Get comfortable because this is going to be a lengthy review!
I got married at BBPD on Saturday, April 5th with a total of 84 guests. My WC was Aris and to say that she is amazing would be an understatement!! My fiance and I arrived with his parents on the 1st and met with Aris the following day. Our meeting lasted over 2 hours even though we were finalizing most of the decisions we had previously made over email.
I took two suitcases full of tiffany blue colored napkins, palm fans (we wrapped the handles with tiffany blue ribbon) and tears of joy packets (handmade) for the ceremony, tiffany-blue themed table numbers with clip-stands/holders and place cards, small clear gems for table decorating, tiffany-styled gift boxes wrapped with white ribbon and filled with white and blue m&ms (we assembled these when we arrived) to decorate the tables with, small edible stones for the cake, small votive candles to accent the centerpieces and we had two different favors: a star-fish wine stopper and personalized glass coaster sets (2 in a set) that we bought in dozens and tied with white ribbon to create a set. We also brought a personalized guest book that I created on shutterfly that was set up on a separate table next to our cake with the wine-stoppers and a big tiffany box for gifts/cards. We gave all of this to Aris at our first meeting.
At the meeting, we discussed the playlist we gave to the DJ (which she insisted was too short! Haha) but she was able to arrange a quick meeting with the DJ to go over things like our entrance, etc. We chose to use the Caribbean trio band for the cocktail hour so we could use our own music for the ceremony. We put it all on an iPod, gave Aris a list of the order of songs and she took care of the rest. At this first meeting we also met with Tropical Pictures who we were only using for the video. We chose to book Katyanova for our wedding photos even though we had to pay the outside vendor fee. They were more expensive than TP but we fell in love with their style and photos and splurged to have them.
We had our “welcome gathering” at Strikers the night before the wedding where we gave out small welcome bags. It is a very casual setting and one of our favorite bars at the resort (besides the pool bar!). It was perfect for such a large group as everyone was able to get as loud as they wanted, snack, grab drinks from the bar and take photos. I highly recommend it for large groups.
My hair and make-up were scheduled for 1pm and I ended up running a little late! Katya, her husband Rob and their apprentice Lacy tracked me down at the salon and let me know they were going to scout around a little bit for a location for my fiancé and I’s “First Touch” shoot before the ceremony. They were such sweethearts and since it looked like I would be a while, Rob decided to track down my fiancé and his boys to start to shoot some with them. I chose not to get ready in the bridal suite at the spa because we had booked the Grand Master Suite and it was absolutely incredible! My fiance got ready in his best man's room. We also had Aris set up our beach ceremony right outside our building, in front of building 6. It is so much quieter here with not as many onlookers and nosy ppl, haha. And it meant I just had to take the elevator down to the ceremony. My bridesmaids got ready and ordered room service there while I finished my hair and make-up. I also took my own make-up with me because I figured it was easier than having them try to match my skin color for foundation. It worked out well and cut down on some time.
That morning, my husband and his mother met with Aris to take care of the payment. Usually it is done the day before the wedding but Aris was busy with another wedding that day.
My bridesmaids had all woken up early to take a cab to the Eden salon located in the San Juan mall just 5 minutes outside the resort. The spa was very short-staffed the day I was getting married and they saved a lot of money by going outside the resort and guest services was nice enough to give me their phone number so I could ask them if they could accomodate my girls.. I was the only one who got my hair done at the spa since it was included in my wedding package. At about 4, I ran to my room to get dressed and found all my bridemaids, mother, godmother, Lacey & Katya AND the videographer from TP there. It was a full house! LOL. Even so, Katya found some time to catch me getting ready and stuff before they brought my fiancé to our suite where we would be having our “First Touch” shots. They had us on the balcony, standing back-to-back so we couldn’t see each other, it was an amazing moment!
Aris had all our guests and groomsmen meet at the Carey Lobby Bar where she took them all to the ceremony area to wait for the start. They were scheduled to meet at 4, an hour before the ceremony. This is something you should tell your guests as they arrive to the resort.
The ceremony was scheduled for 5pm with the cocktail hour from 6-7 and the reception at 7. We chose to have the cocktail hour on the rooftop for an additional fee only because our ceremony was on to be on the beach and I didn't like the idea of our guests eating on the sand. We had so many guests that we hoped the cocktail hour would keep them busy while we took photos after the ceremony and it worked out well. The ceremony started a few minutes late, but only lasted about 20 minutes, maybe less. We also hired Pastor York to officiate and wrote our own vows. I cried so much while saying my vows and there was not a dry eye in the house the whole ceremony. Security did a pretty good job of keeping onlookers from walking into the ceremony but there were at least one or two people walking along the water that I saw in some family members photos. No big deal for us. Even though we had a symbolic ceremony (we got married civilly back here in NY), many of our family members had no idea and he had us sign a certificate with our “witnesses”.
The cocktail hour on the rooftop was absolutely beautiful, especially with the backdrop of the resort for the photos. The waiters brought us little snacks, which were delicious, especially the little chicken wings. I think everyone was grateful to have a snack and drink before the reception. The reception took place in the Mallorca Ballroom due to the number of guests we had and it was walking distance from the “Chillout Rooftop Lounge”. Aris made sure to guide everyone there so we could start the party on time, but since the ceremony started a little late, we were running a little behind schedule. She ushered all the guests in to the reception after they found their place cards right outside the ballroom door. The MC came outside to speak to us while we waited to enter and quickly reviewed everyone’s names and the order of the bridal party. His name was Jonathan and he was really sweet, even made sure to speak in Spanish AND English, which he spoke very well.
After our entrance we did the mother-son, father-daughter dances and then our first dance. The cold fires during the first dance were perfect and surprised everyone. We chose to do the speeches/toasts right after the dances to get it all over with and then get the food out. Everyone talked about how delicious the dishes were. We chose the Caesar Salad with shrimp (the salad came in a little edible Parmesan bowl, it was so yummy!), Pesto Chicken and Crème Brulee. The chicken was white meat and so juicy. We only had a few vegetarians who chose to eat either sautéed veggies or pasta as their main dish, all of which were also yummy. With such a large group, we figured almost everyone would be fine with chicken and we were right.
We asked the DJ to start the party music right as they were bringing dessert because at that point we only had a little over 2 hours of partying left, this was INCLUDING the extra hour we paid for in advance. We held off on cutting the cake until later on since we figured most ppl were full from dinner. DJ Crisk was on point the entire night, he played every song we asked for and from that he played other songs that fit in perfectly with our tastes and with the group. It was such an amazing night and the extra hour was so worth it. Even still, after the party, everyone went to the rooms to change and we all met back up at the Disco until early morning and then stop by Strikers to feed all the tipsy/drunk people, haha.
I cannot say enough good things about Aris. She is such a genuinely nice person and she makes you feel like a friend. Her and I communicated via whatapp while I was there instead of having to run to her office all the time. She made everything come together seamlessly and perfectly. The day before we left we passed by her office to pick up our cake-cutter, cake topper and other extra stuff. If anything ever went wrong that day, I never would have known, Aris is just amazing. She even carried a bag with all of me and my bridesmaid’s shoes that we wanted to change into for the reception and took care of figuring out the food situation for our vegetarians and kids without bugging my husband and I. We actually got to really enjoy our reception because she made sure to take care of everything. She was even so honest, she said, ugh, I really don't like how the cake turned out! LOL. I thought it was fine. I had warned her ahead of time that our families are wild partiers and she told me afterwards that she believed me now. LOL. She laughed at our craziness, even when we all went wild dancing a traditional Dominican "palo" song.
Things I would do differently: I would’ve chosen to get my hair and make-up done a little earlier, as I had to rush and sweat to get back to my room before the ceremony. Also, I would’ve had the ceremony an hour earlier, maybe at 4. By 5, we were already losing a lot of the sunlight and it had gotten a bit windy. While that made it more comfortable for us and our guests sitting outside, we rushed to finish all our photos on the beach before losing the beautiful natural light and I was fighting with the blusher of my veil the whole time! Haha. Also, we chose the Star Package for video with Tropical Pictures and picked up our DVDs the morning before we left. If I could go back, we would not have allowed my now mother-in-law to pay for it. We were not happy with the end result, as the videographer really didn’t film very well. He didn't take any video of the ballroom décor or our guests, only of us. I also heard from my father-in-law that the videographer was complaining about our schedule running late, not like he wasn’t going to get paid either way! Another thing, not really his fault due to the wind on the beach, but you could barely hear anything from the ceremony. I think TP should have anticipated that and found a way to make the audio more clear. Lastly, I would have done a Trash the Dress shoot (or Rock the Dress as Katya calls it) the next day. Even though we were grateful to just sleep in and relax by the pool the day after the wedding, it might have been nice to have some extra photos privately on the beach or something at sunrise (Katya and Rob are known for their sunrise shoots).
Some of the extras we just HAD to have were the LED lighting (it completely transformed the ballroom, highly recommend it if you choose the ballroom, the silver tiffany chairs and silver charger/base plates.
I would do this all over again. It was such an amazing few days with our family and friends, it was like a weeklong party, hanging out by the pool all together, dancing (and on the bar stools!) by the pool bar, going out to the Disco almost every night. It's been almost a month and it's all anybody can talk about still! I'm going to include a flickr link that I've been using to share with our family and friends, just scroll past all the photos from our welcome gathering (unless you're a creeper like me, then umm enjoy?? LOL) and the link for our photo preview from Katya's blog.
Please feel free to ask any questions, I tried to be detailed in my review because I had so much to say and I loved reading reviews like this when I was planning our wedding. I am so grateful for this board and all the helpful brides on here.