Hey Girls - I just returned from my 4th of July wedding at the Paradisus Punta Cana and the first part of my review is as follows:
AIRPORT: I wasnâ€™t going to mention the airline but .... We flew in from JFK on Delta and I have to say that Delta was amazing. It was very crowded but my hubby and me walked in schlepping our entire luggage and wearing our Bride and Groom baseball caps. I mention this because the response we got was exceptional!!! First we were moved up to the front of the line with congratulations all the way and when we went to board the lady told us congratulations here is your first wedding gift and bumped us up t First Class!! It was awesome getting on the plane with champagne waiting, omelets and very roomy and comfortable - SO GLAD WE WORE THOSE HATS!!! Could have stayed on the plane all day.... with no complaints!! Airport arrival was a bit frustrating because of the language barrier but found one gentlemen to take care of us - We took the bus shuttle (feeling adventurous) and he walked our luggage all the way through the parking lot to the bus - I tipped him 10.00 and it was worth it. TipHold the tip money in your hand out in the open but discretely and you will get the service you want beforehand)
ARRIVAL: We arrived at Paradisus after passing multiple resorts and stopping at two other resorts - which was very interesting since I have been interneting Punta Cana for a year looking at all the different places. It was so funny finally seeing them up close. We booked Royal Service (definitely recommend this) so to my surprise there was a welcome sign in the front of the lobby (very cool). NOW- Watch Out for this one ladies. The welcome sign said Welcome Mr. & Mrs. xxx. My Maiden name!!! Without thinking anything I booked our trip under a credit card that had my maiden name listed on it and was emailing the WC with my maiden name so thatâ€™s what the resort had us posted all over the place as. It was an awesome thing but the name was upsetting my husband - Even when they whisked us away to the Royal Service Lobby which put us immediately into cool air conditioning - cold wet towels and champagne, the sign over there said the same thing. It took two days before I could rectify this and made sure that the wedding went under the married name. Royal Service gave us the option of being a part of every part of the resort to include the Reserve section (which is way over rated if you ask me) Yes it is a bit more modern but very quiet and a little boring for my taste. Being in Royal Service allowed me to have the best of both worlds and that was the best.
Regular Suites: I had 25 guests all arriving at different days and times, I emailed the WC in advance with my list and requested building 10 â€“ this was an awesome ultimate choice since the rooms all where updated and right next to royal service and 10 feet from the main pool. The main pool is where most congregated around 4:00 for what seemed to be that happy hour type of feel. Kids were all there and were happy ordering their virgin mudslides and making friends. For a wedding couple I suggest getting the Royal Service and having whatever guests in building 10- you are close enough to keep the gang together, yet far enough to have a private haven of your own. We were able to sneak guests into our area at certain times. The pool in Royal service is smaller but deeper and cooler. The bar is more private and of adult nature right off the beach.
WC: Miguellina was very nice and awesome as far as working with pricing and accommodating whatever we wanted - I was working with Viviana the year prior and then suddenly she left, but Miguellina was her backbone anyway. She is bright and very nice. She works with you and goes over item for item on the invoice when you meet with her. - So there are no surprises whatsoever. The way I left her office is the way I got my invoice at the end of my trip. I did not have to pay for anything up front nor was I billed for anything that might have been extra in a moments notice. She worked with me with no argument as we lowered prices on items ect ... I brought my own cake decorations, table decorations and she took everything I gave her and did a great job.
SPA: I booked two massages and shaves for the groom and best man-day of the wedding- the guys loved the massages but didnâ€™t care for the shaves; they were not hot lather and could have done the same for themselves. I had maid of honor, daughter, friend and myself an appointment at the hair salon and it was a stressful experience, there were only two seats and they were taking so long. Definitely not worth the prices they charge. I would suggest getting massages all around and doing your own hair for the prices they charge. The massage in the SPA was great and very relaxing and just the thing to do a couple of hours before your ceremony
Wedding: After planning all different kinds of options which was turning out to be a $10,000 wedding, I decided to go ala cart and brought the bill down to 5200.00. This included Photographer, the SPA for 5 people and the Private Boat the following Day. This is what I had:
Ceremony â€“ 5:30pm: Location on the beach in front of the Gabi Bar by the Royal Service â€“ Tropical Huppa â€“ Regular ceremony mixed with the Sand Ceremony (bringing in the sand ceremony made it longer and more unique) â€“ brought my own Leighâ€™s and palm fans (internet purchase) for the chairs. Minister comes with the complimentary wish package, so that was covered along with the champagne toast for immediately after â€“ Perfect. CD player (which is the PA system anyway) comes with the wish also and I had it there as well with a microphone. I played the song the Hawaiian version of Somewhere over the Rainbow (Perfect) for the walking down the aisle song. We brought a CD with just that song on it so no mistake would be made and one of my guests was appointed to play it and it worked out perfect. The only thing that might have gone wrong was my bouquet came roses when I ordered tropical Lillieâ€™s. To some this might be a big ordeal and I warn you if you want something specific be firm about it when you meet with the WC and tell her to write it down if you donâ€™t see her doing that. They (Miguellina) is very friendly and personable and wont have a problem with it. A very busy girl with a lot on her plate but handles herself very well with all of it.
Photographer: Photographer was good. Not the best but did the job that I wanted. A huge photo portfolio was not a big issue for me so I went with the basic package through CCLoveday. They are the resort photographer. He came to my room 30 minutes before the ceremony and took photos and during the ceremony and then an hour after. He would have stayed if I asked him but it was fine. A few days later we were called down to the lobby to meet for our photos and there was a gentlemen there with a laptop of course and a wedding CD (which I immediately started to cry once he played it) To make a long story short and to my surprise the wedding CD was an additional 350.00 and for the remainder of the 100 photos versus the 35 I was getting I ended up paying 1100.00 (please keep in mind this is included in the 5200.00) for wedding CD with music and 100 printed photos. It sounds like a lot but they are so beautiful and I am just fine with that.
Cocktail Hours: I decided to have extended cocktail hours from 6:00 till 8:00 (which actually ended up being from 6:00 till 8:40 instead of the Chill Out Chic package. The cocktail hour was located right next to the huppa so I can have the 650.00 wedding decorated ceremony as part of the cocktail reception decorations. We used one of the beach huts as a shelter area to place small tables and used the chairs from the ceremony to fill that up. I got the Rum Drink open bar versus full bar for a fraction of the price of full open bar. I ordered 4 cold and hot Horsdourves on the beach, which was a great little buffet in itself. More than enough food and very very delicious for a fraction of the price for full buffet.
I wanted the Trio Band but since they are 200.00 for one hour and would play for one hour only I instructed that they play during the second hour of our cocktail party since the first hour would be taken by the photographer anyway. During the first hour we played a CD brought from home of music while taking photos This was a great strategy and worked out perfect.
I also had a cigar roller there which some of the men were interested in. He was 400.00 for the whole cocktail hours and we had unlimited cigars. Some of the guests were smart enough and went home with plenty of cigars while go figure I went home with none. But thatâ€™s ok â€“ it was unique and different and went well with the Cuban hats that were brought from home (hats were a Hit!!!) set on a table for the men to have fun taking photos with and take home. It was great seeing the men have fun posing with the cigars and hats.
And then it got dark and started rained â€“ Go figure. It was about 7:45 and started to pour with everything in full swing. We grabbed what we could and made a dash to the Gabi bar area for shelter (bar was closed). Even the trio band followed and continued to play. Once they were done we put in another CD and played music while waiting for the rain to stop. When the rain stopped it wasnâ€™t too much longer than that when out of no where came the Firedancers!! They were cool and were a great way to end our cocktail reception on the beach.
Miguellina finally came to get us and we all piled into the trolley train and headed over to the Reserve Section at a restaurant called the Ventno. This is probably the best eating restaurant on the whole resort that is closed in and air conditioned (being in royal service entitled us and all our guests to this place). Miguellina had the tables decorated with everything I brought and a personalized menu by each plate along with the seashell photo albums I gave her. It looked beautiful. We brought along our trusty PA system and began to play music while waiters took orders. There was a very small section for us to dance and we did our songs â€“ ate dinner and then had the wedding cake. I chose the song by the Beatles â€œwhen im 64 for the wedding cake song and it was very cool. Now that dinner came with the all-inclusive therefore didnâ€™t cost anything. We used the shells that I brought from home for the table decorations on the cake and I saved another 150.00 by doing so â€“ cake was vanilla and it was delicious. The menu was awesome as well and we had more than enough food and drink. By 11pm most of us were exhausted but continued to venture over to the lobby for some dancing!! We hung out for a while smoked cigars and drank and listened to music and slowly separated and went back to our rooms.
Room: When we arrived in our room the Royal Service had our hot tub filled â€“ rose petals everywhere in the bathroom and in the water â€“ candles and Champaign by the tub (if I could do it again I would request this service surprise for the following day because we were so exhausted we never made it in to enjoy, ha ha actually didnâ€™t even notice it till the morning hours going to the bathroom)). Very romantic gesture on there part since we did not request this at all.
PART II Wedding Reception Following Day: With all the money saved by changing the plans around and keeping the 5000.00 budget we continued the reception by booking the Private Boat. I definitely recommend this. It was the best Lobster dinner we had the whole time. The music was awesome and Chris the manager of the boat was very personable and we had a lot of fun â€“ he had hundreds of songs and played whatever we wanted on the boat to include Caribbean steel drum bands to Jimmy Buffet. It was open bar and grill and snorkeling â€“ it was a luxurious end to the wedding that I am sure no one will forget. I cant even explain how beautiful or how Glad that I did this. It was the best keeping the flow and following the next day. An air conditioned bus picked up us and our guests and drove us to a secluded area right at the beach where the Jelly Fish Restaurant (check that out, I didnt have to even look for it, it came to me!) is located and shuffled us into a small boat which took us to a huge boat very spacious and decorated with huge cake and seashells for the occasion. It Was Great.
Tip: While booking with the coordinator I was sure keep arguing the point that I wanted the hours of 3:30 till 6:30 so we would be part of the heat dyeing down and the sunset. That was important to me and I stuck to it and it worked out perfect for everyone included. 100.0 per person and worth every penny.
And that about sums it up for the wedding. I wish that I could attach photos but I have been trying and the forum wont seem to take the pdfâ€™s that my apple has to give. If someone can explain to me how to send the pictures or want to see them privately just send me a message and I would be happy to.
Happy Planning to All and Remember that the Joy Is in the journey. Enjoy your planning, know what you want and everything will work out just the way its suppose to â€“ Beautiful.