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Boston Bride 2009

My ridiculously long review of Excellence Punta Cana w/ Pics

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Destination Wedding A+++++

This was THE BEST decision we made. We had the time of our life and we and our guests will never forget the time we had there. Everyone had such a great time together and were so thankful that we had a DW. I can’t tell you how many people said thank you for getting married in DR this is awesome. It was the wedding of our dreams AND we paid for it in cash…no debt!!!

 

Travel Agent D+-C-

Wedding Destinations and Planning | Destination Weddings .com

•This is what I wrote when they asked me for feedback on my experience

Positive

•She is very friendly and easy to speak to

•In the beginning she did a great job contacting our guests and following up with them

•In the beginning our guests gave us positive feedback about their conversations with her

•She has been able to rebook all of us for the sale price of our hotels which took a lot of work

•I do like the website for me to view booked guests.

•I like that our guests could pay over time

•The best part is our travel has been booked and we are just about set to go. In the end she did get the job done.

Negative

•I felt like I knew more information than she did most of the time

•She accepted flight changes when they broke up a direct flight with out researching the best connections for our guests.

•She did not immediately notify guests of their flight changes I actually was the one to tell them when I found out

•People called her several times and did not get a return phone call

•Some people did not receive invoices until I requested them

•Sometimes it takes her several days to answer my questions that I've asked 2 and 3 times

•The invoices she sent were not always correct in terms of length of stay (basically typos) and it was not just my invoice, but my brothers and I think 1 other person had the wrong category.

•I'm not sure if this was her problem or the package company but it took 3-4 weeks to upgrade our room. She got this done over a week ago and I still haven't heard if our 1 category upgrade was approved from your company.

• I haven't found her expertise any different than a regular travel agent. Your website says Specializes Solely in Destination Weddings Read More

• I know that DWT contracts out regular travel agent so I'm not sure this is the case for Anna of other agents you use. It also says in read more

“Do they focus solely on Destination Weddings, or will you be juggled among their other various corporate travel, group travel, or other non-wedding related clients?”

•Isn't this the case for your travel agents who run their own business?

 

Excellence Punta Cana A+++++

•We had an absolutely AMAZINGGGG time at Excellence. Everything was a perfect as you could possibly dream of

•The service is impeccable

•The food is very good for an AI. There are many options for dinner. I liked that you did not have to have reservations. We walked in to Barcelona one night as a last minute decision with 20 people and they were happy to accommodate us despite the fact that we should have told them ahead of time.

•EVERYONE who works there is a so friendly and happy. Everyone says “Hola” or “Buenas Dias” The bartenders are entertaining…singing and dancing all day behind the bar. Many of them are very funny. They just love what they do.

•They are focused on service from the moment you get off of your shuttle van.

•The grounds are absolutely beautiful. There is just so much color everywhere. There is also a lot of beautiful architecture that we took advantage of with the photographer.

•The pools are very nice. The beach is cleaned daily so the sand is perfect. The water is pretty rough but we had a ton of fun. The boys went boogy boarding and kayaking daily.

•There are plenty of bars everywhere including right next to the beach. We literally set up shop right next to Café Kafe every day so we could just grab a drink or have the cocktail waiters come to us in our beach chairs.

•We loved that this was a smaller resort so that we could all find each other and that it was adults only.

•We had a lot of fun at the disco a few nights but we basically brought the party.

•This resort puts a lot of attention in the details from your room, to they way they welcome you, the care they put into cleaning your room and the cute little things they make out of the towels.

•The last thing I have to say is that my husband worked at the Ritz in Boston for 3 years and his dad at the Park Lane in NYC and they were both floored at how amazing the service and the resort was.

 

Rooms at Excellence

•We had an assortment of rooms in our group so I’ve written a little about each.

•Master Suite

oThis was the room that we were upgraded to. It was so nice. They also allowed us to have this room with Excellence Club privileges because of a mix up at our check in.

oIt was the perfect location because it over looked the Cascade Pool where our reception was. We were able to go back to our room, freshen up, and put on our party clothes and then head right down to the reception. We were also able to quickly run back to get more $ to tip the people who helped us…the service was so good we felt it necessary to give them even more.

oThe room itself was the perfect set up for us and for Benny on the wedding day. It had a nice sized living room. A bedroom and then two doors in the shower/toilette with the sink and hot tub separate.

oThe view of the pool was really nice and it was very quiet.

oI believe the price of this room is pretty close the price of the Excellence Club junior suites…I would chose this room a million times over. I personally do not feel the Excellence Club is worth the money.

•Excellence Club Honeymoon Suite

oMy mom had this room and it is really really nice. It’s basically a smaller version of the Imperial Suite. Definitely worth the $ and has a great view.

•Imperial Suite

oThis is a room to talk about. My brother had this room for the week. It was bangn!!! It honestly is twice the size of our loft in Boston. It has everything two hot tubs, huge flat screen, 8 person dining room, massage table, kitchen, leather couches, two BR, and a entire room for the shower. The view is amazing. We got ready in his room on the wedding day and it was awesome.

•Junior Suites

oMost people booked either the Garden View or the Ocean View. They really loved their rooms as well. Everyone was basically in the same area so they all liked that.

 

Wedding Coordinator A++++++++++++++++++

First I have to say that my wedding was perfection because of our WC Mercy Aquino. There is not one thing that I can say went wrong or wasn’t exactly how I wanted it…not one little thing. I am a very difficult person to please when it comes to this stuff because I am a perfectionist and I want everything done a specific way. Mercy didn’t miss a single detail…and I had many many things I asked her to do. She was so sweet and just awesome to work with.

•Mercy was very responsive

•Emails were very clear and answered all of the questions I had

•She called us the Sunday before we left for DR to make sure we had all of our questions answered and that she had everything correct.

•Spent an entire day with me reviewing details

•Took notes and remembered every single little thing I asked her to do

•Details details details

•Always wanted to make sure everything was perfect and just how I wanted it

•Professional and completely service oriented. She was super sweet.

•Executed everything with perfection (coming from a perfectionist)

•The entire week ran smoothly and she took care of everything so I didn’t have to worry

•She worked very well with all of the vendors (from the resort or not).

•The cards she printed for different things were really great. She made menu cards for the reception, the cocktail hour. On the day of the rehearsal everyone was stressing me out with questions about what time do we need to X or Y. So I asked her just to type a list for the bridesmaids and the groomsmen with the times for everything. Within an hour she came back to me with these super cute cards. She had made one set for the BM one set for the GM one specifically for me and one specifically for Benny and a master copy for the photographer. This is just one example of how Mercy went above and beyond.

•Benny is Dominican so he and Mercy had a great time and it was very helpful for me to have him there to translate.

•Her assistant/intern was awesome. He was just as much of a perfectionist as Mercy. He was also very helpful because he spoke English very well.

•She said I will try to do anything you ask even if I know the answer is no I will still try

•Got us the private cocktail party and Agave for rehearsal both of which typically don’t happen. She set everything up for both events and made sure we had everything we needed

•Showed us room options when they screwed up our check in and made sure it was just what we wanted.

 

Videographer-Video Punt Cana A-

Video Punta Cana

•Florian is very responsive

•You are able to see his work on his website and it is very accurate to what we received

•His pricing was a little more than the hotel videographer but totally worth it.

•He is able to get you your DVD before you leave DR

•The video itself is very nice. The only thing I wish is that the music was done differently.

•The cameraman he sent was unobtrusive and let our photographer call the shots.

•We paid for 3-4 hour of shooting and he definitely stayed longer and our video was longer than the 20-25 mins we paid for.

•Definitely worth the money and I’m thankful my mom convinced me to have this and gave it to us as a gift.

 

Photographer-Corinna Raznikov A++++

Corinna Raznikov Photography

raznikov.bigfolioblog.com/

•This was a huge splurge and I’m so glad that I did this. I flew in the photographer that we hired for our engagement pictures to surprise Benny. He had NO idea that I was doing this. He is in love with her work so was absolutely floored when I surprised him.

•Corinna’s work is stunning, artistic, uniques, candid, and beautiful. She is truly truly talented. Her work is in so many magazines and everytime I saw it I instantly knew it was hers without even reading who the photographer was. She has her own style.

•The whole process was just fantastic. We really fell in love with her after our engagement pictures. She is so easy to work with, she makes you feel comfortable. She can tell when you are tired and will mix things up.

•From the moment she got to DR she was shooting because that is what she loves. We only paid for our wedding day but she just captured everything.

•Her mother also flew in to shoot with her and she was an absolute doll. She is a travel photographer so I’m sure her pics are going to be just as beautiful. I can’t believe she flew in from Cali for our wedding.

•Corinna is so professional but is super sweet about how she approaches your guests. She kept everything moving along without feeling pushy. She kept my BM’s on schedule.

•One of the best things she did for me was to create a schedule of the day with details and times. She really padded my schedule so I wasn’t stressed.

•Everyone loved working with her and commented on how hard she was working for us. She ran around a lot!

•We did not even notice her taking pictures of us a lot of the time.

•We felt like she was one of our guests…she was there with us over Thanksgiving so we wanted her to feel as though she was our guest.

•I haven’t seen the pics yet but I’m sure they are going to be phenomenal.

 

DJ Mannia A+++++

MANNIA - Audio, Video e Iluminación Profesional

DJ Mannia was so so good. We literally danced straight from the time we cut the cake until we were kicked out at 10:00...no one sat down. We brought glow bracelets which were also a huge hit. I liked having an MC and someone to oversee all of the things that were taking place.

 

Flowers-A

•The flowers were done exactly as the picture I showed the florist.

•We went for very simple bouquets and boutonnieres and I think that this made it more beautiful.

•The roses in DR are very heavy so the boutonnieres didn’t stay upright very well. And on the cake they looked a little too big but both were still very nice.

•I probably would have paid a little extra $ to have a few more flowers the BM bouquets. I think they had 6 roses. They were beautiful but just a little skinny.

•My bouquet was absolutely perfect. Wouldn’t change a thing.

This is the picture that I picked

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This was what mine looked like (I asked for no ivy)

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Ceremony Flowers

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Bridal Party Flowers

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Cake-A-

•The cake was very pretty

•Was a bit smaller than I thought

•Happy we added flowers and another tier to make it more like a wedding cake

•We cut the cake and totally forgot to eat it. After the reception ended we realized this and some folks did stay for cake.

Click the image to open in full size.

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Welcome Cocktail-A

•We had a private welcome party (the WC totally hooked us up) it was supposed to be at the lobby bar and she got us a private party by the pool. It was so much fun. This is where I surprised my husband with his favorite photographer. I had flown her in to surprise him. He started crying he was so surprised and happy.

•Also there was a “Brown out” meaning they lost power. So we were in the dark but had music on our docking station. One of our friends had a flashlight so the bartender said you hold the light I’ll make the drinks. It was so funny. We had a blast…in the dark!

Rehearsal Dinner-A

•This was a lot of fun. We had it in the courtyard of Agave.

•The tables were set up beautifully

•The food was perfect.

•My one complaint that it was loud and hard for people to here us when we were talking about our wedding party/family.

 

Rick York-A

Eastern Dominican Christian Mission

•We hired Rick York and he did a great job brining Christian spirituality to our ceremony. This was really important to us.

•We really liked the ceremony he wrote for us.

•He would have been an A+ but he pronounced my last name wrong, announced our reader as some other name and then corrected himself, and announced us as Mr. and Mrs. Celados…it is Celado.

 

Saxaphone/Pianist-A

•This completely set the mood for the ceremony and the music was beautiful.

•I wish we could have had a list of what they play and chose the songs but it was very very nice.

•I liked that there was a piano player to play the wedding march

•Completely worth the money.

 

Ceremony-A

•The horse and carriage to the ceremony is so fairytale. We actually fit 5 of us in the carriage. It was a tight squeeze but we made it.

•Mercy had set up toole along the bridge which was cute. I didn’t love the toole on the trees but it was good to block off the wedding space…there were a lot of spectators let me tell you. For the rest of the week people would come up to me to tell me how beautiful our wedding was. People even clapped for me at the swim up bar when I came over on the following day.

•The chairs were very pretty with the sashes.

•I do wish we had more rose petals on the aisle but that was my own fault for not being clear about that.

•I’m not sure why but there was only fabric on two of the four posts I would have preferred all 4.

•It was very simple and beautiful.

 

Click the image to open in full size.

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Cocktail Hour huh.gif

•I have no idea how this went we were taking pictures the whole time. It looked pretty though

•We had it on the beach with our own beach bar.

•I did hear that there were a ton of mosquitos

•We used our IPod and their speaker. I’m glad we didn’t spend $ on music for this

 

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Reception-A++++++++++

•Tables were stunning

•Welcome drink-I had asked Mercy to have the bartender make a Blue drink. They made some sort of Margarita which was the perfect color blue, very good and exactly what I wanted.

•Details-she did miss a thing. Even to the napkin holders I asked her to put together she took the time to fold over the edge of the ribbon to make sure there was no fraying on them. Everything was absolutely beautiful.

•Feel-The Cascade Pool was the perfect location for our party. It is intimate and private. The glow of the lights is romantic and the pool illuminated gave us more blue to go with our theme. We had tons and tons of candles again romantic. The dance floor was the perfect size for our party. I liked having the DJ under the trellace and facing the bar (this was not the typical set up) but I think it worked really well.

•Decorations-we brought all of the center pieces and candles with us because I wanted to make sure everything was just how I envisioned it. We kept the centerpieces very simple but we got a lot of compliments on them.

•Bar Tender-we met Danielle at the swim up bar and everyone was having a blast with him. He was always dancing and singing so we asked Mercy to have him as our bartender at the wedding. He did such a great job. At one point I went to the bar and there was no one there and I turned around and he was out dancing with my mom. I thought that was hilarious.

•Waiters-They gave us so much attention. They were so fun. We had them all out on the dance floor with us. It was great to see Benny dancing salsa with someone who really knew what they were doing (I try but I’m not latin). They were all wonderful and they seemed to have a great time.

•FUN-I might be bias but this was the most fun and the most I’ve ever danced at a wedding. No one sat down for even one song. We literally danced for 2 hours straight. The music the dj played was perfect. We didn’t want it to be over at 10.

•Food-was very good. I didn’t eat much but it was all very pretty/artistic. I liked that it was a plated dinner and not buffet. I did ask them to get through dinner quickly because we wanted to dance (and because another girl who got married there said dinner to a long time). They moved everything right along.

 

BM’s and my mom jumping in the pool

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Our table

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Spa-A+

•Have Amarilys do your hair!!! She did such a great job on my mom’s hair and one of my bridesmaid’s hair.

•My hair came out perfect. Exactly what I showed them…Olivia Polermo from the city.

•I did not like the hairspray they used on my hair it made it hard. I even brought my own and they only used it at the end.

•I liked that they left my hair pinned in curls until after I had my make up done. The curls would have fallen out by the time I made it to the alter. Mercy was a big help finishing my hair after my make up. We had to take out the pins and get all the curls to fall so I didn’t look like Shirley Temple.

•We also had mani/spa pedi which was very relaxing. They have limited colors of nail polish. I guess I’m picky so we actually used the color I brought with me for the just in case.

•I had my make-up done at the spa when I visited the year before. I didn’t find their techniques to be very sanitary and I didn’t like the make up application itself so I did not have my make up done there for the wedding.

 

My hair

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My mom’s hair-don’t mind the balloons on her head or Ben’s mom’s head

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BM’s hair

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Make-up-Valentina Maddaluno-A++++

•Valentina is a good friend of ours. She is an aesthetician and a make-up artist. It was awesome to have my own make-up person. She came up to our suite and did my make-up and my moms make-up.

•She does such a great job and really makes sure everything is just how you like it. For me I like more dramatic make-up but my mom likes very natural. I think we both looked fabulous.

•She is very professional even though she is my friend. She takes her job seriously…even though she was still wet from the pool and in her bathing suit 

•I bought my make-up at Mac/Nars because I didn’t have time to get to her spa. This make up stayed on the ENTIRE night. Even my eyeliner (the gel eyeliner).

 

 

Dress/Alterations-A

Home

•They did such a wonderful job with my alterations. The bridal shop where I had purchased my dress convinced me to buy a size 8 when I normally where a dress size 2-4….awesome right. So I had SERIOUS alterations to my dress and she did a fantastic job. I also made some minor changes to the dress itself and it was perfect.

•I had a birdcage veil that I ordered from Etsy. Loved the idea of it but the thing just wasn’t working. So I took the veil apart and Monica had to put it back together. The way they sewed it was perfect and she didn’t charge me for this.

•I had my reception dress altered here as well. The reason I gave them an A and not an A+ is because this dress wasn’t taken in where it needed to be and I didn’t have time for them to fix it. It was a one strap dress so I was pulling it up constantly at the reception…even in our video you can see me being announced for the first time and pulling up my dress.

Bridesmaid dresses

•I have received more compliments on the girls dresses than I can count. The color, the style, and the fabric was perfect for the wedding.

•They are dresses that can be worn again

•I found this dress totally by chance at a sample sale at Priscilla of Boston. I just say the color sticking out on a rack and then I tried it on myself because I was shopping alone. It was only $50!!! I gave that one to my MOH and the other two did have to order theirs.

 

Groomsmen’s attire

•I loved that they were all in suits. I know it was hot as hell but we wanted to have a formal wedding and I think this was one of the things that really made it classy.

•I like that Benny picked out a very simple black tie that had some blue undertones…again very classy and simple.

•The black was a nice contrast the Tiffany Blue BM dresses, the sand and the water.

Helpful Tips

•Chair Sashes-they only have certain colors. We thought that something would work but none of the colors were even close. I wish had purchased these here and brought them down with me. They charged $2.50/sash and you can buy them for $1.00 (and sell them after for that matter). It was worth the $ to have them. They added a lot of color to the ceremony and the reception.

•We opened a credit card specifically for the wedding. We put everything on it and paid it right away. We earned cash back on all of our purchases (and the card was 0% interest for the year). I also did this on one of my cards that has cash back…we were able to get $300 cash back for gifts.

•Paid in Travelers checks-save 3% fee-I did this to save some money as well. Our cards all charge a 3% fee when you buy things outside the US and for what we spent on our wedding that would have been quite a bit of money. Before we left we confirmed the final price and just got Amex travelers checks (which were free for Amex cardholders).

•Keep things simple and put your time in money into the little details

•Don’t stress about the people who don’t go. You will have so much fun with those who are there that you won’t even think about those we are not.

•I recommend putting all of your vendor meetings on the same day. We had meetings everyday up until our wedding. I would have rather had them on the day we got there and then be done with it.

•We only sent our invitations (which were very pricey) to people who said they were going or that said they really wanted to go. We did not spend the $ to send them to everyone. We did send everyone really nice STD though.

•Our guests really appreciated that we were there to greet them when they arrived. I do wish that I took photos of everyone arriving

 

Ok I think that's it. Happy to answer any questions

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Your wedding pictures are beautiful! Congrats!

 

Thank you so much for the review. I have officially booked my wedding for 2011 at Excellence, so it is so nice to read so much detail about your experience. My worries have been about the food and the coordination, so I was happy to hear you had a great time.

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