My experience with a renaissance wedding - the good, the bad and the unorganised
I won't deny that this is going to be a very long very honest review!
First of all I do have to say how lucky I am to have married the man of my dreams in a dream destination, however this hasnt gone with stress and tears (neither of which were caused by either of us but Juney Jones' wedding planning skills or serious lack of! I am not the first person to comment on Juney and I'm sure I won't be the last)*
I go back 13 months to when we first got engaged - out first holiday together had been Aruba three years previous and we always said we'd get married here. I was, at the beginning, in touch with Annie de veer who then passed me on to Juney - he was slow answering emails but nevertheless did respond in a couple of days - we then paid our deposit and set the date for the civil ceremony 30th May 2012 230pm at the civil hall followed by a blessing at renaissance island at 6pm. Great stuff we couldn't wait!*
Anyway Christmas came and went and with five months to go and family and friends each booking time off work and paying £1200 a week each to join us, I emailed Juney to check everything was in place and double check what paperwork was required and where to send it. This is when the issues started! Juney replied no wedding at the civil hall had been booked as he hadn't received our documents! I need to add here Juney never asked for our documents or told us what they are! I told him this and immediately posted on here in a panic! It took Juney 4 days to respond which would have meant 4 days of me being convinced everyone had wasted their money and there wouldn't be a wedding! (luckily Jason Matgarita saw my posts and helped me out even contacted the civil hall himself). When Juney did reply his email was simply it says on our website what documents you need - yes this is true and the case if you are American but We aren't and had questions regarding these! I also asked Juney could he not ask the civil hall to hold the wedding for us until they got our paperwork - to this no response again!!! In the meantime Jason had managed to speak to the civil hall and they agreed to save the date. I then emailed Juney explaining this and again after several days he replied that he needed to check this and another several days later said it was ok, but the ceremony would be at 11am not 230 as the civil hall would be closed for the afternoon - no problem as long as we had our set date. Basically someone else did a job for Juney that he could have done himself and didn't! You pay a wedding planner to plan not to be instructed by others and myself a huge disappointment to say the least.*
Following this I sorted all required documents which I had been told I needed (by others not by Juney) and I regularly emailed Juney to check I was getting the correct things signed stamped copied by the correct people, each email took over a week to get a response! When I finally thought all paperwork was in place I emailed again to triple check - I received an automated reply saying Juney was away for two weeks, this is not an issue but my question why isn't his assistant responding? I queried this on here and someone actually spoke directly to Milayne and asked her to reply. Her replies were one word answers and when I asked if all paperwork was in place her response - no. There was no expansion on this just "no" so I emailed again asking what was still needed and I got no reply for 8 days until Juney was back! If Milayne was unsure she could have responded instead I had 8 days of waiting for an email and when you're spending money, paying for a service this is simply not good enough!*
Anyway a week before we were due to fly out I emailled about flowers, cake, music and paperwork!!! I was told more paperwork was needed and a solicitor needed to certify each document and write an individual letter for each of us saying our birth certificates were originals, the same for a single status report (I received this document that week from Juney) and our certificates of no impediment - this cost us over $80 to get sorted and several solicitor trips as Juney never actually explained what was needed exactly and Everytime I went to the solicitors and got home I'd have an email about another document!! This meant another hour trip to the solicitor! I at this point still hadn't had any confirmation about the cake, flowers or the food on the island and the day we flew still hadn't!*
We arrived in Aruba on the Friday the 25th May and as soon as we checked into the renaissance I asked to speak to Juney - we arranged to meet on the Monday at 12pm in the lobby. Well 12pm came and went at 12.15 I asked concierge what he looked like and if they could see him, at 12.30 my now husband asked reception and they called him saying he was 10 minutes away. Marshall also asked to speak to a manager as things were getting beyond a joke - the girls response I'm the manager but I'm the same level as Juney so nothing I can do (seriously does Juney not have a boss?? I don't believe that!) Juney turned up at 12.45 claiming the mornings bride had been demanding things and he had contacted concierge about being late but I'd only asked reception - I soon corrected him! Marshall told Juney how disappointed we both were the stress he'd caused and the fact that he doesn't respond to his emails, Juney reasoned this with he didn't know what was needed from the uk as he hasnt done uk weddings before - maybe he shouldn't have agreed to do something he knew nothing about was my first thought but secondly if someone else can find the answers why couldn't he?! He also said he was was very busy with 14 weddings this month - in my calculations this is one every other day so maybe the spare days he should be responding to questions or ask his assistant to do so because to be honest Juney did barely any organising and his TWO assistants seemed to do even less! In fairness whether someone has 14 or 40 weddings a month *each bride and groom should be made to feel that their day is as important as all the others! His whole attitude just seemed like he couldnt care less! I was also annoyed the only paperwork he needed was our birth certificates and certificate of no impediment - what about $80 worth of solicitors documents?! Anyway I questioned him about flowers, cake music, set up, times etc and again got brief responses. I was then told our civil ceremony would now be 230 again (thought they were closed) so fantastic news! We were told to keep it casual and the groom could wear shorts and a tshirt, when i mentioned this to someone they said absolutely no way the civil ceremony is when you officially become man and wife so smart clothing is expected not to mention how dreadful our first married pictures would look - thanks Juney what a pair of idiots we would have looked!*
The day before the wedding I wanted to double check some details and Juney replied to tell me the civil would now be back to 11am as the hall would be closed in the afternoon??!!!! The groom and guests were to meet Juney in the lobby at 10.45 to walk to the civil hall and myself an bridesmaid would be taken by Jason following hair and make up. After our civil ceremony Marshall informed me that Juney had not turned up until five to 11 leaving all the guests and Marshall worrying I'd be there waiting or we'd miss our 11am time slot.*
Following the civil we had some amazing photos taken by Jason and a great afternoon relaxing by the pool. The guests and Groom and best man were due to meet in the lobby at 530 where they'd be met by Milayne or Juney and then all go to catch the boat to renaissance island. *At 445 I was being pampered by Alan and the phone rang it was Milayne double checking the guests and groom would be meeting at the boat at 530 I told her no they were told to meet on the lobby and she would need to go and meet them because I didn't have time to start calling them myself (lack of communication between her and Juney?) when Marshall arrived at the island he asked to check that the music was all working - he wasn't given a very positive response to this but insisted he wanted to know. He also noticed there was no arch set up - all the weddings we'd seen had the arch and the one we could have had was simply discarded by the shower - we were never asked if we wanted the arch it's not a huge issue but it would have been nice to be asked and we'd have liked it but never mentioned it assuming like all others we'd have it?! The biggest shock came to Marshall when he was asked by the gentleman (sorry I cant remember his name) performing the service do you have your vows?! Vows????!!!!! We were never told we could write our own or given a choice whether to or not! This would have been great but not something that can be done on the spot!*
Despite all these bad points our wedding was a special day but I do feel that Juney is saved Everytime by the fact he pulls it off on the day (he still messed up on ours) he also gets away with it because of renaissance island being well renaissance island it's stunning, it's private and it's exciting. I have to say on a positive note the staff at the island were outstanding they kept the drinks flowing were really happy and the food and cake were amazing. *
We were very lucky to have been in contact with Jason because he and his team put me at ease and made our day amazing! what concerns me the most is that we paid $500 to a wedding planner who simply didn't plan the important things and didn't make our lives any easier.*I also need to note that Juney seems to have very little enthusiasm about weddings and responds with one word answers - you need to press him to get your questions answered!*
If anyone wanted my honest opinion unless you have your heart set on the island (we did) I seriously wouldn't use the hotel but find another wedding planner someone who is perfectly capable and someone who you can rely on and do your research!! I only found this forum after paying Juney and when I read the reviews was worried to say the least and lets be honest I had good reason to be! We feel we paid $500 dollars to have the help of someone else in Aruba without this help we probably wouldn't have had the civil ceremony in place to be honest.*
I sound like I am disappointed in my wedding day and I by no means am what I am disappointed in was the lack of communication and lack of importance it seemed to have. I do plan to take my issues higher but I doubt it will get me anywhere after all people will still continue to pay and continue to be chilled about it afterwards because they are married but I felt I needed to write this to pre warn others so you can prepare yourselves especially if you are from the uk which seems to have been the root of all the problems. With more people from the uk having destination weddings I think that serious research needs to be done on the renaissance's side of things.*
We were very lucky to have been in contact with Jason because he and his team put me at ease and made our day amazing!
I LOVED your review and we were also very lucky to have been in Contact with Jason! Sorry to hear about the mediocre service at Renaissance but believe me, anywhere would have been better than the RIU.