Negril ~ Negril, Jamaica

Wow!! What can I say?? From October 21-28, Steve and I vacationed at Sandals Negril in Negril, Jamaica for my brother Todd’s wedding. If you don’t know what a Sandals vacation consists of, let me just say that it is an experience of a lifetime…adults-only, unlimited food, drinks, sun and fun! We had the unique and awesome pleasure of experiencing this vacation with most of my family. We (almost!) always have a great time together and this vacation was no different.

Prior to our arrival we upgraded to an ocean view beachfront concierge room which offered us an amazing view along with a balcony, in-room bar, and 24-hour room service. Although we didn’t take advantage of the bar or room service often, the view from our room was breathtaking and worth the upgrade.

Steve and I were alone for the first two days of our stay and really just relaxed on the beach and tried to take in the overall ambiance and lay-out of the resort. Once Thursday rolled around, everyone else arrived and it was time to really get the party started. After dinner, Steve and I showed my mom, Rich, Sean and Alex the lay of the land.

Here's Alex, mom and Steve at the bon fire. We just hung out, talked and laughed for a little bit before heading to the Sundowner bar for a nightcap.

Several water sports are also included so we tried the Aquatrikes and Snorkeling. Here's my mom and Rich...They struggled a little bit because she couldn't reach the pedals. You could hear them laughing and whining from the start...They were back in a hurry!

My dad and I fared a little better...It's probably because of the 1/4 inch that I tower over my mother. We even had the energy to wave to the camera!

There was a snorkeling boat that went out four times a day. While mom & Rich went in the morning, Steve, Alex an I went on the 3:00 trip. Todd gave us a tip to bring a piece of bread to attract the fish. Alex and I kind of freaked out when Steve threw the first piece because they literally attacked him. Luckily they were itty bitty and really caused no harm.

This is a view of part of the resort on our return from snorkeling.

Located on the Western tip of Jamaica, Negril offers great sunsets. We took many, many sunset photos, but here are a few of the better pics.

On Friday night, Todd & Erin hosted a bon fire on the Sandals property. It was a great time and we laughed a lot. There was a lot of story-telling going on and I guess you can say “what happens in Jamaica stays in Jamaica.” These stories were not for the faint of heart : )

It was a really nice set-up. Lots of chairs, toasted marshmallows, good company and a bar. What else could you ask for?

Sean, Alex, Shannon and Steve

Tracy, Todd and Mom

Saturday was the day of the wedding and the rain parted just before the ceremony. There were six other weddings going on throughout the day. It is amazing to see the Sandals staff coordinate the timing of everything. Some couples were married with just two in attendance, while Todd & Erin had 30 people. Just before the ceremony, we all posed for a few family photos.

Shannon, Sean, Dad and Tracy

Shannon, Steve, Alex and Sean

Prior to the big event, several of us shared some drinks in Todd’s room as he was getting ready. Here is a picture of my sister Tracy and I…one of the few where we both have our eyes open : )

Todd & Erin had a beautiful ceremony with a Jamaican steel drum band playing in a neighboring gazebo. If the beauty of our surroundings didn't remind us that we were in Jamaica, the music sure did.

After announcing the new Mr. and Mrs. Mott, Erin and Todd released butterflies from a small box. The pictures don’t capture how cool it was, but it was something that I had never seen before. It was something new and different…just like this wedding. It was awesome.

Although we spent most of our time on the beach, the main pool was always busy. It was a little too active for us during the day, but it got more quiet at night.

There were five bars on the property. This is my mom, Erin and I at the pool bar, complete with bar stools in the water.

Another benefit to being a Sandals guest is that you're able to “Stay at 1 and Play at 7” because when you stay at any one of the Sandals resorts in Jamaica, you can take advantage of full exchange privileges at all 7 Sandals and Beaches resorts. Unfortunately, there weren't any Sandals resorts within walking distance, but there were two Beaches resorts nearby. Beaches offers many of the same amenities as Sandals, but in a family friendly environment. One day, we walked to the nearby Beaches Sandy Bay with my mom and Rich. It was only a five minute walk, but we didn't stay long and were reminded as to why we decided to stay at an adults-only resort : ) Here is Stephen relaxing in one of their hammocks.

There were six restaurants on site and Steve and I ate at every one of them. Kimono's was our favorite, which had teppanyaki-style dining. It had great food and a great atmosphere. We were joined by my Mom, Rich, Sean & Alex.

On our last night Mom, Rich, Steve and I visited the 4 C's restaurant. It is an Italian restaurant where you can create your own pasta. The location of this restaurant is really charming as it juts directly out over the sand and almost into the water itself.

Also on our last night was a huge beach party. There was an enormous buffet on the beach with ice sculptures and the usual appetizer, entree and dessert spread. There was a dance competition and some great people watching. Here is a picture of my mom, Todd and I. We were dreading this last night and definitely didn't want to leave.

We returned home safely, but our bodies had some difficulty adjusting from 90 degree to 40 degree weather...let alone going back to work!! As usual, we had an amazing vacation and can't wait to do it again.

Next stop...???...Shannon's 30th Birthday...July, 2009

Monday, October 6, 2008

Karen & Andrew's Wedding

On October 4, 2008 Steve's younger sister Karen married Andrew Horan at the Commandant's House in Charlestown, Massachusetts. It was an absolutely beautiful day and a great time was had by all.

Built in 1805, the Commandant's House is located on Boston's waterfront and overlooks the USS Constitution, Boston Harbor and city skyline.

The beautiful bride!

The bridal party

Steve's family ~ Paul & Sue Schur, Karen Horan, Stephen Schur & Gretchen Leming

We had a really great time and can't wait until the next time we can get together with everyone again! ~ Stephen & Shannon

Next Stop...Negril, Jamaica for Todd & Erin's Wedding (October 21-28, 2008)

Boston, MA

We visited a few sites while in the Boston area including the USS Constitution. Launched on October 21, 1797, "Old Ironsides" is the oldest commissioned vessel afloat in the world. A remarkably thick hull incorporating Live Oak, a substance unique to America at the time, contributed to "Old Ironsides" cumulative 33-0 battle record. This ship continues to be crewed, maintained and operated by the U.S. Navy.

After a quick walk on the ship, we headed over to the Warren Tavern for a drink and some lunch. Established in 1780, the Warren Tavern is one of the most historic watering holes in America. This oldest tavern in Massachusetts was visited by many famous individuals, including Paul Revere and George Washington.

Just a few blocks away on the Freedom Trail we visited the Bunker Hill Monument. The Monument was build to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major conflict between British and Patriot forces in the Revolutionary War, fought there on June 17, 1775. The 221 foot granite obelisk was erected between 1827 and 1843 in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

We climbed the 294 steps to the top and although it was a little bit of a task, the view of the city was fantastic.