Hm, I hope I can answer some of these questions. I just wrote a journal about my experience this past November. Feel free to PM me if you have any additional questions. So lets start with the first one my answers are in blue...
1.How long is the ceremony? (I am doing civil)
The Civil Ceremony itself lasts roughly 15 minutes however I asked Carolina about reading some additional words (it was roughly one page of typed print) so that it could get our parents involved AND we could perform a sand ceremony. This was allowed but it could not interrupt (no actions could be in between) the official ceremony. Once that was completed we were allowed to perform additional things to customize it a bit. We were the only wedding that day and had the location for 1 hour
2.What's the max length of song can I have to walk down the aisle? (I have 4 girls to walk in before me) and I am planning on doing one song all the way through up until I walk onto to Gazebo/beach (I don't want it to be my time to walk down the aisle and it stops cuz it's over..lol)
I'm not sure of the max length of a song however but I think my song was roughly 3 minutes long. Just make sure you clearly indicate which song is for you and they folks there will take care of it
3.Gazebo or Beach? I'm so confused with which one I want, I originally wanted beach, but I realized the gazebo is more private and I can wear my AWESOME shoes!!! lol (I've actually bought 3 pairs so far) haha..
I'm basically looking for anyone that has the experience and can tell me their story or even someone that is a future bride and has some opinions that might help...tuff tuff decision...
Well my wedding was at the Ocean facing gazebo meaning that there was a hard surface. The gazebo can be private but sometimes we brides look fabolous and there are always onlookers. We actually had people stop me on the way to the wedding to ask me about my dress -- I just told them maybe another time. The gazebo does give your pictures a nice 'frame' and the beach has the perfect setting. We ended up taking pictures on the beach after the ceremony but I did not partake in the TTD
4.Pre-wedding: getting hair and make-up? did you have to book in advance (lots in advance) for the hair salon? and how was it? was anyone dissapointed with what they got done? I'm not very good with hair (so i guess it can't be worse then what I could do, right!) and I don't have anyone in the wedding that's good either. What were the costs for getting hair done? So I can also let my bridesmaids/guests know. Also about the make-up...is it really worth it, I'm not super great at that either and I don't like it on heavy, but I would still want something special done, what were your experiences with make-up? and costs?
I chose a very easy hairstyle that still took us 4 hours to do. We had to straighten, and pin, and use a bunch of bobby pins but it looked really good. The makeup I think you can do yourself. I went to Sephora and wanted a very natural look. It took me all of 20 minutes to do my makeup but I don't wear makeup anyways so it make take a little longer. I would say do a trial and have them tell you EXACTLY what makeup they used and spend some me time getting your bridesmaids together or friends and 'practice'. I found it to be a great way to talk about my wedding 'stuff' and naturally de-stress.
5.Reception: We are taking the crystal package, but we are thinking of taking the private reception also, we figured since everyone came all that way just for us, we would want something special for them to remember! there is a semi-private dinner included in the crystal package, but then that's it...doesn't feel like a wedding reception you know....we want something where we can still do our first dance, father/daughter dance, throw bouquet/garter, older sisters have to dance by themselves in ugly socks...lol....and just have a great time and dance the night away!! Did anyone do the private reception and didn't think it was worth it? and can I even do all these things at the private reception? What else was included with the private reception?
I did the private reception and it was worth every penny. I enjoyed having the private time with my group of 20 people who danced the entire night away. We even had strangers walk in and tried (emphasis on tried) to join but clearly we were having a great time. We had the private reception at Arrecife which turned out to be just fine and everyone loved it. The shoes came off within 20 minutes of dancing and we had a blast. We still talk about it today! You can ABSOLUTELY do everything at the private reception. Every one of those things you mentioned ...I did it. I didn't rush either and everyone understands it's "your time". Private reception includes tables chairs, food, drinks, and a cake. It turned out to be perfect.
5.DECORATIONS???? What's included in the crystal package for decorations at the ceremony AND at the reception? I've read posts of people that brought their own things, I don't mind bringing some of my own, did people have to bring an extra lugguage?
I really wouldn't stress about bringing decorations. Carolina saved some petals that I brought and those from my aisle runner to spruce up tables (she really nailed it on that one). Most people do bring extra luggage - I was lucky enough to be allotted 70lbs per bag per person (I fly alot) so I found that it didn't bother me. But I really wouldn't weigh yourself down but if your goal is to give a way things and come back with half then by all means bring it on the plane
6.What is the opinion of everyone that is the best restaurant to book the dinner/reception at?
I can't answer this here. They were doing construction at the time I went so dinner options were limited but the option that we got was perfect for us. To give you an idea of how our wedding went and reception take a look at my wedding pics. The resolution was low because HDC took 600 PHOTOS and loading all of them would've been too much time. I would suggest HDC Photo -- ARNAUD is the man. Miljan who works with Arnaud shoot our photos and they're just amazing.
PM me if you want to see pictures of the big event. I got pre-ceremony, ceremony, post ceremony and reception photos. You'll want to choose HDC PHOTO after seeing these )
I hope I helped you out. Like I said PM me as it's easier for me to be responsive that way if you have any additional questions. I'm happy to share my experiences!