So on to the wedding!
Please try to relax because the wedding planners are absolute pros! This place is a wedding factory and does this a ton! In fact, they have 50 weddings in January alone and this is their quite season. They mentioned that sometimes they will have up to 4 weddings a day in May-September!
THE INITIAL MEETING:
The night we arrived, we received a note from Chandlyn about our meeting time the next day. To be honest, I went to the meeting ready for a fight. As some of you might recall, about a month before our wedding, we were told that our gazebo reception had been cancelled as we didn't have 25 people. So I was ready for a battle and brought my mother along for backup. Needless to say, it was all for nothing! Chandlyn was the ultimate professional, and had every email, every picture, everything I had ever sent in my file. We went through my list of requests and there were no concerns about any of them. I got my reception sorted out, and they agreed to even allow me to have the bartender for the 2 hours. I was also worried that they might give the Dolce to another group as they were larger than us, but they kept their word and allowed us the semi private option. I was thrilled! I also provided them with diagrams of how I wanted everything set up at the dinner and the gazebo and provided a suitcase full of decor. The meeting was seamless and so reassuring. Honestly as rough as the email correspondence might be, they were FANTASTIC. I cannot say enough great things about them.
I had a hair trial at the spa on Sunday that was fabulous. I had brought a few pictures of styles I was hoping to try, and the stylist was able to do all of them for me before deciding on the best one. She was also kind enough to give me a new style before I left for dinner that evening, so my then FI wouldn't see my wedding hair. She was so accomodating and lovely! I saw the same girl again on my wedding day for hair and makeup. She replicated exactly what we had done at the trial and it was exactly what I wanted. I had bought clip in extensions for my wedding day and there were no issues whatsoever. My makeup was also exactly what I had wanted, and I had brought in a photo as well! So no concerns with the spa whatsoever. My two bridesmaids and mom also had their hair done at the spa, and they were able to accomodate all of us easily! They also provided champagne to get the day going! Please note that the prices just went up at the spa as well...It was $180 for my trial plus day off hair and makeup, and the girls paid $80 for their hair. It gets charged to your room, so you pay when you check out. If you plan on tipping you need to bring extra cash as you can't tip through your room. We started at the spa at 11am which was perfect timing for our 3pm ceremony.
I ordered all of my flowers from Tai Flora and did not use the hotel package. In all I ordered 4 boutonnieres, 1 wrist corsage, 2 bridesmaid bouquets, one bridal bouquet and two HUGE arrangements for the gazebo. All in all it came to $500 + tax. My flowers were exactly what I wanted! My colours were coral, ivory with hints of pale green, so we got a combo of coral and ivory roses, white orchids and green hydrangeas. I couldn't have been happier with my flowers. I will post pics soon!
We were lucky enough to be able to see the gazebo from our balcony as we were getting ready, so it was nice to be able to check up on the decorating! One thing I would say is chair ties are a must. We saw a few weddings without them and they looked pretty blah. The colour on the chairs provides a great pop of colour! We also added some of the chair ties to the standard white fabric draped on the gazebo for an extra pop of colour. I'm also SO glad that we ordered the flowers for the gazebo. I didn't see anyone else with flowers the rest of the week, but I thought it really added a nice touch. I think more colour is better to stand out against the stark white of the gazebo pillars. We also had bubbles, fans and programs on every seat. To be honest, no one used the bubbles, except my mother! They were kind of a waste but looked pretty. Not too many used their fans either, as there was a good breeze on our day to cool people off.
Given what I had heard about past sand ceremony kits not being set up, I gave that job to my father. Everything else I left up to the wedding planners and it was done perfectly! I couldn't have asked for anything better!
We met Chandlyn in the lobby at about 3pm ( we were running a bit late ), and rode over the gazebo in the golf cart. Wow did it feel like a long ride! When we arrived, the steel band was playing and they were fabulous. They were definitely worth every penny of the $400! My guests kept commenting on what a nice touch they were and all enjoyed getting their photos taken with them! They played the exact music I had asked for without a hitch!
The walk down the aisle is long so be prepared! There are also these rocky steps at the top that were a bit tough to navigate. If you are planning on stilletos I would be SUPER careful! I had brought a high heel option and a flat, and ended up picking the flat after the rehearsal and those steps!
We had written our own script which the minister simply read. He didn't deviate at all. I'd say he was good, but nothing really special. He had a bit of a hard time turning the pages in the breeze, but otherwise it was ok. He was also wearing this hideous leopard print attire, which we got a good laugh out of. My hubby said they had a great chat while they were waiting for me, but I didn't really get to talk to him much. The sand ceremony and signing went off without a problem, however, the sand as we were pouring kept blowing into our eyes and mouths! Again, the breeze is lovely down there but try to keep your mouth closed! lol!
After the ceremony when you walk down the aisle, they hand you and your guests champagne for the toast. The steel band was playing and we all danced around for a bit and just enjoyed the moment! I couldn't have asked for better! All in all, our ceremony lasted about 35 minutes from start to finish.
We then moved into taking pictures and continued to take photos right up until our dinner at 6pm. We were really glad that we had chosen the 3pm ceremony as otherwise we would have had to cut the photos short (we had originally planned on 4pm).
Our photographers were AMAZING as I cannot say enough great things about them. They are from the Ottawa area and were an absolute pleasure to work with! They took everything we could have wanted and more and had spent the whole beginning of the week scouting out all the best picture spots! By the end of the week they felt more like friends than photographers and were definitely one of the best decisions we made in the planning process. If any brides are looking for a photog to travel with them, I can definitely provide contact info!
We had our dinner at the Dolce Vita at 6pm. I would HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend the Dolce. We observed several other brides having their dinners at the Grill and although all of their guests were at one big table, they were seated right next to other guests at the resort. There was no privacy at all. The biggest advantage to the Dolce is that you get a private room off the main restaurant that overlooks the water. There are no other guests even nearby so it was great for speeches and felt more like a normal wedding. If it is still available, that would definitely be my choice again hands down.
The set up of the Dolce was great! We had a sweetheart table for us at the front of the room, then two long rectangular tables for our guests. We also had a separate cake table, a table with a photo matt and our sand ceremony and another table on which we handed out sky lanterns, personalized matches and sparklers. They planners couldn't have decorated better! Everything was perfect and as per the diagrams I had given. They moved the large flower arrangements from the gazebo inside and used them on either side of our sweetheart table. The bridesmaids bouquets doubled as centerpices and we used the sand ceremony vases to hold them. We just added some lights and coral stones, and they were perfect! We also had bought a TON of candles which provided really nice mood lighting.
The waiters took great care of us and were very professional. We had the squash soup which was delicious, followed by the Ravioli Boscaila. The ravioli was good, but the sauce was quite salty. We then had the Stuffed Chicken with Risotto which was good, the risotto especially. We had the protiferoles to follow we we had heard questionable reviews about the tiramisu. The good thing about the protiferoles was that it was small, so most people still ate cake following.
We had the vanilla raspberry cake which was SO YUMMY! However, the cake looked, well...like the other pictures we had seen. Cake decor is definitely not their forte. Cake wasn't super important to us, so we didn't care too much. We bought gum paste seashells and starfish with us as decor, which was a nice touch. Even despite that it was a simple cake at best. The good thing, was that as we were a smaller group, we were able to send everyone home with a cake box of cake as well...most of which were eating after our dancing at the gazebo when people needed a snack! Just remember to grab plastic forks at the Pisces during the day!
Apart from the decision to get married, I think renting the gazebo afterwards was our next best decision! We went straight from the dinner back the to gazebo and the bartender and DJ were ready to go!
Prior to starting the first dance, we went out next to the gazebo and let off the sky lanterns. It was definitely one of the highlights of the night for me. They were so beautiful going up, and several other resort guests commented on them the rest of the week. We also had sparklers and had some fun with those!
Next we did the first dance and father daughter dance. We brought a CD for the DJ and there were no problems. We also bought a IPAD just in case, but he preferred CD. The DJ then played his own selection of music the rest of the night, and it was fabulous! We had heard awful reviews, but he took request, played what we asked and was a great guy! We also gave him a tip and he stayed a full extra half hour for us until 11pm!
The bar wasn't a standard simple bar, and had all of the premium liquors on it! They could also make up any of the mixed drinks you could get elsewhere in the resort. I was expecting beer and rum, but it was SO much better! The guests loved it, as it would have been at least a 10min walk each way to the lobby bar and wouldn't have been feasible. It also saved us the hassel of trying to set up a bar ourselves, which I really appreciated.
We had an absolute blast at the gazebo and all of our guests danced the night away until 11pm. It was totally worth the $500 for the gazebo/DJ and with our small group the bar was only $230. Best money I ever spent. One thing to keep in mind if you don't rent the gazebo is that the disco doesn't open until 11pm. We saw a lot of other brides wandering around on the terrace or at the sports bar waiting for the disco to open. Again everyone has a preference and different financial situations and group sizes, but I would highly recommend it! Made for the perfect night!
After all that dancing we were all super hot, so instead of going home to shower, we all got changed and jumped in the pool! We had a lot of fun and were the only ones their! Eventually we ended up at the late night burger joint for a burger and to eat our cake!
So all in all our day was perfect and went off without any problems. I am usually very type A and need to make sure every detail is perfect, but the wedding planners made it so easy for me to relax and just enjoy. There is nothing I would change at the end of the day, and I think that says a lot!
All that being said, I did hear from a few other brides that their days had taken turns they weren't expecting. The bride the day before me, got moved at the last minute from the Grill to the Palmyra buffet. They were still allowed the grill menu but it took them over 3.5hrs to get all of their food and it was cold by the time it got there. Hopefully that won't happen to anyone else. The planner commented that they appreciated how detailed I was with diagrams and very clear instructions as they felt they were better able to ensure that I got what I wanted. For the extra time it took to do that, it was definitely worth it!
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to let me know! I'll do my best to answer them all!! Also I'll post photos as soon as I can!