Hi Casi! I can only give my opinion, and what I saw when I was photographing weddings there, but hopefully it'll help calm you a little.
Originally Posted by Casi
My fiance and I are getting married next month (!!!!!!) at Dreams Los Cabos and we are so excited! We started the planning for our wedding in San Francisco where we currently live and realized it was going to be so far out of our budget we started pursuing other options. Then we thought about Dreams, which my family has had a timeshare at since I was a kid. It fit in our budget and we got to go on an amazing vacation with our family and friends. Can't beat that!
Now that it's getting closer to the wedding and we are ironing out all the last details we are realizing that this is turning out to be a lot more expensive then we hoped (although still much cheaper than a wedding in SF + the whole getting a vacation thing). Here are some of our big expenses and I was hoping to get a bit of advice on ways we could possibly save on these things. Or just some words of encouragement to help us ease our minds.
1. Bonfire - we decided to go with a bonfire party the night before the wedding as a welcome party for all our guests. My future FIL is paying for this so it is the least worrisome expense for us. Except for the fact that we have guests who are not staying at the hotel who will be coming but it's going to be $65 per person (7 outside guests) which goes over the allotted amount my FIL gave us for the party.
Honestly, this is awesome. We saw this happen when we were eating dinner last year and I loved it! I wanted to go crash it and eat a smore actually! The guests seemed to really love it and it was a special touch.
2. Extra guests - the packages come with 20 people, which I was hoping to stick to, but that totally didn't work out and we now have almost double that. I'm not so worried about this...but it does add up. Especially with the outside guests which are an additional $95!
The outside guest thing is killer. Certainly not a fun budget item. But it's so amazing that you have this many people coming to your wedding! You must be very loved
3. Transportation - we are arranging transportation right now for our guests from the airport to the hotel (and back at the end of the trip), and it's turning out to be about $1,000. We got a quote for $19 a head, plus group rate of $100 flat fee for 5-10 people in one car. Unfortunately, our guests are arriving at all different days and times so we can't take too much advantage of the group rate.
Do you have a travel agent? Typically they can negotiate rates for this. Mine was actually included with travel. Perhaps they'd be able to find you something a little better.
4. Photography - This has been a major sore spot for us because when we looked at the packages before booking it simply says that it comes with photography. This was probably our fault, but we didn't think to ask for how much photography, and just assumed it covered the whole wedding (ceremony, photo session with family, entire reception, plus extras like getting ready in the room). The packages come with 1 hour, which just isn't enough. The quote we got from the suggested photographer, Adventure Photos, isn't so bad. But it's just an added expense we didn't realize we were going to have.
I can totally see why you'd think the entire wedding was included. Sadly, you're right. The 1 hour is typically not enough time, especially if you're planning on turning your wedding photos into an album. But think of it was an heirloom that you'll be able to pass down to your children. Great photography and being able to have those memories lasts a lifetime and it's totally worth it.
5. DJ - We knew the DJ was going to be pricey, which is why we were just going to go with a sound system and bring our own music. But the more I read this forum the more I realized a DJ is really needed to keep things fun and moving. We are still waiting for a quote for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception, but I'm sure it will end up being more than we hoped and we may just stick with having the DJ only for the reception.
I've seen a reception without a DJ and two with. The party is definitely more "party" with a DJ. Everyone on the dance floor. With the sound system people definitely dance too, but it seems to be a more casual laid back party. Reminds me of a cocktail hour. Obviously, if you have a party group, then they'll party no matter what, but it's definitely something to think about.
If anyone has any advice or recommendations I am totally open, but I mostly just wanted to vent a little bit about our last minute stress points. Thanks for listening!
As for the first look. There are a TON of spots to do this at Dreams. I would give yourself a good 20-45 minutes. It depends. Do you just want to see each other and then disappear again, or would you like to take some intimate photographs while it's just the two of you?
Some of the ones I'd consider would be the walkways by the fitness center entrance. There is a cute little pond and it's secluded so it'd be more romantic.
There are also little courtyards between the hotel rooms. I think this might just be perfect for you. Here is a picture of one of the courtyards.
Next, over by the quiet pool there is a wall of these beautiful fuschia flower bushes. I think it'd be really beautiful to do it there too, although it's not very secluded.