So I finally got around to writing my review -- it was such an amazing week and I enjoyed remembering all the little details. Please see my full review with pictures here: http://www.bestdesti...ve/reviews/4299
I wanted to post in the proper place, but I know brides also search here for information. Also, in addition to my hotel review, I wanted to include some comments about my other vendors below. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Travel Agency: Weddings by Oceans
We booked our group with Sunquest for January 29 â€“ February 5, 2011. Overall, we were quite happy with our travel arrangements. We only had to pay 2 deposits to hold up to 30 seats for 90 days. This was a great help in organizing people to book, rather than having to pay several deposits up front. We also took advantage of Sunquestâ€™s price drop protection and received a couple of perks for the group, such as priority check-in and access to the VIP lounge in Toronto.
With that said, I donâ€™t know if I would recommend this travel agency to other brides. I was originally dealing with Ashley and she was great! But then she went on maternity leave and everything fell apart. It was a HUGE stress to deal with my new rep (Chantalle, who no longer works thereâ€¦.) because I had to chase her down for every little thing. She didnâ€™t respond to e-mails, she made mistakes on quotes for my guests, she sent me the wrong information for our honeymoonâ€¦. everything worked out in the end, but it took a lot of work from me and my husband to pull it together.
Hotel: Majestic Colonial, Punta Cana
Having our wedding at the Majestic Colonial was one of the best decisions we could have made! The staff really went out of their way to make us feel special throughout the entire week.
Rooms: We arrived on January 29th, 2011 at around 1:00 PM. Our rooms were not ready yet, but we expected that. Our group made ourselves comfortable at the lobby bar for a couple of hours and explored the beautiful grounds. At 3:30, we went back to the front desk and they gave us our keys. They upgraded my hubby and I to an AMAZING suite with two balconies and an outdoor Jacuzzi! It was great. The room was large and clean and we were really happy. The standard rooms were also quite big and everyone was pleased.
Service: Overall, I would say that the staff went way above and beyond my expectations. For example, we had our welcome dinner the first night in the buffet dining area. Someone in our party mentioned that we were getting married, so our server Alfredo called the band over and everyone danced and sang for us at the tableâ€¦ it was so nice! Throughout the week, we found little surprises in our room, like chilled champagne or white chocolate covered grapesâ€¦ (yum). Everyone just seemed to go out of their way to make us feel special. Our guests also commented on how great and friendly the staff were.
Food: Excellent! Everyone in my group really enjoyed the food at the Majestic Colonial. The buffet was huge with plenty of selection. The beachfront restaurant turns into two restaurants at night -- the Steakhouse (specializing in steak) and Tres Carabelas (specializing in seafood). We ate there like three times! Tres Carabelas had this grilled lobster that everyone kept going back for. And then we had our rehearsal dinner there and the staff let us order from either menu, so it was perfect. I didn't get a chance to try all of the a la carte restaurants because we had the wedding also and our romantic dinner, but we did try the Mexican one and I thoroughly enjoyed the nachos and burrito. Some friends tried the Japanese and said it was really good.
Of lesser fame (but great popularity!) was La Bodeguita -- this is the fast food joint located by the disco that served up french fries, onion rings and chicken wings late at night. We ended up there a few nights after dancing it up at the disco. What a blast! Nothing beats some fast food and cerveza at 2:00 AM.
Out of 29 guests, there were 3 people who got sick during the course of the week. This usually lasted for a day or two -- Pepto Bismol saved the day. After our wedding week, my hubby and I moved to the Iberostar Grand Bavaro for our honeymoon. This is the #1 hotel in Punta Cana on Tripadvisor, and let me tell you, the food there was fantastic! But it was at this second resort that I got sick and was out for a dayâ€¦ so definitely bring your OTC medications just in case. You never know what might not agree with your belly when you travel.
Beach: The beach was absolutely beautiful! White sands and beautiful palm trees with a nice breezeâ€¦ we couldnâ€™t get enough. And even though the hotel was at full capacity, it didnâ€™t seem crowded and we did not have trouble finding chairs. The water was warm and beautiful. A couple of friends did some snorkelling and enjoyed it, but I didnâ€™t see too many fish myself when I was swimming.
Pool: The pool is huge and stretches across the entire length of the resort! I didnâ€™t spend too much time in the pool just because I was usually at the beach, but I did make a point to take a dip before we left.
Overall atmosphere: Amazing! This is something many people may not think about, but itâ€™s really tough to choose the right type of hotel for your groupâ€¦. such as small vs. large resort, relaxing vs. party resort, young vs. older crowd, etc. We found the Majestic Colonial to have the right balance for us â€“ it was large enough that people could sneak off and do their own thing if they wanted to, but not too big that you couldnâ€™t find anyone. We could always go to the lobby bar and find people from our group after dinner or after the show.
The hotel also had a nice mix of couples, singles, older, and younger crowds. There were kids around, but not too many and they were most often confined to the kiddie pool during the day it seemed. People were happy to find quiet relaxing spots on the beach, as well as music and activities by the pool. The disco was pretty busy at night, and there was always something happening at the lobby or pool bar. It was a nice party crowd, but not a stupid-drunk rowdy crowd, if you know what I mean. Just a nice atmosphere overall, which we missed when we left for our honeymoon!
Wedding Ceremony: Majestic Gazebo
We chose to have our symbolic ceremony at 3:00 PM in the gazebo. Luckily the weather cooperated!
Wedding Coordinator (Stephany): When you see Stephany, she just looks so cute and young, but she definitely knows what sheâ€™s doing. She told us not to worry about anything and sure enough, everything was perfect! I had originally been dealing with Sandra by e-mail (I think she handles most of the correspondence). When we arrived, we were told that our meeting would be with Stephany, so we met with her 3 days before the wedding. She was very organized and had all of the information I had sent to Sandra. One thing that I would like to mention is that I was a little unsure about whether to get the decoration package or not â€“ I wanted the tulle for the gazebo decoration and the aisle runner, but I had brought my chair sashes with me. Stephany talked me out of any decoration packages and just charged me for the little extras that I wanted, which was awesome and much appreciated. It worked out to be less expensive that way.
One other thing to mention â€“ you can request a complimentary lunch to be delivered to your room on the day of the wedding (sandwiches and stuff). Just ask Stephany and she will have it arranged. My dress and flowers were also delivered the morning of the wedding â€“ everything was very organized and made the day nearly stress-free.
Decorations: Beautiful! Stephany did a great job and everything just looked beautiful. The chair sashes were set up in the gazebo, and then moved to the reception later. The aisle was decorated with the aisle runner, rose petals, and vases filled with orchids along the sides. Everything just looked very classy and Iâ€™m glad we chose the gazebo rather than the beach.
Flowers: I brought a picture with me for an idea of how I wanted the bouquets to look. I basically just wanted some coral and peach roses and gerbersâ€¦ and to my surprise, they matched the picture almost exactly! The colours were perfect and the flowers were beautiful.
Salon: Maria in the salon did my hair, as well as my mom and two bridesmaids. She was super fast and did an amazing job for all of us. I brought a few pictures with me, but ended up choosing a picture from the binder there and I was really happy with my hair in the end. Maria spoke very little English though, so definitely bring a picture with you or a translator (if you have one in your group).
Music Trio: We wanted something a little different, so we hired the Caribbean Trio to play as I walked down the aisle. They were fantastic and definitely added a nice touch to the ceremony. Also, to my great surprise and pleasure, they wore coral shirts to match my wedding colours! They were so cute. After the ceremony, they played during the champagne toast and we had a little dance between pictures. It was very nice.
Pastor Rick York: We requested Pastor York to perform our symbolic ceremony. Definitely an amazing choice because he is FANTASTIC! If you are thinking of using him, do not have any doubts because he made us laugh, brought several people to tears, and just made the ceremony so much more meaningful for us. If you ask him ahead of time, he can also bring a certificate for you and your witnesses to sign to make it more formal or official looking. Iâ€™ve heard that he donates the money he receives to his church and missionary activities in the DR â€“ you canâ€™t go wrong with this man and we were so fortunate and happy to have him.
Videographer ~ Diego (Bright Light Productions): At first, we were not sure if we would even have a videographer, but Iâ€™m so happy we did. Diego did a fantastic job! We asked for the â€œMoon Packageâ€ which basically included some shots getting ready, as well as the ceremony. Diego was pleasant and professional and had our DVD edited and delivered to us the day after the wedding. We are very happy with our video â€“ it is a beautiful keepsake and it also allows us to share our special day with those who couldn't make the trip.
One thing to note â€“ Diego only takes cash. Although he is booked through the hotel, his services did not show up on the bill we received from the Majestic. We didnâ€™t realize this until the day after the wedding. Something to keep in mind!
Wedding Reception: Presidential Suite
After the ceremony, we were busy taking pictures until about 6:30 PM. Following that, we made our way to the Presidential Suite. It was so nice that the staff placed candles and little flowers by the appropriate elevator to show the way.
The buffet dinner was already set up when we got there and the terrace looked amazing! The tables were set up according to the seating plan I had given Stephany, and she set up everything perfectly (along with the chair sashes). The view was stunning and the whole scene was just breathtaking. Iâ€™m so glad we went with the private reception â€“ the Presidential Suite was completely worth it! It did get a little breezy at some points, but it felt amazing when we were dancing! Dinner was fantastic and included more food than I could possibly eat... beef, chicken, lobster... yum.
Although it was another extra cost, we requested the National bar. The waiters did not let my drink reach below half full before they were refilling my glass again. Other guests also commented that they could barely finish a drink before a waiter brought them a new one. The staff was just amazing and everything went very smoothly.
Cake: We requested the chocolate banana cake and it was delicious! We brought our own cake topper and just paid $25 for a few flowers to decorate the cake. It was beautiful and tasted even better.
DJ Mannia: Amazing! These guys really know how to throw a party and they kept everyone dancing the whole night. We had also brought some Persian music for them to play (my new hubby is Persian) and they incorporated that without a problem. It also helped to have someone MC, introduce the bridal party, announce the speeches, etc. Iâ€™d highly recommend them!
Photographer ~ Phil Steingard: Absolutely amazing! Phil deserves his own review, but for now, Iâ€™ll just say that we were BLOWN AWAY by his work. In addition to being an amazing photographer, he knows everyone at the resort and he expertly guided us through the entire wedding day. Phil started at around 11:00 AM with the guys getting ready, and then seemed to be unstoppable for the next 12 hours! Let me just recommend to bring some comfortable shoes with you, because Phil will have you trekking all over both the Colonial and the Elegance resorts. He was also a pro on the dance floor and got right in there â€“ jumping up and still taking pictures! Just amazing.
The following day, we met Phil again at 4:30 PM for our trash the dress session. We were able to get about an hour of shots in before it suddenly started to pour! We took cover in the palm tree jungle for a bit, but the rain didnâ€™t let upâ€¦. we had a blast but unfortunately didnâ€™t get the beach shots that we were hoping for. Amazingly, Phil offered to meet us again at 7:30 AM the following morning to get the beach shots! I was really shocked and impressed at how dedicated this man is to his work. So we got up early the next day and took even more pictures. I was totally exhausted by the end, but it was worth it! Phil was such a pleasure to work with and he really went above and beyond our expectations. I mean, he didnâ€™t have to wake up early the next day to get those shots, but he did. We should be getting our professional photos in a couple of weeks now and Iâ€™m so excited. Thanks Phil!
It all goes by so fastâ€¦ enjoy every moment!