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About StephG2013

  1. Hi Everyone! I just returned from my wedding at Cayo Levantado a few weeks ago and all I can say is I can’t wait to go back! Our entire group of 41 had a truly amazing time!! I want to give a thorough review as I know planning a destination wedding can be a bit scary with all the unknowns so I hope this will provide some insight and clear some things up for everyone planning their wedding here. First let me just say the photos the wedding coordinator gives don’t do it justice. I will try to separate my review by each aspect of the trip/wedding. Wedding Preparation: As we expected there was a note in our room with a time to meet the coordinator the morning after we arrived. At this time we met with the minister and Simona (wedding coordinator) to finalize all the details. The minister spoke with us about what kind of ceremony we wanted and was very easy to work with. Simona was fantastic! She is very well organized and wrote down all the details we discussed. At this time I also gave Simona by ceremony music on a cd to play as I walked down the aisle. She had a few things she needed from us which was to meet with our MC, where we wanted the ceremony, pick our menu, provide a seating chart, how many bouquets and centerpieces we needed, what colour sashes we wanted on the chairs and what kind of arch we wanted for the ceremony. At this time I also gave her a schedule that I had done up with my photographer using my ceremony and dinner times to let Simona know where we would be during the day. Morning of the wedding: We started the day at 9 a.m. taking fun shots by the pool with all the girls. I started to get ready around 11:00 a.m. as I opted for first look photos (So glad I did). Our first look photos were scheduled for 3:00 p.m. which gave us an hour of time for photos of just me and my husband before the ceremony. One thing you should look into prior to arriving is if the hotel has a steamer or something to get wrinkles out of your dress if you need it. Ceremony: My ceremony took place at 4:30 p.m. Just as she promised, Simona called me when it was time for me to arrive and came to pick me and my bridesmaids up on a golf cart at my room. We opted to have our ceremony on the patio off the main building. I LOVED this location. It had a beautiful view of the ocean and the hotel gardens and even better it was private. Nobody was walking behind us while we were in the middle of the ceremony. A side note: The beach can be very windy most days so consider this when picking your location. As for some of the back and forth comments about the beach being busy I never had a hard time finding a spot on the beach to sit however I can see how if you opted for a beach wedding you will need to be weary of people walking behind you especially if you use the Gazebo. As other reviewers said I’m sure Simona can help with this. One thing I loved about this resort is it wasn’t busy at all. Throughout the entire day I never had trouble with people getting in our pictures. Back to the ceremony, all the chairs were decorated with white sashes just as I requested. I also had coral pendants to hang from the sashes which she did for me. The music I requested went off without a hitch. You should pick two songs, one for the walk in and one for the walk back. The minister was fantastic! His English is not perfect but we absolutely loved it accent and all. He does a really amazing job and makes the ceremony fun for everyone. The ceremony itself lasted about 20 minutes followed by champagne toast. Dinner: Our dinner was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. There is an extra fee to have your dinner at the Don Pablo so we opted not to do that. Unfortunately you don’t get to pick between the other two restaurants (Mediterranean or Italian) as they only open one per night. We lucked out as we wanted the Mediterranean and it happened to be open the night of our wedding. We were not seated in the actual restaurant but right next to it which is a covered patio by the pool. During the day it acts as the snack bar but they completely transformed it for our dinner. Our set-up was a small head table for 4 people and roundtables for the remaining 37 guests. It seemed to me like roundtables were the only option so for anyone trying to do a seating chart plan for roundtables of 8-10 people. I had place settings which I brought with me and my mom and some other guests help me put them out while I was doing photos after the ceremony. Simona helps you coordinate all this. The dinner service itself was great no problems here at all. We also opted to have a piano player play during dinner which was really nice. We did not opt for the microphone but a few people did have a hard time hearing as the outside noise was a little loud (kitchen, ocean etc.). This was probably the worst for my grandparents who I gave a copy of my speech for them to read after . If you have less than 40 guests you won’t need a microphone unless many people are hard of hearing and those giving speeches are very quiet. First Dance: We opted to have our first dance at the disco on the beach. This was good and bad. The reason we did this is because we didn’t feel it was worth paying the couple hundred dollars for the sound system at the restaurant just for the first dance. After the cake cutting we told all our guests to meet at the disco around 10:30 and we would be doing first dance, bouquet toss etc. I brought my music on a USB and I gave the DJ 10$ to play it for us which was no problem whatsoever. However, the DJ doesn’t speak English very well so if there is anything you want him to do such as fade out the music after 2 minutes (what we ideally wanted) it may be worth talking to him in a few days prior to the wedding or cutting the music yourself before you leave. The Disco is open every night on the public beach as long as it’s not raining. It usually starts around 10:30 p.m. If no one shows up it will probably close early but our wedding party was there every single night often till close. There is a huge bar with seats and a dance floor with lights. Drinks are free at night just like at the all-inclusive. My photographer: I brought a photographer from Ottawa with me as I loved her work and could tell we had very similar styles. Laura Kelly is her name and she is awesome! She blogged our wedding (Laura Kelly Photography Blog) so feel free to take a peak to give you an idea of the resort. We opted for first look photos as I mentioned earlier which are becoming quite popular. Why are these so great? Well it gave my husband and I time alone before the ceremony and a good hour to take amazing photos down by the pool and around the resort. Had we not done this before the ceremony there is no way we would have had time to get all the photos we did. After the ceremony we did all our family and wedding party photos. We finished with some beautiful sunset photos on the beach which had to be done by around 6 – 6:30 p.m. Both my husband and I agree we would not change a thing. Simona was fantastic and the resort was stunning. I really can’t wait to go back and visit again. As a previous person commented, if you want to personalize your wedding with your own décor you will need to bring it with you.. Included in your package will be the flower décor for the ceremony and dinner, candles/lanterns for dinner and sashes for the chairs. I should also mention that the florist did a fantastic job and got my colours spot on for the bouquet. I hope that I have covered everything and apologize for such a long message. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to PM me. Best of luck in the planning!
  2. Hi Charlong, I know the feeling those are usually the same responses that i get...except i hear the prices are coming soon...its been like 6 months and i still don't have the "official" prices!! I'm just shy of 5 months away now from the big day so i'm getting to the point where i want to start making some decisions which is difficult with no confirmed prices. Luckily, i just read a review of a bride from the UK on trip advisor and i e-mailed her to ask her some questions. She was extremely helpful and its nice hearing from someone who was just there. SHe said that the hotel has only one wedding a day so you can pick your ceremony for any time. I asked her about what she did between ceremony and and dinner/reception and she said they had drinks at the lobby bar and they were able to stay at their restaurant until 10 p.m. After that the public beach was supposed to be open for the dsico however when they got there it was completely empty. The resort said there was a beach party everynight but she said that was not true its only on Friday. Luckily this didn't impact them and they still had a great time but if this is something that you're counting on for the after party it could be a dissapointment. However, she did say that Simona was amazing and did a fantastic job and she was really happy with everything. She said they do their best once you're there to do everything you want so i'm hoping that she will accomodate whatever we need once we arrive including making sure the disco is open! I've just e-mailed her a second time with more questions and i will share her responses.
  3. oh wow those prices are not at all the the same as the list of prices i had but probably because i took them from someone off here. I've been trying so hardvto get information from the coordiantor for prices but she keeps saying she will send me the new package soon...I feel like shes been saying this for months. It's really frustrating as i want to have an idea of how our day is going to look but its not possible until i know what options i have. Charlong, what is your plan for after dinner? Do you know where you will be eating dinner yet?
  4. Hi Girls, To answer a few questions, yes they will need to pay a daypass. The coordinator told me its $120 for a day pass which to me is absolutely absurd considering right now on their website they say you can stay there for $80 a night. So not sure if she misunderstood me or not but thats the price she gave me. Also, if anyone is planning on staying at another resort they will absolutely need to stay in the Samana Area...just wanted to mention this in case as it was a surprise to me that Punta Cana is a good 6+ hours away driving. As for the time of the wedding, i was told I could do 3:30, 4:00 or 4:30. Usually you are the only wedding of the day so i would think any time you pick of those three will be fine. I would confirm your wedding time as well just in the off chance there is a second wedding that day. I also asked the coordinator about the DJ...i was very confused by her answer and am worried i wont even be able to have a DJ as dinner is in the restaurant. I mostly wanted this for the first dance and so my guests can party bewteen dinner and the disco on the beach (which i confirmed btw stays open until 2 am). Anyone heard anything about the DJ or asked any questions? I'm hoping to do my dinner outside and have the DJ in that area so we can party on the patio but maybe thats ntio possible since we will be mixed in with other guests.
  5. Wow what a great gift!! I think you should be fine then. You already have quite a few rooms booked. We had nothing booked whatsoever with them. I would just recommend to your other travellers that they book early to be on the safe side. Yes a travel agent is really helpful. Mine is deffinitely earning her commission right now with all the mess thats occured with the airlines. Big sigh of relief things are going to work out. I was so worried i was going to have to change my hotel .
  6. Hi Peach! It has been crazy but i'm feeling much better now! My wedding date is now January 14th, 2013. I'm sorry didn't mean to make you worry! Just be aware...I think it also really depends on how you're doing your bookings. I had planned on sending out my invites with the price of the package on them and then having everyone book together as part of a group. Air canada however would only hold my quote for 30 days so either way it wouldn't have worked very well since I couldn't finish my invites until i had the price and my invites would take a few days to go out and then people would have less than a month to reserve their space. Thats just a minor thing on top of the other things they messed up on. Have you already book your trip with them? Has your whole group booked? If i had to go with Air Canada i would probably just have everyone book on their own rather than go the group route becuase it was way too complicated for me with them. I would however recommend they book early! Air Canada only buys up a few rooms and in the case with me they ran out of the Superior rooms. I was surprised as we are still 6 months away! They can request more rooms from the hotel but their is no guarantee.They actually did get more rooms from the hotel but at that point i was way too fed up with them. I would double check online for flights as West Jet just last weekend released their flights to Samana so they may have some new stuff up, Air Canada may have changed their flight times as well.
  7. I got my bridesmaids dresses off ASOS and Tobi.com. I LOVE Tobi...i had never seen it before until i started looking for bridesmaids dresses and they have tons of beautiful dresses that are perfect for a beach wedding.
  8. I got my bridesmaids dresses off ASOS and Tobi.com. I LOVE Tobi...i had never seen it before until i started looking for bridesmaids dresses and they have tons of beautiful dresses that are perfect for a beach wedding.
  9. Hi Everyone, I thought I would update those of you who are still on this planning forum about my planning process. It’s been a bit of a nightmare the last few weeks but things are looking up once again! I have my dress, my shoes, my jewellry, all the bridesmaids dresses and shoes, my fiance's suit and all his groomens attire and my invitations are just about done! Initially we had planned on travelling with Air Canada as at the time I was looking into prices they were the only airline flying out of Ottawa. I picked my wedding date and sent out my save the dates based on the information I had with Air Canada. Two weeks ago I was finalizing my invitations however I needed my final pricing information before I could print the last few pieces and finish assembly. When my travel agent contacted Air Canada we were informed that they changed their flights. We would now be arriving at the hotel close to midnight and returning early morning which was a major let down for me. I was really upset about this change however after searching more online I realized it was our only option and I decided we would go ahead with this flight anyway. My travel agent called them for a few final details before I went ahead with sending my invites and they happen to just realize that they no longer had any superior rooms available. They had quoted us prices on rooms they did not have I just couldn't believe how unorganized they were and how little they cared about my business. I was about ready to give up but my travel agent convinced me to consider flying with Air Transat out of Montreal. I was hesitant about this option as it would mean my guests would need to incur additional costs for parking and hotel in Montreal. After a few days thinking about all the options, changing my wedding date with the hotel and discussing with family and friends we decided Air Transat was our only option if we wanted to keep this hotel. I am now booked with Air Transat and I couldn't be happier with my decision and I feel 100% confident that everything will work out. They are holding 22 rooms for me and my guests and all I had to do was give a deposit for my Fiancé and I. And the best part...there is no penalty if now everyone books one of the 22 rooms. I will never ever again book Air Canada for a group. They are rude, unhelpful and unorganized and to be honest I don’t think they really care if they can help you or not. For any brides flying with Air Canada...I hope your experience is better than mine. For any of you still deciding who to fly with, I highly recommend Air Transat. I'm now ready to finish my invites and hope to send them out next week! On a side note: The wedding coordinator seems to be responding quickly lately. I heard back from her within an hour of requesting to change my wedding date and my travel agent was able to speak to her on the phone.
  10. Hi Peach, I gave my name and my fiance's name to book our date that was it. There was no official form or anything and i also e-mailed to confirm the date after to make sure. I just e-mailed the coordiantor again last week and heard back from her. Looks like it's a new one from when i initially e-mailed in February. I'm going to write her back and ask her to confirm my date once again just to be safe.
  11. I just read the review and it deffinitely makes me a little nervous. I received my package information around February as well and it doesn't mention anything about this extra charge. I do worry about the vagueness of their website and the language barrier when speaking with the wedding coordinator by e-mail so i'm really not surprised this kind of thing happens. However, I have a feeling there may have been more behind the $3500 extra charge that wasn't mentioned in the review or maybe stuff she didn't know about. It just seems really odd to me that they would throw out a random price like that when none of their packages come even close to that mark. If anyone gets any new information from the wedding coordinator please pass it on to the rest of us! Until then i dont think we should worry too much. I'm sure all of us will hit a few bumps in the road during the planning process but I do also think we may get surprised the opposite way in the sense we may get extras we didn't expect! The reason my fiance and I decided on a down south wedding was because we didn't want to worry about the small things rather wanted to focus on what was important and thats spending time with the family and friends that are closest to you and really just enjoying our wedding day stress free! I am an event planner as a profession and the most important thing for any event I organize is that people are having fun! You can't go wrong down south with the beautiful weather, beach, good friends, unlimited food and drinks. I always try to keep that in mind throughout these bumps in the road and remember that its not the colour of your napkins or what they ate for dinner that people are going to remember most.
  12. Hi Peach, Yes it takes her a while to respond back! In every review i've read everyone has had the same experience so i didn't worry about it. What i did was wait for her to confirm the date before i booked anything with Air Canada. I've heard some people who were in a rush actually called the hotel and asked for the wedding coordinator and that seemed to work.
  13. I'm also doing neutral/nude bridesmaid dresses for my down south wedding and although i dont have pics of my wedding to show you i have been using these as inspiration. I'm sorry i had to cut out the faces of one photo as i'm not sure she would appreciate me using her pictures but its so pretty i had to share. It's a bit more along the pink tones but she has some neutral tones as well.
  14. I've been having these concerns as well however my travel agent has been very reassuring that there should be no issues and that I shouldn't let this worry me. They have continued booking vacations with them during this turbulent time and have had no problems so far. Of course I still worry about it but i dont see any other option for us. On the positive side, it seems of all the airlines they are very unlikely to go bankrupt as they get a lot of support from the government. My biggest concern would be that they go on strike right during my wedding but i'm hoping that things will work out in the next 9 months.
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