Hi! I’m one of the Aruba brides who recently got married on the island, and wanted to report back about my experience and offer some advice to anyone who is thinking of having their special day in Aruba as well. I hope this information will be helpful for someone… and I would be happy to answer any specific questions if you send me a message.
We got married on Renaissance Island on June 26th, and had the most beautiful perfect day. We had 72 guests who traveled from all over the US to be with us, and they all had the time of their lives. We honeymooned at a few different places on the island over 16 days, and loved everything about our trip.
As I work in event planning for a living, I found it really difficult to abandon complete control in some areas of the process, but I did invest a lot of energy into planning the perfect wedding that we wanted. My husband and I have been to Aruba many times, yet I still did tons of research before our trip. In the end, it was more than I dreamed it would be and I can’t say enough about Juney Jones (wedding coordinator at the Ren.) or the staff who all made us and our guests feel exceptionally special throughout our stay. Our photographer was the assistant to Elnathan Hijmering. He did a fabulous job, and was never intrusive. We got our photos and an amazing album a few days after our wedding. I can’t recall the name of our videographer but he was fantastic as well. And we had a steel drummer, as well as a DJ for the reception.
As some other brides have mentioned, not everything is going to be perfect. But as long as you communicate and stay on top of everything, and bring along important documents you will be fine. Having a destination wedding is a challenge, but it was the best decision we made.
Some tips & advice:
-First decide where you want to get married and get as much information as you can from the venue. Think about what you want, and come up with a realistic budget – don’t forget travel costs, etc.
-Research the requirements to get married in Aruba. As mentioned by many others, there are a lot of documents you will need to get ahead of time, and it takes time to get them. Make sure you know what you need and start the process as soon as possible.
-Estimate how many people you anticipate, and negotiate a contract with a resort to help your guests get a good rate. You can get contract rates for more than one place, but it usually makes sense to only get a contract at the resort that you plan to stay and expect a majority of your guests to also stay.
-Create a wedding website full of helpful information (as well as fun facts) for your guests to go to for help in planning their trip. We used eWedding.com and paid for the upgraded plan with password protection. Our website was a HUGE help and our guests loved it. The more you provide them, the less you have to answer the same questions over and over and over again. There are tons of free sites out there too, so find one that appeals to you.
-Once you have the website started and basic information about where you plan to get married, when, and have some recommendations for hotels … send out save-the-dates. They can be as simple as a post card or e-mail, or as extravagant as creative professionally printed stationary. Sending save-the-dates as soon as possible will help your guests get the ball rolling and start getting passports, looking for flight deals, etc. Remember it’s a big trip for your guests too so remember to consider what you would want/need if you were attending someone else’s wedding out of the country.
- Communicate with your wedding planner (if you have one). Ask them what they need from you and the timeline. They may respond to you on “island time” so it is important to remember that you are having your wedding in another country, where the culture is different and you need to go with the flow.
-Over the next few months, you should be making choices, developing your website, choosing your “formal” invitations, considering the details, looking for wedding party attire, booking your flights, researching honeymoon options, working on the civil ceremony documentation, civil ceremony details, researching photographers, videographers, getting ideas about food selections, if you will have a rehearsal dinner or welcome dinner, possible favors, timelines, and details… in no particular order.
-Make sure you keep track of the RSVPs that arrive in the mail. Make a very clear checklist of your invited guests and clearly mark if they will be attending or not because you will need a very accurate number. We found it helpful to keep a calendar of what days our guests would be in Aruba (arrive/depart, and where they were staying)… this wasn’t possible for everyone but we kept track of most of them. We also had a surprise for each guest as they checked in, and included guest-specific itineraries. They all found them to be very helpful.
-About a month prior to our departure, I put together a large box of items, filled it with styrofoam peanuts, and addressed it properly – programs, favors, lots of details customized and specific to our day - and went to FedEx to ship to Aruba in advance. However, the cost to ship the box was outrageous(!!), so instead we opted to use one old suitcase just for all these wedding items and it was much cheaper to travel down with instead. We ended up fitting a smaller suitcase inside of a larger one to condense our luggage coming back home.
-The last month will be spent finalizing your menu items, making everything look pretty, checking in with everyone to ensure that you are on track and everyone knows what is expected. Make sure you have your ceremony details ironed out. Make sure you have your entertainment booked. Pick your special song for your first dance, and mother/groom & father/bride dances. Don’t forget your cake. Hair appointments. Make sure everyone has their outfits. Programs. What happens if there is an unusual occurrence of bad weather. Organize all of your official documentation and make sure it gets packed. Make a packing list so that you don't forget anything.
-My last bit of advice is that once you are on the airplane in route to Aruba, RELAX!!!… take a deep breath in and enjoy it because all of your hard work and planning will pay off and everything will come together… have faith and trust that your day will be everything you want it to be & maybe more. But don’t get so caught up that you miss the opportunity to enjoy it all… it only happens once, so have fun and shine!
I hope this helps … as I said before, I would be happy to offer assistance if anyone has any other questions regarding having a wedding in Aruba! We LOVED our wedding and know it was the best decision for us.
Bon dia! ! !