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2014/2015 Excellence Punta Cana Brides?

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#11 shellyn

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    Posted 20 April 2014 - 01:26 PM

    I just returned from a week at EPC that included our symbolic ceremony so here's my lengthy follow-up review/recommendations (Sorry, it'll be lengthy!):


    We arrived on a Saturday and had our ceremony on Wednesday at 11am. When we checked in, we received a letter from the wedding department scheduling an appointment for Monday to go over last-minute details/make payment. Since I'd scheduled some spa services separately, the appointment conflicted with my spa appointment and they had me reschedule my spa service for a different time (I was a little annoyed that I was told "the spa would understand" that I needed to meet with the wedding coordinators...but the spa was able to reschedule me earlier with no problem). The ceremony fees were billed to our room, which made it easy for payment.



    Wedding appointment: 

    Lasts about 30 minutes, and they review all your selections/allow you to make changes/etc. Then they take you on a tour of the different places--the wedding gazebos (there's 2 on the beach and 1 garden gazebo). The beach gazebo across from the garden gazebo is the nicer of the two beach locations since there aren't any structures nearby (there's a lifeguard stand at the other beach location). That one is located closer to the Excellence Club Private Beach versus the location near the garden gazebo, which has the regular beach section people watching your ceremony.


    Wedding dress & clothes pressing:  Following the appointment, you can drop off your items to be pressed and they returned them the day of the ceremony--I don't know what time they actually delivered them, but they were ready in time. I got ready at the spa following my hair & makeup and it was a convenient place to do so since it was closer to the wedding gazebo/where the horse drawn carriage picks up at. 


    Wedding ceremony music:  We brought our own music on an iPhone and were surprised that they wanted it a few days before the ceremony. We ended up giving it to them the day before the ceremony because we had to delete our email accounts/personal information we didn't want exposed. I'd definitely recommend bringing a separate iPod or Shuffle that only had the music so that you could be without it for a few days. 


    FYI, the amount of the song they played only equated to about 30-45 seconds of each, since the "aisle" isn't long at all. We had a tiny wedding (immediate family only), so there really wasn't an "aisle" and due to the ceremony photography, you really don't "exit" before they call you back to sign the wedding certificate, toast with champagne, then start family pictures. 



    Photo appointment/review of Beach Wedding Studios:

    We went to the Beach Wedding Studio booth but the guy we were supposed to meet wasn't there. So they wanted us to come back in the afternoon (which interfered with our beach plans so we showed up a few hours later and got attitude by Nadine(?) at the desk because we didn't show up when they told us to come back). We ended up meeting the guy the day before the meeting and they split our 2 hours we'd planned on into 2 times--because the lighting was poor during mid-day. 


    However, on the day of the wedding, our photographer, Starling, didn't seem to get the memo that he was supposed to split our session up. He did the wedding ceremony and family pictures and then we mentioned the afternoon session and had to fill him in of what had been decided the day before with the original guy. 


    Starling was a fantastic photographer and we were very pleased with his creative poses he placed us in. He was very patient when we were poor at following his instruction (and he had to move me like a mannequin sometimes to show me what he wanted)! We were very pleased with his services and I'd recommend his services to anyone getting married there.


    Overall, I'd give BWS 4 stars...only because of Starling. Otherwise, I would give it 2 1/2. The fact that we had to come back 3 times to set up everything for our appointment was annoying, and then had to inform Starling of the split appointment. He was very gracious and accommodating, but we shouldn't have had to tell them to come back. Another thing that was annoying was that when we finally did meet with them, they had no clue what package we had selected (or how many files were included in the package). Since the Excellence of Love package includes 24 additional photos, we had coordinated with Pere Estela Pujals via email that we could also opt for digital files instead of photos.


    There was obviously a lack of communication within the company, and Nadine was such a sourpuss that it turned us off to the company (even her coworkers in the booth had to intervene to answer questions and calm situations). Starling was the only thing that really kept us satisfied.


    My communication with PhotoSouvenir went much smoother than BWS and they seemed more willing to work with customization of packages. If I'd known what we'd end up paying for our photos, it might have been a better deal to go with PhotoSouvenir (even with paying the fee) because they include more in their packages and have a more editorial/photojournalistic style that I like more. 



    Mille Spa/Wedding Hair & Makeup:


    I did a trial hair and makeup application on Monday and was glad I did it. Both appointments were with Isabel (I had requested that both trial and wedding day appointments be done by the same person via email when I scheduled my appointments). Isabel was fantastic and I loved my hair and makeup. They have a book of about 10 hair styles if you need inspiration and I selected one that had more romantic, natural curls. However, Isabel had to hair spray each curl due to the humidity making my hair frizz, so it looked less natural and more structured. I still loved the result (the first day it was teased higher than I liked, but she made it lower on my wedding day). I'd definitely recommend doing the trial appointment so that you know what you're getting and can work out any kinks. 


    I liked my makeup application, but did prep my own face with MAC Prep & Prime before she added the foundation. It seemed to last longer (since I sweat so much). They use Babor cosmetics, and the colors Isabel selected were complimentary and I was very happy with the results. However, the application is very basic...there was no contouring with foundation or anything "extra". I had gone to MAC and had my makeup done and the artist had taught me how to contour my face using foundation (since I have a round face, they drew in cheekbones/defined my chin/etc). Since my ceremony was at 11am, Isabel recommended keeping my makeup pretty natural and I opted not to use my fake lashes since she thought it would be too dramatic for a morning ceremony. I definitely didn't miss it. If you want more specialized makeup application, then it might be worth bringing in your own person.


    I would recommend bringing your own waterproof eyeliner since the one she used smeared (as all eyeliners do for me...which is why I use gel liner). Between the hygiene issues with eye makeup and smudging, that's the one thing I wished I'd brought with me. 



    Wedding ceremony:

    I had been given the email attachment of all the different gazebo decoration options and was surprised at the meeting to learn what was actually included. They had said they provide white curtains for the gazebo and chairs with white covers.


    However, when I actually rode up to the wedding ceremony in the horse carriage (bumpy but fun entrance), they had provided a white covered table that was tied with orange ribbon and had a small vase of roses that matched my bouquet (for the gazebo). They had also wrapped the chairs with orange accent ribbon. It looked fantastic and I had thought that all the "extras" cost more. 



    Symbolic ceremony:

    I thought I'd read that symbolic ceremonies were in English and that legal ones were in Spanish (and translated into English). However, we were told at the meeting our symbolic ceremony would be in Spanish and translated into English. One of the wedding coordinators, Livia, translated our ceremony for us and it all went smoothly, but just be forewarned.



    Cocktail Hour & meal:

    The Excellence of Love package includes a cocktail hour and meal. Since our ceremony was at 11am, we opted to schedule it for a "lunch" that followed the ceremony and photos. 


    The cocktail hour was held outside in a covered deck area near the gazebo...it was perfect since you had the beach view and breeze, and could relax without getting cooked by the sun. We then had our meal at Oregano (which is closed in the afternoon, so it was very private) which was an easy walk from the cocktail area. 


    For the food and cake, I will say that it was the best food we had at the resort...so if you aren't so impressed by some of the meals at the resort, don't worry! Because it wasn't produced for the masses, there was much better quality control and the presentation of everything was fantastic. We were definitely impressed with the meal and the cake was light and delicious. 


    I think that covers most of it. Feel free to post any questions you have! 


    As for whether the Excellence Club is worth the extra cost, I swear by it just for the beach access. We never had to fight for covered area, the sand is smoother, and food comes to you! Also, it's much quieter/less rowdy, which is perfect if you're looking for relaxation. 


    My favorite restaurant was Flavor Market (tapas). Just be warned that they'll bring servings big enough for the entire table (even if only a few people want one plate). Just tell them how many servings you want or they'll bring enough for everyone! 


    Toscana was great for breakfast in the morning and had an awesome lunch buffet that we only tried on our last day. If you're a salad fan, they had a nice looking salad bar which was the only vegetarian friendly option we noticed. That would have been our go-to lunch spot if we'd known earlier. For dinner, they were pretty good for their pasta (I liked their chicken and mushroom ravioli).


    Spice was good but was noticeably better toward the end of the night when the big rush of people was over. The meat wasn't overcooked and  was noticeably better. 


    Agave restaurant was the worst place we ate...which was surprising, since it seems like it would be closest to Dominican food.


    Las Olas is great when you just want a bite when you're at the beach or pool...I got addicted to the pizza and they had themed lunches that were pretty tasty and cooked fresh on the grill. 



    #12 JennelleRM

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      Posted 21 April 2014 - 06:51 AM



      This is AWESOME! Thank you! You've provided us with so much information! Congratulations on your wedding!


      What did you use for music during the reception and cocktail hour? Maybe I read it wrong, but it sounded like you only used your ipod for the ceremony.  I am having an evening wedding and was going to try to have my reception in Las Olas. We have about 28 people so far. 


      How was your room?


      Otherwise, it seems as though they were pretty accommodating with everything. I was going to try to switch some things around as far as mani and pedi instead of hair and make-up... (My hair is really short and my sister does make-up).

      #13 shellyn

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        Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:26 AM


        Have you booked your rooms yet? The cancellation policy is very liberal so I'm glad we had booked early since we got what we wanted. Also, the wedding package isn't set in stone and we ended up upgrading to the Excellence of Love package once we saw the flowers, cake, etc options. They were very relaxed about everything.

        The EOL wedding package includes extra pictures (which you can negotiate for files instead with Beach Wedding Studios...don't think you could get that from an outside vendor). We had to remind Beach Wedding Studios about the extras and they even called their boss for verification...which seemed unnecessary since I showed them our email confirmation including it. It was worth pointing it out because additional files are $10 each. We ended up with 73 images of our 2-hour session and couldn't justify $1500 to buy all 205 images. I noticed that the images were barely touched up so ended up doing my own editing once I got home. It wasn't a ton of editing, but I would have expected basic color-correction to have been done. (If I had to do it over again, I'd opt to have my pictures done by Photosouvenir since I like their style and they do more post-processing of the pictures).

        As for the rooms, we had to wait almost two hours after arrival at the resort, but they took us to the Excellence Club where they offered light snacks and beverages so it wasn't horrible...just be forewarned (I'd read about complaints about this, but we didn't mind the wait since it gave us time to relax after our travels and eat a bit).

        Once they showed us our rooms, we realized we waited so long because they placed us all on the same floor in the same building, which was very convenient for coordinating activities during the day. We got Building 7 (our guests got Excellent Club Junior Suite Ocean View rooms, and we got the Excellence Club Terrace Suite Ocean Front room). Ours was a corner unit that had 2 decks...one you can see in the picture with the beach bed, deck pool (which wasn't heated, but was perfect for cooling off in your own private deck), and seating area. The other small balcony overlooked the swim-up bar. We had room 7204. Let's just say that during the day, that bar is where all the rowdy ones are so we could hear their whoops and hollers in our room during the day (which was fine since we were rarely there in the day). We were happy that the pool closes at 6pm since it made for a much more relaxing stay.

        The rooms were spacious...the Junior Suites were slightly smaller but still big. They all had the window into the bathroom that some reviewers complain about, but we ended up just using the bathroom in the dark and didn't care if we saw each other showering...it is a bit weird, but considering everyone there was married, you didn't see anything you hadn't seen before! The views were a bit obstructed due to the palm trees, but I would opt for the upgrade again, as there's nothing nicer than listening to crashing waves on your balcony! The EC snacks were lacking...bring your own if you want to nibble in the room, but we overate without the additional snacks they bring each night, so you're paying for the club room and beach access the most (well worth it, in my opinion). Wi-fi around the resort is spotty to the point I just unplugged unless we were going to the EC club room (which was still a little slow). The lobby had the best access.

        For the cocktail hour and reception dinner, we could have used the iPod and made playlists, but didn't (we forgot about that detail....) We didn't have any music at the cocktail hour and didn't really notice it, but I would recommend it even if it's for ambience music. For our dinner, they had music on when we arrived and asked if we wanted it off or wanted it left on. We left it on and it was fine.

        Las Olas would be a beautiful setting for the reception. Gorgeous views of the beach and they could easily set up any music you'd like.

        You could also hire a trio of musicians...it was offered at our meeting but we had already picked out songs. I can't remember what the cost was, but I saw another wedding had it and it seemed like a nice touch.

        The mani pedis were nice...overpriced but made things easier to get them done there. They have OPI nail polish but they aren't as thorough as my local nail place is, so don't expect perfection. They are also somewhat limited on colors (lots of pinks), so if there's something you have in mind, it might be worth buying a bottle and bringing it with you, just in case. I got a French Manicure and they only paint one layer since it's so humid (and took a long time to dry naturally)...they don't have the UV driers. Two of the 5 of us had to get touch-ups because they ruined a nail of toe shortly after having them done. They have 3 pedi stations and the manicures are done in a separate room next door, so if you're expecting bonding time between a group larger than 3, it won't happen due to small sizes of the rooms.

        One thing I highly recommend is the hydrotherapy or hydrospa (I think it's included in the Excellence Club and may be in the wedding package). It's a series of showers and saunas and ends with a mini shoulder massage. Definitely worth it and I ended up going twice since we had guests that didn't want to use theirs! You don't need a reservation and they'll just put you in line with whoevers in front of you.

        We also paid for a couples massage, and it was definitely deep tissue, but I probably wouldn't recommend it based on the price/skill level...and because my lady was texting on her phone during my massage. Yes, I'm totally serious. So, don't expect 4 or 5 star service....

        #14 samantha22

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        • 19 posts
        • Wedding Date:November 27, 2015
        • Wedding Location:Las Caletas Puerto Vallarta
        • LocationChicago

        Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:51 PM

        New to this.  Still trying to figure out if a destination wedding would be better than having it in Illinois. My fiancĂ© and I love Punta Cana so we are looking for the best places/packages.  So far I have noticed many weddings at HRC. What other resorts should I look into?

        #15 kellisbaby

        • Jr. Member
        • 238 posts
        • Wedding Date:January 12, 2015
        • Wedding Location:Excellence Punta Cana
        • LocationBay Area, CA

        Posted 10 May 2014 - 05:58 PM

        @shellyn Thanks so much for coming back to tell us about your wedding.  Pictures please!!


        2 questions... do you know how much it costs to host a private reception?  I know the packages include a reception at one of the open restaurants, I'd rather do a private one.


        and, how was getting ready in the spa?  Was it hot?  Was it expensive?  I'd love to do this, but don't want to spend a ton of money, or be super sweaty.


        You've convinced me to do a make up trial at Mac and bring the essentials with me.  I know nothing about countouring!!  hehe.


        Is there any advice you wish you'd known in advance?  Do's / Don't's?  :)


        Thanks again and congratulations on your wedding!!

        #16 JennelleRM

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          Posted 14 May 2014 - 09:11 AM

          @kellisbaby, A private reception is included with the gold package (including 2 centerpieces), and I think also the Excellence of love pkg. I have been emailing with Emy Rose lately.


          I also found out that I can not change out my hair and make-up for a mani/pedi. Oh well :)

          #17 kellisbaby

          • Jr. Member
          • 238 posts
          • Wedding Date:January 12, 2015
          • Wedding Location:Excellence Punta Cana
          • LocationBay Area, CA

          Posted 24 May 2014 - 03:33 PM

          Thanks Jennelle!! Any other useful information you've learned from Emy Rose? My wedding isn't until Jan, so I feel like it's too early to start pestering her. ;)

          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

          #18 shellyn

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          • 4 posts

            Posted 25 May 2014 - 03:45 AM

            @kellisbaby, the place we had our lunch at had double doors that closed and was private, so even if the restaurant had been open, we would have had our own small banquet room that was able to accommodate a small dance area. I'm not sure what the capacity is, but it was small. I'm sure they have larger rooms for larger parties, but I'm not sure which restaurants had private areas.

            The room I got dressed in was a massage room on the upper floor. It definitely wasn't grandiose or anything to write home about, but it was more of a logistical perk since we chose the gazebo close to the spa and our rooms were on the other side of the resort. There wasn't enough time (and I would have sweated a lot) to rush back and forth between the rooms. I had my sister run back and forth to the room to drop off my bag of clothes/extra make up/etc before the ceremony, but if anything, the spa or wedding coordinator could probably hold it in their office, since that's near the spa.

            I didn't have to pay anything extra to get dressed at the spa since I think they offer it if you use the gazebo nearby. Just make sure to ask about it since they didn't bring it up before I did.

            I definitely would recommend a makeup trial beforehand...with the caveat that you'll probably have to do it yourself, or show the makeup person at the salon how to apply it. I had taken step-by-step pictures when the MAC artist did it, and wish I'd have had Isabel try it at my makeup trial. (I had gone to the tanning salon a bunch after my MAC trial and ran out of time to have the shades re-done so I could bring them with me). I think my rotund face would have looked a little slimmer for our wedding photos.

            As for do's or don'ts, since I was never one that dreamt about my perfect wedding day or had any expectations of how it would/should go, I'd just say, try to relax and not get stressed by their sometimes loosey-goosey mentality. I definitely wasn't as stressed because our wedding was so tiny, but I'm a details person and wanted everything organized before I even showed up. However, after going through the process, I'd definitely say don't worry...they have everything under control. It helped knowing that the wedding coordinators have a pretty formulaic plan of what needs to be asked and/or done (especially when there's no outside vendors to deal with), so I figured, if they weren't worried, why should I be?! If you have a question, ask it. They always knew the answer and nothing came as a surprise to them (sometimes, they seemed like they weren't telling you all of the nitty gritty details because it'd be a lot of info, but then I'd ask more about it and they'd elaborate to ease my mind). Definitely have any questions jotted down, just in case they forget to ask about something (especially if you're going off-script and are trying to customize something). I think they had something like 25 weddings in April and were planning 33 for June...so, for them, I think they just focus on the details of one wedding at a time to stay sane and may forget any requests you'd made via email.

            Anyway, I hope that answers your questions. Here's a few pics and thanks! We had a great time!

            Attached Files

            #19 danielaf

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            • 7 posts

              Posted 27 May 2014 - 09:44 AM

              hi ladies,


              I am still deciding between Excellence and Dreams for my February wedding but wherever I go I will choose Photo Souvenir Punta Cana as my photographers without any doubt. I am a photographer myself and I have done a LOT of research and they seem to be the best around for pricing/quality/creativity. Their work is just amazing and in my opinion quite cheap for what they offer. I had the chance to chat with them and they do offer customized packages if you need and are very open.

              I thought it might help for the brides who are having a hard time to make a decision.  ;)


              happing planning



              #20 JoWil JoWil

              JoWil JoWil
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              • 83 posts

                Posted 29 May 2014 - 08:29 AM

                @JennelleRM We got married in Dec and used The Memory Factory.  Their prices are very reasonable and they will work with your budget.  We booked a night at the resort for them to avoid the fees and it was a great decision because we ended using them for our welcome party as well. He wanted to see the venue since we got married off-property so he came with us when we went to drop of some decorations and took pictures of us at the venue the day before the wedding. My pictures are fantastic.  Also, since they specialize in destination weddings, they were able to help me with the wedding favors.  send them an email for a quote thememoryfactory@hotmail.com

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