I’m basically just reposting my review from my planning thread, but I thought this might be easier to find for future brides, rather than going through pages and pages of a planning thread. I posted a bunch of pictures on the planning thread but they’re so much work to re-attach (Am I lazy or what?!) so you can head to this link, they’re on page 84 and 85.
In a few words, our week was amazing!! Our guests had so much fun, we had so much fun, everything turned out the way we planned (or better) and even things that I had no control over fell into place and things were just perfect. The resort is just beautiful, all of our guests were raving about it and the food.
A special shout out to the resort staff as well, I am beyond amazed at how they make everything seem to seamless and perfect. They were on top of things, they were super nice, etc. I'll get into it all later. Ladies, those of you getting married at AF, you absolutely have nothing to worry or stress out about, words just can't describe how awesome these people are at their job.
Some details about the wedding:
When: August 13, 2015
Location: Sky Deck for ceremony and reception, no cocktail hour.
# of guests: 32, all adults
Arrival and check in:
Our arrival to the airport was a bit of a gong show. We had a lot of suitcases, plus the dress and suit to take care of. On the flight, they didn't give us the green custom form, and of course when you're dealing with so many people, so many suitcases, it just makes everything a lot harder when you have to fill it out once you get to the airport. I had Juan's passport, but because we don't live together, we had to go through customs separately and fill a separate form. I got separated from my family (which should have been one form), so we made customs really clumsy haha, the guys there were not impressed with us . Of course, both Juan and I got the dumb red button so all our suitcases had to be opened and inspected. They just asked why we were bringing so much stuff and I told them that because I was getting married, I think the dress might have given it away haha. Also, I brought some cookies for favours, there were 35 of them, sealed and packaged, but they asked what they were and they opened the boxes. I thought they'd confiscate them but luckily they didn't . I think the fact that they were sealed made it easier for them to accept them coming in. Then we were off to the resort
I know a lot of brides have said that check in was cumbersome, but I had the opposite experience. I had warned my guests to expect delays, but most of us were out of there in about 30 min. Just make sure everyone has their passport and confirmation for their trips with them. This makes things a lot easier for them to check you in, Only two couples didn't get the room they had paid for, and had to wait from 5 until 8 to get their room but they were happy that the hotel accommodated them. You can also leave your luggage with them and hit the gin bar (which is connected to the lobby) until your room is available.
When Juan and I arrived to our room we were wowed. This is definitely the nicest hotel we had ever been at. We got upgraded to a one bedroom sky suite, with a private terrace, and everything was just beautiful. We were in villa 1, the closest one to the lobby, gin bar, gym, and some of the restaurants. Also the furthest one from the beach. The walk to the beach was 5 minutes, if that, so definitely not that far. I was very concerned about the rooms being far away from the beach but luckily it wasn't an issue, it's quite close. I had read some reviews of people complaining that no one picked them up with a golf cart to come back from the beach. All I can say is b*** please hahah, it's really not that far. Golf carts are also always available in case you have someone with mobility issues. We even got one one day at 1:30am after they kicked us out of the sky bar because they were closing.
Some of the older rooms seem to be a little more dated. For ours, everything was working and aside from a few minor details it looked in pristine condition. Juan's parents' room had their couch a little more used, it just looked older, but it was still very nice. My parents and brother stayed at the essence section. Their rooms were just lovely. My parents had a one bedroom sky suite as well and it was beautiful. Some of our guests got upgraded for free and I think this made their week .
This was also another concern for me, as some people have said the beach was a bit rocky, plus of course, the seaweed problem. There's two sides to the beach, if you go to the right, it is more rocky, and we didn't really swim there all that much. To the left, there's no rocks.
The seaweed was pretty bad on day 1 but got progressively better through our stay and there was pretty much nothing by the time we left. Even when it was bad, it was swimmable, especially on the left, less rocky side of the beach. To give you an idea of the amount of seaweed left on the beach on the worst day, you could step over it with just one step . Then we played at chucking seaweed at each other, it was fun haha. I thought it would be the slimy disgusting kind but it was the rough plant kind, which is not too bad. Also, there's some huge sandbags on both sides of the ocean to help with the current. These were fun because they're so hard to get on but then you can slide or dive off of them. The fishes also eat the seaweed that grows on them, so it was a nice and natural way of luring them in for some great snorkelling.
Well, let's just say that it will be very hard to return to any other all inclusive that is not a gourmet inclusive hotel haha. The food was great, even on the two buffets that they have for breakfast or lunch. There's enough selection of different restaurants for you not to get bored in one week. We didn't even have time to eat at all of them. We tried both of the ones that needed reservations, the Thai and Italian and I loved both, some of our guests liked the Thai more, some the Italian, and some neither haha. There's really something for everyone
The restaurants were so accommodating of our large group. If we showed up and asked them for 20 tables, they did their best to try and fit as many of us in one table as possible, or adjacent tables. It was easier to get bigger groups together at the restaurants that needed reservations, but even the other ones tried to sit at least 8-10 of us together haha.
The Spa - Hair and makeup trial
On Monday, before our welcome dinner, I went to go get my hair and makeup trial. I got really sick and even though I thought I was doing better by the afternoon, it came back full force as I was getting my hair done so I had to postpone my makeup to the next day. The trial went really well despite the fact that I was so out of it haha. I worked with Andrea and she was so nice. After being done, she took a few pictures and then I told her the kind of changes I wanted to do.
For the makeup, again I gave Andrea an idea of what I wanted and she went ahead and recreated it. I thought she had used too much bronzer when I first saw my face so I asked her if we could use more of a pink blush for the wedding, since that's what I usually wear. At the end of the night the makeup from the trial looked great and even loved the bronzer, but I still decided to go more with a pink blush for the wedding. It was funny, I got to my room and was getting ready to shower, when Juan and his best man walk in, and they both go "wow Sofia! You look like a model!" hahah. At that point I was like, goal achieved. I decided to keep the makeup on for the rest of the night. By the way, I got airbrush makeup. and if you have the chance, get it. This thing lasts through the night, and it doesn't look or feel like it's caked on.
The welcome dinner:
We had our welcome dinner at Flavours on Monday. I was feeling kind of sick but even though I felt like i would have to excuse myself after about 20 minutes, I was able to pull through and stay the whole night. We chose the meal with the beef medallions and OMG, that food was delicious. Everyone loved it.
Just as quickly as my sickness came, it left. I felt much better after dinner, and a couple of Imodium haha, and we made it to the sky bar to once again party until we dropped, and they kicked us out again hahah.
Spa on wedding day:
While there, I decided to book a bridal spa day. For about $200, I got a facial, a massage, reflexology, my hair and makeup was included in this package, and the use of the bridal suite at the spa for that day. My bridesmaids could come over, and even though they had a maximum 4 people limit, we ended up being 7 at one point haha. Another good thing, your bridesmaids don't necessarily have to get any services done at the spa to come in and get ready there, but if they want to, they'll do their hair and makeup all in the same room.
I am so glad I did this, it was so relaxing to begin the whole ritual at around 11am (wedding was at 5pm), getting my massage done, being able to have a shower at the bridal suite and having my hair done before people came over. Just the smell at this spa and the whole ambiance is amazing and so relaxing. I could have also gone before 11am to use the hydromassage room, but with so many last minute preparations, I didn't have time. The airbrush makeup application was an extra fee, that again I thought was very worth it.
I took some really bad pictures of the room we were in. It looks messy because the massage bed had not been re-made yet. This was right after I took my shower and before Andrea came in to do my hair and makeup. The lady who did my massage (I can't remember her name) came back and put the bed back together for everything to look nice again before the bridesmaids and bridal party came over.
Andrea again did my hair and makeup. On the day of, and the trial, I totally forgot to give her my headband haha, so without headband it was.
they also provided us with some mimosas and a few bites, which were delicious BTW.
The guys getting ready:
They gave Juan and the boys a room to get ready in as well. They provided them with food and drinks. It was in the newer section. He had to go on the day of, at around 11:30 to find out what room they'd be staying at.
Then they were off to the ceremony...
The Wedding Department:
I cannot say enough good things about this department. After all my frustration and anger with Lomas throughout the planning process, these guys totally made it up to me. We met with them on Tuesday, there was a person from the hotel and the Lomas representative, Lucely and Claudia. We went over the last few details, including who was in the bridal party, who was the MC, my timeline, they asked me when I'd like to do the toast and offered me their opinion when I had no clue haha. I gave them a few sheets detailing in point form how I wanted my decorations set up and we talked about it.
One thing I recommend future AF brides, make sure you have an electronic copy of your script and bring it with you. I didn't give it to the Miami coordinators and just printed off a copy and gave to the on site coordinators. They asked me if I could send them an electronic copy to give to the officiant before hand but my email didn't work all week so I couldn't. I only had an electronic copy on my email, but if you have a flash drive that would work.
On the day of the wedding, they communicated non stop to make things flow really well and even reminded me of things on the timeline as we went along. I felt so scattered, I was having too much fun haha, but thanks to them we hit all the items on my timeline and things had a nice flow.
Brian was there on the day of the wedding as well, helping me with my bouquet and shoes as we took pictures and making sure the reception flowed really well. He was awesome!
The ceremony and reception looked amazing. I didn't have a lot of decor for the ceremony and I guess it looked a little empty. As I was getting my hair done, Claudia from Lomas came up and asked me if I wanted to dress the chairs with the Vintage Elegance theme for $150. I thought the price was reasonable so I said yes and I'm glad I did. I think it added to the whole thing and otherwise it would have looked like it needed a little extra something.
Juan arrived first, at 4:30 to greet our guests. I came in at around 5, they drove me in a golf cart and funny story, I almost fell off on a curve there hahaha. It would have been pretty hilarious.
When I looked down the aisle I was amazed, everything looked beautiful, the smile on my guests' faces and Juan's face, of course, just made my day. It was the perfect day, hot and sunny, but there was a nice breeze going up at the sky deck which made it bearable. I still had drops of sweat running down my legs, but it was all good hahah. It sounds really windy on the video but it was actually very nice, we would have died without it.
Our video, for those who haven't seen it yet. We will have our professional one hopefully quite soon .
Our officiant did our ceremony in English and we did our vows in Spanish. The whole thing took about 10-15 minutes, which is exactly what we wanted. Anything longer would have been torture in that heat.
Photographer and Videographer:
I can't wait to see these pictures and the video!! We worked with Octavio Montes for both photo and video. He was very nice, he had a very good sense of humour and he was assertive enough when he needed to be in order to get people organized. I felt like I was very disorganized as to what I wanted from the pictures. By the time we went downstairs to the beach, we only had about an hour left before the reception, so we didn't get to do any pictures on the grounds of the hotel (more towards the rooms), which are gorgeous. It was a tough choice as to whether I wanted beach photos or photos on the grounds, but oh well. I'm sure they'll turn out beautifully. I wanted sunset photos and we got an amazing sunset. Brian (one of the wedding coordinators) said they don't always get a sunset like that, with pink and orange. Juan wanted some night time photos and from the ones that Octavio showed me on his camera, they looked amazing.
I didn't even notice Octavio in the whole commotion of things haha, or the videographers for that matter haha. I guess that's the point, for them to be seamless. According to my guests they were always there, taking pictures of every moment.
We went back to the sky deck for the reception at 7:00. They had changed everything and set up the tables. We chose the Vintage Elegance theme and it looked beautiful as the sun was setting down. We chose the BBQ deluxe menu, it was family style, so each table had their own sides which they passed around and the servers came with the meat and people chose what they wanted to eat.
We had the food served right away, and while people were eating the salads I went and changed into my attire for our first dance. Originally my mom was going to help me change, but I decided to let her enjoy the food and the guys from the wedding department helped me out. The dance came out ok, Juan had had a few too many tequila shots and he blanked out ahaha. I tried to help him out but we missed a bunch of steps, oh well.
After the first dance, I changed back into my long dress to party the night away haha. I'm so glad I didn't stay with my short dress. once again, the coordinators helped me back into my dress. I got back to the reception on time for the main course. I actually had a lot of food! I was surprised because everyone tells you that the bride and groom have no time to eat, but we definitely did, despite the wardrobe change and everything. The food was soo good!
After we finished the main course we had a toast and then kind of opened the floor for speeches. They were all very heartfelt, we had one from our best man, one from each one of my MOH's, from both our parents and my brother. When it came to my brother, everyone was crying. I was bawling like a baby.
After that, we cut the cake, and then we finally got to the dances with our parents and then the party!! We had so much fun, that the 2 hours left for the party felt like 10 minutes, not just for me, but even for my guests. I was really sad when at 11 they said we had time for one more song. We then went downstairs to the sky deck and continued the party there. We actually gave my phone to the DJ there and gave him a nice tip for him to play our songs! haha, it was like we never left the sky deck. Again, time flew by, and at 1am they kicked us out. All of us could have kept on partying until 4am haha.
I need to thank the bartender at the sky bar, Salvador, for keeping our hands full of drinks haha. Both Juan and I definitely had a nice buzz going when we left. Juan was so happy I don't think I had ever seen him dance that much hahaa.
Overall we had a blast. Our DIY photo booth was a hit! I'm really glad we did that. I actually left my prop signs with the wedding coordinators. Maybe they threw them out, I don't know, but if your wedding is coming up you could always ask about them. I had forgotten to give them about half of the signs, so there was a limited selection at the wedding, I still didn't notice until I found them the next day in my bag hahah.
Wedding DJ app:
This was definitely the best choice when you don't have a dj. If you organize it properly, everything is really seamless and it's so easy to learn that anyone can be using it in about 5 minutes. The hardest part is thinking of everything and making sure that you have music for every part of the wedding, and having the playlists in the right order. I'll post some screen shots later so you guys can see how I organized things. I will say, if you're on the fence about this app and you're not planning on hiring a DJ, buy this! Even Juan said those were the best $7 spent haha.