I am back from my wedding, and ready to answer any questions you might have!
Let me start by saying - it was a wonderful day, and the resort staff really does a great job making sure your day is perfect (or close to it!)
Transfer from the airport
We had our package from AppleVacations, so had an individual direct transfer to the hotel, which was not bad at all - 1hr 15 minutes door to door.
Pleasant and easy, with champagne and a hot towel. However, they do have an extremely weird policy of check-in at 3, and check-out at 12. We were at the hotel by noon, and had to hang around in jeans/longsleeve dying to take a shower and strip to a bathing suit for the next 3 hours!
The gardens are beautiful, everything is very clean. The beach was run down by seaweed, which was pretty awful - it was a battle that the cleaners could not win at all. They kept gathering the seaweed and then burying it, but then a new wave would come in and bring in pounds and pounds more of it. The shore was very rocky and full of shells for 8 days out of 10 we were there for. The last 2 days - it was as we were at a different beach! The seaweed was gone, and the shore had no rocks or shells, which made our swimming sessions much more pleasant. The spa was beautiful, and that couples massage was like dying and going to heaven. The entertainment during the day was similar day to day, but it was fun anyway. The shows at night were either a hit or a miss - the water show was phenomenal, and magic show was extremely cheesy.
Food was generally eeh. At the italian restaurant, the appetizers were the best, main entres were yucky. The french restaurant was decent. The asian place was ok, and again - the appetizers were much better than the mains. The mexican place was ok. The buffet - it seems like lunch had the most options, breakfast was more or less the same every day, and dinners were just ok.
We had a total of 24 people, and about a third did not have any issues at all, the rest - seemed to have at least one not fun day. We stayed there for 10 days, were eating and drinking without thinking anything of it, and I had painful cramps on day 6, which left me alone on day 7 but I still had to be aware of the nearest bathroom everywhere i went. The abnormal "going" continued, but without pain or much discomfort.
Meeting with the wedding coordinator
We had the Ultimate Package, but I still had a very elaborate plan for all – ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. I brought decorations, and Nayeli (the coordinator) took notes and then delivered exactly what I spoke to her about. There was no pressure of adding anything additional to the package, but they were not flexible at all in trying to decrease the overall price. Those taxes and service charges really add up!!!
The big day
Started off with an early start, breakfast and beach. The night before we agreed to stay at different sides of the resort so not to see each other (they also gave him a separate room). At first he was laughing at me to not wanting to see him the morning of the wedding, but after – he said that the anticipation just made it so much better.
11:30 – had my hair and make-up done. When they say, give yourself an hour for each – I would say, give yourself more time than that. My hair was relatively detailed, and it took 2.5 hours and she had to rush through make-up. The results were phenomenal. I brought in pictures of both, and the girl who took care of me, did exactly what I wanted her to do. Great job! (And it helps if one of your bridesmaids comes with you to chat, two and a half hours is a looong time to sit and stare at yourself in the mirror)
2pm – we brought out own photographer, so he came by the room to take pictures of my girls and I getting ready.
3pm – everyone pretty much left to hang out by the bar next to the beach, while my dad stayed with me and fed me French fries (you really do forget to eat, until the hunger creeps up on you and you are ready to eat a baby horse!)
3:30pm – beach ceremony. Beautiful! The wedding coordinator was there to help throughout the walk, and was there to tell everyone when to start walking, etc All in all, it took about 20 minutes.
4-4:30pm – took pictures by the beach with everyone
4:30-5:30 – the bridal party went with us and our own photographer to take pictures at the beach/rocks and all over the resort. The guests had an hour to explore and drink =)
5:30-6:30 – cocktail hour at the lobby balcony. We originally wanted to have the cocktail hour at the beach, but then thought that for the pictures, it would be good to have a different setting. And since there was that extra time – let the guests walk around a bit!
6:30-10:30 – reception by the dolphin pool. We got the extra hour, and it was sooo worth it. We are both Russian, and our families tend to sit at dinners forever, so we knew that 3 hours would not be enough for the first dance, father/bride and mother/groom dances, and all the toasts. We also rented the sound system (which is such a ripoff, but what other choice do you have?), and at the end, had the last hour pretty much for dancing. We were concerned with the privacy issue that everyone talks about by that pool, but we really wanted the paper lanterns, and this was the only location that you could have them. There were no privacy issues, we were so involved with each other, that I honestly cannot tell you if there was anyone walking by at all. But be warned, this resort seems to be the Wedding Central – during the weekend, there could be 2-3 weddings a day, and during the weekday, there is at least one! So it seems like everyone at the resort, after gawking at their first wedding of the day, they ignore all others after.
Food – was not that much, and none of it was exceptionally good. But our wedding cake – was the best cake I ever tasted! We got the tres leches with apricot filling – absolutely to die for.
Service – the waiters were too quick in putting food on the table, and we actually had to tell them to slow down, otherwise we would get to the dessert within the first 45 minutes! Otherwise, the guys were great.
Resort photographer – Teo was amazing to work with, and the pictures came out phenomenal. Only issue was the cost – if you want additional pictures (over 50), it is $20 each.
Negatives – the food came out too fast, and they lost 11 shot glasses. We brought personalized shot glasses for each of our guests, and some of them took them, some of them left them at the table hoping to get them later – the coordinator claimed there were none left. Eleven went missing, which was a bummer. Thank goodness we have extras back at home, and now will just have to mail those, but still.
Otherwise – a great experience, a wonderful day, the weather complied, and all in all – it was everything I expected it to be!
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have (while all the details are fresh in my mind!) – gmail.com'>firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, I have 24 turquoise satin chair sashes and 4 table runners, and fancy big seashells (for table decorations) for sale! The seashells, I brought two bags, with different kinds of shells to scatter them on the table for the cocktail hour and for the reception – they looked great! They did not open one bag at all, so it was more than enough. Pictures upon request as well.
Good luck ladies!!!