Another wedding review (from Jan. 10, 2014)... sorry, it's lengthy!!!
Our wedding story is a lot different from many on this forum. My partner and I have been together for twenty years (since high school) and have two amazing children together. We decided that before I returned to work from Maternity Leave, we wanted to go away somewhere hot to FINALLY tie the knot. We live in Canada, where we have been enduring a cold this winter that, with the windchill factored in, has felt like -48 C (-54.4 F) on several occasions. We wanted our friends and family to join us on our vacation so we booked the Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe to stay at. This resort is fabulous and has everything for people of all ages!
I am in the process of writing a review of BBPD to share on Trip Advisor. I am also hoping to create a planning thread for the BDW site to share photos of OOT bag items, our vows, etc.
As for the wedding part, don’t worry about planning everything before you go. While I did communicate with my WC (Hildebranda) before I left (sent pictures of cakes and bouquets I liked), you meet with the her before the wedding to confirm colours, set up, etc.
We had almost 60 guests at our wedding and prepared 26 OOT bags. We gave them out at the airport , before checking in, so we did not have to carry all that extra weight. We had enough luggage to worry about as we were 2 adults and 2 children (aged 10 months and 3 years).
When we checked in, we were upgraded from Jr. Oceanfront Club Premium to Master Suite, which was awesome! I recommend Club Premium as it is just so much easier for booking restaurants, getting room service, premium drinks, etc. Our suite was beautiful and big and the best part was my hubby and I had a separate room from our kids! The maids made the couch into a bed for my son, and my daughter slept in her playpen. Our room was on the main floor and opened into a fairly large backyard, followed by the adults-only pool.
We were the only ones in our party to upgrade to Club Premuim and our guests were spread throughout the resort. Those with kids were in the family area and they seemed to group some of the other guests together. It was easy enough to find people at the pool or on the beach during the day.
After we checked in, we ordered room service and went for a swim. We did not realize the pool closed in the evening nor that we were in the adult pool with our kids!!
The next day we met with our wedding coordinator, Hildebranda. She was wonderful and had all of the details I had sent her on hand. We had chosen the Tangerine Package and met with her to confirm colours, table and huppa set up, food, flowers, etc. I gave her our cake toppers, guest book, flower pail, ring pillow, wedding party information, etc. I did not bring my own decorations or flowers.
Then we met with the photographer from Tropical Pictures (Michaela) and selected our package and outlined pictures we wanted included. Later that day, I went for the Tangerine Facial – the spa is amazing!!! They even fixed one of my nails that had chipped, at no cost.
That evening, we had our rehearsal dinner at Coral Seafood Restaurant. As we could only reserve for 20 people, we invited our wedding party and their partners. Upon arrival at BBPD, our other guests booked tables at Coral at the same time, so many were able to eat with us. Unfortunately, this was the worst meal we had. The seafood in the buffet was rubbery and several meals were undercooked.
The following day was the big day! We woke up to a short rain shower (good luck?!!) and went for breakfast and a swim with the kids. Then I went to get ready in the spa - I had my hair and makeup done. I asked for my makeup to look very natural, and was really pleased with how it looked. Originally, I planned to have my hair down but our wedding was on the windiest day so I decided to tie it back. I was actually super happy with the way it turned out, however, my hair clip kept falling out. We had to make a stop at the spa on the way to the reception to have it put back in securely.
After my hair & makeup were done, the photographer from Tropical Pictures came to take pictures of me getting dressed, etc. She did a great job. We went with the Bronze package and later got sucked into spending another $600 to buy all the photos on CD. We did not want to waste any time out of the sun selecting which pictures to keep and which to get rid of.
We had our wedding on the beach – it was beautiful despite the wind. I was really surprised by how many bystanders were taking pictures and even filming (weird). Thankfully, there was security preventing them from getting too close.
I had written our vows (with lots of help from this site) and a good friend of ours performed the ceremony – he was wonderful and added his own special, humorous touches.
After the ceremony, we served sparkling wine on the beach and had a toast. Then TP took more pictures. I was choked that they charge an extra $100 just for having more than 10 (I think it was 10) people to photograph. I felt I didn’t even need a picture of everyone – I could have had a stranger on the beach capture that shot! Anyway, like I said, they did a good job.
After the pictures, our guests headed to Bar Higuey on the train while my partner and I stayed for more photos of the two of us on the beach and pier.
Then, after a quick stop at the spa to fix my hair, the WCs took us to Bar Higuey. I cannot say enough about this place – it is beautiful! We paid for DJ only (no idea if it was DJ Mannia but he played great music. Even my music-snob guests complimented the music and asked if we made the playlist). We did have the DJ play “Thunder Clatter” by Wild Club when we walked in – we felt the end of the song was appropriate:
“I hear it call in the center of it all
You're the love of my life, the love of my life.
I hear it all in the center of my heart
You're the love of my life, the love of my life.”
Our first dance was almost immediately after – we danced to “Marry Song” by Band of Horses. Our friend who performed the ceremony also acted as our MC and the WC told him when to do things so the evening ran smoothly. We had enough time to get everything in in 3 hours without having to pay for extra time.
My dad, sister and brother-in-law all did speeches, which ended with my brother-in-law welcoming me into the family and asking the DJ to play the “Pollo” Dance – which was absolutely hilarious! Everyone got up to dance to the “Chicken Dance” song – it was awesome! I recommend everyone does it!
For dinner, we ordered Caprese salad, Fish medallions (which was actually filets) and crème brulee. We really enjoyed our meal, however, a few people said their fish was undercooked. There was also some confusion with the kids’ meals as two children were under age one... we did not have to pay for them, however, we did order pasta for them. The mix up meant my son did not get his meal until much later than everyone else, however, things did get sorted eventually. Children under 12 (I believe) were half price.
After dinner, we cut the wedding cake. It was a rectangular three-tiered wedding cake (each a different flavour), decorated with fake sand and shells I had brought. It was so delicious but no one was really hungry, and we felt terrible that most of it was wasted. We also did the garter and bouquet toss.
Following the reception, we took the train back to the main building. Our guests went to Bar Carey and I went to help put the kids to bed in my parents’ room. My dad and nephew then walked my back to Bar Carey, where I joined our guests for a drink. The pianist played “Here Comes The Bride” as well as “O Canada”, which we all sang to!
After Bar Carey, we headed to Strikers and then to the disco. I was certainly the centre of attention in my wedding dress at the disco, and to make it more obvious, my partner’s uncle pulled my onto the dance floor and spun me around like a princess. It was a lot of fun!
At the end of the night, we walked back to our room to find it beautifully decorated with rose petals.
My husband’s sister got married at BBPD three days after we did. She had her wedding in the Ocean Front Gazebo. The guests sat outside the gazebo and the location was very close to where ours was on the beach. They went with Mint Breeze package, but because they had more than 20 guests, the dinner was held one of the private banquet rooms (not in a restaurant). The room was closed in and nowhere near as nice as Bar Higuey. Also, the only beverages served were beer and wine (as opposed to International bar). The appetizers and cocktails on the beach were yummy, however, their wedding was on another windy day… and it started to rain while we snacked! For dinner, they ordered the steak and molton lava cake, which were both delicious.
Overall, it was an amazing, memorable experience for everyone! I would not have changed a thing. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Wow! So happy for a fellow Winnipeg bride I can't wait to see what you did for OOT bags etc