I based my decision on the hotel's reputation first - I was not one that was lucky enough to travel to the DR ahead of time to look at the hotels.
I knew I wanted a 5 star.
Then I emailed all the wedding coordinators at all the hotels I was interested in. If they responded within 24 hours, they made it to the next list, if not BUH-BYE! lol My theory is this - this is the person you have to communicate with during this whole process. It's nerve racking enough that you can't be there to physically see things!
Then I looked at the best bang for your buck!
In the end I picked Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana - taxes in $1385 (flight included) all inclusive club gold.
The wedding package I picked was $1500 (some hotels charge more).
The private reception I picked was about $850 (some hotels charge more - this is also optional).
I secured a group rate for 30 people for this price (I don't expect more than 30).
If there are more than 30 then the travel agent will work something out for the rest of the people coming.
Some people want to book last minute - that's fine but I still need them to RSVP by July (our wedding is in November) because the hotel needs a guest list for the rooms and what not by August (3 months ahead of time).