I’m having a destination wedding in Punta Cana this June.
I did a TON of research and started planning about 2 years in advance – I don’t think you actually need that much time, but I just wanted to tell you that I really researched a lot.
Out of all the places in the Caribbean and Mx, Punta Cana and Cancun had the most affordable All Inclusives for your guests with the best amenities. Jamaica is more expensive. Punta Cana is actually a bit cheaper to fly to and I sometimes wish I had done Cancun, but FI and I and 99% of our guest list had never been to Punta Cana (but had been to Cancun) and that’s part of the reason we picked it.
Another reason is our venue – we’re having our wedding off-resort at an Italian restaurant started by 2 Italian men (brothers, maybe?) a few years ago. It got great reviews on trip advisor, but more importantly their wedding coordinator (Mayte) is fantastic. She handles everything for you and really cares about all her brides. The name of the restaurant is Jellyfish and a quick search in google will show you that a DW at this location is completely different from anywhere else.
Now, here’s what you need to realize – a DW is not necessarily cheaper than a wedding back home. There are some things that are cheaper (the DJ, the photographer sometimes, etc.), but there are things that are even more expensive (the food/alcohol, flowers). If you’re going to do your wedding on the resort, in order to get the food/alcohol to be included, you have to have your wedding dinner in a restaurant – they usually will section it off for you, but you’re doing it in the restaurant with other patrons. It’s not private, they will not block off the beach for your ceremony so you may have on lookers. And the deccor is sort of ridiculous – everything you want is extra for decor (for ex, $3 per chair for a sash, otherwise it’s undecorated – that stuff really adds up!). I really researched this a lot and thought that the cheapest way to have the most beautiful wedding was Jellyfish.
What usually makes a DW wedding cheaper is the fact that less people come and would be invited. It’s not just that things are “cheaper” overseas – in fact, some things are more expensive as I mentioned before.
Just an FYI – I researched almost every resort and every island before I decided on Punta Cana. I’m having my guests stay at the Paradisus Palma Real (it’s about $360/night per couple for the group rate). And I used Cherina Shaw from Boho Chic Travel as my travel agent – she is currently away at her own destination wedding (in Jamaica) and I would HIGHLY recommend using her, especially if you’re considering Jamaica.
We did consider Jamaica for a while, but the AIs are more expensive. She actually had other options for us – she said she could talk to smaller boutique hotel owners and get meal plans and the like. We decided it wasn’t for us because we wanted a large, luxurious AI bc we wanted to invite as many people and have as many or as little come without feeling the need to fill up a hotel or if we went over the max. We did consider Catcha Falling Star in Negril – we were going to book the entire resort for the wedding weekend so no one else would be there. It’s really beautiful and got great reviews on Trip Advisor, but we decided to save that for a future vacation for ourselves when we decide to go Negril. It was just too complicated.
Also, don’t be fooled that this will be “no fuss” – I mean, for the most part, everything is taken care of by your wedding coordinator (the issue being with the AI weddings is that everything is pretty cookie cutter – another reason I went with Jellyfish is Mayte and how unique every wedding is). But, I constantly have guests calling/texting me with all these questions – questions that are answered on my wedding website and can be found with a quick search by google or something, or by my travel agent, for some reason, they would prefer to just ask me. It’s been a bit annoying, I’ve even researched airfare for my guests for several weeks before some of them booked!
And my invites aren’t out yet – so this is just from people who received a STD (I did really cute luggage tag STDs) and have already booked.
Ask me any more questions you may have – I can help you out!!