Alright Ladies, I am going to try and tell you everything I can about the hotel and wedding. I hope I haven't missed anything, but please do ask if you have any questions....I hope I can be of some help!
Check-in at Toronto Airport:
We flew from Toronto with Sunwing. Most of my group arrived at the same time at the airport and check-in was not so fun. I think Sunwing had their "newbies" working the check-in counter that day as we had sooo many problems, and it seemed like they had to go ask questions/concerns to senior staff. First of all, they started weighing the carry-on luggage and including that in everyone's weight allowance. My brother-in-law went to check in with his family, the woman at the desk began to help him but when she realized that he was part of a group, she mumbled something, got out of her chair and walked away. He waited and waited for her...she never returned to finish checking him in! I had my travel agent, Jennifer from Flight Centre, on the phone on standby as she was prepared to talk to the check-in agents, send emails or faxes if need be.
The flight itself was great. The flight attendants were quite attentive. They don't have closets on board but laid my dress and hubby's suit flat in 2 overhead compartments. Nothing else was allowed in those 2 compartments Everyone on the flight was served a glass of champagne and the food was actually decent for airline food! lol They gave all the children an activity package.
Arrival at La Romana/DLR:
The transfer from La Romana airport was quick and easy, about 20-25 min drive. We were greeted at the hotel with a glass of champagne. The hotel is absolutely gorgeous! As I mentioned before, it quickly became one of my fav AI's. Most of my guests had no problem checking in. For those of us who did have incorrect rooms assigned to us, the hotel staff did work diligently to fix the errors. If they weren't fixed that same night, then they were the next morning.
The grounds are beautiful and well-maintained. You always see the grounds maintenance workers fixing something or cleaning.
Our room was in the preferred section. The rooms are all pretty much the same, the only difference being in the preferred is that you get to use a yellow beach towel (vs the standard blue), you can use the preferred swimming pool, you get free access to the internet and you can snack and drink in the preferred club area.
I have no complaints about the food. We ate in the buffet and most of the a la cartes restaurants. The food at the buffet is quite good with a lot of variety. If you can't find something to eat there, then you have a problem!!! I think the Japanese and the Italian restaurants were the favs of my guests.
There was always something to do at the resort. Every night they deliver to each room an agenda for the following day...what was happening at what time, activities for the kids and adults, the drink of the day, which restaurants were going to be open, etc.
We met with Yanna....she went over all the details with us, and we gave her all of the things we had brought with us. The ceremony was scheduled for 4pm in the gazebo, cocktail hour to follow with the live trio playing music, and dinner at 6pm. We had purchased the "Ultimate" Package. My only note: beware, as you have to pay for open bar service at the reception. And for those who want to have waiters and open bar at your bonfire, you will be charged for that also, it is not free! We had originally chosen the SSG as our dinner location, but after reading some of the reviews here, we opted for Oceana restaurant. Oceana is definitely tucked away and more private than the SSG, and with the number of guests we had, we would have had the whole Oceana restaurant to ourselves, which is what we wanted. But, after meeting with Yanna, she seemed to want us to change it back to the SSG and if we did, she promised to make it private. So we did, and it was still fantastic!
I had my hair trial the day before the wedding. The easiest thing to do is bring a pic of something you have in mind. The women in the salon speak limited English so if you have something visual to show them, it is the best thing. I was doing my own make-up so I can't comment on that service.
The day of the wedding:
It was wonderful to wake up and not feel tremendous pressure or feel rushed! I did go by the pool for a little bit. I went to the salon to make sure everyone was getting their hair done and that it was all turning out. Before I knew it, it was my turn!!! Maria did my hair, and she did a great job I finally started to feel like a bride when she put the veil on me....I began to cry!
We hired HDC to do our photography...Arnaud and his team are fantastic and easy to work with. Everything that you have heard about them is true and I highly recommend them if you are thinking about hiring them. Miljan, was prompt and ready to start photographing!
Once again, before I realized the time, Yanna was at my door telling me it was time to go outside and get married!
We also hired the DJ. Hubby and I debated over and over again what to do with the music. Whether to bring speakers down with us and play our music off our ipod. We decided to hire the DJ because we didn't want to bother with the speakers and to have to fuss the whole night with the music. We gave instructions to the DJ for the ceremony music but we pretty much let him have free range for the reception/dancing music. When he played something we didn't like, we let him know and he changed it. His English is also limited, but Yanna was always close by to translate.
The wedding was beautiful, it was everything I imagined it to be and more!!! We had a symbolic ceremony as we had a civil ceremony at home a few weeks before leaving for the DR. (And we also kept the civil ceremony under wraps as we really didn't want everyone knowing about it.) To make the symbolic ceremony "look real", Yanna prepared a document for us to sign with the Maid of Honour and the Best Man. Elke, the spa manager, officiated the wedding.
The flowers were absolutely gorgeous!!! I asked for a white roses for my bouquet, and fushcia pink roses for my MOH and BM. Since we brought down with us our own vases for the dinner tables, Yanna only wanted to know the colour and type of flowers I wanted to be put in them. All I said was I wanted fushcia pink, orange and yellow flowers, something tropical looking. She gave me those colours in all roses! They were spectacular and everyone commented on them.
Yanna was a pleasure to work with...I know in the months leading up to the wedding, at times I was frustrated with the lack of info I was receiving and the time it took for an email to be answered, but somehow, everything was pulled off. She really does read her emails, but she is also a very busy woman as I can't tell you how many weddings happened during the week I was there! It seems like she writes her emails in order of urgency, ie. if your wedding is happening soon, she will answer within a few days.
It was truly one of the happiest times in my life and I wouldn't have changed a thing! There were a few more surprises given to us, but I don't want to ruin it for you...you will love all the extra little bonuses!!!
One more note: even though we hired HDC, we were still given the 50 free photos from the resort photographer (Tropical Pictures) as it was part of the Ultimate Package. However, when you have to go choose your 50 pics, they will try and sell you their own package, and they are quite pricey! And they don't seem to take "no thank you" very well...beware!
We had a bonfire on the beach the night after the wedding. (The wedding was on day 5, bonfire was day 6, our last night there.) It was nice to relax on the beach but everyone was pretty tired...not sure if they truly enjoyed or appreciated the bonfire. We also served the remainder of the wedding cake as we had soooo much leftover. We still didn't finish it all at the bonfire so when the staff came to clean up the bonfire, we told them to take it back with them and share with their colleagues.
Again, if you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them. You will not be disappointed with the resort or your wedding. Just remember to enjoy every single moment!!!