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Planning a Punta Cana wedding: where to start?
You’re engaged and decided on getting married in Punta Cana. Congratulations! Now comes the fun part, planning your destination wedding. We can’t think of a more beautiful location for your wedding than Punta Cana, a lush tropical paradise in the Caribbean with sugary soft sands and turquoise waters.
The biggest piece of advice we can give is to plan ahead. Planning a wedding in a foreign country will require some time to sort out the logistics and legal requirements. Think about your budget, as that will dictate location and amenities.
Luckily Punta Cana is one of the most popular wedding destinations in the world, and with that comes a plethora of business dedicated to making your visions come to light.
Do I need a travel agent?
Consider enlisting the help of a travel agent, especially one that specializes in destination weddings. Travel agents are knowledgeable in the different types of venues in Punta Cana. An experienced travel agent will be able to ask you the right questions to determine your preferences and narrow down the perfect venue for you.
The biggest benefit to using a travel agent is you can take advantage of their special relationships with resorts and use those connections to make sure you get the best price. They’ll be able to book large blocks of rooms and ensure contract terms are favorable for you.
They’ll also handle guest bookings, itineraries, shuttle transfers, excursions, and even recommend services such as photographers or caterers. And the best part is most travel agent services are free for you.
What kind of wedding venues are in Punta Cana?
Punta Cana has every kind of wedding venue imaginable, limited only by your imagination. No matter what your budget is, the perfect venue is waiting just for you. We recommend starting with what kind of wedding you’re envisioning.
Do you want a big church wedding, intimate garden wedding with family, or are you planning on eloping on the beach? Wedding venues will typically fall into two categories, on the resort or off-site. Depending on the size and level of control you want over your wedding, there are cost benefits to both.
If you want to have a religious ceremony in a church or envision saying your vows on a historical site, we recommend enlisting the help of a coordinator located in Punta Cana to be your eyes and ears on the island. Though the venue itself may be less costly, bringing in decorations, renting equipment and furniture, and bringing in outside catering may impact your budget.
Resorts in Punta Cana have perfected the art of planning a beautiful wedding. We highly recommend researching wedding venues located on a resort and taking advantage of the resort staff and amenities provided to guests.
Most resorts will have a dedicated space set aside for your ceremony, whether it’s on the beach, under a gazebo, or in one of their restaurant spaces.
There are even resorts with a chapel on site. Another benefit is most all-inclusive resorts will offer pre-planned wedding packages to suit all price points.
Some resorts will also include a “resort credit” that can be applied to the wedding or even to excursions. Keep in mind, however, that some resorts are adults only and if you have guests that aren’t planning on staying in the same resort as your wedding, they will have to purchase a day pass to enter your resort.
No matter which venue you choose, there are some important things to remember. Many wedding venues may require you to leave a deposit, but that is usually applied to the cost of renting the venue. Also, remember that Punta Cana’s natural beauty is a product of plenty of sunshine and rain.
Try to plan your ceremony when the heat is not at its peak or try to incorporate some element of shade, such as palm trees or a tent. And always have an indoor backup space. As much as we love the cooling effects of a rain shower, we can’t imagine your guests will appreciate getting wet during the ceremony.
Where to stay?
There are so many amazing resorts to choose from in Punta Cana, with most providing all-inclusive accommodations. Think about what kind of experience you want to create with your wedding and then look for resorts within your price point. Many resorts will provide group discounts or resort credits for the bride and groom.
Punta Cana resorts offer suites, 24-hour room service, casinos, swimming pools with swim up bars, tennis courts, golf courses, fine dining, and even dance clubs. For family friendly options, some resorts offer kids clubs or babysitting services.
All-inclusive resorts are the most common type of resort in Punta Cana and really your best bet in terms of getting the most for your budget. All-inclusive is ideal for guests with limited budgets and for ensuring guests don’t have to pay extra on top of lodging and flights.
Consider what time of year you want to get married. Punta Cana is in the Caribbean and therefore at the mercy of storms and rainy weather.
Also, keep in mind that certain times of the year are more popular for tourists and therefore will impact the price of the rooms.
Christmas week will be very expensive and can book up to a year in advance. And while booking rooms during hurricane season will lower the price significantly, your wedding may be impacted by the weather. We think the ideal months are November, May, and June.
How do I pick a photographer, florist, or other services?
Some couples have a photographer or make-up artist they’ve used in the past and want to fly that person in for their wedding. However, that can be quite cost prohibitive and most wedding venues supply their own wedding services.
A downside to using the resort services is that you won’t have a chance to meet beforehand and go through placement, settings, or test runs. To alleviate any fears, we recommend making sure you’re in constant communication with whoever you hired.
Visualize how you want your wedding to look and send pictures, videos, or whatever else you can to help whoever you hired understand what you’re trying to achieve.
But what if your venue doesn’t offer these services or you don’t want to use the service provided by the resort? Selecting a wedding service in another country may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Start by researching online and reading reviews left by other couples.
Narrow down your choices to the top three and email or call the service providers. Also, keep in mind that some resorts will charge a fee for hiring outside services.
Do I need a wedding planner?
Planning a wedding in another country can be daunting. Depending on the size of your wedding and how much control you want in planning it, you may want to hire a wedding coordinator. Nobody wants to be worried about the little details, especially on the day of their wedding.
A wedding coordinator is instrumental in keeping the stress at bay so you can focus on what’s important, getting married to the love of your life.
If you’re having your wedding at a resort, most will provide a wedding coordinator as part of your wedding package. Wedding coordinators are invaluable resources on the intricacies involved in planning a wedding in Punta Cana.
Most resort wedding coordinators are on-site and available for questions. The best part is wedding coordinators are typically included in the cost of your wedding package!
What kind of wedding packages are in Punta Cana?
Wedding packages will vary greatly and there are so many Punta Cana resorts that offer different types of wedding packages to suit every budget. The wedding packages start from a base package that can be built up all the way to a full-service package.
Full-service wedding packages are ideal for couples that want all of the stress of planning handled completely by the resort.
The full-service wedding packages can provide practically anything you can think of, such as on-site wedding coordinators, hair and make-up application, preparation of bride and grooms’ wedding attire such as steam cleaning, live music, floral arrangements and centerpieces, wedding cakes, cocktail reception, dinner for the wedding party in a private location, photography, videographer, and spa services.
All you have to do is show up and get married to the love of your life!
What are some unique ways to get married in Punta Cana?
With all of the different venues offered in Punta Cana, you’re only limited by your imagination. Talk to your wedding coordinator to see what kind of weddings your resort can accommodate.
The concierge at your resort is also a wonderful resource and a great place to start. A concierge can take care of a lot of the research and provide information on venues off-site.
Weddings don’t have to be limited to the beach or a church. There are many historic buildings and private villas that provide a breathtaking backdrop for your unique wedding. Consider having a ceremony in front of a waterfall, saying your vows on horseback, or even underwater while you scuba dive!
For those looking for something secluded or off the beaten path, look into the island of Saona, on the southeast shores of the Dominican Republic. Because Saona is a protected natural reserve and relatively isolated, we feel it’s a beautiful location for small wedding parties or elopements.
Travel to the island on a catamaran, sip rum on the beach and visit the natural pools where the waters are shallow enough to create the perfect conditions for snorkeling and gazing upon fields of indigenous starfish.
Unlike traditional weddings, a destination wedding is not just one day. You will be spending several days with your loved ones. We think it’s the perfect chance to create wonderful memories for you and your guest through fun and unique experiences.
Plan a golf outing for the groom and his groomsmen or a spa day for the bride and her bridesmaids. A catamaran trip is a wonderful way to give your guests something special to remember your wedding by.
What are the legal requirements for foreigners getting married in the Dominican Republic?
For a marriage to be recognized as a legal in the Dominican Republic, the ceremony must either be performed by a judge or priest, with the corresponding legal paperwork completed. A symbolic ceremony is not legally recognized and is viewed as a renewal of vows.
Symbolic ceremonies are preferable in Punta Cana, if only because the time and expense in having a legal wedding. Legal ceremonies require documents to be obtained months in advance and couples need to plan on arriving in the country at least three full business days before the ceremony.
If your heart is set on having a legal wedding, the first step is to choose a civil registry office near your wedding location and setting an appointment for your civil ceremony. The civil registry office will give you a list of required documents to bring with you and what fees you’ll need to pay.
We recommend starting the process as far in advance as possible since all of the documents will need to be notarized, translated into Spanish, and apostilled. An apostille is a certificate issued by a designated government official that authenticates the seals and signatures on public documents.