Here is my review!!! Finally! Sorry it took so long-we got back last Thursday and then had an at home reception Saturday night so I just haven't had any time to sit down and write this.
It might get pretty long-but I want to give you guys as much detail as possible from start to finish. Just some starter info-we booked the Devine wedding package-but were able to change a few things around. Also-we had 48 guests.
Upon arrival-our package included a private transfer to the hotel. The only thing I will note here is that when you get outside of the airport-there are a million people swarming around you trying to get you to go with their company. The private transfer NOW Jade sets up is with the hotel transfers. It is to the left right after you walk outside. This was confusing for awhile-and we called the hotel and thought they werenâ€™t there yet-just a little confusing. But the car itself was very nice once we found it.
When we got to the hotel-we were greeted by Ana-one of the wedding coordinators. She was there to tell me that Pilar was busy with a wedding that afternoon but would like to meet with me first thing in the morning in the lobby. Great-no worries! They took us straight to the preferred side of the resort for check in-I guess all bride/grooms are upgraded to this side. They had our room ready immediately. I know a few of our guests had to wait for their rooms because they arrived really early-but they were able to leave their bags at the front and enjoy food and drinks. There are NO wristbandsâ€¦woohoo! I hate those things.
The resort itself is beautiful. Very clean-nice beach-super clear blue water. We spent most of the time in the pools-both of the main pools had swim up bars-the only exception being the infiniti pool in front of the beach. We didnâ€™t have any trouble with reserving chairs or anything like that-but it was also late October-so Iâ€™m not sure how it is during a busy season. The rooms were more modern and much larger than other places I have stayed. The bathrooms were huge and each room had a separate living area that you could shut off from the bedroom. The outdoor Jacuzzi in our room was cool-but offered very little privacy so itâ€™s not very practical.
The best part of the resort was the food. I would give it a 9 out of 10! The favorite among our guests was Las Olas-the open air restaurant by the beach and pool. The seafood there was amazing. Even the buffet was really good for breakfast and lunch. We never ate there for dinner though.
Ok-back to wedding stuff. Met with Pilar the next morning (2 days before wedding) to give her all the stuff I brought and discuss any last changes. She had detailed notes of everything we had already discussed so that was very comforting. She took me on a tour of all the wedding sites and I ended up changing our reception from Las Olas to the Bamboo room. Las Olas is still nice-but itâ€™s kind of hard to fit a big group in there because it has dividers that kind of separate the restaurant into 3 sections. The bamboo room has full length windows that look out to the beach-and it has sitting areas right outside the door so people can go outside if they like.
We had a rehearsal with Pilar and my parents and wedding party before the welcome dinner at the pergola. It only took about 15 minutes-Pilar went through all our notes and had everything arranged.
Afterwards-I had a welcome dinner at the Italian a la cart restaurant for all my guests. I did not pay for it to be private (extra $500) â€“ but since we had 50 people â€“ they made it private anyway. I didnâ€™t know this until we showed up and all the tables were laid out perfectly to seat only my guests in the restaurant. It was a very pleasant surprise. The room was beautifully decorated-and they put a head table in the front and tables of 8 all around us. I had also made menuâ€™s that Pilar took earlier and she had them folded into the napkins at each place setting. My only negative for this dinner was that I had picked the four cheese lasagna as the main course-and I was not very impressed with it. I know a lot of our guests ate there the first night they were there and raved about it-but the lasagna itself was probably my least favorite meal I had there. It was super super cheesy-and very rich. Anyway-we had the room for a full 2 hours-plenty of time.
I saw Pilar in the morning and she was already busy getting things prepared for our 5pm ceremony. It looked like there might be rain so we discussed alternatives-but she assured me that they would wait till the last second to switch things if needed.
When I first turned the corner to see the pergola-it was amazing! The standard d©cor is the white flowy drapery around each side and 2 flower arrangements on the front columns. I had told Pilar that I wanted all the flowers to be bright tropical colors (pink, orange, purple, yellow, etc). All of the flowers-including mine and the bridesmaids bouquets were beautiful and fresh. In addition to the 2 column arrangements-I added another arrangement to the top center of the pergola.
One little thing about the boutonnieres â€“ I had bright pink roses for the guys and I guess they were pretty heavy. They kept falling over because she just used a little bitty pin to put them on. I would recommend having her add pins to keep them in place.
For the walkway-you can have a red or white runner. We chose white to go with the other colors. I brought my own chair sashes-they were apple green and went perfectly with everything. I also made fan programs that were placed across each of the chairs before the guests sat. We had a cd of music we wanted played for the ceremony. They had it set up in the back and had speakers around both sides of the guests. The sound of the music was perfect. You could hear it clearly (us and probably that whole half of the resortâ€¦lol). She made sure to have it faded in and out from song to song depending on what was going on. The minister also had a microphone so all our guests could hear everything. I was very impressed with him overall. He spoke very well and said some very lovely, subtly religious things. The only thing I was kind of bummed about was that we had told Pilar we wanted to say our own special thoughts to each other before our vows-he forgot that (or pilar forgot to tell him). No biggie-but if itâ€™s very important to you-make sure she knows.
We booked the blue bar for the cocktail hour. It is the perfect location in my opinion. It over looks the ocean and is right down the stairs from the pergola. Unfortunately, I donâ€™t have a lot of info on this because we were talking pictures the whole. We had the Caribbean trio playing during it-and they sounded good from afar. Also-all the guests said the hor deorves were very good.
The reception was in the bamboo room. They had curtains pulled across the side of it and just the one side overlooking the ocean was left open. The lights were dimmed and it was very intimate. I had brought paper lanterns which were hung from this big fan sculpture looking thing on the ceiling. They were all different heights and had little flickering lights in them which added to the ambiance. The buffet was set up along the whole back wall. It was very tastefully done and thoughtfully laid out. The dj was in the opposite corner. When you walked in-there was a small table to the left that had seating cards in shells that I had brought. Also on there was a signature platter I had brought and a frame with a picture of my 2 dogs holding signs that said â€œJust Marriedâ€. She arranged everything exactly how it was in my head.
I had assigned seating (which I recommend for big groups-it helps with the confusion when people are looking for tables-and so no one gets left out). The table numbers were on the back of their name card and I had matching table numbers. The tables were laid around the 3 sides of the room (looking towards the water) with a big space left in the middle for dancing. I also brought a menu that listed all the buffet options-and same as the welcome dinner-she had them tucked perfectly into the napkin at each place setting. The chair sashes from the ceremony were brought in and put on the chairs at the reception. There were also matching table runners (that I brought) on each table. The centerpieces were beautiful. They used the same flowers from the bouquets and outside-and put them in the short wide circular vases. The inside of the vase had large green leaves wrapped around all the stems to make it look like the flowers were just floating (note-she did not charge me any extra for these centerpieces-you just have to give her some idea of what you want). She also brought in the flowers from the pergola and had them laid out on tables around the buffet and by the cake.
My only complaint about the reception was that the room got rather hot while the food was in there on the burners. If you have a seated dinner-I donâ€™t think this would be an issue. But if you have the buffet-I would have them crank the air way down to compensate for it. We had them remove the food from the room once it seemed everyone was done and it was much more comfortable.
The DJ was great! I used the resort dj and emailed him a schedule of how I wanted things to go before hand. I also brought 2 cds â€“ one with the specific songs for the first dance, father/daughter, etc. The other had just a random sampling of fun songs that I wanted him to play throughout the night. Per my instructions (which were pretty specific) â€“ he announced the wedding party and us at the beginning. He also made announcements for all the other important moments (bouquet toss, cake cutting, etc). Just be specific in your request and he will follow it exactly. I had no problem with the resort dj at all. Also-we paid to keep him for an extra 2 hoursâ€¦but I think he even stayed longer than that because the party was still going.
Side note about the reception-the food was fantastic! We chose the Mexican buffet and switched out about 5 of the foods for things from some of the other menu options. It was probably one of my most favorite meals of the week. Also-the waiters were very prompt with the drinks. The actual wedding cake was decent-nothing extraordinary-but they did dress up the table it was sitting on with the bridesmaid flowers and some from the pergola. I actually preferred the desserts with the buffet-the mini pecan pie squares were awesome!
One more thing that I didnâ€™t mention before-the video we got from the resort videographer was really good. He really had some great angles and views of our ceremony with the beach in the background. He also did a little fun video after the ceremony of us doing all our pictures and stuff on the beach. Some of it was kind of cheesy-but it was actually very well done.
Ok-I think that is about it! I know this was super long-but there just arenâ€™t very many reviews for this place yet so I wanted to give as much info as possible. Let me know if you have any questions! I will post pictures as soon as I get them back from Ivan Luckie.