Hi all, My husband and I just returned from our wonderful week at the BBPD this past weekend. Overall, we had a really positive experience planning and hosting our wedding. Iâ€™ll start by reviewing the resort itself and then talk a little more about the actual wedding services provided. Iâ€™ve been to a few other resorts in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and Hawaii and this one was by far the very best! Certainly not perfect, but pretty close. The beach is great and not too busy. There were always lots of beach chairs available and lots of shady spots to hide from the sun â€“ because nobody wants tan lines on their wedding day! The adult pool is equally great â€“ a nice getaway from busier and louder areas of the resort. You can rent private cabanas around the adult pool for $10/day and itâ€™s well worth it, particularly if you have a larger group. It can serve as a really great meeting point and our group made great use of it every single day we were down there. I didnâ€™t spend a lot of time at the other pools â€“ there always seemed to be a lot of families and teens around the pools and thatâ€™s just not my style. The non-motorized water sports (kayaks, paddle boats, hobie cats) were always available and a great way to spend an afternoon. The restaurants are good. I always say that when youâ€™re choosing a resort, food shouldnâ€™t be the determining factor â€“ itâ€™s almost always mediocre regardless of how many stars the resort has. That being said, the buffet always had a lot of selection and the local style food was always delicious. Try the fish â€“ every single variety I tried was amazing and perfectly prepared. The a la carte restaurants were hit and miss within our group. The Japanese restaurant was a crowd favourite â€“ coming from B.C., I have some of the best sushi available to me, so I wasnâ€™t blown away with the sushi at the resort, but it was still tasty and the rest of the meal was good and flavourful. The Italian restaurant was also delicious and had lots of variety. The desserts here werenâ€™t great, but they were ok. The Mexican restaurant was pretty good as well. The seafood restaurant got very mixed reviews within our group. I personally never ate there, but many of our friends did and some people loved it while other hated it. Larger groups seemed to not receive as good of meals. The golf course is another option for dining â€“ it doesnâ€™t require reservations and it never seemed all that busy. By far the absolute best restaurant at the resort is the French restaurant. It is an extra $50 for non-Club Premium guests, but it was AMAZING. I could have eaten there every single day! The other amenities that the resort offers are also great. The disco is fun but the crowd is very young. The casino has quite a few tables as well as slot machines. The spa offers a great selection of services. I had my hair, makeup, manicure, pedicure and massage included in the wedding package and it was a really great experience. Very relaxing and a beautiful space! The theatre was surprisingly not busy; at every other resort Iâ€™ve been too, itâ€™s packed every night. Not the case here â€“ the theatre is huge and there are always seats available, even for large groups. The lobby bar is often quite busy, but the coffee, cigar and rum bar that is connected to it is not as busy and the service there is VERY fast and good. All of the kidsâ€™ activities were a hit with our nephew too â€“ he loved the kidsâ€™ club, which is open from 9am to midnight, as well as the mini-golf, laser tag and water park. The shopping centre is also very large â€“ larger than most resorts. And thereâ€™s a market down the beach that also has great souvenirs. The rooms are nice. Most of our guests stayed in the Junior Suite Deluxe room category and a few stayed in the Family Suites. The Junior Suites are all located near the beach and the main building while the Family Suites are a little further back in the resort and close to all of the kidsâ€™ activities â€“ water park, mini golf, laser tag, kids club, etc. A few of our guests had problems with their rooms (one room was not clean, some rooms had no doors on the shower, and one room had noisy neighbours, etc.) but all of these concerns were brought up with Guest Services immediately and our guests were moved into better rooms within a day. As always, tipping the housekeepers $1 or $2 per day usually yields a well-stocked fridge and towel swans on the bed. My husband and I had the privilege of staying in the Presidential Suite for our stay. We had booked Grand Master Suite Ocean Front Club Premium but since the B&G are entitled to a one room upgrade, subject to availability, we were lucky enough to get upgraded into the Presidential Suite. If you can manage to go this route, it is well worth it! You can order any a la carte meals and room service direct to your room, you have a private place to spend with your guests â€“ we had lots of girls days up on the deck and our 6-year old nephew thought swimming in his very own pool was the greatest - you can host private parties for all of your guests every night, there is plenty of room for all of your wedding party to get ready, and your butler will help you make any arrangements for group excursions, parties, etc. The apartment itself was spectacular. It comes with three separate suites, 2 with king beds and 1 with 2 double beds. Each suite has its own bathroom and there is another half bath off of the office. You have access to a computer with Internet access â€“ I was able to Skype with a close relative the afternoon of the wedding once I was in my dress and our guests were able to stay connected with family back home and check into their return flights the day before we left. There is also a living room and dining room in the suite that we made excellent use of. There is also an area for the butler to stay if you would like him to be available 24/7. This area has a large fridge that is always well stocked along with a microwave and another bathroom. The outdoor space is even better. There is a MASSIVE deck that overlooks the entire beach and pool area of the resort. It has a private infinity pool and a large dining table that seats 8-10 people and 2 casual seating areas â€“ one large and one small. There are also 12 lounge chairs on the main patio and 4 more on a smaller patio. This space is absolutely amazing for larger groups. Another perk â€“ whenever you or your guests call guest services to make a la carte reservations from the room, otherwise sold out restaurants suddenly have room for you and when your butler accompanies you to any of the resort facilities, your every need is tended to immediately â€“ you are literally treated like royalty. The only downside to this suite â€“ itâ€™s so big that youâ€™ll constantly find yourself losing things! Even if you choose not to try for the Presidential Suite upgrade, upgrading to Club Premium for you and any of your guests is well worth the money. The private check-in and lounge area is perfect when you arrive after a long day of travel. The rooms are also a little nicer and have ocean views â€“ a perfect way to wake up in the morning. You can also get access to the aforementioned French restaurant as well as the a la carte restaurants at the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort next door. Our only real complaint about this resort was the occasional lack of service. There are times when we ordered room service and it never arrived until we called to remind them (including our honeymoon breakfast). There were times when the lobby bar was too busy and getting a drink took awhile. But for the most part, these incidents were rare and quickly remedied. Now for the wedding part of my review. We did all of our wedding planning with the help of a destination wedding coordinator in our hometown of Victoria, B.C. The name of the company we used is SunLovers Destination Weddings by Kim Crosby (www.sunlovers.ca). Even if you donâ€™t live in Victoria, Kim may be able to help you, and believe me, she was a godsend! After she helped us choose our resort, Kim liaised with Marlene in the BBPD weddings department. For the most part, communication went smoothly, although it sometimes took a few emails back and forth to get the answers we wanted. However, by the time we arrived in Punta Cana, all of our major decisions had been made. We ended up selecting the Strawberry Passion package and, for the most part, we stuck to the package and didnâ€™t add a lot of extras. It would have been nice to see the price list for the few extras we did order before we chose our package â€“ if youâ€™re trying to stick to a budget, ask for this price list ahead of time â€“ I sure wish we had. The extras we added included: beach reception ($15 extra/person), 3 bridesmaid bouquets ($30 each), 3 groomsmen boutonnieres ($20 each), sound system ($400 for 3 hours). We were also charged for the steaming of 4 linen suits and 3 bridesmaid dresses but my dress was included in the price. We hired Tropical Pictures for the silver photo package and did not have a video package. So the wedding itself was beautiful but it wasnâ€™t without its hiccups. Prior to arrival, I had been told that we would be working with Marlene, who had been our wedding coordinator for the entire year that we planned the wedding; but when we arrived, we were told that we would be working with Hildebranda. Sheâ€™s a newer wedding coordinator and didnâ€™t have all of the answers to our questions, but she was quick to get answers and tried to be as accommodating as possible. We met with her the day before the wedding to confirm and finalize all of the details and to come up with a Plan B in the event of bad weather. This went smoothly, although it took a little longer than I had figured. We were with Hildebranda for almost 2 hours going over all of the details and talking with Tropical Pictures about what we wanted. It is during this time that we paid (note that they only accept major credit cards and cash) and provided our cake topper and sand ceremony supplies to the wedding team. On the wedding day, my bridesmaids and I arrived at the spa for our wedding day prep at 11 am. The getting ready process took a little longer than I anticipated, but there was still plenty of time to make it to our 4 pm wedding on time. I had a manicure, pedicure, hair and makeup done and my bridesmaids all had their hair done. We were very happy with the services we received. The ladies at the spa are really great and the atmosphere is really relaxing. We were the only people in the spa for most of the 4 hours we were in there, so it was nice to have that time with my girls. Make sure you eat BEFORE you go to the spa though â€“ there is no food permitted and I was starving by the time I left. While I was at the spa, Hildebranda came in to let me know that due to rain, the ceremony and reception had to be moved. Since we were staying in the presidential suite, our Plan B had been to move both ceremony and reception to the suite. The wedding team was concerned that there would not be enough time after the ceremony to set up for the reception, so they were planning on moving the reception to one of the banquet halls. My bridesmaids came to my rescue and we managed to get both events on the covered portion of the patio in our suite. Despite being disappointed at not getting my beach wedding, the setting was absolutely beautiful and very private and intimate. For those still in the location selection stage â€“ I would personally recommend either the presidential suite or the beach, but definitely not the beach gazebo â€“ it is located at the busiest part of the resort, isnâ€™t really close to the water and youâ€™ll have tons of onlookers. In between the ceremony and reception, we had an hour-long photo shoot with Tropical Pictures on the beach and the pier. All of our pictures turned out wonderfully and we were really happy with them. As I mentioned, you have an opportunity to sit down with Tropical Pictures to specify if there are specific pictures you would like to have taken and to go over those kinds of details. We started out with a group photo and then did family photos and bridal party photos and then still had a half an hour for pictures of just the two of us. It was so nice to have that time alone on an otherwise very busy day! People on the beach generally carried on with their lives but there were some people who stood and watched, but they were pretty far away and we didnâ€™t really notice them. The reception was just as perfect as the ceremony. There was a bar set up on the patio as well as a head table and four guest tables for all 32 of us. I would imagine that you could probably fit another 2 tables under the covered area of the patio, but they would have to be moved after dinner for the dance. The food we chose was delicious â€“ caprese salad, pesto marinated broiled chicken, and black forest cake. We also opted for a white cake with strawberry filling for our wedding cake. I brought down the exact ribbon that I wanted to be use on the cake and I had emailed a picture ahead of time of what I wanted and we asked for no fondant. Hildebranda had no problems accommodating our requests. After dinner, we had one of our guests (who happens to be a wedding DJ) hook up his computer to the rented sound equipment and we danced the night away. A few things to note: 1. Make sure that you have copies all of your correspondence with the wedding team. There were a few things that we had agreed upon that changed when we arrived. When we showed them the original emails, our requests were met. For example, we chose a symbolic ceremony so that it would be in English. When we arrived, we were told it would be in Spanish. I showed them the original email and got our ceremony done in English. 2. If you have anything sentimental in your wedding that you would like to keep, make sure you take it with you before the cleaning staff dismantles the reception site. While the cleaning staff left my cake topper and the centerpiece behind, I had lace from my deceased motherâ€™s wedding gown intertwined in my bouquet and it was accidentally thrown away by the cleaning staff. Thankfully Angel, our butler, was willing to look high and low for it and I got it back. Without him, I would never have seen it again. 3. If you are having any special parts to your ceremony, be sure that the wedding team understands the significance of these parts and is able to explain it to the wedding officiant. We had two single roses on chairs to honour both of our mothers as well as a sand ceremony that included sand from the beach that represented our family and our foundation and then continued with the traditional sand ceremony. Our officiant did not do a great job of explaining it to our guests and they were all confused until we explained it later in the evening. 4. If you have any garments that need to be steamed, get that done as soon as you arrive at the resort. We sent our clothes out on the morning of the wedding and, while my dress came back very quickly, the other clothes were late in arriving back in the room. 5. Pictures go a long way! If you have specific ideas for what you want for a cake or your hair or any other part of the day, make sure you send/bring pictures. They can pretty much replicate anything you show them, within reason, and it cuts down on uncertainty and stress. 6. If you are having an MC for the reception, make sure they come with you to your initial meeting with the wedding team. Our MC was amazing but Iâ€™m sure she wanted to kill us over poor communication about the order of events, etc. 7. Hiring a combined wedding coordinator/travel agent in your hometown or home country who specializes in destination weddings may be your smartest expense â€“ the savings they can get, the ability they have to get the right answers from the resort, and their knowledge of the industry will save you time and stress. And if you have problems with your tour provider or the resort itself, they can sort the problems out much faster than you could and with better results. There were lots of little things that went wrong with our tour provider that I didnâ€™t even know about until after they had been resolved. 8. This should go without saying, but never let your dress out of your sight except to send it for steaming. Take it with you as carry-on on your flights and always be the one responsible for carrying it. Not only do you have the peace of mind, but people love brides and are willing to go the extra mile when they know youâ€™re getting married. I apologize for how long this review ended up being. There was just so much to say and so many topics to cover! If you have any other questions, PM me with your email address and Iâ€™ll do my best to answer your questions for you. Best of luck with your planning!