Destination Weddings – Here’s The REAL Deal
For the past year, I had a part-time job planning my destination wedding WITH the help of a wedding planner, Honey Bell Events.
While planning my wedding I tried looking for other blogs or articles that would help me, but I found that many of them were not really helpful nor did they keep it 100% (way too much fluff and sappy stuff.) I needed a good break down of how this was all going to play out.
So here we are, one week after my special day, and I am ready to break down the pros and cons of deciding to transport your entire squad to a different country. In my instance, it was to the Paradisus Palma Real Gold And Spa Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Destination Weddings Are Not Free: Many have this misconception that resorts give you a free wedding because you are bringing them guests, this is NOT the case. In order to have a nice wedding, aside from your airfare and hotel stay, you will have to shell out about $20,000 USD. I’m sure that you can have something very small for cheap if this is the route that you’re planning on going with.
Wedding Planner: As many of you know, I am extremely busy working for iHeart Media /Power 105.1, running my own site and social media, so it was a no brainer that I needed a planner and day off assistance. In comes Honey Bells Events who was on call 24/7 and handled 90% of my wedding planning. They traveled to the resort, communicated with vendors, attended dress fittings, and made sure I was on track with my timeline all year.
Venue Walk Through: I strongly suggest flying out to visit the resort, do not go by photos or online reviews. Only you can sense the vibe and see the quality of the service, food and resort décor. My wedding planner flew to Punta Cana one year before my wedding and came back with a great review. I was sold and booked it.
Quotes: Be ready to pay at least an extra 25% or more for the wedding than you are originally quoted. The quote they give you is VERY basic and once you start adding extras or upgrades you will end up with a hefty bill in the thousands. So brides do not give your man a final number yet because he will complain once you start adding extras.
Payments: The resort I booked had a third party company, Ask Me LLC, in Miami accepting the payments for them. Two weeks before the wedding, this company CLOSED their doors. They advised me that NO payment was or would be made to the resort and NO refund would be issued to me. Luckily the resort honored all my payments (for which I had proof) and the wedding took place without any issues. I assume the resort will sue this company to obtain all the funds they stole from brides all over the world. If your resort will allow you to pay them directly, please do it!
Taxes: In the Dominican Republic they taxed me at 18% USD for everything. They even charged me a corking fee for champagne! So be ready for the shock of your life when you’re taxed at a much higher rate than you would pay back home.
Food: The food on this resort what absolutely exquisite! I’m talking great cuts of meat, lobster, fish, freshly made soups and sides. They also offered different tailored buffets which could not be mix or matched together. They will give you several options and that is what you’ll get. Any switching out or adding on will cost you money. This was an all inclusive resort so the food was refilled with no problem.
Décor: Décor will be very BASIC. I suggest you bring extra decor with you such as center pieces, decorations, signs, etc. My wedding planner brought six suitcases filled with decorations that we could use. The resort uses artificial flowers and candles to decorate. My resort charged for every single thing! Even switching the original table clothes for a more simple one cost me $12USD per table. Even lighting was extra for a welcome BBQ I had! I’m not joking.
Wedding Cake: The wedding cake, which was done by the resort’s baker, was as delicious as Dominican cake usually is. I had no complaints about the cake, which I picked out months in advanced. I got a quote from an outside vendor and it was almost $1,000USD, so I decided to stick to the cake the resort provided and just added an extra tier to it.
Corking Fee: If you decide to bring in champagne or liquor from outside, you will be charged $20USD to cork each bottle. I was able to negotiate the price down since I had over 40 bottles of champagne sent to me by a dear friend. No need to bring in alcohol from outside unless you want to upgrade the champagne.
Vendor Fees: If you decide to use ANY vendor that is not recommend by the resort be ready to pay BIG bucks just to have them on the premises. In my case, I had to pay for ever single vendor that I hired to come on site including $1,0000 for my photo and video team to come do their job. You will have to pay for the baker, florist, DJ, Hair, Makeup…yeah be ready to break the bank a bit or use whatever the resort offers up. I’m personally very happy to have brought in my own team.
Music: The resort does provide a DJ, but in no way do I recommended using them. They won’t have a real sense of your music taste or the vibe you are going for. Since music can make or break a party, I decided to fly out my own DJ. There is a extra fee of $1,000 USD for you to bring in a DJ if he/she is not a wedding guest. My DJ was a guest so I only had to pay approximately $600USD to rent the equipment for him to use. I also paid for his airfare and hotel stay for the weekend. In all, it cost me $1,600USD.
Photos: All I can say is do not go the traditional route and take photos after you have arrived at the altar. That is my biggest regret. My photographers arrived one hour late after going to the wrong resort and this threw us totally off. I felt RUSHED as hell the entire time! I was rushing all over this gigantic resort while wearing a heavy Pnina Tornai gown and heels. I missed the cocktail hour and the first hour of the reception taking photos. I paid $4,500USD for the videos and photos. I was even charged an EXTRA $1,000USD from the resort just to allow them onto the resort to shoot. I was told it will take about two months before anything is ready, so I cannot tell you how the work turned out. I pray for the best.
Flowers: The flowers, which I ordered from a florist suggested by the resort, were costly and the quality was poor. The orchids that I’m used to were not the orchids I received when I got my bouquet. As you can imagine, the flowers were MUCH smaller than you would expect. My mom even refused to use her corsage because it looked so cheap (she’s evil, LOL.) The hotel suggested a florist that they would allow me to use without charging me one of their astronomical vendor fees and their work fell flat.
Hair and Makeup: I personally could not trust this work to be done by hotel employees. I hired a team of people who specialize in wedding hair and makeup and the killed it! If you’re getting married in any part of the Dominican Republic you MUST use them: Michelle Flaz and Adela Miranda. I personally brought all my own makeup to avoid my skin not matching my foundation or the brow dip being too dark. The lipstick was crucial for me and I searched an entire Sephora store until I found it: Marc Jacobs ‘Sonic Truth.’ I also suggest that bring some clip in extensions in case your hairstyle should require it.
Extra Entertainment: I added a few extras to make the wedding more fun and here is how it broke down: 2 Samba Dancers 15 minutes $625USD, Cigar Roller 15 minutes $350USD and a Dominican Trio of singers 30 minutes $350USD.
Extra Guests: My wedding package came with a total of 40 guests included. Any guests after those 40 came at $200USD per person. So please do not think that you will have unlimited guests.
Gifts: Since many of the guests flew to another country to be part of our special day, we did not expect gifts or envelopes. With the exception of maybe 5 guests, we did not receive any gifts or checks. I must say that their presence was a gift in itself. Bottom-line? Do not expect to recoup any of the money you laid out.
You can totally have your dream destination wedding, just make sure that you read all the fine print and be prepared to pay for tons of extras. While people in Dominican Republic are very pleasant they had no qualms with asking me for even $1USD if it was owed to them.
With all this said, I would 100% do my wedding in Dominican Republic all over again. We’ve even made plans to go back to celebrate our one year anniversary with any and all guests who wish to come with us.
Needless to say, I would have never gotten it done without the help of Honey Bell Events and the wonderful and friendly staff at the resort.
Thanks for all your well wishes Follow on SC @honeygerman #ALoveMeantToBee A video posted by HONEY GERMAN (@honeygerman) on
I must take a moment to thank @honeybellsevents and her team for making my dream wedding happen out in DR venue, flowers, hair/makeup, cake, cigar roller, samba dancers, decor all arranged by them + they traveled to DR with 6 suitcases filled with “personalized details” we picked together back in the US – Amazing service!! All weddings need a planner, trust me
Pink sunsets and love everywhere is a perfect match to end the night #welcomingtheguests #weddinginspo #funweddings #destinationweddingplanner #nyweddingplanner #nyweddings #lovely #nycweddingplanner A photo posted by Orphy German (@honeybellsevents) on
Dope night ✨ A photo posted by HONEY GERMAN (@honeygerman) on