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Revised Planning Journal For Varadero, Cuba Wedding - Picture Heavy

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#1 Lydia1120

  • Site Supporter
  • 406 posts
  • Wedding Date:November 20, 2013
  • Wedding Location:Varadero, Cuba
  • LocationCobourg, Ontario

Posted 21 January 2014 - 02:03 PM

I AM REPOSTING AS I FIGURED OUT HOW TO INCORPORATE THE PICTURES INTO THE CONTENT INSTEAD OF AT THE END..unfortunately, I can't figure out how to edit or delete  the other post UGH :-( 


Firstly I would like to thank all the brides for their ideas and inspiration.  My wedding would not have been as magical without the help of this website and all you ladies, so thank you thank you thank you!  



My FI and I were introduced through a mutual friend. I don't know if it was Love at first sight but it definitely was lust! LOL. Etienne was 30 and has a daughter from his first marriage (4 at the time) and I was 27 and had a son from my first marriage (6 at the time). We moved in together after a short 6 months and two years later on Christmas morning, he proposed to me. We didn't pick a date as we thought it would be best to deal with our "step parenting" issues before the big day. Another two years passed and I really wanted baby...I wanted to experience parenting with a "great father" and I thought it would help us bring our family together. Shortly after our daughter was born, my sister was killed in a car accident and we adopted her 3 kids. We went from 2 kids to 6 kids really fast! We went to counselling to help us deal with all the different dynamics in our family. Needless to say that a 'wedding" was the furthest thing from our mind while raising sooo many children. We also had to feed the buggers and man could they eat, lol. During our counselling, the counsellor told us to erase all the "grey" from our household and make things"black and white" this would help to avoid arguments with each other as well as with the children. IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM!!!! Definitely helped us create a well balanced life for our family.


Over the years, Etienne and I always shared a deep love for one another which was infectous to all our six kids. We often would wake up in the morning and while holding eachother, playfully I would say "one day, I'm going to marry you", to which he responded "whenever you are ready". Last year, 16 years later, and after four of our children where off in College and only 2 remaining at home, we were in the mall and went into the Jewellery store to see about getting a ring that would close off my set and perhaps start planning a wedding (this was still just brief discussions, never in depth). The sales lady said that my rings were beautiful but that "after 16 years and what you've been through, you deserved an upgrade, after all Windows upgrades yearly"...we laughed and he said, "lets do it". So we did...we bought a new engagement ring for me and our wedding bands! (I will have my diamonds from my first set of rings changed into a necklace that I will wear on our wedding day).


We came home and told the children and they were beyond excited! We had discussed several times that when we decided to get married, it would be a destination wedding. We knew that our children, now aged 11-25 (the 17 year old, my sisters youngest, is autistic so he was just crazy thrilled) would form our wedding party. We also decided that our colours would be BLACK and WHITE because of the advice we received from our counsellor, it is what saved our relationship and more importantly, our family!!!!

So almost 18 years to the date that we met, we will be getting married in Varadero, Cuba. I purchased Etienne a bracelet as a wedding gift...on the back i am having it engraved "Whenever Is Today"...he'll understand.


My MOH paid for an Engagement photo session as a gift to us.  We were very pleased with how the pictures turned out that we hired Angela Brooks Photography to come to Cuba with us to capture the wedding week.


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The Rings

Given the time that lapsed between the initial proposal, and us being in a better place in our lives, we decided to “upgrade” our rings.  We purchased then at Mappins Jewellery and the sales representative was very encouraging.  She indicated “Windows upgrades yearly, so you guys can upgrade every 17 years”, lol…thought that was too cute. 


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Save The Date

We ordered our Magnet Save the Date cards from http://www.magnetstreet.com/. Paid $2.05 each in total (incl taxes and shipping).

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Message in a Bottle Invitations

For the invitations, given that we have such a large party going, I made 30 "Messages in a Bottle" for those people who had already put down a deposit to travel and sent cards to the others. The postage for the Bottles are $10 each so I had them all prepared before Christmas and handed them out personally during the Holidays.

The bottles I purchased from Michael's for $.74

Sand - from our own lakefront (lol)


Shells - ordered from Florida Shells and Gifts https://store02.pros...?smode=checkout The mixed Nassa was $.99 and I bought 2 (I also bought other shells for decorating the table and had the parcel delivered to friends in Michigan to save on shipping)

Umbrellas - purchased from Micheal's for $5.00 for 100

Labels - ordered return address labels from Vistaprint and paid $8.00 for 50

Ribbon - purchased from the Dollar Store for $2.00

Boxes - ordred from invitationinabottle.com

If I had to do it all over again, I would have just ordered the DYI kit from www.invitationinabottle.com for $1.99 per bottle including the boxes...it works out to be cheaper.

The actual invitations, I ordered from www.magnetstreet.com for $2.25 each.

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Given that all our guests had almost a year to wait until the trip, I sent out 3 newsletters to keep people excited.    The Spring Newsletter (7 months before) consisted of information regarding, our flight, Hotel, Park N Fly and the Catamaran/Swimming with the Dolphin excursion.


The Summer Newsletter (4 months before) consisted of a reminder of Final Payment Deadline, information for the Jack N Jill, Reminders and Helpful Hints.  


The final Fall Newsletter (one month before) consisted of, proceeds of the Jack N Jill, Flight Time Change, confirmation numbers for Hotel Park N Fly, Airport Security, Catamaran payment deadline, Reminders and info on the Cholera Outbreak in Cuba.  


My guests said that they absolutely loved received these letters and all the useful information. 


Attached File  SPRING WEDDING NEWS LETTER - OURS.doc   1.92MB   8 downloadsAttached File  SUMMER NEWSLETTER- OURS.pub   1.54MB   8 downloads

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Jack and Jill

We planned a Jack N Jill so that we could raise money to help pay for the catamaran/swim with the dolphins excursion.  I ordered rack cards from Vistaprint and sold them for $10 in advance or $15 at the door.  We thought we would make it fun and made it a “Grease” theme.  We created “Grease” money so that all the cash would remain in one box.  It was a great success and we raised over $4,000.00 from which we paid for the children first then shared the balance with all the adults.  It dropped the price from $95 CDN to $30 CDN per adult!!!  Our photographer also came and set up a photobooth (she was kind enough and only charged us $250 but it made for some amazing memories…I actually ordered a book from My Publisher as I loved the pictures so much. The guests also loved all the pictures. 


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Bridesmaids Gifts

I bought the Bridesmaid's and MOH's their dresses, jewellery as well as a Makeup Gift Bag.  Inside there is: makeup brushes; eye shadow; french manicure set; nail polish remover; lip gloss; razor and a small tide.   I bought the bags and most of the contents on ebay. 


Bridesmaids Bags:  I got on sale from a vendor on ebay for $3.94 each...here is the link but I see that the price has gone up to $9.49.  :-( http://www.ebay.com....ME:L:OU:CA:3160


Maid of Honor Bag: E-BAY $4.55 http://rover.ebay.co...E:X:AAQ:AU:1123


My Bag: $4.55 http://www.ebay.com....ME:L:OU:CA:3160


Nail Polish Remover:  $0.99 each from ebay:  http://www.ebay.com/...ME:L:OU:CA:3160


Makeup Brushes:  $1.70 each from ebay: http://www.ebay.com....ME:L:OU:CA:3160


Lip Gloss, razor and small tide I bought at the local Dollar Store.  The bags are super cute...I ordered one for myself in white with black pokadots. 

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Groomsmen Gifts

I paid for their outfits but I also bought all the Groomsmen and Best Man, a travel bag from Walmart and filled it with products, a t-shirt from Vistaprint as well as a bracelet and necklace for the wedding. 

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Flower girl and Ring Boy Gifts

We bought them their attire but also a personalized bracelet each as well as a beach bag full of toys.  J   I ordered them from e-bay for dirt cheap: boys:   http://www.ebay.com/...=item3a842a3678

And girls: http://www.ebay.com/...=item3cad524684

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Grooms Gift

I also hired Angela Brooks to take Boudoir photographs to create a book for my FI as a gift.  This was by far the best gift I could have given him…he was just crazy about it.  

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Brides Gift

My husband surprised me with a Mother’s Bracelet from Pearls by Laurel…very beautiful.  But more importantly, when I returned to my suite after having my hair done on the day of the wedding, he had about 30 notes post it notes everywhere with reasons why he loved me and some “love” quotes.  That was a wonderful gift that moved me to tears. 

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OOT Bags

I admit that I went a bit over board with the OOT Bags.  I spent just under $1,500 to fill these up.  My budget was $500 but my group kept getting bigger and bigger, oh well, I enjoy giving so it was my obsession, lol.    Here is a list of what was included in the bags and the cost:


·                Bridal Entourage T-shirts $145.00

·                Flip flops $237.00

·                Luggage Tags/Neon Coils $23.01

·                Room Key/Tip Case Holder $11.01

·                Passport with Information $46.45

·                Playing Cards/Bags/Coils $99.63

·                Kleenex $12

·                Buttons – R.Y.F.K.M $55.24

·                Travel Mugs $90.00

·                Water Bottle $5.00

·                Mini rum bottle $36.00

·                Do Not Disturb Sign DIY

·                Note Pad/Pen $30.00

·                Colouring Book/Crayons  $6.00

·                Activity Book DIY

·                English/Spanish Dictionary DIY

·                Weekly Survival Kit $77.00

·                First Aid kit

·                Lip Balm

·                Mini Sunblock

·                Mini Shampoo

·                Nail File

·                Mini Conditioner

·                Purell $25.99

·                Watches  $23.99

o      “I Love You Til The End of Time”

·                Toy Rings $7.25

o       “He liked it, So he Put a Ring on it”

·                Candy Bag $75

o      “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” 

·                Fans $37.60

·                Newsletter DIY

·                Bus Schedule/Rehearsal DIY

·                Laynards $13.62

·                Wine Charms $25.56

·                Face Clothes - $17.50

·                Make Up Bags for girls - $52.86

·                Can Covers - $20.89

·                Key chain Maracas $40.00

·                Paper/Ink for DIY: $125.00

·                Extra flip flops $12.00

·                Extra T-shirts $38.00

·                Extra Mugs $50.67

·                Beach Fun Items $56.82


              Total   Cost: $1,478.09


         What were the big hits: 

·                     Luggage Tags (made it very easy to spot our luggage at the airport)

·                     Personalized Travel Mugs

·                     Flip Flops

·                     Passport Book with all the information on Travel, Cuba and the resort (people referred to this as their “Bible” for the week, lol

·                     R.Y.F.K.M Buttons (again glad I brought extra, this was a huge hit)

·                     Entourage T-shirts…everyone wore them on flight and the catamaran excursion. It was pretty awesome! 

Wine charms were also a great hit.   

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Welcome Brochure-Package

Given the size of our group, we had a total of 79, and given that I delivered the OOT Bags in advance, I created a little Welcome package to hand out to the Group on arrival at the hotel in Cuba.   The package contained our Welcome Brochure; Map of the resort with information about the resort on the back ie time for Buffet etc.  door hang "Wedding Group"; Key/Tip holder with laynard, Request for Coffee card and the Wedding Day Program.  The item that everyone loved here was the Key/Tip holder!! Good thing I brought extra as people asked for another one for the 2nd key.

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Transfers to Blau Marina 

Our group was so large that we had 2 buses exclusively for us.  However, one of my husband’s cousins had a wonderful surprise.  4 convertible antique cars were outside waiting for our wedding party to take us to the resort.  This was such a nice gift.

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The Resort

We decided on a destination wedding as we love to travel. We’ve been to Belize, Cuba, Dominican, Barbados, Mexico, Jamaica and Cayman Islands and I have to say that Cuba has the nicest beaches. We also chose Cuba as it is the most cost effective for our guests and has the best nightly entertainment. My future brother-in-law had been to Blau Marina Varadero (formerly Barcelo Marina) and he absolutely loved it! I checked out the packages and compared with some of the other local resorts and decided to go with Blau Marina as that where we got the most for our money. We also loved that they only allow one wedding per day.  After getting quotes from Sunwing, Trans-At and Signature Vacations, we booked with Transat Vacations…. $1032 for regular rooms and $1104 for oceanview rooms and some really impressive incentives.


I was having anxiety as I had not done a site inspection before booking.  So in April, I booked a 3 night vacation for me and my MOH to Varadero to go check out the resort and meet with the Wedding co-ordinator.   This was by far the best thing that I have done!  It answered so many questions and we got to check out the resort and the surroundings for pictures. Well worth the $485 I paid for the 3 nights.  I would recommend this to ALL brides. 


We were very happy with our choice as were our 79 guests.  The beach was almost private being at the end of the peninsula, the rooms were large and clean, the resort is one of the prettiest in Varadero, the pool was fun fun fun, and our guests had the option from 3 different pools (although we all stayed in the main pool) and the food, well it’s Cuba so you won’t starve but it’s the same as everywhere else, bland but you’ll always find something to eat.  


Resort Wedding Reception/Package

What I loved most about the resort, is that they only do one wedding a day and they have a banquet hall for the reception.  A bride has several choices on where she wants to get married…the beach, the gazebo near the beach, or even the gardens of the VIP section, Cayo Libertad (adults only section).  We chose to have our ceremony at the beach, cocktails with cigars at the piano bar and the reception in the banquet hall.    The resort package for a symbolic wedding ($500) included:


·       Wedding area decorations (nominal so we hired Aire De Fiesta, see below).

·       Wedding cake.

·       A Bottle of sparkling wine.

·       Natural Flowers Bouquet for the bride.

·       Natural flower buttonhole for the groom.

·       Massage for bride and groom.

·       Live or Recorded Music during the wedding ceremony and cocktails

    time. (we had our own music for the ceremony so only used them for cocktail hour)       

·       Reception cocktails and hors d’ouvres for the wedding group after the wedding.

·       Private Gala Dinner for the wedding group (20 ppl, each additional person $20 CUC).

·       Personal wedding coordinator services.

·       Hair Style (For bride only on the wedding day)

·       “MORNING AFTER” breakfast in bed.( For the couple)

·       Late Check Out free (subject to availability)


We were also upgraded to a large Oceanview Suite that was spectacular!   

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Catamaran/Swimming with the Dolphins/Cayo Blanco

Hands down a MUST DO!!! I cannot express how happy I am with our choice to organize this with all our guests. It was definitely one of the highlights of the week.   We had a Grease Themed Jack N Jill and all the proceeds went to pay for the catamaran.  This brought down everyone’s cost from $95 per person to $30 per person.  We all piled on a double decker bus that took us literally 2 minutes to get to the Marina (it was pretty funny), boarded Crucero del Sol and set sail on the blue clear water, music playing and all inclusive drinks.  We stopped for some snorkelling and went swimming with the dolphins…that was an experience of a lifetime.  Most people were so moved and very emotional.  We then sailed to Cayo Blanco with icing sugar sand, blue clear water, an open bar, access to a few shops (typical souvenier items), a live band, dancing 'competitions' and a wonderful lunch (the pina colada’s and shrimp skewers are to die). After a couple of hours, we sailed back to Varadero.  


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The Dress

I bought my dress at David’s Bridal.  It cost $699 plus taxes and paid another $350 for alterations. I had the seamstress remove the zipper and put a corset back, just cuz that’s my preference. I did do a trash the dress session with it but after having it dry cleaned, it came out like new.    


I also bought a short dress for the rehearsal dinner from our local bridal shop for $299 plus taxes.  It is absolutely beautiful, I love it and will keep it for when my husband and I go out for special/fancy dinners.  Sorry, I don’t have a professional shot of it…I’m at the beach in the dark here. 

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The Veil and Tiara

I bought the tiara and veil both also at David’s Bridal.  I paid $150 for the Swaroski Crystal Tiara and another $199 for the veil.  I will keep the tiara for my girls to wear but will likely sell the veil and the dress.  

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The Jewellery

I bought my jewellery on ebay for $15.00.  The seller is http://www.ebay.com/...984.m1439.l2649

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The Shoes

I had three different shoes to wear.

1.  Firstly the barefoot sandal that I wore at the beach for the ceremony. I got them off e-bay for $13.49 for a pair.  http://www.ebay.ca/i...=item5af1b62f1c


2. I ordered personalized flip flops www.partyflops.com just in case the sand was going to be too hot and for the reception in case my feet got sore in my heels.  I paid $40 for them. 


3. My shoes for pictures and the reception.  I bought them of Etsy and only paid $35 for them.  They fit so well and are very comfortable. 


  I also bought a pair of slippers to change into for dancing as I knew I wouldn’t last all night in heals.  I got them on ebay for $30..http://www.ebay.com/...984.m1439.l2649


I purchased a clutch from ebay to match my shoes for $36.99 : http://www.ebay.com/...ME:L:OC:CA:3160

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I used the resort hairdresser to do my hair. I brought a picture of what I wanted.  She did a pretty good job but I would have liked my bangs a bit softer. I didn’t let that ruin my day though.   My step-daughter friend (since they were 8) is a makeup artist…she kindly volunteered to do my makeup 

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Bridesmaid/Maid of Honour Dresses

Given that people are paying for their trips, I wanted to pay for the bridal party’s attire.  I bought all the girls dresses at www.venus.com and paid $39 each.  The girls love the way the dress fits and love the fact that they can wear it again after the wedding.  However, we had a bit of a “hiccup” 4 weeks before the wedding.  My MOH didn’t lose the 5lbs she wanted to and didn’t like how the dress wasn’t forgiving on her.  We ended up going to the local Bridal shop and picked out another dress off the rack which was significantly more expensive.  


For the ceremony, I purchased barefoot sandals for the girls from e-bay for $13.49 for a pair.  For the reception, I ordered personalized flip flops from www.partyflops.com.  I ordered 25 pairs for my guests as well and with shipping, it came out to $9.48 each.  I later found really cute ones at Ardene`s on sale for $1.00 which I ended up getting for the remaining of my lady guests.  If I was doing it over again, I would just have bought them all at Ardene`s, albeit they came out fantastic! 

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Groom and Groomsmen Attires

My fiancé wanted to wear Cuban attire for the wedding.  I did plenty of online surfing before I found a reasonable price www.guayaberascubanas.com .  The guys shirts were $28.99 and the pants were $39.99.   I also ordered the ring boy attire from there for $32.99 for the shirt and $34.99 for the pants.  My FI was in all white and the other boys were in white and beige.  

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Ring Boy/Flower Girl

I bought my flower girls dress from Walmart (believe it or not) and paid $35.00. I wanted something that she could wear again…I liked that it matched the bridesmaid’s dresses. 

For the ring boy, I purchased it from price www.guayaberascubanas.com.  I can’t remember exactly but I think the pants and shirt together were just under $100.

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I used the flowers the resort provided with the package and just paid for the girls bouquets $15 each.  I had asked for Calla Lillies but received just white lillies….Again, I didn’t let the small stuff bother me…my day was magical and would have still been magical if I had carried yellow dandy lions…lol

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Garter/Pillow/Flower Girl Basket

I found a website:  www.incasagifts.com and purchased the Basket for our Flower Girl; the Pillow for our Ring boy and my garters.   I can’t remember exactly how much I paid but all together almost $100 for the set. 

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Place Cards

This is one of Martha Stewart’s ideas…I loved it considering our Invitations were a Message in a Bottle. We filled the viles with a bit of sand from the Varadero beach and everyone loved that they got to take it back home.    I paid $6.95 for a lot of 50.  http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.Xsmall+glass+viles&_nkw=small+glass+viles&_sacat=0&_from=R40

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 Guest Book

We did 2 different types:  We made a calendar for 2014 with our Engagement photos and I made a sign for people to sign on their date of birth.  We also put post cards (that I created on Vistaprint) in their OOT Bags and asked that they return it to us with their favorite memory of the wedding week.  I really enjoyed receiving these after the wedding.  Everyone had the times of their lives and many put that there were “too many favorites to pick just one”. 

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Card Box/Welcome Table

I went to Michael’s to buy a card box and was amazed at how expensive they were…they ranged from $59.99 to $89.99…so I just bought a plane black box (usually used to store pictures) from Michael’s for $2.99, added ribbon, blinged it up and added a flower that I paid .50 at Ardene’s.…here is the final product.  I’m glad that I did bring one as we received about 12 cards.  I then left it with one of the maid’s that was engaged to be married. 

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Table Centrepieces

As mentioned above, we hired Aire De Fiesta from Cuba to take care of the decorations and centrepieces for me…they did such a fabulous job. 


The head table had to large centre pieces at both ends. After we arrived in the hall, I put all the girls flowers at the edge of the table..it looked real pretty.

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Candy Table 

I brought a bunch of candy from home and asked Aire De Fiesta to assemble it all for me.  They, of course, did a fabulous job and it was a big hit.  The candy that was left over at the end of the evening, I gave to the workers of Aire De Fiesta as well as the resort to share with their children.

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We wrote our own ceremony script which I was really happy that we had it all personalized.  If anyone is looking for a ceremony script, let me know and I will be happy to share.

I made my own programs for the day of wedding as well as my own starfish boutinairre’s.  In fact, we had enough starfish that ALL the men got one and the ladies received fans.  I bought a black basket at Dollarama and added the white ribbon, the kleenex, bubbles and programs were in the basket.  My groomsmen gave them out as people arrived at the beach.  The bridesmaids were busy putting all the starfish boutinairre’s on the men.  I bought the tears of joy black/white kleenex from Dollarama and just added the black ribbon and tag to them. 

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Reception/Table Decoration

I made some Thank You cards for each table that I ordered from Vistaprint and my DIY project of MINT match books was a great success.  Aire De Fiesta assembled these throughout all the guest tables and added tea candles, crystals and bells.  I have the template for the mint books on a publisher file, if anyone is interested. 


The resort decorations were nominal so we hired Aire De Fiesta to come and decorate.  This, by far, was the best decision I made.  The resort said it was the most beautiful wedding they had there.  For the ceremony at the beach, they did the chair covers, sashes, canopy, runner, flowers and the at the reception, they provided the table linens, centre pieces, chair covers and sashes, lighting, drapery, candles etc.  They truly made it look spectacular!!! Here are some unprofessional pictures of the décor: 


Sorry, I don’t have any others of the beach ceremony decorations.  I hope that my photographer caught some.  Nevertheless, they come very highly recommended and the cost was very reasonable.  They assemble everything, disassemble everything and you don’t worry about ANYTHING….They can be reached athttp://www.airedefiestacuba.com/en , email: comercial@airedefiestacuba.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook...iredefiestacuba

The only complaint I have was that the air conditioner kept turning off during the reception.  I eventually just left the doors open so that the breeze could come through. 

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Throw Away Bouquet

I decided to do something different instead of throwing away my bouquet (it’s a good thing I did as someone actually stole my bouquet while I was having photos taken of me serving beer at the bar, lol).    In ancient times, it was believed that the Bride and Groom were especially lucky on their wedding day. Guests would sometimes tear at the Bride’s dress for a souvenir piece of good luck to take home. The Bride would toss her bouquet or garter to prevent guests from damaging her dress and to pass along some of the couple’s good fortune. We want to share our good fortune with our guests, so I bought 8 different good luck charms and attached them to small bouquets and that is what I tossed.  This way, all the ladies participated, not just the single ones. It was a big success. 

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Cake/Memorial Candle

The resort made a very delicious cake…chocolate on the inside and vanilla on the outside.  We brought our own decorations being shells from all the places we travelled together, Cuba, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, etc.  I also brought our initials and a cake topper that I bought on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/...=item4d15c426c3


Etienne lost his mother to cancer in 2005 and a month later, I lost my sister in a car accident. We wanted something simple but nothing to dramatic and emotion to remember them by. The memorial candle I made myself…it says “We know you would be here today if Heaven weren’t so far away”…here is a close up…very easy to do.   I know they were both there with us …during the ceremony, ironically, there were 2 birds just lingering around the canopy 

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As part of our Thank You speech, we decided on giving out prizes/awards. I ordered T-shirts and Tote bags from Vista print as well as key chains and assembled them in bags that I bought from Dollarama.  The prizes were:

o    Best Sun Hat Award

o    Worst Sun Burn Award

o    Best Spanish Dancer Award

o    Beer Chugging Champion

o    Party Animal Award

o    Most Drunk Award 

o    The “Lovable Harmless Pervert”/Take a Picture, it Lasts Longer Award  - lol

o    Friendliest /Congeniality Award

This was a huge success!!! Everyone loved the idea.

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We paid our friend Angela Brooks from Angela Brooks Photography to come and capture the week.    However, she was a little nervous about travelling with a work visa so we hired the resort photographer to offset the attention from Angela.  We paid $150 for the package and it included:

·      24 photos 5*7.

·      2 enlargements 8*10.

·      CD with pictures

·      Photo Album your wedding pictures.

·      Professional Photographer.


I must say these pictures came out pretty good but how could they not with a beautiful backdrop of the beach in Varadero.  You can however, tell that they are not “professional” to our Canadian standards.  I am definitely relieved that I brought our own photographer! 

Angela took pictures of our group throughout the week, our group Excursion, Catamaran/Swimming with the Dolphins, rehearsal day/dinner, wedding day, couple boudoir/first morning as husband and wife, Trash the Dress Session.   She took over 4000 pictures and will need a couple of months to complete the package.  Here are a couple of her sneak peeks. I can’t wait to receive the entire set!  Angela and her husband Craig, who works the 2ndcamera, come highly recommended:  https://www.facebook...276142922418634 and to her website: www.angelabrooksphotography.com

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Trash the Dress

Our trash the dress session was the following day.  Angela came into our room at 9:00 to catch the 1st morning as husband and wife shots.  She took some of us having breakfast and then some couple boudoir.  We then went to a meadow in the resort just behind the gazebo and took some pictures there. We then took a convertible car to the Mansion and then into a small restaurant right in Varadero.  Once we returned from town, we went to the beach and in the ocean for some breathtaking pictures.  Angela and her husband Craig, of course, were so much fun to work with!   The experience although tiresome, was fantastic, Etienne and I had a blast! 

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Our friend, David Hou, is a professional photographer (has worked on Canada’s Next Top Model and his work has been published on various magazines) he offered to video tape our wedding so that he can add it to his portfolio.  I haven’t seen the finished product yet but based on how his performance, I am confident that he will exceed our expectations.  Here is a link to his facebook page: https://www.facebook...129191817148451


First Morning as Husband and Wife

Angela was amazing and took some couple boudoir pictures of us on the first morning as husband and wife...Here are some sneak peeks...I intend on framing some and putting them in our bedroom. 

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We took our friends Gerri and Terry Humphries from My Wedding DJ - Homemade Jam DJs & Photo Booths down with us to help out.  They did an amazing job!  I can’t praise them enough.  Terry made sure that the day ran smooth and everything and everyone was in place.  Gerri officiated the ceremony and provided the wedding ceremony and reception music.  Terry helped the décor with putting up some black sheers and rhinestones at the head table and backdrop décor.  They also helped us put together the remix for our first dance mash up.  They come highly recommended as well:  https://www.facebook.../myweddingdj.ca


First Dance

Our first dance was to “What A Wonderful World” and our nephew, Jake McNeil, sang it.  However, we wanted to do something fun so after about a minute and a half, we cut Jake off and did a mash up.  I picked the songs and where to cut them off and Gerri (DJ) put it together for us.  Once I had the mas up music, I choreographed the dance and practiced for 3 weeks before the wedding. The last song, got everyone up and dancing.  Here is the link to Youtube to watch the performance: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=80jO9-B_BVI




I believe that covers it.  I have templates of soooo many things, it’s crazy…. so if you are looking for one, don’t hesitate to private message me and I will be happy to send them along. 


My advice, keep on ongoing list of things that you would like to get accomplished and when you want them completed by…remember to put the little things in there as those are the ones you likely forget.  Remember don’t sweat the small stuff, it won’t make a difference on your big day. 


Happy planning ladies and make sure to breath and take it all it…your day will be magical and will pass so quickly.  It was the week of a lifetime for us as well as all our guests!  Memories were created that will last forever and bring smiles to our faces!  Cheers!!!  


Last picture...my husband expression when he first saw me Attached File  FIRST EXPRESSION.jpg   68.57KB   4 downloads


17 Years in the Making....and we love each other more now then ever!
Post Wedding Items for Sale: http://www.bestdesti...various-items/ 

Wedding Dance Mash Up Video -  https://www.youtube....h?v=80jO9-B_BVI

#2 csho

  • Sr. Member
  • 1,007 posts
  • Wedding Date:May 5, 2014
  • Wedding Location:Iberostar Laguna Azul, Varadero Cuba
  • LocationHalifax, NS

Posted 22 January 2014 - 06:17 AM

Amazing review Lydia!!! I loved reading it again lol and I love that you got the pictures into their proper places! Those photos of you and Etienne the first morning as husband and wife... WOW!

#3 mellie818

  • Newbie
  • 92 posts
  • Wedding Date:May 21, 2014
  • Wedding Location:Punta Cana

Posted 22 January 2014 - 11:16 AM

Wow Lydia, great review, I am interested in some of your items for sale but I cannot view them.


Have you posted them on Kijiji by any chance?

#4 mckievme

  • Jr. Member
  • 183 posts
  • Wedding Date:April 25, 2015
  • Wedding Location:Cancun, Mexico

Posted 04 March 2014 - 07:26 AM

I love the idea of taking first morning pictures of husband and wife. Unfortunately I can't see them yet because they're attachments! You're idea of prizes for your guests is fantastic! I'm sure you're guests loved receiving those

#5 DWBride2015

  • Site Supporter
  • 128 posts
  • Wedding Date:April 24, 2015
  • Wedding Location:Royalton Resort- Jellyfish
  • LocationDR Punta Cana

Posted 07 March 2014 - 07:02 PM

Your pictures are look great.
Soon to be Mrs. Thiam

#6 FutureMrsSam

  • Jr. Member
  • 176 posts
  • Wedding Date:November 12, 2016

Posted 14 March 2014 - 08:58 PM

Wow! Love your pics

#7 Lydia1120

  • Site Supporter
  • 406 posts
  • Wedding Date:November 20, 2013
  • Wedding Location:Varadero, Cuba
  • LocationCobourg, Ontario

Posted 18 March 2014 - 06:23 AM

I forgot to post that given that we had a symbolic wedding, I created a Marriage License for us to sign at the ceremony.  Here is what it looked like...I framed it and not my legal one :-) 

Also, for those of you who don't want a Sand Ceremony but something similar, we had a water ceremony that involved the wedding party.  The officiant read: 

To symbolize this union and the importance of family within the marriage, two separate colors of water will be combined.  The boys hold the containers of yellow water. Yellow is the color of sunshine. The color yellow represents joy and happiness. It also stands for wisdom.  The girls hold the containers of blue water. Blue represents confidence and trust. A "true blue" friend is faithful and trustworthy.


Etienne and Lydia, this bottle represents your marriage. It is a new beginning in your relationship with each other.  As the yellow water is poured into the bottle, you bring sunshine and wisdom to your family. And as the blue water is poured into the bottle, you bring confidence, trust and loyalty to your family.  The blending of the yellow and blue water creates green, representing the blending of your lives together. The color green represents stability, endurance, growth and harmony.  May your marriage reflect these qualities.

I kept the small bottle with the green water.   Here are some pics 
IMG 8792
IMG 8883


17 Years in the Making....and we love each other more now then ever!
Post Wedding Items for Sale: http://www.bestdesti...various-items/ 

Wedding Dance Mash Up Video -  https://www.youtube....h?v=80jO9-B_BVI

#8 Meandhim

  • Member
  • 706 posts
  • Wedding Date:November 25, 2015
  • Wedding Location:Grand Palladium in Punta Cana
  • LocationToronto

Posted 20 March 2014 - 05:24 AM

Love the Marriage certificate Idea!!

My Planning Thread - MeandHim - Grand Palladium Bavaro - Nov 25 2015



#9 marinah84

  • Jr. Member
  • 463 posts
  • Wedding Date:March 14, 2015
  • Wedding Location:Crown Paradise Club Cancun
  • LocationOklahoma

Posted 15 June 2014 - 04:41 AM

Following so I can look at pictures later. Sounds amazing!

30 guests, Bride & Groom & 2 kids - one FANTASTIC time!


Planning Thread - Includes lots of DIY (picture-heavy)


Underwater Trash The Dress Session Photos - Samuel Luna (Photographer)



Resort Review - Crown Paradise Club Cancun



Photographer Review - Samuel Luna - Coming Soon!


Makeup/Hair Artist Review Sara Tamargo



For Sale Items






#10 zupochka

  • Jr. Member
  • 153 posts

    Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:01 PM


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