We got married at sunset on May 11th on the beach in front of the Marriott Stellaris Casino & Resort and it was amazing! Our reception was there as well on the La Vista patio on the beach. Our 39 guests are still talking about it and everyone had such an awesome time! We are so grateful for everyone who had a part in making our special day and evening perfect for us in Aruba. We have nothing but wonderful things to tell you about all of them and really wanted to share this with you. :-)
Here are some details....Our wedding coordinator was Desiree Bikker at the Marriott and she did an excellent job satisfying all our expectations and going above and beyond for us overall. The ceremony & reception set up was perfect for us and everyone's feedback has been nothing but positive of course! As part of our ceremony we had a sand mixing ceremony, cut our cake on the beach, and did the signing of the certificates. My long bouquet of calla lillies for myself and my 2 bridesmaids were exactly what I pictured & always hoped for. The cake we cut on the beach was decorated with the lillies too...so beautiful. For our reception, we had a cocktail hour with butlered hors d'oeuvres. After cocktail hour, we did our introductions, first dances, and toasts. For our dinner, we had heavy hors d'oeuvres on cocktail tables and a few long tables so people could eat and dance continuously. We had slices of cheesecake and slices of pineapple cake delivered to each seat after dinner for dessert. Our wedding cake we cut on the beach was brought up to our room after we cut it, but it was much bigger than we thought so we were able to share it with our guests the rest of the week! We thought all the food we selected worked out great...it was all delicious!! Doing heavy hors d'oeuvres made it a little more difficult to figure out how much food we needed so I think we had a lot that was not eaten. I am glad we decided on doing it this way though... we are just sorry that we didn't take all of our left over food with us after the reception. :-)
Victor Winklaar was our photographer and he did a wonderful job. He is so professional and such a nice guy. He just went with the flow and was very flexible with his time with us as well. We are currently in the process of picking our photos from the proofs he sent us and it is quite a challenge since he took so many great ones. We had him take pictures 2 hours before the wedding as well so we didn't have to take so many after the ceremony, and we could head to our cocktail party soon after. I strongly recommend this if you don't mind seeing your bride or groom before the wedding. It provided us with many more pictures. Us, our parents, and our wedding party even were able to hang out at the bar in La Vista for 30 minutes when we were finished with the pre-wedding pictures, & we all relaxed before the ceremony. One thing we did forget to do is make a list of picture requests for our photographer. I was so focused on other things that I forgot to do this and overlooked it. I would recommend doing this if you have specific pictures that you want.
Reverend Robert Gibson was superb! Our guests couldn't stop saying how great of a job he did and how it was the most beautiful ceremony they have ever attended. He is such a great guy and we are so happy that he could perform our wedding ceremony.
George Jacobs was our videographer and we are thrilled that we hired him. Before we left the island, he brought over our finished video so we were able to take it home with us. We gave him a cd with 5 songs on it and he set it to those. It was great because after we returned home from our honeymoon in Ireland, we had an At Home Reception in our town in Virginia and we showed the video for all our friends. Everyone loved it!! He did a really good job.
We went through the Marriott for the steel pan drummer and he was awesome! Very pleased. We were so excited to have him play at our ceremony and for our cocktail hour. I'm not sure what his name is but can definitely get it for you if you need it.
Also, we thought the DJ that Desiree had selected for us was awesome & all of our guests thought so as well! He worked for DJ Cool Pro. He played most of our songs on our list, and the songs he played were so our style. He knew just what kind of songs we loved and since most of our guests were in our 30's, we danced and partied all night long. Even the hotel guests were dancing on their balconies! There were 2 guys there DJing...and I apologize for not having their names on hand, but if you are interested, I can always ask Desiree. :-)
Our bartender Dufi was a big hit at our wedding reception. He was so much fun and provided fantastic service to us and our guests! All of the staff that worked the wedding and cleared our plates for us were so pleasant and so friendly! What can we say...the Marriott did a fantastic job!!
A few things in addition, we had our Welcome Reception the night before at Moomba's and they did an awesome job!! We also did a Post-Wedding Brunch at La Vista. Their brunch buffet is delicious!! Also, the Mandara spa at the Marriott did a fantastic job with my updo & manicure and we got our dresses and men's outfits steamed by Arlette (she has her own company, which I can get you info about through the Marriott). The night after the wedding, we all did the Kukoo Kunuko Party Bus....a must!! Needless to say, we had a blast with all of our wedding events and would do it all over again if we could!!
We do have one bit of advice that we wish we would have been more mindful of during the planning and which we would love to pass on to you. We booked some of our services directly, instead of through our resort...which still worked out fine. However, most can only accept cash when you arrive on the island. The credit card doesn't go through in time and they can't cash checks. Our advice is to either take care of it through pay pal before you leave, or bring lots and lots of cash. We wish we would have had this taken care of before we arrived.
If you have any questions or need any information, just let me know! I had so much fun with our planning and I am happy to provide you with our experience to make it easier for you! We are very grateful that we had this forum to come to for helpful information as we were planning our wedding! Thanks so much!
Omg! This sounds so amazing!!! I've been dying to hear how everything went I'd love to see pictures if you don't mind! I'm sure I'll be PM-ing you a million questions as we get closer to the big day... ahhhhh!
I am also getting married at the Aruba Marriott this year. We're also hoping to use Rev. Gibson and are having the ceremony on their beach with the steel drum player and a DJ. Our group should be about the same size. So did you find their beach too crowded? I've been told that Palm Beach can be really crowded with lots of tourists and distracting activity from water sports in the background, but after our site visit last month I don't think it will be a problem... Especially since their resort is the furthest north. Looked to me like the beach is pretty quite in the late afternoon. (We're thinking ceremony 4:30, sunset cocktails 5:30-6:30 and dinner 6:30... Ceremony & Reception on their beach, dinner on the lawn and dancing poolside.)
Also, could you share what your favorite hors d'oeuvres were?
And thank you for the tip on outside vendors that may need cash. Definitely good to know! Can you share who you used for what? We plan to use outside vendors as well for decorating. I'm really glad the Marriott is flexible in that regard. So far they are very accommodating but seem to have limited decor available.
Thanks so much for posting. This was a hard decision to make but I'm feeling better and better about it. I'd love to see pictures!
Congrats! I'm getting married in Aruba on Jan 18, 2010. I'm trying to decide between the Marriott Stellaris Casino & Resort and the Marriott Renaissance (on the private island). Did you consider both? It is very hard to make all of these decisions long distance. We have been to Aruba 3 times, but you just don't pay attention to certain details until you start to plan the wedding... Thanks for any advice you can give! Ilana
Hi Ilana -- Yes, as a matter of fact we did visit both. In fact, I kept sort of a journal about what we thought of each of the resorts we visited and a few pictures. I'll be glad to share that with you when I can send you a 'Private Message'. I think you need to have a certain number of posts before you can send and receive private messages.
For us the Renaissance was fairly easy to rule out. We liked the idea of the private island and visited it, however we didn't care to invite our guests to stay at their hotel. Also, reports from multiple sources of mosquitos at dusk really bothered me - I get bitten up really bad. We also had photographers that shared with us albums of Ren Island weddings they photographed and we could tell it probably wasn't 'us'. Also - I did forget to ask them what they offer for a 'back-up' location in the case of rain.
We're kind of 'hotel snobs' and were really impressed by the Marriott's renovation... Rooms are large and beautifully decorated and every room has a balcony. The hotel really looks as great as it does in the pictures. We love that its contemporary. Some call it a 'mega-plex' because Marriott also has two time shares but I didn't get that vibe at all. Each resort is separate and distinct though you can use the beach and restaurants at the others (we didn't).
The sales person we worked with was extremely patient and they are very flexible if you want to use outside vendors. They're also quite happy to work with you on the menu - ours is being modified quite a bit from the original options we were given.
We stayed at the Renaissance Ocean Suites one night and the Marriott the second night. We did get a great night sleep at the Ren but were eager to leave. I will say that the Ocean Suites hotel did do a fantastic job with their pool though.
The downside of the Marriott is that its the furthest north but there is still plenty nearby. For us that means the beach is a lot less crowded than other sections of Palm Beach. Cabs can be expensive but the bus goes into town. Oh - and I have to say they crowed WAY too many chaises around the pool -- pool wasn't busy at all but they had chairs shoulder to shoulder.
I am considering Aruba for our wedding next year. I have a few questions. What was the weather like in May? The Marriott is on the top of our list, but did you also check out the Westin? Do you think it is a real risk not to visit the hotel first? I could go on and on with questions. Thank you so much!
Hi There -- the weather was fantastic the weekend we were there. Really hot but the breeze kept us cool. We did do a sunset dinner on the beach and at the end of it I was starting to get a little chilly. But get this - the waiters had a warm towel waiting for me! It wasn't cold by any means but you might want a light cardigan at night.
As a matter of fact, we DID check out the Westin and had a REALLY hard time deciding between the Marriott and Westin. We got to the point of contract negotiations with both hoping that would separate them but they were pretty close. Westin was offering a slightly better deal, we liked the Westin's reception locations better and LOVED their sales coodinator who stays involved with the planning! They were going to give our all our guests ocean view rooms at a good rate. Still, something felt like it was missing. The pool, though really big and it looks great in pictures didn't feel like somewhere we wanted to hang out (no swim up bar and little shade). And the rooms, though ocean view, were a little dark and plain. Very clean as you expect from Westin but I wanted something cheerier... something that felt more tropical.
Marriott's rooms were bigger and brighter with a little punch of color, had brighter modern bathrooms and larger balconies. Their pool is smaller but the pool area is lush with palms and other tropical plants. We liked that its in the courtyard formed by the hotel and has a swim-up bar. There are also areas by the pool where you can get sun but its so hot we enjoyed the break.
We finally decided though, that as a place to stay we liked the Marriott better. LOVED the Marriott rooms and liked the pool better. And they're really flexible in letting you use outside vendors so we think we'll be able to make the reception locations into something we like even better.
As I said in an earlier post, I created a journal and photos of our time there... I'm adding to it as we go through our planning process. I'd be glad to share when I can send you a Private Message. I'm sure I had many of the same questions and found it to be a lot of work to get them figured out.
As far as do you have to do a site visit? Probably not. I don't think you can go wrong with either hotel. The people at both are very communicative and helpful. If you are a 'high-rise' person, those are two great options. There are a lot of other options in the 'low-rise' area as well as Renaissance Island but we decided those weren't for us.
I just started negotiating with both hotels. They both seem great so your input is so helpful! Did you explore the Westin's All Inclusive option? I thought it might be nice for guests to be able to choose that if they wanted. As far as location, I think you said the Marriott is further down, how is the Westin's location. I don't think we will be able to get there before hand so it is nice to hear you think it will be ok either way
My fiance is a teacher and I have a few other weddings in June next year so we are looking at July or August for the wedding. Any thoughts on which month might be better?
Just out of curiousity did you go with outside vendors because the hotel didn't offer what you wanted? Was it for cost reasons?