| Disclaimer: This email is going to be VERY long, but I just was recently married at Dreams and wanted to let you all know my experience to help you plan your weddings as well. I would have really appreciated this before I left, so I hope it helps some of you. |
To start, we had a pretty small wedding, 25 guests who all stayed at the resort. We bought the Dreams of Love wedding package which you can find on the website (it cost $1000 but I think their prices might be going up b/c the information sheets we received at the resort quoted a much higher price). Dreams itself is very nice. It is situated in between 2 cliffs and has a great beach area. I couldn't have asked for better food or drinks, and the rooms were very clean. It is definitely not a 5 star hotel though if that is what you are looking for. Its a much older resort, and definitely shows some wear and tear, but really, I had no major complaints. Oh, but there are a lot of children, so it isn't the most romantic destination. I am only saying this b/c we stayed at Seacrets in the Mayan Riviera last year (Dreams' sister resort which is couples only), and if you are looking for romance, I would go there. We had children attending our wedding so we had no choice but to go with a family friendly resort.
When we arrived at the resort, we had ssooo much left to plan. I would email Marilu (the wedding coordinator), sometimes 3 or 4 times before getting a response, which usually was very short. So I basically went down there knowing nothing. But once I arrived, I found Marilu and she had everything set up for us to go get our blood drawn and what not the next day. It was important for me to actually be "married" in Mexico, so we decided to do the legal ceremony. In order to do this, you have to have your birth certificates apostillized in the US (which they keep, so make sure you get an extra copy), get blood drawn in Mexico, and watch the most ridiculous 20 minute video on marriage. It all was really no big deal though. On Wednesday (the only day you can watch the video) we were picked up right on time at 8:20, went to watch the video, have our blood drawn, and were back at the resort within 2 hours. I was unaware, however, that we needed $300 cash for this, so we had to stop at an ATM along the way. This fee is not included in the wedding package. There was a paper we also needed to complete, that Marilu had never sent us, but it was just basic information about where we lived, parents names, and our witness information. Oh, that was the other thing, we needed to have 2 non-parent witnesses. In order to complete the paperwork, you need to have their names, addresses, and copies of their passports. Luckily, we had one couple arriving that day who were the lucky "winners" of the witness award. It would have been nice to have known in advance that we needed that information by Wednesday because we could have just brought copies of the passports with us. If we did not have friends arriving early, I'm not sure what we would have done.
After that we met with Marilu for about a half an hour and picked out our wedding and reception venues, menus, entertainment, etc. We chose to have our wedding ceremony at the gazebo next to the beach, and our reception on the beach. Both were perfect. You can really pick anywhere on the resort for either. Marilu had suggested having our reception next to one of the pools which was a very nice area, however, the night of our wedding was the Mexican fiesta and we were afraid it would be too loud and wanted to be moved further away. I really think this was a good idea, b/c the fiesta became VERY loud, but where we were on the beach, you couldn't notice it at all. Also, Marilu had planned the wedding at 5pm (I had tried to email her about times, but never heard a response, so had no idea when the ceremony would take place). While we were there, we saw another wedding that took place at 5pm and decided it was wwwaaayyyy too early. We were actually still on the beach at the time along with most everyone else at the resort. We wanted the ceremony closer to sunset, which was around 6:30, and also, at 5pm, there are still a ton of kids running around on the beach and by the pool. I knew there were always going to be random spectators, but I wanted to try to keep it at a minumum. So anyway, we ended up rescheduling for 6:45 (the only other time the judge could make it). For us, it was perfect. Just after sunset, and very few random spectators. The only thing was that we had to do all of our pictures prior to the wedding to capture the sunset, so we saw each other before to the ceremony (which did not matter to us). Even if you do not want to see each other prior to the ceremony, I still would recommend trying to push the ceremony back as late as possible. Even 5:30 would have been better b/c more people are inside getting ready for dinner, and you could still have nice sunset pictures taken afterward. I highly recommend figuring out when sunset is, and negotiating the wedding time prior to arriving because it will be at 5pm otherwise.
After the ceremony we went to the reception on the beach. It was a beautiful setup. They used white chair covers and table cloths and set up candles and tiki torches all around the area. I had asked for extra centerpieces on all the tables (I think they were $25 each), since only one was included and I didn't bring my own, and they were all very nice. The food, by the way, was AMAZING. You get a huge selection of appetizers and entrees (mostly chicken and seafood), and everything was fabulous. We were able to pick 4 hot apps and 4 cold apps for cocktail hour, then for dinner we had a first course, main course, and dessert. It was a TON of food. We had a carrot cake as our wedding cake, which I also asked to have flowers put on ($10 extra). Otherwise, you get just a plain white cake. We had the Mexican trio play for cocktail hour (arranged by Marilu for about $300), but I wish we would have gotten them for an extra hour through dinner. They were really good and provided great background music. As soon as the hour was up, they literally ran away, so I couldn't even ask them to stay or even tip them b/c I seriously blinked and they were gone. I brought my iPod for music for the reception and they set up a speaker for us which worked out well. Of course, we mostly just ended up at the bar anyway. The service at dinner was amazing. My wine glass was never empty and the servers would get you whatever you wanted to drink immediately. My niece is allergic to shellfish, and we had a crab appetizer that she couldn't eat. The server instead brought her a caeser salad within minutes.
I was really nervous about the flowers I would get down there, but I was able to pick the colors and type of flowers and my bouquet was beautiful. I asked for orange and pink, and it ended up being more orange than pink, and I would have preferred it the other way around, so be specific in what you ask for. You also get hair and makeup which I was also a little nervious about. I brought a ton of pictures of what I wanted for my hair, and though it didn't turn out quite like I had hoped, it was still really pretty. I did not do a trial run, but if you are picky about your hair, I would definitely suggest doing that. The makeup turned out great though. They used MAC products believe it or not, and the girl did a wonderful job. It took about an hour and a half for my hair and makeup. I had allotted an hour to get ready which would have been ok, but the makeup took FOREVER, so of course I was late. So just make sure you have some extra time afterwards to get dressed.
We hired an outside photographer to come in for pictures. I HIGHLY recommend doing this. The guy the resort has is the same guy that runs around taking pictures of the kids in the pool. They are just regular digital photographs without any touching up. You still get the photos from him, but I was ssssoooo glad I also had a real photographer come in.
The Presidential suite at Dreams is super nice and spacious (huge actually), complete with a private pool and multiple patio areas with spectacular views. We didn't have a welcome dinner or rehearsal dinner, but one of these rooms would have been a great place to have a private low key event for 10-20 people.
I did not block rooms for my guests, b/c I was told you have to have at least 10 rooms to get a discounted rate, which I was not sure that I would have (of course I did afterall). But the discount was only like 10% of the room rate or something like that, and everyone was able to find much better deals through other vendors such as Apple, Cheap Carribbean, etc. You just need to do a little research.
I brought a cd which they played for our ceremony, but Marilu has some there already. If you want something specific as you walk down the aisle though, I would plan in advance for that.
I made welcome bags for everyone, which I originally figured I would have given out by the front desk when people checked in. It was absolute chaos when I was checking in and decided to just hand my welcome bags to people when they arrived. I do not think I would trust the front desk to do it.
Having the legal ceremony down there was a lot easier than I thought it would be if anyone is worried about it. The most difficult part was getting the apostille at home, but even that wasn't bad. The time we spent getting blood drawn and watching the video could not have been less. I did have some trouble at the Social Security Administration when I got home though b/c our wedding certificate was in Spanish (they said I needed to have it translated) but it turns out it was just the mean lady I happened to get. I went to another SSA office later in the day, and had absolutely no problems whatsoever. If they give you a hassle about it, ask to speak with a manager, or a Spanish speaking representative.
Overall, I really couldn't have asked for a better experience. I was apprehensive going down there with so much left up in the air, but it all turned out ok. They do a lot of weddings, so they really are on top of things. If anyone has any questions, please just post them on this board. I don't check it too often, but I will try to get back to you quickly.
Good luck planning!!
Dreams Puerto Vallarta Review 1/9/07
Posted 09 January 2007 - 06:56 PM
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