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Planning a 2011 Punta Cana Wedding

Hi I need some major help.
My fiance and I really like the Melia Caribe but before we book I just wanted to see what the standard deal is for weddings in Punta Cana.
I have some financial questions for anyone who has researched destination weddings at all inclusive resorts.

  1. We are finding that the prices for open bar are so much higher than anything we have found, even in the northeast of America. $20/person/hour for example? Is this the standard?
  2. It doesn’t make sense to us that our we and our wedding guests will have already paid for all of our food and alcohol as part of our all-inclusive fee for the resort but that the wedding packages are another $50-60/ person for dinner. I am confused. If I can buy a cake a la carte, pay the priest to celebrate my mass, pay to use the Gazebo, pay for music and everything else separately, why do I have to pay another $110/person to drink for the length of our reception and then $60 more for their dinner? What is the difference between the food we eat at our reception and the food we will eat the night before? And what is to prevent my guests from just going to one of the bars to drink anyway if I don’t pay for an open bar? And finally, after my reception is over we are all going to want to keep partying, so we would go back to one of the bars in the resort and drink (for free because it is all inclusive) anyway so what is the story here?
  3. Does it make more sense for us to have it at a restaurant outside of the resort and just pay our bar bill at the end of the night? We are planning on inviting over 100 people so if we end up with 60ish we could be spending like 5K on just alcohol if we go the open bar route.
    We really love the Jellyfish but even their open bar fees are steep.

Maybe I am crazy but I honestly figured that weddings at all-inclusive resorts would be all-inclusive for food and alcohol because it has already been “included” and that the special wedding stuff would obviously be extra. What is the point in going to an all-inclusive (and making our guests pay the premium for it) when we are going to end up treating them anyway and could just do our rehearsal dinner, reception and brunch the next day at a place that has nothing included?

Please help! I am so lost! We are totally going to pick up the tab because our wedding will ultimately be much less expensive if we leave town just from a guest number standpoint and we of course want to treat our people who are willing to travel for us. We just don’t want to get taken for a ride and pay twice in the end.
If anyone has found an all-inclusive resort where the wedding packages are constructed so that you pay a fee to reserve one of the restaurants for your party but eat and drink the same stuff you do the rest of the time you are there and then buy the wedding stuff separately I would be interested in hearing how you did it. Maybe it doesn’t exist, if that is the case then we will just roll with the punches.

Thanks much!

Ok futuremrss, let me answer your question. As the owner of a destination wedding and honeymoon company for the past 13 years I have seen these topics so many times, I have lost count.

Melia Caribe - We have found here that over the past 1 1/2 - 2 years that this resort is starting to price themselves out of affordable weddings with all of the extras that others offer as a standard feature of their package. They along with the Majestic Resorts have lost their minds on what they want the extras for. There is many other resorts that have better packages and resort. And don’t forget if you have a large wedding party the Melia Caribe Tropical can have some issues with people getting together and older parents who have walking issues. Since they combined the two resorts into one, you could have a bridesmaid in building 4 and another in building 80. If one is late they might be catching the tram or walking, you never know. Or the tram could be late too. With larger groups it can cause these concerns to get people on time to places.

  1. Open Bar - What you need to do is look for resorts that have an open bar within the wedding package or offer a cocktail party depending upon the amount of people attending the wedding. In the Punta Cana area there is 8 resorts that offer this with all different price points for their all inclusive resort stay. There are some resorts that offer certain limit of people within the wedding package for the cocktail party but if you go over they charge a fee. The fee is not only for the bar part but also the food that is offered than. Say for an example that the package includes 25 people and you have 30 traveling. Ask the resort before you put a deposit down if they will not charge you for the extra 5 people. They can put out the food for the 25 people because that is what you are truly paying for. And if you are having a dinner afterwards then why should your guests fill up on the cocktail hour.

  2. When a resort asks for the extra per person rate above for the dinner, the first thing we think of is food but that is not true. Don’t forget you have setup of the location, tables, linen, chairs, chair covers and napkins. Then you have the cost of labor because they are servicing only you as a special event, not attending one of the ala carte dining rooms. And finally the cost of making an event private. Yes, it might be some food cost but it is something special. No matter what you do even in at an all inclusive resort, once you make something special like dinner on the beach, you are charged for it. At some resorts the romantic dinner on the beach is over $100 for a couple. At the Majestic Resorts if you have the wedding dinner in one of the ala carte dining rooms, there is no added cost, but one you make it a private one down at the beach or around the pool the costs per person start. Remember the key word is private, once you make it private it is an extra cost.

  3. What it makes more sense to do is to find a resort that will offer you extras or free stuff to bring that many people to the resort. Like I said earlier find the resort that fits your wedding needs first. You might find one that saves you 5K, rather than spending it only on the wedding. The Jellyfish is a nice place but again, don’t force or pigeon hole your wishes.

  4. All Inclusive Resorts - The greatest savings for all inclusive resorts is for the guests and what you can do with it. Your guests will know in advance what they are going to spend on that trip. They do not have to worry about the resort’s restaurants high costs or drinks they might want to try but don’t end up liking or if they are going to look cheap to other guests. There is one other item that we have come across is wrong room numbers for the charges. The last thing that you want your guests to remember is them auditing a hotel bill. Plus with people having questionable income, they take comfort in know now if they say yes or no, now because the price is there.

  5. Is there a Resort out there? - Yes there is one out there that fits that bill, however does if fit what you want to pay for the travel part? That is a great question. Plus there are several other resorts that will get you the under 5k you are looking for. It all depends upon how much you want your guests to pay for the travel to get and stay there.

I hope this helps! Best wishes on your search for that special day!

Lindsay
President
Weddings on the go!

I am staying at the Melia Caribe for my January 2011 wedding but we are not getting married with them. We decided to get married with the La Barcaza boat. We figured if we had to pay for food and drinks we wanted to give our guests a change in scenery. It is very reasonable and we are still having the beach wedding I wanted. My only search now if anyone can help…I am looking for some one to hire to come to my room and do mine and my girls hair and make up. We could go to the salon on the resort but I want something more personal. Also, I want to try to find a local steel drum band to hire for the ceremony. Any suggestions?

wow all this sounds like the conversation in my home :slight_smile:

We have also decided on the La Barcaza. It works out cheaper than our resort wedding and reception at the Gran Bahia Principe, and I don’t feel like I’m getting “ripped off” like I do with the resort. I feel like I am paying for a service, and it is something different for our guests.