We got married last Saturday, March 26th at DRC and here is my review.
Like many other comments, responses from the wedding coordinator was slow and sometimes not at all leading up to the wedding but got better as the date approached. But by two weeks out I had already made many of my decisions and used this site for much of my knowledge and guidance. I went through AT LEAST three different coordinators throughout the process.
We arrived on Wednesday and checked in very easily. We negotiated a price for an upgrade but we should have asked for a free upgrade to begin with. There is a Presidente Suite on the first floor that walks right out to where the beach ceremonys are held. I'm sure the room is very expensive but wished I had known about this because it is something we would have considered or tried to budget for at least for one day or part of our stay.
Ana called me Thursday morning and asked if we could meet to go over the final details. We met and discussed everything in about 30 minutes. We advice would be to be prepared for the meeting and have all your questions and details ready to review. Things that I had emailed Ana about weren't noted and we had to discuss again. We ran through a rehearsal on Friday so this gave me the opportunity to ask questions that I forgot on Thursday. So just be prepared with all your details to run through with her during your initial meeting. She is very accomodating and most things can be changed or added once you're there so don't stress.
We had a welcome reception on Thursday and had everyone meet at the Lobby bar and we handed out welcome bags. They included sunblock (30 SPF), chapstick, tylenol, immodium, lotion, cups with our initials. In hindsight, I wouldn't have done the cups because they were a PITA to transport but the rest of the stuff was essential and people used. I also would have included aloe because some people got burned because the sun was so strong. Unfortunately, some people did get sick but mostly once they got home so it didn't ruin their vacation.
The ceremony began at 4pm on the beach and it was the perfect time; no one was sweating or complaining of being too hot. I worked with EW for floral decorations for the arch which we later used for the centerpieces (fuchsia hanging flowers). I ordered fuchsia maracas from amols and tied a note that said "shake at the kiss" on one side and the seating assignment on the other side. I was going to order from Miska and her maracas are beautiful but in the end I needed to cut costs and figured people people would get the same effect out of the cheaper versions and most got left behind. I used http://www.sophiesphilosophies.com/ for all my printing (table names, ties to the maracas, menus, invitations) and Joanna was just unbelievable. I loved how everything turned out.
I picked out songs and used our IPOD and the technician played the music. The ceremony was beautiful, the pictures came out gorgeous and it was the perfect setting. The minister spoke english fine. It was a little difficult to hear her but I think that was because of the wind so you really can't do anything about it. One glitz here was I had a reader and the minister read her reading so my friend came up to do a reading but the minister had already read the same one. Just clarify with your WC if you are having someone reading and what they are going to read. Adventure took pictures (the ones included in the package) and they came out beautiful. We also hired Claudia Rodriguez and she was wonderful. She was very nice and we can't wait to see her pics.
We had cocktail hour begin at 5:30 just to allow us some extra time for pictures without missing the entire cocktail hour. We had cocktail hour around the jacuzzi with the mariachi band which everyone seemed to enjoy.
The reception began at 6:30 on the pool deck. I thought this was the perfect place because you have the infinity pool behind you and white sand in front of you with the clear blue ocean. We had 34 guests and we danced almost the entire night. The waitstaff was awesome. They were constantly asking me and my husband if we needed anything.
I had EW provide the hanging balls during the ceremony which I then used as the centerpieces in tall vases filled with limes. They were really pretty. I also had the tall lights with the hanging ball lights. I used the white chair covers and table clothes the hotel provided and brought down fuchsia pashminas that they tied to each chair. I figured it might get chilly and the girls could use the pashminas. It really didn't get cold but they looked awesome! I also had menu's printed in fuschia on each plate. It was just enough color but not too much fuchsia. I also considered the lounge but cut it and glad I did. It was pretty but I don't think anyone would have used it.
DJ Mauricio was our DJ. We provided a list of songs (entrance songs and names, dinner songs and dance songs). I told him this is the kind of music we like but mix it up and feel free to add. Luckily, he didn't deviate too much from my list because when he chose a song not on my list, the dance floor cleared and he would have to change the song. He was very nice and we met with on the day before but he is more of a DJ and less of a wedding DJ. He did not announce the speeches or cutting of the cake. It rained for literally a minute and we lost power and he did not make any announcments as to what was going on or that he would be back with music in a few minutes. We had a cigar roller (which the guys loved) and he did not announce they were there even to occupy people during the power outage. He is a very nice man but he needs to act like an MC at a wedding which he does not do. Ana is aware of these problems and she said her boss is going to talk with him.
We did have the light up dance floor which was awesome. It is small but kept everyone in one area. It was perfect for our size but I wouldn't recommend this size for larger parties.
I chose the first option with chicken and beef. About a week before the wedding Ana told me she needed to know how many of each. I told her it was too late for me to call 34 people to ask what they wanted for dinner and she should have given me more notice. So she did half and half and that's what they served so hopefully people got wanted they wanted to eat. So if you're doing a sit down dinner, make sure you find out how many of each entree you need.
I also saw some discussion around other events going on at the same time. Don't worry about. It's your day and you will get so wrapped up in your own fun that it doesn't really matter what else is going on. The night of our wedding, it was world energy conservation for one hour and all the power went out between 830-930 (this would have been nice to know beforehand) so the hotel organized this party up above around the pool with food and fire dancers and we didn't care at all. People wanted to come to our wedding because we were having so much fun.
We had rain, a black out, not enough tables set up and a crappy MC and people still tell us it was the best wedding they ever went to. I really wanted my guests to have an unbelievable time because they were traveling so far to see our marriage and even with all the mishaps guests told us they want to come back for our one year anniversary. LOL
The WC's do know what they're doing. If they suggest a time because of the time of year (and not another wedding) go with it because they know what they're doing. If they suggest a location because of the size of your party, go with it. They know the property the best. Ana was truly concerned when I raised the DJ issues with her. I also expressed to her that there should be a timeline sent to the brides when the book so they know most of these decisions can be made a week in advance with no problem and know when they should start asking questions so its not months of not knowing anything.
Things I would have done differently
NOT STRESS AS MUCH BEFORE WE LEFT
Most guests did a Thurs-Mon trip and I wish I told them to do Fri-Tues...we were doing last minute wedding stuff so I didn't spend as much time with friends and family as I would have liked to. It would have been nice to spend time with them after the wedding. We also didn't pay for a rehearsal dinner because I thought it was stupid to pay for meals at an all inclusive but had we done this, we could have had everyone together for another night.
Send the WC a seating chart, as I mentioned they didn't set up enough tables.
We also got the wedding video of the ceremony, I wish I would have extended it a bit to at least include the entrance and speeches.
I probably would have just worked with the DRC instead of EW...the flowers from the resort are a bit more expensive but it would have been easier just to work with the hotel.
The hotel is beautiful, there isn't too much going on at night but everyone drinks all day and goes to bed on the early side to get ready to do it all over again. The hotel was at 100% capacity so finding a chair wasn't always easy but the pools weren't annoying over crowded. We did find if we tipped the bartenders we received quicker service.
Sorry for the long review but I thought reading reviews were the best part of this site. Email me if you have any questions firstname.lastname@example.org I don't want you to stress over all the mishaps we had but hope that some can be avoided for future brides. Keep in mind, the setting is beautiful, you don't need tons of decorations and people are on vacation so it is almost impossible not to have a good time!