Lauren & Daniel will say “I do” in beautiful Montego Bay, Jamaica on January 26, 2019
Lauren was born on November 29, 1987, joining the family of two loving, supportive parents, John and Pat, and her older brother, Shawn. Three short years later, her little sister, Allison was born. She needed surgery immediately to correct a fusion of her trachea and esophagus and was also born with Down syndrome. This was a difficult time for my family, but Laurens’ parents still made sure everyone got to do activities they were interested in and supported them in everything.
Lauren’s dad and Shawn are big baseball fans, so of course she wanted to be cool like her brother and play softball. Through elementary school, this was her main interest. She also completed in Irish dance contests for several years. In middle school, she continued softball, playing on a travelling team and became involved in track & field. During high school she was a 3-sport athlete, competing in volleyball, track and basketball. She competed at the State level in track and field throughout HS and held school records in some events.
After HS Lauren went to the University of Illinois Chicago and graduated in 3 years with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Following graduation, she enrolled in Harper College to pursue her dream of becoming a Nurse. During nursing school, she met her best friend Tiffany. Lauren and Tiffany did so much together, worked together, bought houses at the same time, went out to concerts and played on the same pool league. When Tiffany had her destination wedding in Punta Cana, Lauren was there and thought it was just perfect. She knew her dream was to someday have a beautiful destination wedding too.
Lauren now works as a nurse at Aurora Medical Center in the Operating Room.
Dan, aka Danny, Smilin’ Dan, Daniel Christopher Emanuele Lighthart, Fat Dan, 4-Wheeler Dan, Give’r Dan, Dan Lightning, Gordon Lightfoot and hey you in the bushes….was born January 20, 1984. Now while the weather was a cold -7 degrees that day in January, Danny is anything but cold. Danny has a wonderful sense of humor, great outlook on life and a way of making friends almost immediately. Friends are very important, and he has had the privilege of knowing some of them over 28 years (like since he was 6!)
Danny’s mom Debra raised him and his two sisters Angela and Cassie with a bit of help from his Grandfather Jerry or Gramps as Danny called him. Despite being a single parent and moving several times, Danny’s mom & Gramps instilled a strong set of values into his life including love, respect, caring, honesty and friendship. As a result, Danny is easy to get to know and very likeable to be around.
Danny graduated from Arrowhead High School in Hartland, WI and after taking a semester off, he started college. A short 5 years later, while working full time, Danny graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Metallurgy. During those busy years he still made time to hang out with friends, start his own softball team and race 4 wheelers and cars. Today he works as a service manager at Umansky car dealership.
In 2016 after relationships that just hadn’t worked out, Lauren joined eHarmony. The first year went by and nobody was clicking but she decided to give it one more year. Meanwhile, up in Wisconsin, Danny had just started on eHarmony. In fact, Lauren’s profile was the first one Danny saw. Whoa….who knew you could just type what type of person you were looking for and she would pop right up!!
Was it too good to be true?? Danny sent Lauren a message and the relationship began.
Initially disheartened because he was in Wisconsin, Lauren later decided to give him a shot. They exchanged contact information and after a few phone conversations she decided the connection had great potential so she drove up to WI to meet him.
Their first date was at Buffalo Wild Wings and who knows, maybe it was the sauce or maybe not….but after that date Lauren just knew that she had met the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Coincidently, these were the same notions going on inside Danny’s head too!
Lauren and Danny were both invested in the relationship so for a while they made the long-distance thing work out but after a couple of months they both decided they were ready to jump in with both feet. Lauren moved up to Wisconsin, her dog approved of Danny’s dog….. and the rest is history.
Today, Lauren and Danny enjoy playing softball, spending time with friends, watching movies and doing everything together.
Editors’ side note: I put many of these bio’s together for couples planning their destination wedding but never have I felt as moved by this couple’s story. When I ask them to give me details of themselves and their relationship I often get facts but the feelings are missing. Not so much with Lauren and Danny. The excerpt that follows was the last paragraph of the bio Danny sent me. I often must paraphrase to make their story’s concise enough for the web page but I didn’t want to let this go without publishing just as I received it. And I quote:
“Lauren is everything to me! My partner, my best friend. I have never witnessed a relationship that can compare to what Lauren and I have. The love, the happiness is almost incomprehensible. I understand how they say you can live a life in the blink of an eye. I am thankful every day, every blink, every minute of my life that Lauren will be next to me.”
Lauren….you are one lucky girl!
Monday October 2, 2018 was a warm sunny Monday. Dan took Lauren to the park, saying they needed more pictures together. He then surprised her with a photo album, saying it was her anniversary gift. In the photo album, were professional pictures of Dan, and in some of them, he’s holding a sign that says, “I love you.” On the last page of the album, Dan is holding signs that say “Will you marry me?” While Lauren was looking at this page, Dan got down on one knee and made her the happiest girl in the world, presenting her with a one-of-a-kind ring that he designed himself.
Lauren and Danny are planning a beautiful celebration of their love in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Jamaica, the third largest island of the Great Antilles island is 4243 square miles in size (about the size of Connecticut) and lies 90.1 miles south of Cuba. Jamaica is the fourth largest island country in the Caribbean Sea.
The island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus and remained in Spain’s possession until 1655. During that time is was known as Hispaniola. In 1655 England conquered the island and renamed it Jamaica. Until 1838, Jamaica was the leading sugar exporter in the world largely due to large plantations with African slaves and Chinese and Indian indentured laborers. All slaves were emancipated in 1838 and Jamaica became fully independent from Britain in 1962.
Jamaican people are culturally unique due to mixed marriages from many backgrounds. Their motto, “Out of Many, One People” underscores their friendly nature and lively spirit. You will find no other island as welcoming as that of Jamaica.
Jamaica is known as a tropical paradise with lush greenery, mountains and beautiful white sand beaches. Prehistoric Jamaica was volcanic, and the mountains that soar to 7402 feet are higher than any in the eastern half of North America. These mountains run all through the island’s center. Some 150 rivers, numerous waterfalls and an abundance of trees and flowering plants are found on the island, earning Jamaica the title “land of wood and water”.
Montego Bay is the capital of the St. James parish and second largest city in Jamaica. It is also the location of the international airport you will fly into when arriving for the wedding. Surrounding Montego Bay one can find many first class resorts. Here you can bask in the sun on your soft white sand beach while looking at the sparkling turquoise blue Caribbean Sea. In the distance pine trees in the mountains, overhead palm trees swaying in the breeze. What a marvelously beautiful island.
Doesn’t it sound like a wonderful place for a wedding!
Lauren and Dan have chosen the beautiful and very romantic resort, Secrets Wild Orchid in Montego Bay Jamaica.
Secrets Wild Orchid is a AAA Four Diamond award winning resort located just 15 minutes from Montego Bay International Airport so there is no wasted transfer time. Once you have arrived in Jamaica it is just a short ride to the resort. The vibe here is a hip, vibrant ambiance with stunning ocean views. A perfect place for the young at heart.
Located on a breathtaking peninsula, surrounded by beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean, Secrets Wild Orchid is the perfect spot to say I Do!
Like to swim in the ocean? No problem, Secrets Wild Orchid boasts 300 yards of private beach with calm waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling and water sports.
Hungry, again No problem, the resort has 7 a la carte restaurants, a buffet, and a café… and if that isn’t enough, get ready for authentic Jamaican jerk chicken & beef patty carts at the beach and pool daily! Twenty four hour dining options are available as well as room service.
Thirsty….you know….No problem! You will find 9 bars including 3 swim up bars, beach bar, sports bar/music lounge and a piano bar.
Guests staying at Secrets Wild Orchid have access to all the facilities at its sister resort next door, Secrets St. James. The two properties are connected by a promenade featuring shops, restaurants, piano bar, theater and game lounge. Be sure to check it out.
Eat, drink, swim repeat….but pretty soon you’ll get sleepy. Secrets Wild Orchid has several room categories. Lauren and Dan have blocked space in the following room categories:
Junior Suite Garden View – This room has one king or 2 queen beds, oversized room with separate sitting area, spacious bathroom with hydotub, private balcony and views of the property.
Junior Suite Ocean View – This is the same sized room as the one above but with views of the ocean.
Preferred Club Junior Suite Ocean View – A slightly larger room than the two above, this room also features a private balcony with whirlpool in addition to the hydrotub in the bathroom and it includes the Preferred Club Privileges (see below).
Preferred Club Junior Suite Ocean View Swim Out – the same room as the Preferred Club Jr Suite Ocean view but in addition this room has direct access to the pool.
All rooms can accommodate 3 adults. All guests staying at Secrets will have
- Limitless access to gourmet a la carte dining options without reservations (no wrist bands either)
- Unlimited international and domestic top shelf liquors, natural fruit juices and soft drinks
- 24 hr room and concierge services
- Pool and beach wait staff
- Daily refreshed mini bar with soft drinks, juice, bottled water and beer
- Daily maid service
- Endless daytime activities and nightly live entertainment
- Theme parties, oceanfront bars and entertainment venues
- Free wi-fi and calling to the US
Preferred Club Privileges include:
- Personalized check in and out
- Special Concierge service
- Preferred club suites in premium locations
- Upgraded minibar and bath amenities
- Preferred club Private lounge
- Daily continental breakfast
- Afternoon hot and cold hors d’oeuvers
- Exquisite desserts and fine liquors
- Complimentary newspaper
- Complimentary computer access
- Access to dining, activities and amenities at Breathless Montego Bay – offering you seven additional restaurants, 5 bars and 2 pools
Lauren and Dan sincerely hope you will consider joining them as they say “I DO” at the Secrets Wild Orchid
Guests may choose to purchase their own air if they wish or Sue and Paul can arrange for you. Either way they will need complete flight information to arrange your transfers to/from the hotel and airport.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I drink the water?
All major hotels have their own system to re-purify the water. Many hotels and restaurants use an additional method of sterilizing the water by adding a solution called Microdin. However, due to the salts and chemicals used, many tourists and locals prefer to drink bottled water. Bottled water will be available at the hotel and is stocked in your mini fridge in your room.
2. What foods should I avoid so I don’t get sick?
Fruits and vegetables may come direct to a store from local farms and are not washed well. Avoid eating fruits or raw vegetables from market stands or direct from a grocery store without washing first. Hotels and restaurants catering to tourists will purify their fruits and vegetables before serving. While it is not necessary to avoid coconuts, keep in mind that large amounts (like drinking pina-colada’s all day) may cause intestinal upset.
3. What else can I do to avoid illness?
Always wash your hands before eating. If you decide to eat from an open air food stand, use discretion. Drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and do not become dehydrated. Drink bottled water.
4. What documents will I need to enter Jamaica and return to the US?
The US passport is the only acceptable proof of citizenship for travel via airplane to Jamaica. If you do not have a passport, please visit http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english.html Currently passports are taking approximately 6 – 8 weeks to obtain so do not put off applying until the last-minute. Be sure the name you list on your passport is the one you give Lauren and Dan’s destination wedding specialist (Sue or Paul Adams) when making your reservation?
– If you already have a passport, make sure it will be valid for 6 months beyond your travel date, if not renew it now.
-Make sure there is at least 1 empty page available for stamping (not including the very last page).
– And finally make sure the passport is in good repair (i.e. the page with your photo is not soiled, wrinkled, been through the wash or otherwise damaged – there is a chip in there that must scan).
5. Are any other documents required?
No, there are no other documents required, however, if you have any special concerns, please feel free to discuss them with Sue or Paul when making your reservations.
6. What do I wear to a destination wedding?
Lauren and Dan are planning a casually elegant ceremony. Men will want to wear, nice shorts or lightweight slacks and collared shirts. No ties or jackets are necessary. Ladies might want to choose a sun dress or dressy Capri pant outfit. For footwear, we recommend sandals. The couple requests no tank tops or beachwear please.
7. Will my cell phone work in Jamaica?
Many cell providers have plans which cover Jamaic. Contact your cell provider to get your options. Remember, if you have a smart phone, you’ll need to ask about their international data and texting options as well. Or just leave the cell phone at home and relax!
8. What if I have other questions?
If you have questions that are not answered here, do not hesitate to contact Sue or Paul. They will be glad to answer any question you might have; they are here to help make your trip a great experience. Remember the only dumb question is the one you decide not to ask!
Just the Facts
Electricity: Most Jamaican resorts use 110 volts (like the US), however some may also have 220 volts so taking an adaptor for hair dryers and/or curling irons is wise. Of note, all rooms have hair dryers so you do not need to bring your own.
Language: The official language is English but Jamaican patois, a combination of several languages, is spoken throughout the island. At the resort, you will have English speaking staff so no communication barriers should exist.
Time Zone Eastern Standard Time , Jamaica does not observe daylight savings time.
Money: The official currency is the Jamaican Dollar. You can exchange money at the airport using an ATM. Remember you are traveling to an all-inclusive resort where tipping is not necessary. The only thing you’ll need cash for is if you plan to go shopping or do an off resort excursion. Any charges at the resort may be placed on your room and paid by credit card upon departure such as spa treatments.
The exchange rate varies daily but typically $1 US is equal to about 124.95 Jamaican dollars. When staying at an all-inclusive resort it is not necessary to exchange money as you have prepaid for almost everything. For expenses at the resort like spa treatments, your credit or debit card is fine. For shopping outside the resort, major credit cards are widely accepted. If you need to obtain cash while there, we recommend going to the nearest ATM and withdrawing only the amount you think you’ll need, otherwise you’ll have to pay to exchange again when you leave the country.
Safety: No matter where you travel, you should always exercise safe travel behaviors.
• Always utilize your room safe to protect your valuables (passports, watches/jewelry, wallets, cameras) while you are out of the room.
• Always lock doors and patios when leaving the room.
• We recommend making a photo copy of your passport and carrying it in a place separate within your luggage in the event yours is lost or stolen. We also suggest you give a copy of your passport to someone back home as this will expedite replacement if needed.
• Do not participate in risky behaviors i.e. do not attempt to buy drugs
• Avoid taking or wearing expensive jewelry
• Do not take large amounts of cash, take what you need from an ATM
• Register your trip with the embassy before you travel. That way your country is aware of your whereabouts in case of an emergency.
Taxis: For off property excursions, we recommend participating in an organized tour.
Telephones/Internet: To dial Jamaica from the US, dial 1, 876 and then the 7-digit phone number. Check with your cellular provider to determine if your cell phone will work in Jamaica.
Tipping: At most all-inclusive resorts tips are not expected or required. However, if there is someone who has shown you extra special service a small token of your appreciation is always welcome. We suggest taking a small supply of singles to give a special thanks to the person who cleans your room or that friendly bartender who has been making your drinks just the way you like them!
Optional but Strongly Recommended
Travel insurance is strongly recommended and multiple options exist. Please be sure to discuss this with Destination Wedding Specialists Sue or Paul Adams at GetAway Travel LLC.