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gkashmira

What I would and wouldn't do again...

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Your photo booth at the cocktail hour sounds awesome! would you extend it into the evening as well? It adds So Much Fun to the whole event.....a winner for sure :)

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Thanks for all the helpful tips. Got me questioning a few things and easing my mind with certain things I've spent money on that I'm sure I'll be glad.

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I have been looking forward to writing this post since I read all  60+pages over a year ago! Now it's finally my turn to return the favour! This is just my advice based on our experience and every wedding is different.  Hopefully this helps--feel free to PM me if you have specific questions because I'm not on BDW as often after the wedding. 

 

~Vancouver Bride

 

Resort:Dream La Romana, Dominican Republic

Dates: October 27-3 November 2012

Wedding time: 29th October, 3-4pm (6pm sunset)

Guests: 25

Welcome Dinner: El Patio

Wedding: Private Beach Gazebo

Cocktail Hour:Seaside grill Deck

Reception: Seaside grill

 

What I would do again

  • Marry my husband at Dreams La Romana with our closest friends and family and party for a week on the beach! So much more fun than your average single day wedding! It really felt like the families were joined J
  • Write our own vows. You are only allowed to write your own vows at Dreams if itâ€s a symbolic wedding as far as I know.  We wrote them about 2 months ahead and kept them a surprise until the wedding day.
  • Combine the Welcome Dinner and Rehearsal Dinner and have them the night after people arrive. People were tired and want to unpack. The Resort wouldnâ€t take a reservation so we were forced either sit at several tables for free or pay.
  • Pay the extra fee for a private welcome/rehearsal dinner. It was totally worth the extra cost because our two families got to know each other before the wedding. It was also my Momâ€s birthday so it was a 3-in-1 party!
  • Do a Trash The Dress off-resort. It also gave us some more variety in our photos and was SO much fun! We spent about 5 hours at Alto De Chavon (had to pay an unexpected fee of ~$100 to go inside in a wedding dress but totally worth it!). We trashed the dress in an old huge fountain and it was SO much fun!! The pictures are amazing.
  • Fly in our own Photographer and get digital copyright.  For the price of a Dreams resort photographer for 10 hrs we got wonderful pictures of the welcome/rehearsal dinner, the ceremony (11+ hrs), trash the dress, and random pics around the resort. It also helped having her do our engagement pics so that we were comfortable around her and knew we would like her photography style. Definitely negotiate to get all of your digital negatives/digital copyright in addition to edited versions of your favourites. In the end we got about 1000 photos from the week on a CD with full copyright. Itâ€s much easier to email pics to family and less expensive to print them.
  • Not have a big cake. We had the single tier cake that came with the Wedding Love Package. They upgraded us for free to a two tier cake. We still couldnâ€t eat it all and shared it with other guests at the buffet because it wouldnâ€t fit in our fridge.
  • First Meet Photographs before the ceremony! This was my favourite part of the wedding day. It was private and so much more intimate than seeing each other at the ceremony. PLUS my makeup and hair were perfect and neither of us had sweat much.
  • Do a bridal makeup trial at Sephora then buy my makeup and have my bridesmaid do it at the wedding. They didnâ€t seem to have the right colours of lipstick and foundation and I wanted my makeup with me all day to touch up and to look good for the rehearsal and other dinners. I spent about $250 for all of my make up at Sephora and it was totally worth it. Makeup Forever HD and a really good primer will make your makeup last 10+ hrs even in the heat. 
  • Have a microphone at the wedding ceremony. My planner said we didnâ€t need it for 15 people (10 in wedding party+15 guests), but I had read on BDW to get one. Iâ€m so happy we did or we wouldnâ€t have been able to hear our vows in the video!
  • Get married legally before the symbolic wedding in our own living room. It was family only and simple. It took lots of the stress out of the day was logistically easier. You have to pay extra fees and get documents translated to spanish if it's a legal wedding in the DR--extra time and $$. 
  • Cut the decorations and flower budget to pay for the unexpected reception venue fee ($300).  Nobody noticed the decorations at the gazebo because you could see the ocean behind us!
  • Video.  Professional video was way out of our bedget, but we stillw anted something to watch. We borrowed a video camera, tripod,  and wireless mic from a friend at home. We negotiated to have Jenny the wedding planner at Dreams hold the camera during the ceremony and it turned out great!
  • My husband and I drank some but not that much at the rehearsal dinner or wedding night. I was buzzed and happy but no hangover and I remember every little detail!
  • Do my mani-pedi at home. The Spa didnâ€t have a very wide range of colour and were much more expensive. I did a shellac mani/pedi that lasted 3 weeks at home.I don't know when I would have had time to do it a the resort before the wedding anyhow. 
  • Donâ€t forget to eat on your wedding day.Pick one BM and one GM to be in charge of ordering roomservice so that the wedding party and photographers donâ€t forget to EAT! I got this tip on BDW and it totally saved us from getting hungry and cranky!
  • Build a 30-45 minute buffer in your timeline. People will be late, Bridemaids will need to touch up makeup, things will not go 100% perfect and you will want just a few more pictures of your wedding party…..it never hurts to have a buffer time. We did and definitely used it.

 

What I wouldnâ€t do again

  • Worry about pleasing guests who couldnâ€t come or wasting time responding to guests who were coming but kept emailing me about hurricane Sandy. In the end you will have an amazing time with the people that DO decide to be there. There was nothing I could do about the weather so I donâ€t know why they emailed me except to stress me out. I spent too much time answering emails about the resort and weather and should have just forwarded the email to our wedding planner or travel agent to deal with.
  • Forget to add an international data and text plan to my Iphone before traveling. I used my phone to text my planner and look up just a few things in the Dominican and racked up a $400 cell phone bill!!! The roaming rates there are HUGE! I negotiated it down to $150 but still….leave your phone in the safe or buy a plan ahead of time!
  • Let go and let your planner and travel agent handle your guests. Just forward any questions from your guests to your planner/travel agent and move on. Iâ€m type A organized so I struggled with this part, but wish I would have let go more.I somehow felt I should help our guest because they were paying to come to our wedding, but answering all those emails took so much time and stress. 
  • Donâ€t ask the resort to steam your dress. I forgot earlier and asked the resort  the morning of the wedding to please steam it. Well there was a language barrier and they said they would CLEAN it. So I cancelled the pickup completely (my dress was chiffon so wrinkles donâ€t show). When I cam back from getting our hair done on the wedding day—my dress disappeared 3 hrs before the wedding!!! They had picked up my dress to clean it even after I had cancelled it L This is where my wedding planner was useful—she found it and brought it back asap while I calmed down.
  • Spend so much time and money on the OOT bags. My mother-in-law offered to help pay for them and organize them, but in the end only a few items were really used (insulated mugs,key holders, beach totes). Itâ€s a significant amount of money even for just 25 people. I wasted too much time researching these in retrospect. 
  • Try to wear fake eyelashes. I bought the individual fake eyelashes at Sephora. They didnâ€t work at all in the Dominican heat which was totally unexpected. The glue dries in the 5-10 seconds it takes you to put them on your eyes and they donâ€t really stick well. I managed to get 3 put on the corners of each eye, but not across my entire eye.
  • The nightclub at DLR wasnâ€t that busy or as much fun as I had imagined it.  We went after the wedding reception to dance some more but it wasnâ€t a much fun as the reception. Maybe we were just all tired, but check out the nightclub before you plan on going after the wedding.

 

What I wish I had done differently

  • Bring a mirror and check everyoneâ€s makeup right before the ceremony and after the ceremony before group pictures. My momâ€s mascara ran down her eye and we didnâ€t see it until after the wedding so it was smudged in every photograph. Our photographer was able to Photoshop it out thankfully!
  • Have the reception for 4 instead of 3 hrs. We originally paid for 3, but we got 1 hr for free (wedding day surprise). We were still dancing and people were having fun so if you can afford it—extend your reception to 4 hrs.
  • Brush up on my Spanish or bring someone who knows it. All the staff know enough English to do their job and for basic conversation, but things get confusing when unexpected conversations or problems come up.
  • Bring photos and clean hair to the salon trial.Bring photos of how you want your hair and do a trial. I had put Aveda sunscreen in my hair to protect my new highlights and it was too oily for my hair trial to be exactly the same as my wedding day so I freaked out a bit when she didnâ€t do it right. It was beautiful on the wedding day though (thanks to my BM who spoke Spanish!).
  • See if you can have your hotel room as close to your ceremony site as possible. That way when the Bridesmaids and bride are getting ready, you can quickly run in and touch up makeup or grab forgotten items. The preferred section at Dreams is next to the Garden Gazebo and Private Beach Gazebo. The non-preferred club rooms are NOT very near those two gazebos.

 

Undecided-Should you hire an outside wedding planner?

We hired a local wedding planner for $2,800+ the cost of her travel and accomodation that we worked with about 1-1.5 years ahead of the ceremony. She few down for the entire week of the wedding.

  • Pro:
    • Less stress.I am a very organized person, but was doing my PhD while we planned the wedding, so I wanted a planner to help reduce stress the amount of time we spent planning. She did reduce stress at the beginning of the process and on the wedding day, but not in the middle or end.
    • Choosing a resort and photograppher.The planner was definitely worth the cost in choosing a country and resort and photographer much faster than we could have done on our own. We couldnâ€t afford to visit before the wedding, so talking to someone who had been there was helpful. I think she paid for herself when she helped us narrow down a resort—and we loved Dreams La Romana in the DR!!! We also were able to narrow down the hundreds of potential photographers from her recommendations. We got a better deal on our local photographer by going through our wedding planner.
    • Choosing a photographer: Budget. She helped us stay on budget. She told us early if certain items like OOT bags or fancy formal invites were out of our budget. We didnâ€t see the final budget from Dreams until about a week before the wedding which worried us, BUT I get the impression that is normal for DW?
    • Not having to deal with Dreams directly. We never saw or spoke to the WC at Dreams until the day of the wedding. We didnâ€t have to wait on hold or wait for emails.
  • Con:
    • She was on her timeline not mine. If you are an organized person with enough time outside of your normal job, you may not need a full time planner in addition to ones Dreams provides. You will stress if she doesnâ€t respond as fast as you want or plan things as far ahead as you want, so it might be better to do it on your own if you are a Type A personality like me. It was hard for me to let go and trust that her timeline was fast enough.
    • Poor response time in the middle of planning. In the START she was very fast and prompt with responses and in the END she was fast, but in the middle she disappeared, didnâ€t answer emails, and was unable to get the resort to waive the venue fee for the reception.
    • We got a wedding package anyway. She originally said she would be able to negotiate and not use a package “because they arenâ€t a good dealâ€, but we ended up using getting the Wedding Love package anyway at her recommendation.  

 

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Hello there...Not married yet but thought I would mentioned that I travelled down for a last minute 3 night trip to our resort and this was by far the best thing I've done.  We received an excellent deal of $485 for 3 nights and it was well worth it.  We met with the co-ordinator for 4 hours, chose our wedding and reception site, seached the surroundings for photograph spots, yada yada yada....I figure this saved me from doing all this upon our arrival during the wedding week and now I can spend that time with my family and friends.  Hey if you were getting married at home, wouldn't you go do a site inspection for both the ceremony and reception?  Why not for a destination wedding.  As I said, definitely worth the money...if you can do, go for it!!!!  BEST thing I've done so far!

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Hello there...Not married yet but thought I would mentioned that I travelled down for a last minute 3 night trip to our resort and this was by far the best thing I've done.  We received an excellent deal of $485 for 3 nights and it was well worth it.  We met with the co-ordinator for 4 hours, chose our wedding and reception site, seached the surroundings for photograph spots, yada yada yada....I figure this saved me from doing all this upon our arrival during the wedding week and now I can spend that time with my family and friends.  Hey if you were getting married at home, wouldn't you go do a site inspection for both the ceremony and reception?  Why not for a destination wedding.  As I said, definitely worth the money...if you can do, go for it!!!!  BEST thing I've done so far!

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Originally Posted by Lydia1120 View Post

 

Hello there...Not married yet but thought I would mentioned that I travelled down for a last minute 3 night trip to our resort and this was by far the best thing I've done.  We received an excellent deal of $485 for 3 nights and it was well worth it.  We met with the co-ordinator for 4 hours, chose our wedding and reception site, seached the surroundings for photograph spots, yada yada yada....I figure this saved me from doing all this upon our arrival during the wedding week and now I can spend that time with my family and friends.  Hey if you were getting married at home, wouldn't you go do a site inspection for both the ceremony and reception?  Why not for a destination wedding.  As I said, definitely worth the money...if you can do, go for it!!!!  BEST thing I've done so far!

I wish this was an option for us... :( it sounds so helpful!

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