Hello Ladies! Dan and I were recently married on July 20, 2011 at the Riu Palace Punta Canaâ€™s beach gazebo at 5:00 p.m. Our reception was held at La Altagracia from 6:30 p.m. until midnight. We had thirty guests join us as we celebrated our new life together. Thanks to so many of you for your ideas, contacts and reviews which helped make our day so special.
Planning - I had vacationed with my family at the Riu Palace Punta Cana in June 2010 and had just recently gotten engaged in May. I actually stumbled on a wedding taking place and knew instantly this is where we would get married. I made an appointment with the Wedding Manager Maria del Carmen CrisÃ³stomo and took down her email address in case I decided to move forward with the planning after discussing it with Dan. In January 2011, we decided the resort was perfect and wanted to move forward with our destination wedding in Punta Cana. I wanted to pick a resort I had visited so I could answer my guestsâ€™ questions and know exactly what to expect versus walking into it blindly. Within four to five weeks of exchanging emails with Maria, the majority of our wedding was planned. She was quick to respond to my questions and always attached multiple photos. We wanted a Private Reception at the Steakhouse, DJ, MC, Premium Bar Setup, Ceremony at the Beach Gazebo and Pastor York to perform the ceremony. We went with the "house vendors" with the exception of Pastor York. We had ordered and then mailed our wedding invitations to our guests by the last week of February. A few weeks later, I had purchased my wedding dress at Alfred Angelo, the groom and groomsmen suits at Professional Image and ordered all of the bridesmaids dresses from Davidâ€™s Bridal.
Arrival - We arrived at the Riu on Sunday, July 17th and left for our honeymoon on Friday, July 22nd. The resortâ€™s policy required that we arrive 2 full business days prior to the wedding date. We had no issues with our flights from Boston and Check-in at the resort was a breeze. All of our guests had a smooth travel and check-in was also quick for them. Dan and I flew American Airlines as they were the only airline that would allow me to carryon my dress and hang it in a coat closet. As soon as they saw the dress, they immediately offered the closet in first-class. Shortly, after we arrived, I saw Maria in the lobby and quickly said hello. My fiancÃ© and I were scheduled to meet with her at 10:00 a.m. the next morning to start confirming the wedding details. All of our guests were so impressed with the resort from the minute they pulled up and couldnâ€™t believe this was where we were getting married. The grounds are beautiful, the beach is spectacular, and the staff is so kind. Our guests started arriving Sunday all the way through Wednesday afternoon.
Meetings - The next morning Maria had us confirm the flowers, wedding cake, ribbon color for the white covered chairs, reception and ceremony setups. We met for about an hour and were able to quickly confirm everything. My bridesmaids were wearing the color Guava and guys were in Khaki suits. We were able to quickly choose gold, orange and ivory tones to match our color scheme. We also met with the photographers from Antillana de Fotografia SRL that are located on the Riu property and chose the Pearl Package. Esther Fuentes was so sweet and made notes of the shots that I â€œhad to have.â€ She explained how the Â½ of the photographers would be in my room and the other Â½ with my fiancÃ© as he was getting ready. They photographed us getting ready with family & friends, during the ceremony, a beach photo shoot, at the reception and photographed the bridal party around the resort. I LOVE my pictures, everyone who has seen them loves them too and I get compliments how artistic my photographers were. The team was excellent, Suri and Nico did an amazing job of capturing the beautiful shots â€“ I canâ€™t thank them enough. I ended up buying all of the photos â€“ my package included 150 prints and 150 on a photo DVD. I ended up with 515 photos and purchased the remaining 365 photos on the photo DVD. My package included a coffee table book where the photos are printed right on the page. The video DVD captures me getting ready all the way through the end of the night dancing at the reception. Finally, we met with the DJ and MC with Eventos FJ who are two of the nicest guys you will ever meet. They are so much fun and had so much energy, which is exactly what we wanted for the reception. We reviewed our playlists, confirmed everyoneâ€™s last names and stressed we wanted everyone up and dancing all night.
Wedding Day â€“ That morning was really relaxing and stress-free for us and our guests. I had confirmed all of the hair appointments with the spa for the bridesmaids, mothers and myself. After breakfast a majority of the guests ended up on the beach with us. I had my hair appointment for a wash & blow-dry at the spa @ 12:30 p.m. The women at the spa are wonderful; Jaime is the manager and is very take-charge and organized. After heading back to my room from the spa, I ordered room service for lunch with lots of extras for the ladies including sandwiches, salads, cake and champagne. Elizabeth blow dried my hair and came to my room around 3:30 p.m. to style my hair and apply my makeup. The bridesmaids got ready in their own rooms after their hair was done at the Spa and then all met in my room to put on their jewelry. At about 4:00 p.m., the photographers and videographer arrived to my room and so did the flowers. They took photos of the rings, flowers, Elizabeth finishing up my makeup, and my mom and godmother tying the back of my dress. We took pictures outside with the bridesmaids as my fiancÃ© was taking his photos with the groomsmen on a different floor of the resort.
Ceremony â€“ Beach Gazebo
Thanks to a BestDestinationWedding.com I read about and then hired Pastor Rick York to officiate the ceremony. It was important to us to have our ceremony in English as we didnâ€™t want to have it translated. Pastor York had emailed me a few ceremonies and we chose the Traditional Ceremony which was beautiful. Danâ€™s sister and my brother each did a reading. We also brought a Unity Sand set and Pastor York incorporated that into the ceremony. He was funny and a natural and all of our guests adored him. I highly recommend Pastor York! As I was making my way to the gazebo, there were hundreds of people looking on and surrounding the gazebo which made me feel even more special. It seemed like I had 300 guests versus 30 and they were all so kind wishing us luck and taking photos. I have to check if Iâ€™m on You -Tube J I had given Maria a wedding ceremony song CD and she knew which songs to play as members of our bridal party were walking down the aisle â€“ it was magical. After the ceremony, we made our way to the beach for pictures! We did group photos, family photos, bridal party photos, and just the bride & groom photos. This was so much fun and the list of poses I â€œhad to haveâ€ were harder to reenact than I thought â€“ lol. I love the shots that photographers got. As we were taking our photos, the rest of our guests made their way to the lobby to cool off.
Details â€“ Through this website, I met graphic designer Kim Torres; her work is beautiful. I had reached out to Kim earlier in the year as she had gotten married at the Riu Palace Punta Cana in October 2010. I saw her work and hired her to create our Place Cards, Dinner Menus and Wedding Program. I mailed her a swatch with the Guava color and she was able to match the color perfectly. Everyone loved the wedding programs; she had a great idea to attach these on raffia fans which helped keep our guests cool and served as a favor too. She is flexible, easy to work with, meets all of her deadlines, pays attention to detail and helped move me along through the planning. She offered great tips and it was wonderful to get her opinion from her experience. Iâ€™m now working with Kim to finish up my guest book. Kim suggested purchasing postcards once I arrived in Punta Cana and having the guests each sign a postcard. We also took a photo with each and every guest and will now incorporate these into the guestbook. You can find Kim on Facebook and check out her work; sheâ€™s amazing! Her profile is listed as KTorresDesign.
Reception â€“ La Altagracia (Steakhouse)
Our guests made their way back down to the Steakhouse for the reception and took their seats; Maria had placed all of the Place Cards according to our seating arrangement. The MC introduced the Bridal Party and we went right into our first dance. This was immediately followed by the Father-Daughter dance and the Mother-Son dance. We really wanted to get these out of the way as we knew this would be very emotional for our us and our parents. After the dance, we all took our seats and the Restaurant Manager took everyoneâ€™s orders for Dinner. While waiting for the appetizers to come, the Best Man and Maid of Honor gave their speeches. The food was incredible; all of the guests loved it. Appetizers included Seafood on Ice and Salad. For the main course, our guests could choose from (1) Grilled Chicken (2) Rack of Lamb (3) Beef Rib Eye (4) Beef Tenderloin Land & Sea (Surf & Turf). We both got Surf & Turf and it was delicious! As for the wedding cake, Dan chose the flavor. He went with Vanilla cake with a Guaba filling with small chunks of Mango in it. I wasnâ€™t sure how that was going to taste but it was incredible. Everyone made sure to have a piece of cake at some point during the reception. I chose to add an additional layer, which made it a 3-layer cake versus just two for an additional cost. The DJ played songs off of our playlists but also threw in his own stuff, which we were happy with. Our guests had requests and the DJ had all of the music. At one point we had a Conga line; the MC got a stick and the entire staff and all my guests were doing the limbo. We were having so much fun that we extended the reception for an hour and a half thanks to the DJ and restaurant staff. After all of the non-stop dancing, everyone returned to their rooms and quickly showered and we all met up in the lobby for drinks and the party continued â€“ it was so much fun! We really enjoyed the night and took it all in â€“ it was a blast!
The day after the wedding we walked to the Photo Shop on the Riu property and selected the 150 photos we wanted printed. This is when we decided to upgrade our package and buy the additional photos for the photo DVD. We stayed at the Riu until Friday afternoon, as we were promised our entire photo package and video. Once we picked up everything, we headed to the Iberostar Grand for our honeymoon!