Tent Please!

The ATB Dream Team and I LOVE tented events! Check our Pintrest board to see a variety of tent styles, ways to set them up, light and decorate them. Before you decide to have your wedding or event under a tent take a look at some of events that All the Best Weddings & Celebrations has done under a tent.

Christina and Louis wanted specialty coffees and smoothies for their guests. A separate tent, with it's own generator, was added to the side of the main tent. Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography.

Tented events are very labor intensive. Think about it - everything that goes under that tent has to be brought to the site. Every utensil, plate, and glass. Every bite of food, every drink, every everything has to be ordered, picked, packed, delivered, unloaded, set up, cleaned up, packed up and returned to whence it came. It could cost, on average, 20% more for a tented event than for a similar event held at a reception venue even if it's in your backyard (unless guests self-serve ziti from aluminum trays on paper plates with plastic utensils).

Janel's parents had to cut down several trees and grind the stumps before this big tent could go up for her and Pete's wedding for 200+ guests. Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography

The size of the tent will depend a few things especially guest count. Lighting requires power as does entertainment, fans, air conditioning (or heaters) and catering. Are you close to enough electrical outlets that can handle all the power required or do you need a generator?

Christina and Louis provided valet parking and hotel shuttle transportation as parking was limited at the private oceanfront home they rented. Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography
Heather and Tim kept the decor under the tent simple. Cream crinkled linens, cherry wood chivari chairs, lanterns, and white flowers. Photo courtesy of ADC Photography
Jill and Mark brightened their tent with various shades of blue for their nautical themed wedding in her parents backyard. Photo courtesy of The Artist Group
Christina and Louis choose to line the ceiling of the tent and cover the poles so that guests saw the beauty of the ocean not the frame of the tent. Lighting was provided by crystal chandeliers when the sun set. Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography

Putting your tent around or near a pool? You can create a custom mat for the bottom of the pool. You can also have custom decals created for the sides or top of the tent.

Jill's brother in law missed a step while leading the conga line around the pool and went for an unexpected swim (baby monitor and all). Photo courtesy of The Artist Group.
Heather and Tim's tent had a full floor with white carpet. The back wall separated the catering from the guests. There was another tent for the bathroom trailer.  The rental company was onsite for a week prior to the event.  Photo courtesy of ADC Photography
Janel and Pete were married on Father's Day which turned out to be hot and humid! Giant fans helped cool everyone off. AC for a tent that size was possible (but expensive). Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography.
Kristin of Reverie Made did all of the event design for her wedding day.  Her fiance Adam and both families provided a lot of the labor.  It took them 3 days to completely set up this wedding.  Photo courtesy of Tony Yang Photography

A tent offers one of the most unique ways to put your personal stamp on your event. You're literally starting with a blank canvas so you can make it anything you want from black-tie to casual. What's your tent style?







































Bring some color in with linens and lighting. Keeping it casual? Try picnic tables with bench seating.  Want to go a little more formal? Long tables with ballroom chairs will look fabulous!

Just remember you can't do anything about the weather so you will have to have a Plan B in case it rains (they do make rain gutters for tents and covered walkways can be added),  unexpected costs can add up and you'll need to be on your toes with the details if you're doing this on your own. IMHO it's so worth it!

SANDALS Resorts – Where the Luxury is Included


WELCOME to SANDALS RESORTS! My name is Kathi Evans and I am the Owner and Lead Planner of All the Best Weddings & Celebrations, a WKE, LLC. In addition, I am a Certified Sandals Sales Specialist and a Certified WeddingMoons Specialist for destination weddings at any SANDALS or BEACHES resort.Sandals-Map

These two certifications come with perks that include visiting and touring the SANDALS and BEACHES properties that are now located on 7 islands:    Jamaica (6 SANDALS, 1 GRANDE PINEAPPLE & 2 BEACHES)Bahamas (2), St. Lucia (3)Antigua (1 SANDALS & 1 GRAND PINEAPPLE), GrenadaBarbados, and a BEACHES in Turks & Caicos. Come along with me as I visit and report on each property.

The lobby at Sandals Grande St. Lucia

When SANDALS says ALL INCLUSIVE they're not kidding. It starts the moment you arrive at the SANDALS desk at each airport. You're greeted with a cold adult beverage, your luggage is tagged (not to be touched again until you get to your room at the resort), and you're shuttled to your resort. At the resort you're greeted with a cold towel, another adult beverage, and are shown to your area for check in. Once the paperwork is completed you're escorted to your room where your luggage either awaits or will be there in a few minutes. There is NO TIPPING (except your shuttle driver <who is not a SANDALS employee> and your butler).


Butch's Chophouse at Sandals LaSource Grenada

Are you hungry? The number of restaurants depends on the size of the resort. There are as few as three and as many as 12. Do you want sushi, Italian, French, fresh made pizza to order, seafood, burgers, or BBQ? Teppanyaki, Southwestern, dine with your feet in the sand, or maybe some pastries? You'll find all that - and more - at each resort.

Barbados pool bar
The swim up pool bar at Sandals Barbados

Thirsty? Beverages (including top shelf alcohol) are also included. Each room has a mini-fridge stocked with bottles of water, soft drinks, and juice. In a CLUB level or higher room? Then you get beer, wine, and champagne in your room. Butler suites have their own mini bar filled with your favorite full sized bottles. There are swimming pools with swim up bars, piano bars, and more bars located strategically throughout each property. You'll never have to far for something to drink.

The beach trikes at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort

Looking for something to do? You can scuba dive, snorkel, water ski, kayak, water trike, and stand up paddle board. Don't have your dive certification? No worries, they'll hook you up! Tennis? YES! Golf? YES (two resorts have their own courses)! Private Island? YES (two resorts have their own private island; one has a private clothing optional beach)!

The Greg Norman designed golf course at Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma, Bahamas

Love the night life? Each resort has a disco/night club, pool room, and English Pub. Each resort hosts specialty nights such as white parties, chocolate nights, and beach bbqs with local entertainment and games.

The Cricketers Pub at Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau

Looking for something more quiet? You can walk the beautifully landscaped grounds, sit by the fire pits, or relax at the RED LANE spa.

The reception desk at the Red Lane Spa at Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

If you're looking for the ultimate in luxury and relaxation go for a Butler Suite. Your butler, who was trained by The Guild of Professional English Buters, will meet you at check in, escort you to your room, unpack for you (if you want), stock your bar, and hand you a phone that brings a butler to you with the push of a button. Chairs are reserved for you at the pool and the beach. Coolers are stocked and placed with your chairs with cold beverages. Dinner reservations are made and you are escorted to your restaurant and seated at your table. Come back to your room after an excursion or a night out and find a bubble bath waiting for you with flower petals and champagne.

A Butler Suite with private plunge pool at Sandals Grande Antigua

It doesn't matter what room category you're in - everyone eats the same food and drinks from the same bars. Everyone has access to the same on-site activities and off-site excursions. Because there are so many resorts there is a price point for every budget.

A view from the beach at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica with a glimpse of their private island.

Sandals Royal Plantation

Sandals Royal Plantation resort entrance

We leave Montego Bay and head to Ocho Rios for more tours.  We will stay at Sandals Royal Plantation.  This is a small, quiet, all Butler Suite resort with two beaches.  Included in your stay are unlimited water sports (snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boat, stand up paddle board, Hobie Cat sailing) and golf at the Sandals Golf and Country Club.  It is a small slice of heaven on earth.

The lobby at Sandals Royal Plantation

Because we had to tour the other resorts we barely got a look at anything but the lobby and our butlers.  They arrived in their casual attire of impeccable white embroidered golf shirts and pressed black pants.  They took our luggage and off we went to tour.

My room at Sandals Royal Plantation included fully stocked mini fridge, bathroom with two sinks, European balcony, full butler service.  I want those sheets and mattress.  So comfy!!

When we returned late in the day we were hot, sweaty, tired, and hungry.  No worries.  Our rooms were ready with luggage inside.  The bar and mini fridge were stocked and there was a fresh fruit platter on the table. I opted not to have them unpack for me.  My room had a European balcony with an ocean view.  Took a cold bottle of water from the fridge, sat in a comfy chair, propped my feet up in front of the open doors and filled out my paperwork. Called my butler Steve (with the phone provided) to let him know when I was done.  He picked up everything and brought it to the front desk.

Kimonos at Sandals Grande Riviera is a short shuttle ride away from Sandals Royal Plantation

Steve was wonderful - attentive without being overwhelming.  When we went to dinner that night all of our butlers piled in the van with us.  This time in full suit, gold vest, ties, and white gloves.  Upon arrival at Kimonos each of us was escorted to our seat at the bar by our butlers where we (and they) waited, briefly, for our table.  From there the butlers took our drinks, escorted us to our seats at the table, made sure we were comfortable, and then left us for the evening. When done we took the available shuttle back to our resort.

Soy is located next door to Kimonos at the beach at Sandals Grande Riviera

Dinner was fun and delicious.  Our chef was boisterous and had us all singing loudly.  You can't help but make friends while sitting there.  One of our group ordered sushi from Soy for appetizers.  A waiter delivered them to her at our table.

View from the patio of the west beach at Sandals Royal Plantation. Your butler will set up your chairs and umbrella and include a water float along with food and beverages if requested.  Don't forget to bring your Sandals phone so you call your butler.

We had the next day off.  The day before had been exhausting.  Three of us took advantage of many of the water sports that are included in everyone's stay.  I tried stand up paddle boarding.  Let's just say I'll need to try it again. Then we took out a Hobie Cat with one of the staff sailing for us.  After that we took a snorkeling trip (they have all the gear) on a glass bottom boat. When we returned my companions went horseback riding offsite.  They booked that trip through the Island Routes desk which can be found at every resort. NOTE:  Work with your travel professional to book your offsite trips before arrival to help guarantee you'll be able to do what you want to do when you want to do it.

View from under my thatched umbrella of the east beach at Sandals Royal Plantation. That's their glass bottom/snorkel boat on the right.  Behind the boat is the water sports shack with attentive staff and all the gear you could need for stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and Hobie Cats.

At the beach I found a padded lounge chair under a thatched umbrella.  Olivia, our Sandals rep and tour guide, joined me.  She called her butler who brought us menus.  We ordered lunch and some cocktails.  A short time later we were eating and drinking without having lifted a finger.

After lunch Olivia and I headed for the pool with Jacuzzi and waterfall that sits on a deck that overlooks the beach.  The water was refreshing after being in the sun.

View of the pool from the terrace at tea time at Sandals Royal Plantation

There is afternoon tea on the patio.  Wait staff will bring pots of tea or any other beverage you request.  Fresh baked cookies, scones, and muffins are also available.

Can you say "aaaahhhh" Bubble bath waiting for me. Thanks Steve!!

Upon returning to my room to get ready for dinner I discovered a bubble bath complete with refreshing fruit cocktail that Steve had prepared for me.  How delightful to slip into that tub without having to lift a finger.  Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face!

Papillon Restaurant at Sandals Royal Plantation. Bring your appetite!

Our farewell dinner that night was at Papillon.  The food was delicious and the service impeccable.  It was a fitting send off after such a wonderful trip.

I highly recommend Sandals Royal Plantation to those who are looking for a more relaxing vacation. You can still party hearty at Sandals Grande Riviera. The Ochi Beach Club is easily accessible or you can take a shuttle to their huge pool or any of the restaurants on the hillside.  Sandals Royal Plantation has their own wedding staff and several fabulous places to have a ceremony and reception including Villa Plantana, which is a private villa on the grounds that is available to rent, or on either beach.  Sandals Royal Plantation is also one of the most cost effective of all the Sandals resorts for butler service.

Overview of Sandals Royal Plantation. My room was in the East wing (on the left).

Beach Weddings

All the Best Weddings & Celebrations.
Jen and Barry were married at the Barnegat Lighthouse which is located in a state park.  A permit is required.  Note to self - if using wooden folding chairs again get someone else to carry them.

Here at the Jersey Shore beach weddings are very popular.  Unless you, or someone you know, owns oceanfront property it's difficult to have more than your ceremony with feet in the sand.  That doesn't mean your event can't have that beach feel without actually being ON the beach.

Our Pintrest board Beachy Keen shows many ideas for beach themed events, wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions, and destination weddings.

All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Deanna and Tim were married on the beach in Seaside Park. Permits are required.  Their centerpieces included pillar candles placed in sand on a clear glass plate.  Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography.

All the Best has had many clients get married on the beach.  Some have brought that beach vibe indoors.

All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Jen and Rich were married on the beach in Long Branch.  Photo courtesy of Galis Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Jen and Paolo were determined that their wedding ceremony would be on the beach. Rain forced them to move their ocean beach ceremony to the beach on the bay at their venue.  Do you have a Plan B in case of inclement weather? Photo courtesy of Jeff Tisman Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Caitlyn and Patrick were married on the beach in Beach Haven.  They and their bridal party rode rented beach bicycles to their bay side venue.  Photo courtesy of Kimberly Wright Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Taryn and Matt were married on the beach at the Pt. Pleasant inlet. Keep in mind when you get married on a public beach - permit or not - you could have beach goers in your wedding photos. Photo courtesy of Nicole Leigh Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Kim and Dan were married on the beach in Asbury Park.  Beach winds are unpredictable and can play havoc with your decor. Make sure arches are counter weight secured. Tie tablecloths to the base or clip to table. Photo courtesy of The Artist Group.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Christina and Louis were married at a private oceanfront home in Monmouth Beach. Inclement weather forced us to move their lounge furniture and fire pit from the beach to the patio. Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Kim and Jon were married at a boardwalk gazebo in Spring Lake across the street from their venue. Photo courtesy of Elite Digital Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Marissa and Jonathan were married on the beach in LBI across the street from the B&B that hosted some of their overnight guests and their reception. Most LBI beach weddings do not require a permit and are on a first come, first served basis.  Check with each town to be sure of the requirements. Photo courtesy of Timothy Martin Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Rachel and John had ocean dune grass in buckets for their centerpieces.  Custom made starfish cookie favors were waiting for each guest.  Photo courtesy of The Studio Photographers.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Joan and Ian's cake was covered in edible seashells and coral.  All of their guests were loaned vintage Lavallette beach badges by the mayor to wear during the reception.  Photo courtesy of Galis Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
BethAnn and Billy had their escort cards tied to starfish and placed in a tray of beach sand. Photo courtesy of The Artist Group
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations.
Beach themed Sweet 16 party included starfish, seashell ribbon, and fairy lights in tulle with seashells placed as if in a net. Guests signed a surf board as they were checked off the guest list upon arrival.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Portia and Greg's wedding brought a Nantucket beach vibe to the Jersey Shore.  Photo courtesy of Kalen Foley.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Rachel and Brian had live musicians at their LBI beach ceremony. Local rental company supplied and set up a battery operated sound system. Photo courtesy of the bride and groom.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations
Jordana and Sean's escort cards were custom made beach badges arranged in a wooden boat filled with sand.  Photo courtesy of Susie Sefcik Photography.
All the Best Weddings & Celebrations.
Jessica and Rich's custom invitations reflect their love of the beach. Photos courtesy of Ben Tapper of Endless Wave Studios.


Sandals Grande Antigua


When you arrive at Sandals Grande Antigua  you'll receive a warm greeting, cold towels, and adult cold beverage.

Antigua Airport

Round trip airport transfers from V. C. Bird International Aiport are included when you stay at Sandals Grande Antigua.  Upon arrival you'll go through immigration (make sure your passport is up to date), pick up your luggage, and head out to the Sandals desk where you will check in and they'll tag your luggage.  You won't see  your luggage again until you get to your room.

View from the Bayside Cafe in the Caribbean Village stretching towards the Mediterranean Village


Sandals Grande Antigua has two villages - Mediterranean and Caribbean - and each has their own lobby and check in.  If you've booked a Concierge or Butler Suite you'll be ushered into a special lounge for check in.

Area in the lobby of the Caribbean Village


After we checked in we all met for a buffet lunch at the Bayside Restaurant located at the far end of the Caribbean Village.  You won't really know when you've left one and entered the other.  There is one huge main pool and several smaller pools spread throughout the property.  There are 11 restaurants all of which are included with your accommodations.  The map shows you the layout of the property and how easy it is to get from Point A to Point B.  The beach is public but the resort is private.  Be prepared to show your room key card in order to access the resort from the beach as there are security guards stationed at each entrance.

Sandals Antigua ABC trip 9-2013 051
Oceanfront patio with comfy lounge furniture and fire pit. This area was popular at night.

After lunch we took off on a guided tour of the resort including all of the restaurants and a peek at a variety of room categories.  Remember, it doesn't matter what your room category is - you're all eating the same food (Italian, Japanese, custom made pizza, BBQ anyone?), drinking the same beverages, and enjoying the same water-sports and other amenities including the gym and the spa.  If you're at the Concierge or Butler level you have to do very little on your own.  Want dinner reservations?  Call the concierge desk or your butler (Kevin gave me my own cell phone to reach him.  Pressed one button, he answered immediately (and knew it was me!).

Sandals Antigua ABC trip 9-2013 057
This was my view from the living room of my 3 room suite to the private patio with plunge pool, spa, and outdoor shower. There was a gate that lead to a path to the main pool. Kevin had a fruit and cheese platter waiting for me upon my arrival. HEAVEN!

When we were done with the tour we all met back in the main lobby to get our room assignments.  On this trip I got really lucky and was booked into a Butler suite with private plunge pool in the Mediterranean Village.  HOLY COW!  If you've booked a Butler Suite your butler will greet you in the lounge and personally escort you to your suite where you will complete your paperwork.  My butler's name was Kevin and I highly recommend that you ask for him.  He showed me all the amenities of my room including full bar, 2 flat screen TVs, sitting room, and room service.  When he left I immediately took advantage of my plunge pool and jacuzzi.  It was heavenly.  I could have ordered room service but I dragged myself out of the pool, took a shower, and got myself dressed for dinner where I met some of the girls at BAREFOOT and had a fabulous dinner with lots of laughs!  BTW - if the specialty drink of the evening has something to do with seafood don't order it :)

Barefoot Restaurant offers Caribbean cuisine. You can literally go barefoot as the tables are on the beach in the sand.


The next morning was our training session in one of their ballrooms.  At the conclusion we were all SANDALS (RE)CERTIFIED SALES SPECIALISTS and celebrated with a Twitter Party hosted by Julie Albaugh.  After lunch at Bayside with some of the girls we were on our own again until dinner.  I went for a jet ski ride.  The jet ski operators are not affiliated with the resort so you're on your own.  Payment is going to be in cash.  There were 2 operators on the beach that day and the 2nd operator (outside the Bayside Restaurant) gave me a bit of a discount for 30 minutes.  This was more than enough as you can't go very far.  The beach has a bluff on each end and there is some kind of rock island way far out.  That triangle is as far as you can go.  Towards the end of my ride I saw a young man exercising a horse in the water off the beach to the right of the resort (as you face it from the beach).  Apparently he's there everyday.

Sandals Grande Antigua ABC trip
Each Sandals resort has a wedding office who can customize any size destination wedding.

After the ride I went back to my plunge pool to relax and then it was time for dinner.  We were supposed to dine alfresco but the rain did us in again (you're in the Caribbean - it could rain everyday, however, it's usually never a wash out).  We dined in the conference room at one long wide table that was set as if for a wedding.  The menu and the service were outstanding.  The steel drum band that greeted us for cocktail hour was excellent.

Sandals Grande Antigua ABC trip
Get a Butler level suite and your Butler will surprise you with a candlelight bubble bath

There was lots to do after dinner and some of the group took off to enjoy karaoke or more drinks at one of the bars.  I punked out and went to bed.  When I got back to my room the doors to the bedroom were closed.  When I opened them there was a bubble bath decorated with flower petals.  Could not believe my eyes.  It was so relaxing that after a long day I had no trouble going to sleep.  After breakfast the next morning we were off to the airport.  Kevin came to help me pack and take my bag.  I don't know how they got me to go home.  If you do have a Butler it's the only tip you'll need for the entire trip (except for the airport shuttle drivers) - figure $20 per day or $150 for a week You can always give more.  The service will be exemplary.

Sandals Antigua ABC trip 9-2013 077
A very happy group of wedding planners from the US, Canada, and Trinidad. I'm in the back row, 3rd from the right. Julie Albaugh is in the front row, 3rd from the left. Our fearless leader Kim Sardo is on the left in the back row.  THANKS KIM!  Another fabulous trip.

SOME NOTES:  I've visited a few Sandals resorts including the gorgeous Sandals Emerald Bay.  Sandals Grande Antigua certainly is comparable.  This resort has lots of options for corporate meetings, incentive trips, family reunions, and destination weddings of any size both indoors and out. SANDALS resorts are ADULT COUPLES ONLY and the minimum age is 18.  If you've got singles or young adults/kids consider one of the BEACHES properties.  If you're hosting a destination wedding or other event (sales meeting, incentive trip) there are a small number of rooms that can be made available for single adults.  Details available upon request.

View of the Mediterranean Village from the pool. The patio on the left features shops and restaurants. My butler suite was to the left of the patio along a garden path.


What strikes me about SANDALS as a brand is the loyalty of their employees.  The majority of the ones that I have spoken to have been with the company for years and plan on staying for many years to come.  Some waiting several years for an opportunity to work for the Stewart family.   Employees from the housekeeping staff and beach attendants to the resort manager are always smiling and greeting guests as they pass by.  They never seem to sweat.  Their social and corporate planning office on each property is ready, willing, and able to tailor their services to your needs.  Sandals has recently overhauled their entire wedding planning department so that now brides have a choice of the colors and styles that THEY want not what a famous wedding planner thinks they want.

Map of Sandals Grande Antigua.