We were very pleased with how everything turned out — couldn’t have asked for a better wedding or vacation!
The Challenge: Find an all-inclusive place to get married and honeymoon for a date 3 months away that still had room for a group of about 12 people.
Where to get married?
I spent a good deal of time looking at options on the Honeymoons Inc web site. I did price comparisons and flight time comparisons. We had people coming from Colorado, Georgia, Texas and New Zealand. We ended up not considering the New Zealand flight times, because most people in the States had only 4 or 5 days of vacation to spend given the short notice we were giving them (we started looking in May for a wedding in July of the same year). An additional factor was that we wanted to go to someplace neither of us had been.
Initially we settled on Jamaica since it (a) had short flight times, (b) neither of us had been to the country and (c) there was a resort with nice, updated rooms with reasonable prices. Price was a consideration because for the wedding party we were providing flights and rooms. Luxury (or at least upscale accommodations) was a consideration because after all it was our wedding and honeymoon!
At this point Linda and I started talking about prices and availability. She helped me with some initial numbers for the weekend I’d chosen, before we found out that one key person couldn’t make it that weekend. So we changed to a different weekend. Then there started being reports of violence in Jamaica. I called and talked to Linda about this. Basically the violence was on the other side of the island from where we were going, we weren’t flying into the area where the violence was and we wouldn’t have to leave the resort once we were there. After initially saying they would go with us, several members of the wedding party called to tell me they were uncomfortable with the arrangements. Linda had rooms on hold for us which we ended up having to cancel.
We started the process all over again with the research on the Honeymoons Inc web site. Despite historic violence along the US-Mexico border and in certain tourist areas last year, the wedding group was more comfortable with Puerto Vallarta. This met our 3 criteria and was on the Pacific side of Mexico as reports of the Gulf Coast oil spill started to roll in.
Linda was able to help us find rooms at Dreams Puerto Vallarta while on a business trip – with the help of another associate at Honeymoons Inc she was able to juggle her work with answering my questions and pass along information. Linda contacted the wedding coordinator at Dreams PVR to answer all my questions about flower option, makeup/hair stylists, ceremony location options, catered dinner availability, etc. We finally had enough information to decide that this was the place!
The part I was least looking forward to about planning the wedding was getting everyone there and situated. This is where Linda was a real lifesaver. Once we had the place and the date, I gave her contact information for the wedding party. She got ahold of everyone and determined arrival/departure dates and times. She got transfers between the airport and hotel arranged. She mailed everyone their vouchers. She did some research and found a deal running by Apple Vacations that got us one of the rooms we were paying for free! The initial group of 12 turned into 15, then 22, then settled at 19 at the end. Linda took all the changes in stride and updated everything accordingly. It was truly a blessing to have her deal with all this instead of me having to coordinate it.
Last minute worries
I had several questions as the day approached, and Linda answered them all promptly – from how to get my dress there to what photo options were available to what would happen if it rained for our outdoor wedding! She told me that “they’ve coordinated hundreds of these and they’ve run across every situation – they’ll know how to handle it.”
Dreams PVR Feedback
The hotel pressed my dress and the groom’s tux as well as one of the wedding party dresses. The on-site wedding coordinator, Rebecca, was suberb. She got the flowers we wanted from a local florist. She asked if we wanted to do a rehearsal (we didn’t – it was a small party). She offered suggestions and didn’t try to up-sell us on any options – just named them and allowed us to choose. She got a room for the groom to dress in so that the bridal party could get ready in my room. On the day of the wedding, Rebecca had the gazebo decorated and chairs set up for us. She gave us timeframes of when to get ready and showed up to help coordinate during the last hour prior to the ceremony.
The wedding officiate spoke English, chose nice messages for the ceremony and provided us with a copy of what she’d said. We had the dinner at a closed restaurant next to the gazebo since there was a possibility of rain. I believe this was even nicer than the planned dinner location on one of the pool terraces. We had a nice view of the ocean as we ate. We had appetizers and soup, but as the sunset approached, we took a break and went down to the beach for some additional photos. After the photos we went back up to the restaurant for the main course, cake and toasting. There were several choices for the dinner courses available, however you only get to choose one and all guests have to eat the same meal. This was a little difficult for us since one wedding party was allergic to shell fish and consequently doesn’t eat any fish. There was only one meal option that didn’t involve fish or shell fish in all 3 courses – so were very limited in what we could choose. The dinner was good (all the resort food was good), but it was frustrating to not get to have many true choices available. The turn-down service left rose petals on the bed the night of the wedding and a special congratulatory sign on the door.
The photographer was amazing! I feel like there were times she made me look like a model. And times where she took some really amazing “magazine-quality” photos. She was unobtrusive and fun. She clearly loves her job and is very good at it.
Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better-coordinated event between Linda getting everyone there and in rooms near each other and the Dreams staff making the ceremony and dinner perfect!
I have never tried an all-inclusive resort prior to this trip. We needed this for the wedding since some of the wedding party we were taking wouldn’t be able to afford dinners out or activities once they were there due to financial constraints. So the all-inclusive allowed them to have food, alcoholic beverages and some activities (like sea kayaking, tequila tastings and various pool activities) without additional cost. I have to say that this first experience at Dreams Puerto Vallarta exceeded my expectations in regards to not needing to spend extra cash while there and having quality restaurants! It all started off on the right foot with champagne and our luggage being whisked to our room when we arrived…
A few members our party used the on-site spa and were very pleased. I had my hair and makeup for the wedding done there, and the results were fantastic.
A few members of our wedding party also tried some of the on-beach activities for cost like paragliding and enjoyed those.
The hotel staff was courteous, efficient and helpful. They kept our room very clean. Room service was prompt. The front desk staff were able to get us taxis into town when we wanted to wander the boardwalk. They even got my parents a taxi at 6am when the pre-arranged airport transfer failed to show up.