I just returned from my wedding at Cayo Levantado a few weeks ago and all I can say is I canâ€™t wait to go back! Our entire group of 41 had a truly amazing time!! I want to give a thorough review as I know planning a destination wedding can be a bit scary with all the unknowns so I hope this will provide some insight and clear some things up for everyone planning their wedding here. First let me just say the photos the wedding coordinator gives donâ€™t do it justice. I will try to separate my review by each aspect of the trip/wedding.
Wedding Preparation: As we expected there was a note in our room with a time to meet the coordinator the morning after we arrived. At this time we met with the minister and Simona (wedding coordinator) to finalize all the details. The minister spoke with us about what kind of ceremony we wanted and was very easy to work with. Simona was fantastic! She is very well organized and wrote down all the details we discussed. At this time I also gave Simona by ceremony music on a cd to play as I walked down the aisle. She had a few things she needed from us which was to meet with our MC, where we wanted the ceremony, pick our menu, provide a seating chart, how many bouquets and centerpieces we needed, what colour sashes we wanted on the chairs and what kind of arch we wanted for the ceremony. At this time I also gave her a schedule that I had done up with my photographer using my ceremony and dinner times to let Simona know where we would be during the day.
Morning of the wedding: We started the day at 9 a.m. taking fun shots by the pool with all the girls. I started to get ready around 11:00 a.m. as I opted for first look photos (So glad I did). Our first look photos were scheduled for 3:00 p.m. which gave us an hour of time for photos of just me and my husband before the ceremony. One thing you should look into prior to arriving is if the hotel has a steamer or something to get wrinkles out of your dress if you need it.
Ceremony: My ceremony took place at 4:30 p.m. Just as she promised, Simona called me when it was time for me to arrive and came to pick me and my bridesmaids up on a golf cart at my room. We opted to have our ceremony on the patio off the main building. I LOVED this location. It had a beautiful view of the ocean and the hotel gardens and even better it was private. Nobody was walking behind us while we were in the middle of the ceremony.
A side note: The beach can be very windy most days so consider this when picking your location. As for some of the back and forth comments about the beach being busy I never had a hard time finding a spot on the beach to sit however I can see how if you opted for a beach wedding you will need to be weary of people walking behind you especially if you use the Gazebo. As other reviewers said Iâ€™m sure Simona can help with this. One thing I loved about this resort is it wasnâ€™t busy at all. Throughout the entire day I never had trouble with people getting in our pictures.
Back to the ceremony, all the chairs were decorated with white sashes just as I requested. I also had coral pendants to hang from the sashes which she did for me. The music I requested went off without a hitch. You should pick two songs, one for the walk in and one for the walk back. The minister was fantastic! His English is not perfect but we absolutely loved it accent and all. He does a really amazing job and makes the ceremony fun for everyone. The ceremony itself lasted about 20 minutes followed by champagne toast.
Dinner: Our dinner was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. There is an extra fee to have your dinner at the Don Pablo so we opted not to do that. Unfortunately you donâ€™t get to pick between the other two restaurants (Mediterranean or Italian) as they only open one per night. We lucked out as we wanted the Mediterranean and it happened to be open the night of our wedding. We were not seated in the actual restaurant but right next to it which is a covered patio by the pool. During the day it acts as the snack bar but they completely transformed it for our dinner. Our set-up was a small head table for 4 people and roundtables for the remaining 37 guests. It seemed to me like roundtables were the only option so for anyone trying to do a seating chart plan for roundtables of 8-10 people. I had place settings which I brought with me and my mom and some other guests help me put them out while I was doing photos after the ceremony. Simona helps you coordinate all this. The dinner service itself was great no problems here at all. We also opted to have a piano player play during dinner which was really nice. We did not opt for the microphone but a few people did have a hard time hearing as the outside noise was a little loud (kitchen, ocean etc.). This was probably the worst for my grandparents who I gave a copy of my speech for them to read after . If you have less than 40 guests you wonâ€™t need a microphone unless many people are hard of hearing and those giving speeches are very quiet.
First Dance: We opted to have our first dance at the disco on the beach. This was good and bad. The reason we did this is because we didnâ€™t feel it was worth paying the couple hundred dollars for the sound system at the restaurant just for the first dance. After the cake cutting we told all our guests to meet at the disco around 10:30 and we would be doing first dance, bouquet toss etc. I brought my music on a USB and I gave the DJ 10$ to play it for us which was no problem whatsoever. However, the DJ doesnâ€™t speak English very well so if there is anything you want him to do such as fade out the music after 2 minutes (what we ideally wanted) it may be worth talking to him in a few days prior to the wedding or cutting the music yourself before you leave. The Disco is open every night on the public beach as long as itâ€™s not raining. It usually starts around 10:30 p.m. If no one shows up it will probably close early but our wedding party was there every single night often till close. There is a huge bar with seats and a dance floor with lights. Drinks are free at night just like at the all-inclusive.
My photographer: I brought a photographer from Ottawa with me as I loved her work and could tell we had very similar styles. Laura Kelly is her name and she is awesome! She blogged our wedding (Laura Kelly Photography Blog) so feel free to take a peak to give you an idea of the resort. We opted for first look photos as I mentioned earlier which are becoming quite popular. Why are these so great? Well it gave my husband and I time alone before the ceremony and a good hour to take amazing photos down by the pool and around the resort. Had we not done this before the ceremony there is no way we would have had time to get all the photos we did. After the ceremony we did all our family and wedding party photos. We finished with some beautiful sunset photos on the beach which had to be done by around 6 â€“ 6:30 p.m.
Both my husband and I agree we would not change a thing. Simona was fantastic and the resort was stunning. I really canâ€™t wait to go back and visit again. As a previous person commented, if you want to personalize your wedding with your own dÃ©cor you will need to bring it with you.. Included in your package will be the flower dÃ©cor for the ceremony and dinner, candles/lanterns for dinner and sashes for the chairs. I should also mention that the florist did a fantastic job and got my colours spot on for the bouquet.
I hope that I have covered everything and apologize for such a long message. If you have any questions donâ€™t hesitate to PM me.
Best of luck in the planning!