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Twinkletoe's EdenH Real Arena Wedding Review - 8.8.08 *WARNING: VERY VERY LONG*

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Wedding Date: Friday, August 8, 2008

Wedding Type: Symbolic Ceremony

Wedding Time: Originally 5pm – Started around 6pm (I think)

Wedding Location: Beach

Cocktail Hour Location: Tahntra Bar

Reception Location: Beach

*We didnt do a rehearsal

I's married now! (sorry, I've always wanted to say that since watching The Color Purple, lol)


I had 6 guests at my house to entertain 3 days before departure, and was having trouble getting my planning thread up, sorry! bunny_4.gif


Okay, let me preface this review by saying my wedding day turned out PERFECT (despite all the drama I faced along the way)!!! I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better. However, there were a few bumps and bruises in the beginning. And I will do a separate review on the resort, since it is new and I don’t want to take away from my wedding review. But the resort was gorgeous! The pics online don’t do it justice one bit. I will try to give you my honest view on how things went without being ‘bridezilla’. So put on your seatbelt...



EdenH brides, If you don’t read anything else in my review, read this:

*If you just want to see a few pics until I can get them all up and don’t care about reading the review: Go here(mix of non-pro and a few pro pics): Login to a private Photobucket.com album psswd: dominicansunrise


*Print EVERY SINGLE e-mail correspondence you have and put it all in a folder and take with you (I had 32 pages!) – trust me, it helps


*If you are picking a wedding package with VIP upgrade, then don’t upgrade your travel packages to the Paradise Club, or else you will be paying double. (We actually booked our travel before the wedding packages were out so wasn’t aware of this)


*If your wedding is on a Friday evening, please beware that there is a beach party on Friday night, starts at 6:30 I believe (awesome by the way) and goes until about 11 or so. There is a buffet dinner and lots of lots of music and entertainment. So if you envision having your reception dinner on the beach or at the beach buffet with a dj, you may want to rethink that idea.



Here goes…..


Arrival to PUJ

Delta Airlines

The flight was decent, 3 hr flight from ATL, fully booked. We got upgraded to first class for free along with the 6 people we were traveling with! We did not have to pay a fee for a 2nd checked bag, thank goodness. And there was no meal, just snack and beverage service. They did offer food, I think a turkey sandwich was like $8, I’ll pass, lol.


By now, I’m sure you DR ladies know that the PUJ is like no other. Once you get off the plane you are loaded off on the runway and more or less follow the crowd to the thatched roofs to go through immigration and claim your luggage. There are ladies holding signs (rather small) for the company of your airline, so look for those. The lines seemed long, but actually moved pretty swiftly. While you are in line, there will be some Dominican ladies dressed in festive attire waiting to take your pic. You can pick your pic up when you are leaving DR for $8. We went through ‘immigration’ (paid our $10 fee) and got our luggage within 35 minutes or so. Once we got our luggage we walked around the corner to ‘customs’. I put ‘immigration’ & ‘customs’ in ticks b/c its more like they stamp your paper w/o looking to get the lines moving, unlike ATL airport.


Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Once we went through the customs lines, there are porters standing right behind to take your bags to your tour company. I had pre-warned my guests that the porters will try and come up and just grab your bag to help but beware they are expecting a tip. One porter actually took my mom’s bag out of her hand, lol. But a firm, ‘No gracias’ did the trick and they just pointed the way to go instead of taking the bags. So once we passed customs, we turned right and there are all the tour companies. We then just looked for the name of ours. We boarded the bus and waited for more people to come aboard before leaving the airport. I would say all in all everything at the airport took about an hour.


Arriving at EdenH Real Arena


We stopped at the Melia Caribe and Pardisus before arriving at our resort. So the ride was about 20 minutes or so. We pulled in front of the resort and was greeted by a porter. At this point, my mom didn’t want to let go of her bag (from her experience at the airport) ,lol, until I told her it was okay. The porter lined our bags up outside and we went inside to check-in. Please warn your guests that this is a normal thing. As my sister was very leary about leaving her luggage outside with the porter. It took a while for us all to check-in, I think only because we arrived at ‘peak time’ when the maids were trying to get all the rooms ready. If you are in the Paradise Club, go immediately to your right. You will see the lounge you are supposed to check-in at. Once we met with a guest service rep (Lorenzo), he gave me an envelope. It contained a letter from Carla explaining what time our wedding interview is to meet her to discuss our wedding plans. We went to our rooms (which by the way, our view SUCKED (room #2262 in Paradise Club), but that was the least of my worries, we werent in the room that long anyway)

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Let me preface this section with I think I went through like 4+ wedding coordinators throughout my whole planning process. Let’s see: Nora (more of a resort rep located in Miami, that helped tremendously!), Ruth, Grisele, Lillian, Carla/Elizabeth. Talk about stressful! B/c each time a new WC took over, something was left out.Especially since the correspondence at times was slow b/w the WC and myself


Meeting with the WC

Elizabeth A+++++++++++++++ (how many pluses am I allowed, b/c she deserves them all!)

Carla (1st meeting – C/ Overall A) -> she made up for her grade in the end, but Elizabeth did all the work


So we did not get to meet with the WC until a day b4 the wedding. I wasn’t too stressed about it, seeing that I had been corresponding with the resort about my wedding forever. Anyhow, Carla called our room earlier in the day asking if we could meet her at 7pm. No problemo. I’m on vacation, why rush. We get to the lobby and are told to wait, she’ll be right out. We wait, and wait. We waited 45 minutes. At this point, still not stressed b/c I KNOW they should have everything together for my wedding. Then Elizabeth comes out greets us and explains she is the new wedding coordinator. wtf.gif is what I’m thinking! But I was cordial and she told us Carla would be with us in 5 minutes and goes back to her office. She must have sensed my FI’s agitation. b/c she came back out in like 2 minutes, and was like, ‘Come on back with me b/c Carla is working with someone whose wedding is on Saturday and they have 90 people. I can get us started and when Carla is done we can work out any other details.’ In my head I’m thinking, my wedding is f*in tomorrow not on Saturday. Elizabeth then explains that she has only been the WC for 3 days! So the only correspondence she had was the original form I filled out and an email I had sent Carla trying to confirm all my requests. At this point I could have flipped, but I didn’t b/c I understood Elizabeth had nothing to do with the situation.


1st thing, she brings me the updated package I’d chosen. I politely told her, I’m not paying that price, as I was guaranteed the original price I was given. I pull out my email from Carla to prove it. No problemo, my original price is honored.


So we started going through what I want for the ceremony, and Elizabeth has to keep going back and forth from one office to another to get approval from Carla. Which started getting a little frustrating, but again, I didn’t blame this on Elizabeth. As long as everything we requested is ‘approved’. And thanks for Tami’s advice as far as ceremony order. We already had it planned the way we wanted b4 we left, and it was much easier for us to explain everything to them that way. I gave her the wording (for sand ceremony, blessing of the hands, prayer, blessing of the stones) and the music we wanted to be played and told her at which time.


Now for planning the reception. This is where the headache and stress came in. I was told by 3 different prior coordinators that I could have my reception on the beach with a DJ. I understood this would be an extra cost, no problemo. Only to be told when I got there that I could NOT have the reception on the beach due to the regularly scheduled beach party on Friday night. And my only option was to either skip the reception (1st dance,etc) cut the cake on the beach after the ceremony OR have the reception in one of the ala carte restaurants and pay like $40/pp. Big Problemo! Lol. I explained that I did NOT come all the way to the Dominican Republic to have my reception inside. And that was not an option for us AT ALL. We explained to Elizabeth that we were not trying to take anything out on her as we understood her position, but we didn’t think this was fair at all. And we told her we would just wait until all of us could speak with Carla. B/c there is no way you send me something in writing in email and tell me one thing but when we get here, it is another thing. That was just unacceptable to me, sorry.


So we wait and wait for Carla to finish with the other wedding couple. While we are waiting, we get to know Elizabeth a little better and re-emphasize that we want her to understand that our frustrations are not with her one bit. So we finally meet Carla. 1st impression is everything. And to be honest, we sensed she had a straight up attitude. I didn’t have an attitude (yet), so I felt that there was no need for her to have one. Anyhow, she explained once again about the reception options that Elizabeth already went over. Carla then showed us a picture of an ugly (in my opinion) green conference room to have the reception. I quickly said HELL NO, would you have your reception in there? She was like we can decorate it, blah blah blah. I was like you can decorate it all you want but it won’t make the green carpet go away! And we told her those were not options. We wanted an outside reception. Carla then said, well your guests can just eat with the resort guests at the beach party and you won’t be able to have a dj, which means no first dance and would have to cut the cake and have the cocktail hour directly after the ceremony. At this point, this seemed like the only close option, but still not the option we wanted, but I could possibly live without having a first dance.


And Carla was saying things like, ‘well, who told you that you could have a reception on the beach, and you know it’s an extra charge, and how are you sure you want to dance on the beach…’ All I heard was blah blah blah. I didn’t want to hear any of it. This is when I went it to bridezilla mode, lol. This is where my folder full of emails came in handy. I firmly told Carla, my whole reason for planning a DW was to be as stress free as possible, but this has turned out to be more stressful than I could ever have imagined and I’m beginning to regret I even chose EdenH. I told her I had referred a lot of brides to this resort and it was not fair to them, my guests, or me and my FI to have to deal with this nonsense and inconveniences. I told her I was beyond frustrated at this point and I am leaving now b/c it doesn’t look like anything is going to get resolved and I wasn’t going to argue about it and evidently my FI and I needed to re-evaluate some things and would meet them at their office at 9am. I then walked out b/c I was livid and seriously wanted to choke someone.


I must mention, we did not leave from talking to them until a little after 10:30pm!!! At this point I was beyond pissed and was ready to call off the whole damn wedding. So my FI and I went back to the room discussing if we wanted to cancel the wedding and apologize to our guests. I called my mom and told her what was going on, and she said don’t worry about it, we can always through you a reception when we get home (which is something I did not want to begin with). My friends through me a mini bachelorette party in my sister’s room, which turned out to be so much fun, even though I initially wasn’t in the mood! While the guys went who knows where, lol. I told only one of my closets friends (who speaks Spanish) about the situation with the reception.


Very early the next morning my FI and I walked down to the beach and talked to God about our situation and watched the Dominican sunrise. I have never felt so much peace, standing on the waters edge, holding my FI’s hand asking God for his guidance & strength. I can truly say this was one of the best things we did all vacation.


So about 9:20 (yes, we were late,lol), we walked to Carla’s office to meet with Carla and Elizabeth, only to see my close friend (the one that speaks Spanish) and her hubby talking to Carla in Spanish about the situation. I couldn’t believe it. Not only b/c my friend usually does not get out of bed until 11am unless she has to, but that she would take the time out of her vacation to help me deal with a situation I was having. My friend explained she had just gotten there and was trying to see what other options were available for the reception. Carla and Elizabeth both apologized for the previous night and told us they did not want us to go back to the US with any bad feelings about how they do business in DR and not have the wedding we want. They said they stayed up late in the night to see what things they could do and even went out and bought stuff with their own money the next morning. They wanted us to have the wedding we dreamed of no matter what.


So we all sat there for about 40 minutes or so going back and forth over the viable options, with my friend doing the most talking in Spanish. Carla kind of got a little frustrated with my friend, but I definitely did not sense the attitude she had the previous night. So in the end, everything worked out perfect. The ceremony was on the beach, we had the cocktail hour, with the 1st dance and cake cutting in the Tahntra Bar. And then we were whirled back to the beach in a secluded area for our reception but ate the food that was at the beach buffet. In the end, Elizabeth AND Carla both left us with nothing but positive things to say about them and the job they did. Everything was amazing and lots of fun!

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Now to the actual Wedding Day Stuff:


I decided to cut back on a few costs and this was one area I’m so glad I did. Thank goodness! My sister did my hair (she took what seemed like forever, lol) and one of my guests did my makeup. The Dominican wind laughed at my hair as it blew any and all curls I had, so I was glad I didn’t $ waste on this. And my makeup person actually brought the lipstick with her to do touch-ups (which I never would have thought of since I do not wear makeup!),lol. So I was thankful of her for that.


Lol, my flower girl telling me she doesnt think I should keep the towel on for the actual wedding:


Click the image to open in full size.

The Ceremony A+++++++++++++++++

Started right before 6pm.

Carla came and got us to take us to the trolley (which took a little extra time, b/c they had to find one!) but turned out giving us extra time for pre-photos. One of the managers of the resort actually came and got me, Carla, and the photog, in his own SUV and we went and found the trolley. So when we finally found the trolley we rode down to the beach (lol, I tried to convince the trolley guy to let me drive, he didn’t want to lose his job,lol)


It was a symbolic ceremony & Carla performed the actual ceremony in English. The setup was very simple but with nice touches – we had the white arch with white chair covers. The aisle was lined with palms and little flowers (b4 final setup):


Click the image to open in full size.

I did not have room to pack my capiz shells for the arch, but oh well. And Annalise made me a beautiful monogram, but for the life of me I could not get it to print correctly and ended up corrupting the file :~(


There were other resort guests standing around the ceremony site that cheered for us. However, it didn’t bother me one bit, b/c we had our own security on both sides. They made sure no one got anywhere close, which was great. So no naked ladies in my wedding pics, lol. Watching the wedding video, I realized they played the wrong song during the sand ceremony, but who cares, it was no problemo!


Click the image to open in full size.

It was a little windy, and my veil didn’t want to cooperate, lol. Immediately after we ‘jumped the broom’, Elizabeth announced to our guests to follow us to the ocean for the Blessing of the Stones. OMG, it was so beautiful and the videographer has the stones washing away, perfecto!


The Cocktail Hour A+++++++++++++++++

Time: Approx 7:30pm to 8:30pm

We had our Cocktail Hour in the Tahntra Bar. It is an open air lounge that is upstairs with a pool. OMG, it was sooooo perfect! Our guests arrived there 1st while we finished up our pics on the beach. We were actually stopped on the way to the cocktail hour by one of the entertainers at the beach party for a shot. One of my guests actually was the MC. Elizabeth was the DJ, changing cds (it was her 1st time using the DJ equipment.),lol. She went above & beyond of what a WC is supposed to do. There were flashing lights on the ceiling and candles everywhere. So beautiful. I don’t remember what the hors d’oeuvres were but my guests said they were wonderful. The cake was vanilla with caramel inside. With strawberries on the outside. It was huge, way to much for our little bit of guests, but oh so good. So we had our 1st toast, 1st dance, cut the cake, and toasts from guests. It was wonderful!

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

The Reception/ After Party A+++++++++++++++++

Time: Approx 8:30pm until….

We returned to the beach for our reception via trolley, 2 actually. When I saw the setup I almost cried! It was absolutely beautiful! We were seated away from the beach party but close enough to hear the music. Once again, we had our own security close by! I felt like VIP, lol. There were the luminaries I brought with me lining the way. There were tiki torches, but they wouldn’t stay lit b/c of the wind. No problemo.



There was one big table setup like this:


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Our frame from the sand ceremony was on the table along with our favors for the guests and the table was decorated with flowers and luminaries and candles. Perfecto! We had a server serve us wine and other requested drinks as well as someone brought our cake to the table. We ate the food at the beach party, which was Dominican style food and was delicious. All my guests were stuffed. Rice, chicken, ribs, pasta, bread, roasted pig, beans, etc. Perfecto!!!! After dinner, we were right in time for the nightly entertainment at the beach party, which started around 9:45pm. There was dancing, fire throwers, jugglers, etc. After the entertainment, we went to the Tahntra bar for dancing for just a little while, I was pooped. Our room was decorated with a towel decoration and flowers on the bed.


Click the image to open in full size.

All the guests told me Elizabeth was working her ass off the entire night and it showed b/c everything couldn’t have turned out any better. I was so happy to hear this and relayed this message to her in a cute little thank you letter + a nice tip.


The Videographer A+++++++++++

At 1st I was going to pass on this and just get a copy from my a guest recording everything. B/c I was not comfortable paying $350 for 30 minutes of video (which would be the ceremony only. Sorry, but that was not in the budget.


My friend actually arranged the videographer and paid for it as our gift the day of the wedding. We originally pushed the ceremony time back to 5:30 b/c the videographer couldn’t get there until then (Wouldn’t you know, he was able to get there at 5, lol) Anyhow, the end result is perfect. The music in the background of our video goes along so well with the actual footage. I believe it was the same company the resort uses, but my friend got it for a lot cheaper. We actually had 2 different videographers, 1 that recorded the ceremony, then switched with his partner, who covered the cocktail hour and reception. They were very easy to talk to.


The Photographer A++++++++++++++++++


We used Severine (pronounced like : Savor-een) at Photo Souvenir. We felt her prices were reasonable and on point with our budget.


She is absolutely WONDERFUL. Very professional, sweet as can be, and patient (especially dealing with my guests and the videographer,lol). She makes sure you are satisfied with her work and she works extremely quick. We were working against the sunset since our wedding started a little later, but she did an awesome job capturing what she could. My FI and I both hate taking pictures. But Severine made us feel so comfortable and the pictures came out great!


The only correspondence I had with Severine before the wedding was via email. But she was readily available by phone if I needed to call. But I felt soooo comfortable with talking with her via email b/c not only did she respond within 1 or 2 days, she answered any and all questions to an extent where I was satisfied. There were like a list of 10 pics I sent to her prior to our arrival, and I believe she captured them all.


We met with her like 2 or 3 days after the wedding and she had ALL the pics printed and gave them to us in a little black box. We were told to pick 60 to 70 photos out that we wanted for the album and 1 for the ‘painted portrait’. This was the hard part. We truly loved them ALL. We literally debated over which pics we wanted, lol. We emailed her the photos we wanted and then met with her like 2 days later to receive the material and pay. We received the album, a slideshow of the pics, and a cd containing all of the pics, along with a signed release. ALL AWESOME. We couldn’t have been happier and are very pleased we chose Photo Souvenir as our photographer.


Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Masssage A++++++

Part of our package came with a massage for 15 minutes for the both of us. It was wonderful and much needed! The Spa is like any other spa with aromatherapy and such. It was a calm environment and decorated very nicely. I think our tech was named Odelise.


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In Conclusion


Ok, I think I’ve covered pretty much everything. And so sorry it was so incredibly long but I didn’t want to leave anything out for my EdenH ladies. Please let me know if anyone has any ?s at all. I hope this has helped some.


I wouldn’t have done anything different at all. I am a true believer that things happen for a reason, even though sometimes we may not know the reason. Everything turned out just the way we envisioned it and I am glad we chose EdenH. Throughout this whole wedding planning process, within 2 - 3 months b4, I lost some friends, and gained some new ones, had many guests back out of attending the wedding, lost a ‘secure’ job, and had a miscarriage. One of my flower girls passed away right b4 the wedding. I could go on for days! My faith was tested and with all these things happening in a short time span, I could have just easily thrown in the towel. I say all that just to say (and not for pity): I learned that it is no longer ‘I’, it is now ‘We’, forever. If God brought us to it, he can bring us through it. I learned that no matter how hard I plan, it ultimately doesn’t matter, its all God’s plan.


One Love bunny_4.gif

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Welcome back & Congrats.

Thats a nice review. Thanks for the info about the PUJ airport. We're planning a trip to DR & now we know what to expect.


Glad that everything worked out & you were able to have the reception that you wanted!

I just clicked the link for the pics, but you didnt' say what the password was.

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WOW Christina - what a thorough review - that is going to be so helpful to future brides!!!!


Congrats again and I can't wait to see your pics - what is the password?

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