Our wedding coordinator Yahimara wasn't always the best at returning emails so we were slightly concerned that things would be missed. This was not the case at all, she had every email I'd ever sent and was very organized.
Shortly after we arrived at the resort, we met with Y to discuss some basics. Y needed a few things from us at this time as well, so be sure to have:
You and your fiance's tourist cards (you get them on the airplane)
Your two witnesses tourist cards
Your seating plan, with table #'s and placecards if needed
Your meal details (how many for lobster, how many kids meals)
Also bring at this time:
Cash for the BM bouquets ($15 CUC each, $10 for flower girls)
CD with your ceremony music
I should note that the bouquets are awful. Easter lilies!! All the beautiful flowers that grow wild and our bouquets were Easter lilies! It was weird. I did tell Y I wanted a TROPICAL bouquet but it clearly had no impact. My BM's actually ran around the resort picking some of the beautiful local flowers and jazzed up my bouquet a bit...but it was still ugly lol The flowers were also near death so I'd highly recommend bringing your own silk flower bouquet.
The rest of the wedding is paid for when you checkout. ($700 wedding fee, private dinner charge if applicable and lobster dinner charge if applicable)
Keep in mind there is a 10% surcharge if you use a credit card.
We had originally planned on having our ceremony on the beach so Y took us to see the site the day we arrived. It was scorching hot that day and we definitely starting worrying about melting in my dress and his suit. There is also an ugly old boat shed type building really close by that was a turn-off. Y suggested we take a look at the 5th floor gazebo overlooking the resort so we did and it was so much larger than it looked in all the photos I had seen! She assured us 80 people would fit so, once we saw the photos she had of other ceremonies up there, we were sold. I should note that my good friend got married the day after me (we planned together!) and she stuck with beach which did turn out very nice. There was a nice breeze so she lucked out. We saw a wedding the day after we arrived and the beach was so windy the champagne glasses were all falling over, so it's hit or miss!
Y also lets you know at the first meeting about an old car you can hire to do wedding photographs with. It costs $60 CUC and I thought it was $60 well spent. Right after the ceremony we did our hugs and thank yous and loaded into a beautiful old white car with our photographer. We had no clue where we were going but soon arrived at the Varadero Golf Club. BEAUTIFUL! There is an old yellow plantation-like building with dark banisters and gorgeous wood staircases....we went up to the top floor and had photos done, then went out on a balcony while our photographer went down below and got more pics. The course is right on the ocean so we were also able to go out on the rocky pier type thing for more pics...it was great. After about 45 mins we headed back to the resort. This is when we did our wedding party and family photos. We were very, very late for dinner!! If you have booked a 4pm ceremony with a 6:30 or 7pm dinner, CHANGE YOUR CEREMONY TO 3PM! We were an hour late for dinner (at the steakhouse) and everything was pretty overcooked. I wished I had done the ceremony at 3pm as our group photos were pretty rushed.
Hmm, what else.....splurge on a junior suite!! I would recommend our exact room, 11226. It had an ocean view, was close to the main pool, the all night snack bar and the beach. It was perfect. It also came in really handy when my bm's and I were getting ready and the huge balcony overlooking the ocean is where we did almost al our pre-ceremony pics.
Definitely bring insulated travel mugs, they are so handy. I must have had a dozen people tell me to bring one and I still didnâ€™t!
Guard your towels like gold! $10 CUC if you lose one, aka someone steals yours!
Bring a jar of hot sauce, peanut butter and Heinz ketchup. Youâ€™ll be the most popular girl around
I can't think of anything else right, but let me know if you have any questions! Rest assured, ILA is a beautiful, clean friendly resort and we had so many guests approach us to say "wow, you guys picked an amazing resort! This is incredible!"
We loved every single minute