Get your passports; you’re invited to a destination wedding!
Long before there was a ring, Paul and I knew we wanted to have a destination wedding. While we enjoyed attending traditional 'ceremony and reception' weddings, that just wasn’t us. We wanted something smaller, low-key and intimate but we wanted more than a ceremony and a private room at a nice restaurant. We love to travel and we knew that inviting our closest family and friends on a vacation with us was going to be our ‘perfect’ wedding.
After weighing different islands and resorts, we decided on Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana. We wanted to go to an island that we had not been to before and we liked how our guests from the U.S. could get a charter flights from St Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee. Paul and I had vacationed with AMResorts before and loved the food and service, and wanted to go with a brand we trusted. Since this was a group booking, we were able to get our guests a discounted rate on their package. We then chose our date and deposited!
The stress started to settle in... I had never planned a wedding, let alone on an island that I’ve never been to and at a resort I’ve never seen! Then I was put into contact with our wedding coordinator at the resort - she had so much information for me and gave us an abundance of options. She sent over a whole ‘wedding menu’ full of flowers, photographers, decorations, ceremony and reception locations, sample menus, etc. We chose a ceremony late in the day with a cocktail hour with a trio of musicians playing Caribbean music then a buffet dinner with a full bar with a bonfire. Our wedding could have been anything from very simple to extremely extravagant - they can cater to all tastes.
Our departure date finally arrived and we were finally at the resort. After we settled in, our wedding planner found us. She took my dress and Paul’s slacks and shirt to be pressed. We sat down with her and went over a few more details, such as if we were still happy with the décor, and she then showed us around where we would be having the ceremony and reception (we chose to have both on the beach).
We had our wedding on a Wednesday, which gave us time to be with our guests before and after the wedding as we wanted to vacation with everyone as well. It was also great to have so many things to do at the resort as it catered both to people that wanted to be more active, and those who just wanted to lounge by the pool.
The wedding day came, and my attendants and I had our hair and makeup done at the spa at the resort. They did a fantastic job! This was another facet that I was stressed about, considering most brides have hair and makeup dry runs with their stylist prior to their weddings, and we were going into this without a dry run AND with a language barrier. I gave them picture torn from a bridal magazine and it was duplicated perfectly. Our wedding coordinator kept checking on us throughout the day, and eventually we made it back to our room to dress.
Like all weddings, not everything can be controlled. There was a storm off the coast and our coordinator was watching the radar. As we were having our ceremony and reception outside, she gave us the option to move it indoors, but we had to decide fast. Paul and I decided that we would be more disappointed if we decided to move inside and it didn’t rain than we would be if it rained on us. We won that gamble - not a drop!
We did find out that it was too windy to do the bonfire after the reception, so we rescheduled it for the night before everyone left. That worked out phenomenally, as we the chance to get together as a group one more time before going back to reality.
Everything went better than I expected. Dreams Palm Beach exceeded our expectations by a long shot. Everyone was so accommodating, and it was more beautiful than we could have imagined.
Even as Paul and I attend weddings now, either one of us will whisper to the other “I’m so glad we had a destination wedding.”
Tips for your destination wedding (and how to learn from our mistakes):
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