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Ann's (AnnR) Las Caletas/Dreams PV/Hawaii Review ... LOOOOOOONG!


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#1 LCBride2007

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    Posted 18 June 2007 - 03:06 AM

    I am sitting on a plane from Phoenix to Honolulu, on the way to our honeymoon, and am not into the book I brought so I thought I’d write this review while things were still fresh in my head.

    Wow is this long – and I am still typing. I am writing all of this for two main reasons. The first is because it is so fun for me to re-live this while it’s all so fresh in my head; as I type I keep remembering all of the things that made the whole event so special. The second, and probably more important, is because when I first was considering Las Caletas, I really couldn’t find much information at all to ease my fears of choosing this random, remote location to get married. I want to help any potential Las Caletas brides and answer as many questions as I can! So … read as much or as little as you want!

    Belle Vie (www.belleviebridalcouture.com; Chicago Bridal Salon) ~ B+ Overall, I was happy with my experience with Belle Vie Bridal – this is where I purchased my dress. The staff there was very helpful, knowledgeable, and accommodating. They worked with me to meet a lower price for the dress (I had found it cheaper at Macy’s) and were willing to work with me on the veil I wanted as well, but even though they came down about $100 in price – it was still more than I wanted to spend. I ended up ordering my veil custom online (review below). The only negative I have to say on Belle Vie is that I ordered a Lazaro (style #3501) dress that had detail on the bottom such that it needed to be ordered hollow-to-hem (not sure how that is supposed to be written) – but it couldn’t be altered, or at least not easily. I was measured barefoot – but when I got the dress, it was an inch or so too long. I had to find new shoes to wear (I had purchased flats). I actually ended up going barefoot for most of the ceremony/reception anyway and I had to always lift my dress – it was a pain, but not a huge deal.

    Oceansy Designs (www.occanseydesigns.com; Veil) ~ A+ Since I was going for a specific look to mimic the veil I had seen at Belle Vie, I just described what I wanted (via the form on their website) and she gave me a quote. It was perfect – exactly what I wanted, especially for the price ($62.90 w/shipping), and was shipped on time, if not early!

    Kustom Koozies (Personalized Koozies Wedding Koozies Custom Wedding Favors) ~ A- I submitted my idea, along with some questions – and they (Bob) got back to me right away. I ordered 60 koozies, the collapsible version – 29 blue, 29 green, 1 black and 1 white – all with the same design and blue ink. I was very happy with how they turned out, and they were delivered before the estimated date. The only reason for the A- is that I remember asking a 2nd question and he didn’t respond very fast – but I had ordered anyway.

    Dreams Puerto Vallarta
    Overall ~ A- Amazing resort – I am so glad we chose Dreams, most everything was perfect. The staff was so nice, helpful, friendly, fun, etc. They really had fun with our group – I think they liked us because we were always participating in the activities; we played beach volleyball, did water aerobics, tequila tasting, ping pong, etc. With the exception of the front desk staff, I can’t think of a single person we came across that wasn’t extremely friendly.
    We weren’t overly happy with the front desk folks. When we checked in we explained that we were getting married that week, and having our WD at Dreams, and do they have a good room for us. We were the first to arrive from our group, with most of Paul’s family checking in a few hours later. We ended up on the bottom floor, corner room, with 2 double beds and a/c that didn’t work that well. Meanwhile, Paul’s parents ended up on the top floor with a king bed and a balcony. They did move us to the 2nd floor after the first night, and we got a king bed – but no balcony. I was fine with it – but it became a joke all week that Paul’s parents got the “honeymoon suite” instead of us (Paul’s parents did offer their room to us). We had them hand out a few OOT bags to the guests that arrived. When we brought down the bags for the guests arriving the next morning, they charged us $2/bag – we paid it, but grumbled about it a little. Then found out that the guests hadn’t got their bags by evening, so we went back and got them, asked for our $$ back, and handed them out ourselves the rest of the week. Not a major deal – but a small frustration.
    I have to mention the food – fabulous. Everyone was raving about how good the food was! I ate at Oceana twice, many times at the World Caf©, and once at El Patio. I never made it to Portofino (adults only restaurant) or the Seaside Grill – but those that did said they were great.
    Welcome Dinner/Marilu ~ D Other than setting the date, time, location and general theme of my WD with Marilu before arriving at Dreams – I had nothing planned. I let her know multiple times when I was arriving at Dreams, and sent her a few emails asking when we could meet to discuss the details (menu, d©cor, final numbers, etc.) but I never heard back from her. When I arrived, she never got in touch with me – but I finally just asked where her office was and Paul and I just went to find her, and ended up meeting with her right then. Long story short, she informed me that the location had to change (from the Las Palmas Pool Terrace to the Main Pool). I just had guests pass the word around that the location had changed (grrrrrr). Then when I arrive at 6pm for the cocktail hour (dinner is at 7pm) they are still kind of setting up, and there are no waiters, and the bar is turning away my guests saying that they’re closed. I find the captain (head waiter) and ask him what’s up – he says it starts at 7 – I politely tell him yes, dinner is at 7, cocktail hour is at 6pm. I see Marilu and ask her what’s up. She got the bar open pretty quick, but it was Paul that took all of the plastic wrap off of the appetizers and food that was for the cocktail hour. Then we go to sit for dinner, and we’re short on seats. We ended up bringing another table over and had all of the kids sit there, and made it work – but I was highly irked. And I had emailed her many times about getting a cigar roller – the ONLY “extra” we requested. When I met with her she informed me that she couldn’t find one (really?!), but she could have the woman from the cigar shop at the resort come down to our dinner to sell some cigars. We said that would work out fine (as if we had a choice). Well, this woman never showed up.
    So basically she didn’t get much right except the food, both the appetizers and dinner – it was really very good, and it was what we ordered. And really, Marilu is nice – but messed up quite a bit for this event. I don’t know if it’s because there was also a wedding that night, or the last minute stuff – but she didn’t impress me at all. Had it been my wedding, I’d have been irate. But there were weddings at Dreams almost every night, and all of the brides seemed very happy – so I don’t want to scare anyone from having their wedding there! Just make sure to clarify details I guess.

    Las Caletas Wedding/ Vallarta Adventure Weddings (Puerto Vallarta Wedding Planner for Mexico Destination Weddings)
    Overall ~ A++++++++++++ This A+ grade applies to EVERYTHING about my Las Caletas wedding – I can’t give it a high enough grade. I am going to warn you, you are going to get sick of me raving about this wedding, and all of the people that helped to make it happen. Amazing, fabulous – it was a million times better than I could have ever hoped. What sucked is that I was sick – I didn’t feel good starting on Thursday evening, the night before, and am almost back to 100% the day after the wedding. Paul didn’t feel good either, but I think that was mostly because he was so worried about me. I was up all night the night before in the bathroom, and was so upset (and crying!) in the morning because I did NOT want to feel like that on my wedding day. But I left Dreams for the Marina to catch the boat at 8am, and he just worried all day. Anyway … had it not been for that, Paul and I not feeling well, it would have been a dream come true without a doubt. Even not feeling well, it was pretty close.
    Wedding Coordinator(s) (Nicole and Kelley) I had only worked with Nicole prior to the wedding day, and met Kelley the day of the wedding. Kelley is being trained by Nicole, so I worked with both ladies throughout the day. I don’t’ know if Nicole is leaving, or if they’re just getting too many weddings for Nicole to handle. My guess is the latter. Both Nicole and Kelley were amazing, they really know what they’re doing and are sooo sweet. I think I thanked them a million times, but it wasn’t enough. Not only did they make it seem effortless, but they always were making sure me, Paul, and all of my guests were having a great time and wanting for nothing. They were great to me all day when I wasn’t feeling well, and made me feel like I could ask for anything. I found out later that there was a snag with another group on the beach that was causing our schedule to be delayed a little, but I was oblivious as I sat up in my little bridal casita! That’s the sign of a great wedding coordinator – I had no idea there was an issue at all. My mom apparently was aware and probably harassing both Nicole and Kelley (Nicole or Kelley, if you read this, I apologize!), but it all was handled very well.
    I had sent Nicole pictures for my bouquet, cake, centerpieces, and chuppa – and she made it all happen, and even better than I could have hoped for given the little that I gave her to work with. Other than bringing the aqua sea glass, she and Kelley did the rest, and it was all beautiful. They kept track of all of my stuff (purse, shoes, luggage, etc.) throughout the evening, and even brought it to and from the boat – I didn’t lift a finger.
    The Day I left for Las Caletas with my mom, her partner Mary, my sister Amy, her partner Gerra, my friend Marti, and Leigh around 8:15am (to the Marina, the boat left around 9am). Nicole met us at the Marina, and whisked us on the boat and made sure we had anything we needed. She made sure we had first access to schedule what we wanted to do – massages, snorkeling, swimming with the sea lion, etc. Because I wasn’t feeling well, I opted out of everything but my sister and Gerra did the sea lion thing and snorkeling. When we arrived she brought us up to the bridal casita (soooo cute!) and gave us the run down. Marti, Leigh and I took a nap (I had 2 hours of sleep the night before!) while my mom, Mary, Amy, and Gerra explored and played. I do think my mom and Mary found some hammocks and took a nap. Leigh also did her thing and took some photos of the surroundings and details.
    Around 1pm they were serving lunch and had set aside a table for out group. I have to be honest, I didn’t eat much all day – but everyone else said the food was great. I can vouch for the bread and rice – yummy. Again, Nicole, Kelley and the staff made sure we had anything we wanted – well, except for Marti’s order of a blended drink – no blenders! She settled for a Mai Tai and got over it pretty quickly. I asked Nicole if I could get some more bread up in the casita so I could continue to try to eat – so she had a whole plate of rolls sent up!
    We all got showered and ready starting around 3pm – there is a double shower in the large bathroom in the bridal casita, and another in the spa next door. The person doing my hair showed up early, around 2:30pm, and I began my process of turning into an actual bride.
    Eventually the boat showed up, around 6pm, and things started to happen fast. The flowergirls came up, their moms did their hair and cleaned them up, and Leigh took some pictures of me getting my dress on, and some bridal shots. Soon enough, Nicole was up there directing the whole show – and the ceremony started. Throughout the evening Nicole or Kelley would let us know what was next, if we were on schedule, and ask us if we were ready for what was next – she really took charge, but always let us know it was really up to us.
    Both the boat ride to and from Las Caletas was fine – Paul’s mom did get sick on the way over, but she was the only one, and she didn’t take the Dramamine that we put in the OOT bags (oops!). She was fine after hitting land though. Even I, starting off a little under the weather, did fine – I was a little worried about this at first after some of the stories. There were some other tourists in the morning boat that got sick, but none in my group.
    L'occoco (Hair/Makeup) I am fairly certain this is the name of the salon. I had arranged to get my hair done at Las Caletas, and for a trial run earlier in the week. The salon was called L’ococco, and it kills me that I can’t remember the stylist’s name – I want to say it was Anja or something (I will ask Nicole so I can give her proper credit). But she was great – she really went above and beyond. The trial went well – but the hair style did start falling out almost right away. I just told her to make it tighter on the wedding day, and it ended up staying in most of the night – and I was going for the loose up-do look anyway - it all worked! I loved how my hair turned out, she really listened to me and recreated the look I was going for.
    Originally a friend of mine was going to do my makeup, but decided the day before not to go over early with me. We still thought she’d have plenty of time to do my makeup once the boat arrived with all of the guests, but learned that wasn’t the case once I got to Las Caletas. Between my friend Marti and Leigh, we figured we could make it work though, so I wasn’t worried. When the hair stylist heard us discussing the back up plan, she said she could help – she also does makeup. I was a tad worried at first, since I wear zero makeup - literally none, other than mascara maybe a few times a year- that a professional would make me look too made up, and not like myself. She ended up doing a great job with the help of Marti and Leigh, as well as my mom and sister. Poor woman had a team of women critiquing her work! She used Leigh and Marti’s makeup and everyone’s input. I had my makeup done outside (for the nice breeze!), so I had no mirrors. I told my gang that I was really relying on them to make sure it wasn’t too much for me – they did me proud!
    Between stages of getting my hair done, I ran to the bathroom (still not feeling well!), and when I came back she was blow drying Marti’s hair (so sweet!). Then after she was done with me, she also did my mom’s hair since she was struggling due to the humidity. I still don’t think I tipped her enough.
    Minister (Brad) I didn’t have any interaction with him prior to the wedding, other than him emailing me the ceremony the week before, and I just turned around and sent it to Paul for him to deal with – which he did. I met him once I walked up to the chuppa to stand next to Paul, and he had asked who was giving me away – and he even said “nice to meet you” – how cute! Paul had already met him when he got to the Marina before getting on the boat, and said Brad walked him through the ceremony and was great to work with. Brad was awesome– really made us feel at ease and had a great presence.
    DJ (Johnny) I really had no interaction with him at all – he was on the boat with Paul and all of the guests, and then took over after the trio left. We had given him some CDs to play, and he played some from those and some of his own music. He did a great job of reading the crowd and played a great mix of music, both on the boat to/from Las Caletas, during the dinner, and at the reception.
    Videographer Again, I didn’t speak to him at all but he got some of the important moments – he videotaped all night long. Paul is pretty sure he was on the boat on the way over, and I know he was taping late into the reception. I can’t wait to see the video! If anyone is interested, I will also try to get his name/company.
    Trio We hired the trio for 2 hours (the minimum); they played as the guests arrived, during the ceremony, and then into cocktail hour. I can recall hearing the music before I started walking down the “aisle” from the bridal casita, but I really don’t remember hearing them much afterwards. Right after the ceremony we ran off to take some pictures, and I wasn’t able to hear them. I will have to ask some of the guests how they were.
    Food Well, I can vouch for the bread/rolls only – and the water. I wasn’t feeling well at all, so I didn’t eat much at lunch at Las Caletas, or at the dinner. Everyone said it was great, and people went back to the buffet multiple times. There was such a variety of food that even our pickiest eaters seemed to be satisfied, as well as the vegetarians. There were 2 actual buffets set up for dinner, so there was really never a waiting line for food either.
    Fire Dancers Let me tell you, these guys were a HUGE hit! They came at the very end of the ceremony and put on quite a show. They dance independently and then around you, and also together (there were 2 of them). People were already raving about how great this wedding was, and then this definitely sealed it for them … so many people were saying how we ruined them for any other wedding!
    Staff Wow – I can’t say enough about how great everyone was. And I mean everyone – the boat crew, Nicole, Kelley, all of the wait staff, bartenders, etc. Every single person we came in contact with was amazing – they really know what they’re doing and they make sure you have a great time!

    Photography
    I am writing this review without having seen any pictures yet – but I can honestly say that I have no doubt in my mind that I will be more than pleased with the results. Leigh Miller was my photographer, and her second shooter was Matt Blum. Both Leigh and Matt came to the Welcome Dinner at Dreams the night before the wedding to get some pictures before dinner. On the wedding day, Leigh came over to Las Caletas with me and the girls early, so she was with us all day. Matt came over with Paul and the guests later in the afternoon, and spent time with Paul and the guys right before the ceremony. He also captured Paul’s reaction to getting my b-pics book – and from what I hear, those should be some fun pictures. Oh, and as Kelley came to tell me what Paul’s reaction was to the pictures – Leigh was capturing my reaction to Paul’s reaction. Too funny.

    Both Leigh and Matt were going to do the Trash the Dress session the following day, but Paul and I were just too tired, and still not feeling well. Part of me regrets canceling that – but I think it would have been too painful for either of us to manage that day. I promise to hook up with Leigh in the near future – I want those “day after” shots!
    Leigh Miller (BluDomain, BluDomainhosting, Bluedomain, photography websites) I don’t think this will come as a surprise to any of you, but Leigh was great. She was a trooper and made the trip over to Las Caletas early with the rest of the ladies, and lounged around with us all day. I did have to promise her a nap though – which I am pretty sure she was able to squeeze in before all of the fun began. Not only is she an amazing photographer to work with, she’s also a great makeup artist and bodyguard to the bride. We had a couple curious “fence-hoppers” that tried to get into the bridal casita, but Leigh made sure they kept walking. And as I mentioned earlier, the original plan for my makeup was to have a friend do it. When that fell through, Leigh and my friend Marti stepped up to get my all prettied up! While Anja (sp?) from L’occoco did the actual application, most of the makeup used was Leigh or Marti’s! Thanks, ladies! Not many brides can say they’re worn their photographers underwear (see b-pics!) AND makeup.
    In all seriousness, I really did feel like Leigh was just a friend of mine attending my wedding that just happened to be a great photographer. She was great to work with, and made both Paul and I feel at ease. But she was also able to deal with our crazy families to get them to pay attention when she needed to do the formal group pics – she kept them in line!
    Matt Blum (Matt Blum Photography :: Home) Again, Paul had more interaction with Matt than I did, but he really seemed like a great guy to work with. You can tell he knows what he’s doing, has some great ideas for shots and just an all-around funny guy. Besides, he’s from Minneapolis – how can I not like him?!

    The Traveling Starfish! Not much of a review, but I wanted to include this little blurb since I feel honored to have started one of the little fellas on his way to many a BDW wedding! I had actually purchased 2 starfish (in case the 1 didn’t come through), and was able to get the 2nd one to Jamy in time for her Las Caletas wedding. Then Paul and I actually ran into Jamy and Will on the beach at Dreams the night before they were leaving. It was great to meet yet another BDW bride!

    Hawaii Honeymoon
    Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa (Oahu) Very nice hotel, located in the middle of everything. Everyone was great – we were only there for 2 nights though, so we didn’t spend much time there. They upgraded us free of charge, but I’m not sure if that was because of my status with Marriott (I am Platinum) or because it was our honeymoon – or just because we asked! The hotel is huge – and has some good shops, and a nice pool and poolside restaurant. We didn’t eat at the other restaurants, but they all looked good!

    Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa (Maui) We also were upgraded at this hotel – and got a great room, with a great view. They’re still under construction, and we were warned when she upgraded us that our room would be close to the construction (putting in an infinity pool) – but we didn’t hear a thing. They’ve been under construction for a couple years, and we had a new room. It was very nice, modern – almost an Asian influence. The staff was always great – bellmen, front desk, restaurant staff, valet, concierge, etc. – everyone was fabulous! This Marriott is right next to the Grand Wailea (we ate there our last night – get the s’mores for dessert … yummy, and fun!), and also really close to the Renaissance.

    Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours There are many different companies here, but Paul had heard good things about Blue Hawaiian – so that’s who we booked our tour with in Maui (they have offices on other islands as well). We did the “whole island” tour, and had the EcoStar helicopter. Amazing – Paul and I got front seats, which made it even better. They seat according to size/weight – and we just got lucky! It had just rained, so we got to see a ton of waterfalls, etc. Our guide said they had the only helicopters that had received permission to get as close as they got.

    Pacific Island Weddings (Maui weddings coordination and services) For about $1000 we got the ceremony, a lei each, “location assistance” (help picking a location) and coordination (license appointment, ceremony time, photographer, etc.). Paul did all of the coordination here, but they seemed very easy to deal with – I can get more details if you need them. Ron Winkler was our minister, and did a good job – nice guy. We just let him come up with the ceremony, and he did nice, simple vows, and went through the traditional exchange of leis. Tracy Tegarden (Email: WindFoto@MauiGateway.com, Phone: 808-875-7587), owner of Trade Winds Photography (www.WeddingPhotograqphyMaui.com) was our photographer - $600 of the $1000 package was for photography. Our package included 24, 4x6 prints, a digital CD, and an album. We met with him before leaving Maui and he gave us our CD and went over album and print options. I had assumed we got all of the images on CD to use/own but they all have his copyright, so we need to clarify that misunderstanding. I was VERY unimpressed with his customer service - we only got the 24 images that came in our package on a DVD, but not the rest. Oh well, it was our Mexico ceremony that matters to us.

    Here are the pictures from the legal ceremony in Maui - all of these are taken by Tracy Tegarden of Trade Winds Photography. These pictures still have his copyright on them, but they're fun to look at anyway! Our Legal Ceremony/Maui Wedding

    ..............................
    I feel like I could add more - but I will stop for now. If you made it this far - I am impressed!

    ..............................
    Here are some of ou guests' pictures. Many of these albums include pictures from the entire week, not just the wedding or welcome dinner.

    Cindy's pictures from the Welcome Dinner

    Cindy's pictures from the Wedding

    Scott's pictures from the week

    Kenzie's pictures from the week

    ..............................
    Slideshow by Leigh Miller
    ..............................
    Also, here are the 3 pictures I found from Matt Blum's blog
    (http://www.mattblumphotography.com/):

    Welcome Dinner:
    http://www.mattblumphotography.com/pblog/index.php?showimage=367

    Wedding:
    http://www.mattblumphotography.com/pblog/index.php?showimage=369
    http://www.mattblumphotography.com/pblog/index.php?showimage=368



    #2 starchild

    starchild

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      Posted 18 June 2007 - 04:45 AM

      YAY Ann!!!! First of all I'm sorry that your WD got messed up and that you were ill on the big day - that just sucks :o( But it sounds like you made the best of things. Reading your review reminds me of my wedding...hehehe. I'm so glad things went perfectly for both of us in terms of the venue, and more glad that we chose Las Caletas. They're going to have to put us on the payroll with all the PR we'll be doing. Congrats to you and Paul!!

      #3 Heidi

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        Posted 18 June 2007 - 08:27 AM

        wow, great review Ann! I'm sure this will absolutely help all of the Las Caletas brides! Can't wait to see your pictures!!!! Welcome home!
        Married April 4, 2008 at the Riu Ocho Rios!

        #4 TammyB

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          Posted 18 June 2007 - 08:33 AM

          You go girl with your review. Nice job. :-) And welcome back, we missed you... :-)

          #5 LadyP

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            Posted 18 June 2007 - 08:40 AM

            I am sorry that you were not feeling well but you still had a blast. I am so happy for you and the Mr. Best of luck to you.

            #6 BEACHBRIDEMA

            BEACHBRIDEMA
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              Posted 18 June 2007 - 08:53 AM

              Welcome back Ann, great review!
              Sarah
              <a href="http://s162.photobuc...entation2-2.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i162.photobuc...entation2-2.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>Wedding slideshow: http://www.juancarlo...com/sarah18/...

              #7 Christine

              Christine
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              • Wedding Date:July 20, 2007
              • Wedding Location:Napa, California
              • LocationReno, NV

              Posted 18 June 2007 - 08:55 AM

              wow Ann it sounds like a great time...can't wait to see the pictures.
              Christine + Will (married 7/20/07) + Ainsleigh (born 6/25/08) + Nolan (born 11/9/10) + Delaney (born 12/31/13) = One Very Happy Family!

              #8 TA Lindsay

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                Posted 18 June 2007 - 09:13 AM

                Yay Ann!!! Welcome back - we missed you!!!

                Reading your review made me remeber every detail of our day as well, they definitely do everything right at Las Caletas...I'm SO happy we chose it for our wedding!

                I'm so sorry you ended up sick on the big day - but it sounds like everything went well otherwise!!! I can't wait to see the pictures!!!

                Lindsay

                #9 NHPT

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                  Posted 18 June 2007 - 09:24 AM

                  great review ann!!!
                  i think you are suppsed to send me the starfish next- have i sent you my address yet?
                  Destination Wedding Cabo San Lucas (3-29-07) Proud Momma to Avery (3-21-08) and Gracyn (10-12-10)

                  #10 LisaG

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                    Posted 18 June 2007 - 09:54 AM

                    Great review Ann! Welcome back home!!




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