I can't believe that I got married almost two weeks ago! It's insane how fast time flies! I already miss my wedding week and I wish I could turn back time so badly! We had such an amazing time with all of our family and friends. It truly was a once in a life-time experience as we were able to mix groups of friends and family that would have otherwise never gotten a chance to know each other and we got to spend time with everyone!
I have absolutely no regrets about having a destination wedding! I believe I mentioned it in my first post, but it was actually my fiancee (now husband!) who persuaded me to have a destination wedding. Until I started planning my wedding I always thought that I would have a traditional wedding at home like all my friends and family. Choosing a destination wedding was the best decision I made!
Below is my review:
Iberostar Varadero Wedding Review:
We got married at Iberostar Varadero on September 24, 2015. We were there from September 19-26. We booked our wedding with Yogesh Anand of Marlin Travel in Oakville and we flew with Air Transat. Our TA Yogesh was amazing and great at handling my questions, requests, and concerns. He got us a great rate and went out of his way for us. Flying with Air Transat was great too! They were really good to us and our wedding group. We were all seated together which was great. The pilot made an announcement about our wedding and my husband and I got complimentary bottles of sparkling wine. The only downside was that they don’t have a special closet, like Sunwing, to store your wedding dress and they only offer you a whole overhead compartment if it is available. I had to cram my dress in the overhead compartment.
The resort was amazing, despite having a few weak points. Check-in went really smoothly we didn’t have to wait long to get our rooms and they had three people doing the check-in so it went fast. We were told that there would be bellboys to assist with our luggage, but there weren’t any so we had to take our luggage to our rooms ourselves. Our guests were in blocks 11 and 12 and we were in block 17 because we were upgraded free of charge to a suite! In our suite we received a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine which was really nice. Our room was really nice, but the button on our toilet was a little broken, the toilet still worked though, this was the only drawback to our room. It was also nice that we were able to access the wifi from our room, everyone else said that they had to use the wifi in the lobby. Wifi is available; however, it is 2CUC per hour. The only complaint for rooms that we had was from my MIL who wanted to be in a room on the second floor, she was given a new room the next day.
The food at the resort was the best food I’ve had in Cuba (This was our third trip to Cuba). My family couldn’t eat the meat (they only eat halal meat), but were able to eat fish and we also had vegetarians with us and everyone was able to find something to eat. My only complaint was the food handling, this is a 5 star resort and part of the Iberostar chain so I expected more. I’ve seen better food handling procedures at lower star resorts. There was lots of cross-contamination (i.e. one spoon for meat and veggie dishes). We booked a reservation at the Japanese a la carte and there were cockroaches on the cooking surface and the table that we were at. This was unacceptable to us so we got up, left, and went to the main buffet instead which didn’t have any bugs or other critters. I hope that they work on their food handling procedures in the near future.
The beach was simply the best I’ve ever seen. There was no seaweed, the water was bright blue and clear so that you could see all the way to the bottom. The water was warm and the ocean was calm the whole time we were there. The pool was amazing as well and it was HUGE! The swim-up bar had the best drinks! Especially the Banana Daiquiri and Papa Hemingway. They also had amazing virgin drinks too for my family members and guests who don’t drink alcohol. There were plenty of palapas and chairs near the beach and pool so there was never any competition. Since we travelled during hurricane season it was very hot and humid during the day, but nice and sunny and then it rained for about an hour after 4p.m. which is when we all headed back to our rooms to get ready for dinner, nap, ect. anyways.
The staff really does go out of their way to make your stay special. When they found out that we were getting married I found that they were super nice to us and our group. The staff never begged or asked for tips (something we had seen at other resorts) but went above and beyond for everyone. Since they knew we were a big group they often set aside enough chairs and tables for our whole group so we could eat dinner together in the main buffet. I will definitely go back to the Iberostar Varadero for vacation.
We arrived on Saturday and during check-in we were given a piece of paper with a time and place to meet the wedding co-ordinator. We met with our coordinator on the Monday morning to go over details such as the flowers, cake, decor, venue options, timings, photography, videography, appointments, and pricing. Belkis, the wedding coordinator was amazing! She is so good at what she does! You are in good hands with her. She told us what to do, where to go, and how the wedding will work. We didn’t even need a rehearsal. Our ceremony was set for 3 p.m., dinner at 6:30p.m. at La Parilla restaurant, and reception at 8:30p.m. at the beach bar.
On the wedding day I was extremely calm until I realized that I was running a little behind schedule. My hair appointment was booked for 11a.m. and the woman that did my hair did an amazing job. I knew that I wanted an updo because of the heat and humidity. I brought my own hairspray (Redken Control Addict) and bobby pins. My hair was amazing and stayed all day. My hair took almost 2 hours to do. I raced back to my room to have my bridesmaid (a freelance makeup artist) do my makeup which she had offered to do as a wedding gift. Just as I got my makeup done the photographer, Ibrianny, arrived to take some photos of us getting ready. I had to quickly slip on my dress and jewelry for him to get some shots. Next thing I knew it was time to leave for the ceremony. Belkis picked us up in a golf cart and we headed down to the beach gazebo.
The ceremony was beautiful. I chose a live Cuban trio to play music for the ceremony and my walk down the aisle which was absolutely beautiful. We had a symbolic ceremony which was about 10-15 minutes long. We signed a piece to paper to make it look real to everyone, exchanged vows, and exchanged rings. We had a champagne toast with all of our guests after the ceremony and were greeted by friends and family so that they could congratulate us.
After the ceremony we did a group photo with everyone, family photos, photos with the wedding party, and then pictures of the two of us. Ibrianny was absolutely incredible! He knew the right lighting and angles to make us look good. He was also very friendly and a pleasure to work with. Our videographer was amazing as well. We couldn’t be happier with our photos and video.
I wanted a choice of two main dishes for my entree because my family would only eat fish and other people didn’t eat fish. So we chose to have a salmon and a chicken entree. I had the salmon with mango chutney which was delicious. We had a buffet appetizer, lobster bisque for soup, and crepes with flambeed bananas for dessert which all tasted fabulous.
There was some confusion after dinner with our reception. We originally wanted the beach bar which is outdoors, but because of rain we were relocated to the disco. The reception was supposed to start at 8:30p.m. but because there was a function happening we had to wait until 9p.m. We were all just confused as to what was happening. We didn’t have an MC so we ended up MCing the reception ourselves which was a little stressful, but we had fun with it. We did speeches while they were setting up the cake then we did the cake cutting, first dance, and then we danced the night away till 11p.m. when the disco opened to the public.
When we left the reception we went back to our room which was beautifully decorated with rose petals, chocolate, and another complimentary bottle of sparkling wine!
Even though there were a few hiccups in our day we still had an amazing time and I wouldn’t change anything. I definitely recommend getting married at the Iberostar Varadero it was a dream come true.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my planning thread and my review! I'm not done yet with updates! I'm so behind lol, but I'm hoping to upload some pictures of my legal ceremony and tell you all about it as well.
I wanted to post some pictures of my wedding day in Cuba, but for some reason I can't =(