Just to give a little background, my fiancé and I are planning our destination wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa. I’ve done so much research about this topic before we started planning and there are a ton of things I didn’t expect – so I decided to write/film about it (on my youtube here).
You’re going to be super excited to start planning your wedding. We picked our resort by looking up the top resorts in Dominican Republic for weddings and narrowing them down by adults-only resorts – because we knew that’s what we would prefer in a resort. Most people who we thought would attend the wedding don’t have kids, and we invoked the “do what we want” mentality early on. Trust me, everybody is going to want to tell you what to do and how to do it. It’s YOUR wedding – not theirs. Remember that.
1. Not rushing to plan the details
Anyway, after you pick a resort and study their wedding packages you’ll want to start planning the details right away. At least, I wanted to plan everything right away. From the beginning, we have used our travel agent to help us book with the resort, but it’s definitely not necessary – I could have easily done everything myself. Regardless, be prepared to wait to hear back from your resort (at least Secrets) every 3-5 days. I would send an email or my travel agent would send an email and it would take 3-5 days to hear a response. If he called he would catch the wedding coordinator at the resort usually within that day or the next but if she said she was going to email us something – it would take a day or 2 before we received anything.
This seems to be common practice for resorts in Dominican Republic. I’m Cuban and I understand being on Caribbean time, so that’s the best way to describe the resorts – they’re always on Caribbean time, even when it comes to your wedding and questions.
2. It will be a rollercoaster ride
I can’t tell you how much of a ride this has been. You’ll start out having more questions rather than answers, but the resort will want you to have all the answers. What do I mean by that? They’ll want to know how many guests you’ll have, what time you want to have the wedding, and how many rooms you’ll need for a room block.
Will you have those answers? No. Will you need to estimate? Yes. Most destination weddings are smaller and have around 20 guests. Obviously, this depends on how big your immediate family is and how many people do you realistically think will attend. We have 45 people who have RSVP’d “yes” and only 2 couples who are unsure because of money, but they are trying to attend the wedding – they just need a little more time. Which is more than fine with me, having 4 people as unknowns is easier than having 10+ people unknown.
You get the point. You’ll have to send your save the dates and invitations about a year in advance and use your best judgement to estimate how many will attend before your RSVP deadline. From there you’ll have to pull room blocks (which requires putting money down), and pulling room blocks means you’ll have to decide what category of rooms to pull. This will be based on an educated guess of what your guests will want to book for their stay.
Once you finish these educated guesses about guests and room blocks, you’ll still have questions about what’s included in your wedding package and details – which will take a good bit of time to get those ducks in a row.
3. Guests will be embarrassed (and a HUGE headache)
Guests will be either embarrassed or feel bad about RSVPing “no” to your destination wedding – which means they’ll hold out forever before RSVPing, and you might have to ask them privately to RSVP.. possibly have to ask them a few times.
Our invitations were sent out in November 2018 and our deadline was March 1st 2019. Guests had a full 4 months to figure out if they would be able to attend and RSVP – out of 170+ guests (about 85 couples – plus some families with adult children), only 5 couples RSVP’d before the March 1st deadline without me or my fiancé reaching out to them. The rest of the guests RSVP’d after my fiancé, parents, and I reached out to them twice during the week leading up to the deadline.
4. You might not have time to see the resort before choosing
If you plan your wedding a year in advance and have plenty of vacation days, you can probably get a chance to see the resort. Just a warning though, I asked if I went to see the resort if I could see some of the table linens that would be available because my color is Burgundy so I wanted to make sure their version of “dark red” was what I wanted. The surprise came when they told me there would be a fee to see any of the potential decorations ahead of time. Be aware that they will charge for anything and everything!
5. You won’t please everybody
Of course not everybody will love the idea of a destination wedding because some guests will feel like it’s too expensive or they’ll feel like it’s too much effort to travel. That’s fine. Just don’t let any of the negativity stop you from planning your dream wedding.
At the end of the day, it’s your wedding day and a day you will remember for the rest of your life. The guests will probably remember it for a year, but it’ll be a memory they rarely recall and will fade quickly to them. So don’t try to please them all!
I keep getting the feeling that some guests feel like the wedding is more about pleasing them and not about it being your special day that you’re choosing to share with the guests. I have had guests tell me from the beginning that they’re disappointed we chose to do a destination wedding and they will not be attending – oh well.
At the end of the day, all I will remember are the people I love most being there and the people who chose to make time for my destination wedding. I will not be thinking about the people who had negative things to say or countless excuses. The people who matter and care most will make the time and effort to be there and the ones who don’t – oh well.