I just got married at DRC on Monday (10-17-11). Like most of you, I planned my wedding through emails and stalking this website for pointers and tips. First thing is first - DO NOT STRESS/PANIC. I know this is hard to say, but I was in the same boat as many of you guys. Everything was perfect. It was our "Dreams" Wedding.
I think that through this phase I went through 3 separate wedding planners. We went with the Ultimate Wedding package. We sent them a deposit (which was cashed immediately upon recpt) and heard nothing back from them for a couple months. We booked the wedding 11 months before the wedding date (Nov 10'). We went through a travel agent because we had 86 people total. Eighty-six people flew from Philadelphia/surrounding areas. 65 people stayed from Sat-Wed, 19 people stayed from Sat-Sat, and 2 people used guest passes the day of the wedding (they won a trip to Mexico and were staying at a different resort. In the beginning I was angry about the turnaround time of the email responses from the wedding coordinators. But, in the last 2 weeks prior to the wedding, the email reply was within the hour.
I know the resort states that they do not allow outside vendors, ETC. Being a former DJ and having Dj'd numerous weddings; I know music makes/breaks a reception. The resort was allowing me to bring my own DJ (from Philadelphia) as a paid guest. After doing the math of the $300/hr. house DJ, it was only going to be about $150 more to bring (airfare/hotel) my own (2 nights/3 days). However, the family friend DJ had passport issues 13 days before the wedding. At this point, I was having a breakdown with no DJ for the wedding. I was very hesitant to use the house DJ (if he was even available with this short of notice). I emailed Gina, the WC, she promptly responded with the contact info for the house DJ Maraucio Neri. He also promptly got back to me and was available for the date.
Originally, we were just going to go with the free 50 photos that comes with the Ultimate package (to cut down costs). A week before the wedding, I changed my mind and once again contacted Gina in a panic to get a photographer for the wedding. I then contacted Anel from the company associated with the resort (contact info given by Gina). She promptly emailed me back and answered all my questions with a quick response. We went with Photo package #3 for $999. This covered pics of hair/makeup at the Salon, guys getting ready, ceremony, pics from cocktail hour, couple pics, then reception pics (announcements/first dances/speeches/cake cutting).
As for the flowers, I made my own bridesmaid bouquets from artificial flowers. My wedding colors were pink and orange. I had a maid of honor and 3 bridesmaids. Two of my friends wore pink dresses and 2 in orange dresses. The bridesmaids that wore pink each had a bouquet with 4 orange gerbera daisies and a pink gerbera daisy in the middle. The bridesmaids that wore orange each had a bouquet of 4 pink gerbera daisy and an orange gerbera in the middle. I put them in a duffle bag and brought it in a carry one bag. The total price was approx. $60 for materials, which was the starting price of bridesmaid bouquet from the resort (which consisted of one flower). They turned out perfect and you could not even tell they were fake when compared to my gorgeous fresh Bridal bouquet (included in the ultimate package). They also give you two wrist corsages (perfect for the mother of the bride and mother of the groom) and two boutonnieres (perfect for the groom and best man). In the initial email after they recv'd the deposit, they emailed me a bunch of attachments for bridal bouquet/bridesmaid flower/centerpiece flower choices. After the selection of the bridal bouquet and the centerpiece for the ceremony table (included in the Ultimate package) - I told them to use only pink and orange flowers. They looked amazing! We did not use any flowers for the archway of the gazebo or anything extra. The natural setting and decor of the hotel is amazing in itself. Plus for the money that they charge - it is not worth it.
For the decor at the reception (which was on the pool deck), we brought/made our own centerpieces for the table and seating cards. We had 9 tables that sat 10 at each table. They formed a semi-circle around us (we sat at a sweetheart table). Our centerpieces consisted of 9 cylinder vases ($2) filled water. Each vase consisted of a submergible light (12 for $20), plastic pink/orange tropical flower ($2), and a floating candle ($1). All items were bought from Michael's. To scatter around the vases, we bought a bunch of shells/colored starfish/fishing net/seahorses/crabs from Orientaltrading.com. Also, I refused to pay $6/person for colored napkins for the place setting. I contacted a local catering hall and they let me rent 50 pink and 50 orange cloth napkins for only $30. I brought all decorations as carry-on because of the glass and the weight of the napkins. For the seating, I made my own beach chairs from cardstock paper with pink and orange designs (used a curling iron to do so). I typed the name/table number, and cut it into a towel shape, then glued it to the chair. We covered the styrofoam sheets that we brought with actual sand, the scattered mini shells, palm trees, the chairs, and cocktail umbrellas around creating a beach scene. The resort provided the actual table numbers for the tables with stands. I brought all of my decorations as carry-ons because of the glass vases and the weight of the napkins.
ARRIVAL AT RESORT:
We arrived on Sat, 2 days before the wedding (along with the other 84 wedding guests). We had arranged prior through email to meet with Gina the WC at 1:00. We did not arrive at the resort until around 2:00. All 86 of use were greeted with a glass of champagne and fresh fruit. Once we checked in, they upgraded us to the preferred club. They also gave us 5 free prefer room upgrades to give to guests. We upgraded both sets of parents, the best man, and the maid of honor. What a nice surprise! When we got to our room (2201), our luggage was already in there (minus my dress) with a bottle of Champagne on ice. We then met with Gina in the business center to go over everything that we discussed through email and pay for the wedding. We made a few minor changes (downgraded the amount of extra cake). The package comes with cake for 20, we only added 20 more slices. We then paid for the wedding and met with DJ Mauricio Neri in the business center. Beforehand (at home) I made a cd that had the wedding party entrance songs, first couple dance, father-daughter song, mother-son song, cake cutting song it. He then wrote down the names of the wedding party for announcements, we went over the types of music to be played and music NOT to be played (line dances, etc.). The music Nazi that I am, I brought 3 iPods and a CD for him if needed. He is able to download any song if needed during the reception and can play off of any iPod, mp3 player etc. After meeting with him I felt much more comfortable - I was nervous with all of the sketchy reviews.
We did not do a welcome/rehearsal dinner, but instead told everyone to meet in the lobby around 6 for drinks. The lobby is the best place because of how open it is if you have a large party. The first two days were monsoons, literally. The umbrellas that are provided throughout the resort were all blowing inside out. The wind was soooo strong. The beaches were covered in seaweed. And the weather was not due to change. My wedding was set for 4:30 ceremony at the gazebo, 5:30 cocktail hour at Desires Terrace, and 6:30 reception on the pool deck. All of which would have to be changed if the weather remained crappy!
DAY OF WEDDING:
The weather was completely sunny and not a cloud in the sky! I brought the decorations to Gina in the business center around 10am and went over in detail of how I wanted the centerpieces/seating arrangements constructed. I gave her the heart vase and sand needed for the sand ceremony. I also gave her all of the bridesmaidâ€™s bouquets. We had to let them know if we wanted to keep the reception on the pool deck no later than 1pm. Gina and her excellent assistant Jorge kept insisting to move it inside into one of the 3 halls they have. They said that if it starts to rain before or during that it will take a long time to move inside and that we will have to excuse the appearance of the inside hall.
- GETTING READY
My hair/makeup appt. was at 1:00 at the SPA. Three of my bridesmaids, mother-of-bride, and grandmother all had our hair/makeup done at the SPA. I did not have a trial or even discuss the style until I was seated in her chair. I simply showed a picture off of my cell phone and she worked her magic. Everyone's hair/makeup was beautiful. I forgot to bring my hairpiece to the salon with me. My mom went back to room to grab it, where my dress was supposed to be hanging (steamed and pressed covered in the Ultimate package). My dress was still not in the room. I called Gina in a panic from the salon; she immediately came over to the SPA stating that they could not find my dress! My dress was put into bridal storage immediately after check in. After 20 mins, Gina returned with my hairpiece and took my dress herself to get steamed and pressed. The photographer arrived towards the end of the hair and beginning of makeup to start taking pics approx. 2 hours before wedding. She then went to take pictures of the guys getting ready in my husbandâ€™s complimentary room they gave him the night before the wedding (included in Ultimate package). After the SPA, Gina met me back at the room with the Bridal/bridesmaid bouquets layed out on the bed. The photographer returned to my room approx. 1 hr. before the ceremony and took amazing shot of my shoes/jewelry/and us getting ready. 5 mins before the ceremony we were escorted down by Gina.
- THE CEREMONY at the Gazebo at 4:30pm
The ceremony start time was perfect, it gave our guest plenty of time to enjoy the morning and early afternoon to do what they wanted and me to get all of my running around and last minute things done. We asked the guests to arrive approx. 20 mins early by word of mouth the day prior. I had given Gina a CD with ceremony music that consisted of 7-8 songs to be played while guests arrived. These songs were string quartet versions of songs that we liked for processional songs (ex. Weezer, Coldplay, Elton John, Adele, The Killers, Pearl Jam all purchased from iTunes), the song I wanted to walk into (Canon in D major), and the exit song (just Breathe by Pearl Jam). We brought our own artificial rose petals from home for the flower girl (my daughter), but we were unable to use them because of the risk of injury to the birds. Instead we used pink and orange feathers that I bought ($1/bag) for people to put in their hair. The music was perfect! They had seating around the gazebo for 90 people. We did not go with chair sashes. There was no need. They put down a decorative isle runner lined with nice shells. There was staff that had the walkways blocked so that no one could interrupt while the wedding party was entering. We did not use the minister that they provided. We had a friend just read a ceremony script that I put built from a thread from this website called "share your ceremony script." That thread was a life saver. We did the sand ceremony which was nicely set up on the table along with a centerpiece (included with the Ultimate package). After watching other ceremonies throughout the week, I recommend preparing your own script and your own minister. It was hard to understand the words from the provided minister (due to the lang. barrier). We did a brief mini rehearsal in the corridor just prior to walking out. The ceremony lasted approx. 20-25 mins. They had champagne ready for everyone after the recessional. They continued to play the songs from the CD while we took pics with guests. The photographer then called everyone down to the beach for a group shot of all of our guests. We then continued to take family/friends shots. Gina then escorted the guests to cocktail hour.
- COCKTAIL HOUR at Desires Terrace at 5:30pm
The guests where at cocktail hour while we continued to take couple pics on the beach which took about 45 mins, which was perfect during sunset. We had the Mariachi trio band (included with Ultimate package) play during happy hour. While walking to the happy hour, I ran into Gina and asked her if she could place some tiki torches around the pool deck. We got to happy hour with only 15 mins left, missing the trio, but everyone raved over them. By the time we got there, there were no appetizers left (TIP - get someone to put a plate aside for you and your hubby - we were starving by that point). The guests were then escorted to the pool deck by Gina. The only thing I would of done different was to have the cocktail hour where you have your reception. This way you will not lose any time with your guests going from one place to another. Plus you and get your slower music over with because the DJ will already be set up and everyone will know where they are sitting.
- THE RECEPTION at the Pool Deck at 6:30pm
Just prior to the bridal party entrance, the DJ went over the pronunciations of names. To our surprise, he gave us the lit dance floor at NO COST! In the wedding guide, they charge you $800 for that alone. They also gave us the tiki torches for nothing. For those of you that are worried about lighting for the pool deck at night, don't. They dig huge holes on the beach where they run electricity and have 4 huge light towers aimed on the deck. They set and break these down every day for weddings. They provide a huge decorative ship and elegant surf board decor. There is no need to buy under the table lights/or the paper lights. There is plenty of lighting between the pillars/simple candle centerpieces/the blue lit infinity pool in the background/and the lit dance floor. DJ Mauricio was perfect with the music, playing oldies and newer soft songs. After the speeches and cake, he opened up the dance floor playing everything I had asked. He had the dance floor packed from the first song. The guests ranged from 87yo to 25yo, with the majority 25-35yo. I did not have to go up to him once to change a song or anything. He even played an extra 30 mins at no extra cost. He even gave us the mic for everyone to sing the last song. All 90 of us were on the dance floor passing around the mic singing Piano man!. The wait staff was phenomenal, they give the bride and groom and individual wait staff to get drinks for them all night long. The food was amazing. The weather and the atmosphere was perfect. After the reception, everyone headed back to Desires (where the DJ starts music at 10pm - perfect timing!). The party continued till 1:00am when Desires closed. All of the decorations were assembled perfectly by Gina and her team.
Once back in our room, our door was covered with a "honeymoon" banner. There were rose petals that led from the front door to the bed and the Jacuzzi bathtub filled with rose petals and candles. There was a bottle of champagne and two glasses with fresh fruit. Very very nice!!
The next day, the cloth napkins along with the rest of the decorations were packed nicely into the suitcases and delivered to our room. The next day all of our guests raved and were so grateful to be a part of our wedding. Many people said that they would never go to any other all-inclusive resort again. Not one person had anything bad to say. We went to Coco Bongo that night with everyone on a luxury bus arranged though the hotel. Coco Bongo was amazing! Google it - it is something that is a must see show in Cancun!
Two days after the wedding there was a DVD of the wedding ceremony/photo shoot with my ceremony music on it next to the TV. The 30 min video (included in the Ultimate package) is amazing - They did a phenomenal job capturing the moment and fading the important words from the ceremony and vows in with music. I've already watched it 4 times and have cried every time!
We took advantage of the couples massage and romantic dinner on the beach that came included in the Ultimate wedding package. Both of us never had massages before. They were amazing and not awkward. You get full use of the spa "facilities" (steam room/sauna/spa pools). The romantic dinner was very private and excellent, we upgraded to the lobster (best and biggest lobster we ever had) - way worth the $50 upgrade. Service was fabulous - they make you feel like a king and queen.
Before we left today, I met with the Photographer (Santiago, "Santi" for short) to go through the photos he took of the wedding day. He took a total of 338 photos. I got photo package #3. From them I had to choose 150 for the online slideshow and HD Photo CD. That was the hardest part to do, all of the pictures were amazing. I was able to get it down to 200 pics. I then inquired as to how much it would be to purchase the rest. After laughing in his face when he told me $500 for the extra 50, I somehow convinced him that around 50 of them were pics of decor and food and that no one is going to order these shots from him. Therefore he included them at no extra cost! They told me that in approx. 5-6 weeks I will receive my 80 page hardback photo book with HD pics in the mail. The wanted me to pic 80 pics from the book. I got them to keep all the pics, simply putting 2-3 pics on some pages! Along with the HD Photo CD, you get a copyright letter giving you the rights to these pictures so you can print them anywhere. (8x10 etc.). Earlier today, they already emailed me the online slideshow. The pics area amazing, so colorful and clear.
All in all, I made the best decision with this resort - its cleanliness, newness, polite and courteous wait staff was amazing. The grounds of the resort are meticulously maintained, the food in all of the restaurants was delicious - even the room service at 2am! The fridge in your room along with everyone elseâ€™s is always stocked with coke/diet coke/sprite/bottled water/and bottles of ice cold corona! The resort has an excellent "entertainment team" - they have events starting at 8am until 1am. While we were there, we saw a Circus, Drum/Fire show, romantic singer in lobby, Carnival, shot riffles in the shooting range, played poker etc. They even have a photographer that goes around with exotic birds/animals for pictures. Friends and family that are avid travelers swore that they would never go to any other all-inclusive resort again!!! I cannot wait to return for my honeymoon in 1 year. We are currently â€œhoneymooningâ€ at Secreats Silversands (Adults only sister resort to Dreams Resorts), which is nowhere as nice as DRC â€“ I wish we never left!!!
Hope this review was helpful!!! Just relax â€“ everything turns out perfect. Remember, this resort is basically a wedding factory (about 3 weddings per day) â€“ they have the process down pat. And for those of you whose wedding is months away â€“ donâ€™t freak out when the wedding coordinator is not e-mailing you back right away â€“ she is too busy trying to calm and relax the bride whoâ€™s wedding is tom and run the 3 weddings she has today! GOOD LUCK to all future brides!
Link to the online slideshow provided with your photo package: http://web.mac.com/vallarta_adventure2/SlideshowsDRERC/CATALINEWED/