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Trisha's Las Caletas & PVR wedding review ** UPDATED with Photos #25 **

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#1 verh0016

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    Posted 11 November 2009 - 07:01 PM

    Dreams VillaMagna – Fantastic

    We had 75 members in our group stay at this resort for one week. I was a bit skeptical because some of the reviews on TripAdvisor were so-so. However, I had toured the property back in Feb. and decided to go with my gut. We could not have been happier.

    Our group arrived by bus. We were all greeted with a cool towel and mimosa. There were only three check-in stations, so it was a bit slow, but people were generally happy with visiting and enjoying a cocktail. Our room was ready right away, but some people had to wait about a half hour or so – no big deal (we arrive to the hotel about 2 p.m.).

    Upon check-in, I asked to meet with Cynthia in group sales. We had pre-arranged a cigar roller for the first evening up on the Gohan Sushi Lounge. She was available right away and we were able to work through the logistics. This was a HUGE hit with our guests. The price was worth every dollar!!! I also asked Cynthia about pressing my wedding dress at this time )I brought it down in a carry-on suitcase). She informed me that the hotel dry-cleaning service could take care of this, but I found out later this was not the case.

    Sunday we had asked the hotel to reserve a space for our group to watch the Packer/Viking game. They had a very nice set-up for us in a ballroom on the first floor. It was a bit warm, but you could bring in your drinks and a wait staff was running back and forth for us. Sunday night our group hung out up at the Sushi Lounge again. The staff there was great. They allowed us to play our own music (ipod and cd’s) which really started the dance party. They even brought out a pole for people to dance on – Fun!! The sushi was marginal, but most people ate it anyhow.

    Both William and Horacio (concierges) were outstanding. I had emailed with Horacio ahead of time to book spa appointments, etc and everything was just as I expected when we arrived. When I discovered that my dress had to be sent off-site to be pressed (in a panic on Monday and the wedding was Tuesday), William was very helpful. They took the dress at 10 a.m. and returned it at 7 p.m. and only charged me 76 pesos. They did a perfect job and it was hanging in my room after dinner.

    Oceana and Portofino were our favorite restaurants, but we had a great selection of food at all of them. We also had fantastic service by the pool each day (Ivan and Axel). A small tip goes a long way ladies. They were always asking what the bride needed and checking in on us often.

    The night of the wedding (Tuesday) – we came back to find our room decorated with a banner and the tub filled with scented soap and flowers – a very nice touch. They also noted we were the bride and groom all week and took extra special care of us and our group. Overall we were very pleased with the resort cleanliness, food and politeness of the staff.

    Transportation - Raul Covarrubias / Puerto Vallarta Tours – Fantastic

    We used Raul twice during our wedding week. The first was for roundtrip airport transportation. We rented one bus and it was very nice. They greeted us with a sign that read ‘Verhasselt / Selden Wedding Guests’ right outside of the baggage claim area. Although Raul was not the driver of the bus, he was still there to greet us and translate. We had paid a deposit ahead of time and then paid the remaining balance while his driver helped our guests load the luggage. Roomy seats and sufficient air conditioning.

    We also used two of Raul’s buses for our Welcome Dinner transportation from Dreams VillaMagna to Barcelona Tapas. Again, they were right on time and service was with a smile. They allowed us to play cd’s I made ahead of time for the bus ride each way. Raul also allowed us to bring beer on the buses for our guests. Overall, I was very happy with the service on both trips, and his prices were the best we found.

    Welcome Dinner – Barcelona Tapas – Good

    I ate at Barcelona Tapas twice in Feb. because the food was so delicious. I was also able to have one of my meals with the owner of the restaurant at that time (Bill). He was very generous in our meeting by allowing us to taste much of the menu and picking up the tab for myself, mom and friend. I chose Barcelona over 3 other restaurants for this reason.

    In the months after Feb., I emailed Bill and called him several times. It was not until July that I actually got confirmation from him that he would reserve Monday, Nov. 2 for our group of 70. I was a little nervous up until this time – but because the view and the food was so excellent, I just went with it. Other brides had told me he was a little flighty to work with, so whatever, right?

    In the months leading up to the wedding, Bill was helpful in selecting our tasting menu. I spoke with him on the phone several times to reconfirm everything and even spoke with and emailed with him the week prior to our event. Because we had such a large group (77 in total) he offered us the 3rd floor of the restaurant for cocktail hour and then we would use the 4th floor for dinner. This sounded great because it would give everyone a chance to mingle when we arrived.

    We arrived at Barcelona Tapas last Monday evening as planned at 6 p.m. To my surprise, the entire 3rd floor was filled with customers and there was no space what-so-ever for our group. I proceeded to lead everyone up to the fourth floor where the tables were set, but there was zero room to get a drink. Everyone had to be seated immediately, and then we had to find the head waiter to bring up more tables and chairs (they only had 68 even though we had told them 77 several times). My fianc© was NOT pleased. After about a ½ hour of trying to get everyone seated and sangria on the tables like I had requested, things calmed down a bit. The food was spectacular, and the service was quick. Our photographer (Nate Cordova) was there and was snapping shots of everything. Towards the end of the meal, the electricity went out! Actually not even that big of a deal – the kitchen had flashlights on hand and kept serving dessert as requested.

    All-in-all, we chose Barcelona Tapas for the view and the food. Both delivered. Most of our guests didn’t know we were supposed to have the third floor, so it probably wasn’t that big of a hiccup. However, I don’t like promises that are left unfulfilled, which is why I only give them a good.

    Wedding Day – Las Caletas – Wow, wow, wow – FANTASTIC!!!

    Ladies – you will not be disappointed with the beauty, organization and charm that goes into a wedding at Las Caletas. Our 75 guests still cannot believe the wedding we pulled off and none of it would have been possible without wonderful Kelley.

    So, from the top – we booked Las Caletas in Nov. of 2008. After much online research and reading the forum from front to back – I was convinced. We then booked our site visit for Feb. 2009. We took the LC day trip out with Kelley, my parents, and two other family friends. It was great to finally meet Kelley after many emails and phone calls. We clicked right away. She is originally from IL (and me WI) and we had a ton in common. Anyhow – at first site, Las Caletas was even more than I had hoped for; BEAUTIFUL!!!! Kelley took us on a tour of all the logistics first (bridal casita, beach front where wedding would be, etc) and then we had the afternoon to play on the beach. The food for lunch was amazing. I’m an event planner for a living, so seeing it with my own two eyes helped to settle my nerves for the next 9 months. Do the site inspection as early as possible.

    Kelley was wonderful to work with over the course of the next 9 months planning. We did everything by email, and I was able to send her photos of what I wanted things to look like (bouquets, dinner tables, you name it). Really easy ladies!!! We planned a conference call for Mid-Oct. to walk through the details of the evening since our order was a bit different than most weddings they do….

    So now, let’s speed up to our arrival in PVR for the wedding…..

    Kelley met Luke and I at Dreams VillaMagna at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, 11/2. We had a half hour to sit with her and talk through the logistics of the next day. She brought a print out for Luke (which he like because he was coming on a separate boat the next day). Then at 4:30, everyone involved in the wedding ceremony met us in the lobby and Kelley did a brief rehearsal. It was great to have her line everyone up and do a run-through of the ceremony. I didn’t want to be bossing people around at this point! Additionally, this walk-through was essential because the next day when everyone got off the boat at LC – it was GO TIME! No time for practice then! At 5 p.m. the rest of our wedding guests met us in the lobby and then we all boarded the buses to Barcelona Tapas for our wedding dinner.

    My 6 bridesmaids, mother, and myself all met in the Dreams lobby at 7:45 and then took a quick taxi over to the Vallarta Adventures office. Nicole was there to greet us, show us where we could have breakfast and help us with our bags, dresses, etc. This all ran very smoothly. We had about 15 minutes to grab a bite to eat. This was fine as they also served continental breakfast on the boat. We boarded the boat at 8:30 a.m. and Nicole and the other staff took care of hanging our dresses and storing our items so we could just relax on the top deck. There were only about 30 other people on the boat total, so it was quite private. The staff did some dancing on the boat ride out, we saw 2 dolphins, and the waters were very calm. Our wedding flowers were also on the boat, so it was fun to see them ahead of time. They were perfect – just like the photos I had sent down to Kelley!!! No problems here.

    We arrived to LC about 10:15 a.m. We helped Nicole grab what we could off of the boat and then she led us up to the bridal casita. The staff brought the rest of our bags up within about 15 minutes. Nicole showed us the facilities, how to work the hot tub and gave us a timeline for the day. The casita had champagne and fruit for all the girls to share. We had about two hours to swim in the ocean and lay in the sun before lunch time. The ocean was very warm and we virtually had the entire beach to ourselves. They were training some of the birds on the beach so that was fun to watch.

    The panga carrying Luke (the groom), Dave (marrying us), Kelley, Fernando and his assistant arrived about 12:30 p.m. A few of us showered before lunch and then began eating about 1:15 p.m. Kelley made sure Luke was not eating in the same place so he wouldn’t see his bride quite yet .
    Fernando began my hair about 1:45 or so. I brought several photos and Kelley helped to talk to him in Spanish about what I was looking for. He did a perfect job!!! I was a bit nervous about him doing my make-up (I didn’t want to look like a drag queen) – but that too was perfect. He allowed me to look in the mirror after each step and approve. Meanwhile, his assistant began doing bridesmaids hair. I was ready and dressed about 3:30. At this time Nate set-up a ‘first look’ for Luke and I and did some photos. It honestly did not last too long though because Luke was over heating in his suit and didn’t want to sweat through it before the wedding. After our first look, Nate shot the bridesmaids and me and my mom.

    Then about 4:30 or so us bridesmaids just had some time to kill. We decided to crack the champagne, turn up the i-pod and just have fun for a bit. About this time Kelley let me know that all of our guests were on the boat. Yay!!! She then took it upon herself to re-wrap the bridesmaid bouquets because she didn’t like the green ribbon. She found ribbon that perfectly matched the bridesmaid dresses – so heck, why not, right? That was a great extra touch.

    The bridesmaids were also able to go down and view the set-up of the ceremony and dinner, but I wanted to stay hidden. They were able to see the boat dock with the guests – and then we knew it was almost time. Before I knew it, Kelley was getting us together and it was time to walk down the path and all the stairs to line-up. We didn’t have to worry about bringing anything with us. Everything we needed for after the wedding (little purses with lip gloss, etc) she brought down during the ceremony, and all of our other things made their way to the boat after the reception with the help of her staff. Nothing to worry about!

    I remember it took some time to get down all the stairs and the path. It was hard to hold up my dress and walk – but with the help of the bridesmaids we did it! I could hear the pre-ceremony music playing and I started to get a bit choked up! Kelley lined everyone up and I didn’t even see the parents or first bridal party members go down the aisle since I was trying to stay back a bit. I knew she had it under control though. Then it was my turn. The music was loud, and I was able to make a grand entrance. I had not yet seen dad or the ceremony set-up, so I remember trying to take it all in without falling down the stairs. Dad said I was a bit shaken up, but what is a girl to do?!?

    The set-up was perfect. There was a bit of a cloud cover which provided shade for our guests. The ceremony lasted about 20 minutes and immediately following, we did a group photo. Then the guests had about a 45 minute cocktail hour while we did some family and bridal party photos. This went really quickly because I basically stood in one spot as people jumped in and out of the photos. After cocktail hour, Kelley announced for everyone to come back down to the beach. They had rearranged the chairs for seating for our slide show. Luke’s dad brought down wine from his birth year, so Kelley’s staff distributed the wine, his dad did a toast, and then they played the slideshow. It was AMAZING!!! Right after the slideshow, Luke and I did our first dance on the beach surrounded by tiki torches. So romantic. Then it was announced that people should be seated for dinner while Luke and I danced with our dad/mom. Again this was on the beach and allowed us some private time while everyone else was getting situated. Perfect!

    Dinner was so delicious. Even though it is a buffet, the food quality does not suffer at all. All of our guests were giving us rave reviews on how good it all was. One guest had 3 plates! After dinner, my sister, best friend, Luke’s brother, my dad, and my grandpa all gave toasts. The toast from my grandpa was a surprise, and I lost it then. I am very close to him and it was so special that he was able to join us on such a special day. Then, on to cake cutting, and then we gathered the wedding party for our first dance on the beach…..

    The dance floor and bonfire were set during dinner. You don’t even know this is happening until you turn around – and wow! Just beautiful! The dance floor is a raised area about 10 x 10 which is covered in indoor/outdoor carpet and surrounded by lights. Wow, wow, wow.
    Jonny, the dj hired, did a perfect job. I was nervous at first because we were supposed to bring our own DJ but he had to back out last minute. I sent Jonny a list ahead of time – but I also brought down all of the essential on cd’s. He basically just had to switch the cd’s all night, but hey – he did it all as I had hoped. Cocktail hour, into the first dance, into the slide show, into dinner, etc…. He also played all of the cd’s I brought for the reception and was able to throw in requests as guests had them. Again – this worked out perfectly. I was so happy!

    The dance floor was rocking all evening. We had 75 guests, and they are all party animals, so I knew the dancing would be great, and it was.
    We also hired the fire dancers with the drummers. They showed up about 10:15 and let me tell you – it was AWESOME! Just when our guests thought the setting and evening could not possible get any better – it did!!! You HAVE to get them – even if it is the one thing you do!

    The entire evening ran smoothly. I never worried about logistics or the timing of what was happening next. Kelley always came up to Luke and I and let us know ’10 minutes until this’ or ‘ are you ready for this?’ She earned every dollar.

    Our boat departed at 11:30 or shortly after. We paid for an extra hour on the tail end and it was the best decision I made. I knew right away the night would go quickly, and it did – so I would recommend doing this. Our boat ride back was a continuation of the reception – and was possibly even MORE FUN than the reception. This had nothing to do with Las Caletas or the staff, it was just that we had a party group – and they loved being on the boat. Again, I brought a cd to play – and it was a hit. Everyone was dancing and swinging from the poles. The guys even got microphones from the staff and were serenading Luke and I. SO FUN! The boat ride was smooth, there were plenty of drinks, and it was a perfect ending to a perfect day. I got choked up at the end of the night when I had to thank Kelley and tell her goodbye. We had become friends over the course of the year planning and it was sad to think I might not see her again……. (but I’ve already talked to her about coming back )

    Photographer – Nate Cordova – Fantastic

    Our original photographer had to cancel because she found out she was expecting (and actually delivered two days after our wedding). She could no longer travel from Mpls. Anyhow, in a panic, I did a nation-wide search for a photographer. I was not going to sacrifice quality just to book anyone…. I ended up interviewing about 6 or 7 from all over the U.S. – all of which were recommendations from other brides on this forum. Ultimately I ended up selecting Nate because he has an artistic approach I love (yea for the Holga) and he used to live in PVR so he knows the area and LC well.

    We hired Nate for 3 days. I did not meet him until we arrived at our welcome dinner at Barcelona Tapas (everything at this point was done over email and conference call). I remember looking up from the bottom up to the fourth floor rooftop and seeing him hanging over the balcony already shooting. I knew then it was going to be great….

    He was SO easy to get along with. Luke was not in the greatest of moods when our welcome dinner began due to the confusion I wrote about above. However, Nate was down to earth, able to slip in and still get Luke to smile. He had fun with Luke’s football buddies, getting them to pose, etc. and was literally jumping from table to table all night. LOVED IT!

    On the wedding day – he was around, but not too much in our face. He did a good job of helping us ‘pose’ because that is not something we do every day, right? On the dance floor, he was crazy – rolling around, jumping on chairs, anything to get the shot. Our guests are still talking about how hard he worked. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

    Let me finish by telling you what REALLY sold me on Nate – it was our third day with him, our TTD session. We rented a car and he picked us up and drove us to Sayulita. It was so nice just to have some time with him and Luke. Luke was not really into having his photos taken for a third day, but by the end of our third hour with Nate, he was laughing and loving our time with him. In Sayulita we shot in town (plaza area, etc), in a cemetery (lots of cool flowers due to the day of the dead) and finished on the beach. Since Nate used to live in PVR he had lots of history to share with us. It was fun learning about him and the journey he took to become an established photographer at such a fun age. On the way back to PVR he stopped an bought Luke and I each a beer while he was our chauffeur (totally legal – Nate said!).

    When we got back to the hotel – I was expecting our bridesmaids to be in the lobby, but to our surprise, all 75 of our guests were waiting to greet us. We had asked Nate that morning if we shoot me with the bridesmaids in the ocean quickly since he was at the hotel anyhow – and he said sure. So, Nate, myself, the bridesmaids, and all of the guests went out to the pool area. It was so funny, everyone not with our party was wondering ‘what the heck’? Nate decided the best possible shot would be for him to jump in the pool so at this point he stripped down to his boxers, held his camera above his head, and in he went. Then he shot me and my bridesmaids running and jumping in to the pool. SO FUN! What a perfect ending to a perfect run of days…. I don’t have his photos yet, but will post them as soon as I can. As you can see, Nate earned every dollar.
    The new Mrs. Selden

    #2 Andi


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      Posted 11 November 2009 - 07:18 PM

      OMG! LOVE IT!

      I am such a sapp I totally tear up at every LC review I read!

      SOOOOO glad everything went well for you!

      Can't wait to see more pics!

      I love the feeling and excitement you got when you saw your flowers on the boat! for me that was so cool to see them there too! I was so excited when I saw the box of flowers on the boat!!!!

      I love that your guests loved it all too!

      awww I know what you mean about leaving Kelly at the end of the night! I felt the same way when I had to say goodbye to Nicole too I just felt so close to her after all the planning and I sure hope I can see her again too!

      CONGRATS MRS!!!!!!!!

      be sure to share your pics!

      #3 ~Jessica~

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        Posted 11 November 2009 - 07:31 PM

        What a great review! And I can't say thank you enough for the amazing review on Nate, I am using him too and I already figured he was pretty awesome but you just sealed it! Can't wait to see your pics on his blog!

        #4 erinc

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          Posted 11 November 2009 - 07:32 PM

          Trisha -
          This is wonderful! Thanks for taking the time to give us all of the details! I am so excited - tomorrow's the last work day and then we head south in a week or so! I'm so glad to read how great it was for you guys! Can't wait to see the pics!

          #5 weddinggirl72

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            Posted 11 November 2009 - 10:12 PM

            Fantastic Review!!! I think Im gonna have to get the Fire Dancers for my wedding, you totally convinced me! :)
            So far 68 RSVP's and 56 people are booked to stay at the resort!

            #6 Brooklyn Carolina

            Brooklyn Carolina
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            • 94 posts

              Posted 12 November 2009 - 09:14 AM

              Wow, Wow, Wow. What an amazing time. I can't wait for Jan. 15, 2011. Luckily we are doing a site visit this Jan.

              Did Luke come over to Las Caletas with his groomsman or did he come by himself? Where did he hang out on Las Caletas while you were getting ready etc.

              Can't wait to see the pictures. I love that you included your bridemaids in the TTD session.

              #7 sunstarsmoon

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                Posted 12 November 2009 - 10:48 AM

                what a great review
                July 8, 2011, Couples Sans Souci Ocho Rios, Jamaica

                #8 barefootbeachbride

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                  Posted 12 November 2009 - 11:30 AM

                  Wow! what a great report! It sounds like everything was perfect..I get so excited reading reviews! Welcome back wifey :)

                  #9 *Nadine*

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                    Posted 12 November 2009 - 11:34 AM

                    Thanks so much for the great detailed review! I can't wait to see your pics and thanks for the great review on Nate as we are using him in December :)

                    #10 jwilke5

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                      Posted 12 November 2009 - 11:43 AM

                      What a great review... Congratulations!! Can't wait to see your pics =)

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