I recently got married at the Sol Palmeras resort, Varadero, CUBA in April 2010. Was the best time ever. Bringing 21 family and friends, and our own photographer, was the best idea for a wedding. I don't regret doing a destination wedding for a moment. The Cuban people were great, my pictures were amazing and there was nothing like having a week long celebration with those closest to me. I will never forget paying a live Cuban band to serenade us on my friend's deck during our first dance by candelight. Best ever.
That being said, I want to warn anyone going to the Sol Palmeras. For the most part, we loved it. It was clean, lush with a great beach. The food wasn't fantastic but I don't think you go to Cuba for the food. It wasn't near as bad as I thought though. We mainly lived on croissants and mojitos anyway! We stayed in a bungalo that was seperate from the hotel. They were cute and tucked into lush greenery and private.
All was good until the last night we were there. The wedding planner had given us a "honeymoon" supper on the Saturday before we left. So off we went to the Italian resturant. When we returned 3 hours later, we were robbed. I was devestated. They took our cel phones, my camera, our video camera with the ceremony on it, wedding jewellry, jeans, shoes, backpack and ball cap. They even took my toothbrush and $2.00 razor. I have a feeling it was an inside job.
Warning to anyone staying in Bungalo 230 - it is known I think as the bridal bungalow. The nicest as it has a winding staircase and is two levels. When we arrived in our room the first day, there was no safe key. We went to the front desk and asked and they said they would take care of it. two hours later, they said they didn't have one. We were frustrated but were so excited about the week, we just kept our passports and money in my mom's safe in the hotel. So, we went without a proper safe all week and got too trusting by the end of the week I think. I also think they knew where the bride and groom were staying. There was no sign of forced entry at all. Just a window in the bathroom that was open when we arrived back.
Unforunately, the hotel gave no compensation whatsoever. Through my tears the next morning, we still had to pay the balance of the wedding. They even tried to tell us we needed to pay for the live band from the wedding when we had already paid them directly. There was NOT good communication about who to pay. Make sure if you get married here, you get in writing who you pay and when. Eg. The horse and carriage guy we paid cash but the band was to be paid only through the hotel. Not what we were told. GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING.
With regards to the ceremony in Cuba, be sure to have a plan for how you want it to go. It was very OFFICIAL and sounded like someone was reading court documents. Have a sand ceremony or have friends and family read poems or readings. Say your own vows and your own ring vows too. They don't provide much for the ceremony. The site was decorated beautifully and the live Cuban band while walking down the "aisle" was surreal. Loved it.
I would go back to Cuba in a heartbeat but I would think twice about the Sol Palmeras. I dont' think it's known for weddings and I can see why. I think bridal parties are easy targets for robbery and as great as the Cuban people are, it's wise not to be the trusting Canadians we usually are. Be friendly and enjoy the people but be cautious as well.
I would recommend getting married in Cuba to anyone. It was the best. Make sure you make a trip to Old Havana. It was historical and breath-taking and there is live music everywhere. For pictures, check out fotobella - exclusive wedding photography and scroll down till you see "Michelle and George" on the blog. There is a little video you can see.
Exercise caution and choose your resort wisely. Go with resorts that specialize in weddings and think twice about the Sol Palmeras.