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Thread: Our Wedding Review at the Radisson - April 10, 2010

  1. #1
    Member oneeyejack's Avatar
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    Our Wedding Review at the Radisson - April 10, 2010

    I just wanted to write about our wedding experience in Aruba. We got married at the Radisson Aruba on April 10, 2010. The review will contain all the good AND the bad.

    # of Guests – 79 (70 Adults, 9 Children)

    Choosing the Island and Venue – We’ve both been in the Boston area for some time and thus have been to many weddings there. We wanted to marry in the spring, avoid the frigid New England cold, and do something different. We narrowed the options down to a water destination with a direct flight from Boston: Aruba or the Bahamas. A friend already got married in the Bahamas so Aruba it was! We compared prices at the Hyatt, Marriott and Westin by putting together a spreadsheet to approximate the cost at each venue. The Radisson’s price range was right where we wanted and after reading many positive reviews on the forums, we knew we found our place. After booking the resort, I took a trip to Aruba to explore the island and check everything out. I met up with Lisa, the bridal specialist, took a tour of the hotel and had a food tasting. I also made my way over to the Westin, Hyatt and Marriott just to see if we missed out on anything. Each place will have its own unique look and no matter where you choose, you’ll have a beautiful wedding.

    Radisson – When you walk into the Radisson, you enter the gorgeous open-air lobby that leads right to the pools and the beach. The suite we were in had a fantastic view but could use some upgrading. For a place like this you’d expect plasma/LCD’s and wireless in thr rooms. Ours had an old school TV in it and required an Ethernet cable for free Internet access. Wireless is only available in certain parts of the hotel, like the lobby.

    Wedding Coordinator – Lisa Dammerman was absolutely amazing and I have nothing but praise for her. She kept on top of everything and was often several steps ahead of us. If needed, she would contact a vendor for us. If we wanted to speak in person, she would call us. Lisa also set up a meeting with all our vendors (flowers, dj, lighting) when we got to the island to make sure all arrangements were set for the big day. Don’t be alarmed if they don’t get back to you until closer to your wedding date. That’s just how they operate. They don’t need most of the information (number of guests, cake info, menu choices, etc) until a couple of weeks before the wedding, when she provides forms for you to fill out. As long as you have the information confirmed on your part you are set to go.

    Reception – Our reception took place by the hotel poolside deck. The staff did a fantastic job with the set up. The presentation of the dinner, from the appetizers to the dessert, was picture perfect. We chose the Aruban buffet, thinking it’d be nice for our guests to try cuisine true to the island. The food was not only delicious but also plentiful and people loved the wide variety of dishes. Also, our cocktail hour was served right on the beach where our ceremony was.

    Flowers – This was one of the only disappointing parts of our experience. We received two recommendations from Lisa: Flortiek by Wilson and Elsa’s Flower shop. We went with Elsa’s because we were told they could do the same type of flowers for a cheaper price. The person in charge doesn’t write English well so all emails were handled by his assistant. Email responses were very slow and sparse, which meant communication with them was pretty poor. We contacted Lisa many times to ask what was going on with our flowers and price quote. Two days before the wedding, we found out they had ordered the wrong flowers and misunderstood what we wanted for our centerpieces. Luckily they had just enough of what we REALLY wanted in stock. The bridesmaid bouquets came close, but my wife’s bouquet looked nothing like the pictures we sent them. Everyone else thought the flowers looked great but it’s the minor details that only you and your wife will notice. =P

    Hair – I found Jennifer Croes-Veeris through Christene (another member on this forum). She didn’t have her contact info so I did some digging on my own. A simple Google or Facebook search will do wonders if you’re looking for contact information. Jennive owns her own salon on the island and also does nails. She’ll come to wherever you are, which is super convenient for your wedding day! My wife had a trial appointment the day before the wedding and her hair looked beautiful. Jennive was able to replicate pictures exactly, but yet put in her own creative artistic touches to make it unique and special. Knowing we had our rehearsal dinner that night, she even redid half of the updo for a variation, not wanting her hair to look the same for the wedding. On the day of the wedding, Jennive brought three other stylists to assist her with the bridal party and two mothers. One of her assistants, Allen, was also an excellent stylist. Both of them understood English well so there were no problems with communication. I strongly recommend Jennive to anyone. She was on time, extremely friendly, LOVES what she does and treats her clients like royalty. Most of all, her hands work swiftly and confidently, which will put any stressed bride at ease on the weekend of her wedding!

    Manicure/Pedicure – My wife and her bridesmaids wanted to go to Knipoog since their prices are very reasonable and they received rave reviews, but they only had one station for nails. They ended up going to Maggy’s right down the street from the Radisson. The place was very clean and classy, but the quality of their work was just mediocre. Several times my wife had to ask them to redo a nail because the line was crooked on the French manicure. Even after a couple days the paint was already chipping off.

    DJ – We used DJ Tino Daal, who was recommended to us through Lisa. He was warm, friendly and did a great job. I chose an upbeat playlist for the entire night, so he played old school/new hip-hop and top 40 songs per my request. I also provided him with a no-play since there were certain songs that I didn’t want played.

    Lighting – I wanted our reception area to be bright enough for pictures so I asked for lighting recommendations: High Performance Aruba (www.hparuba.com) and Elite Productions (http://www. elite-productions.net). Both companies were slow with email responses and it took multiple initiations to get an answer about something. Lisa had to call them several times to see what was going on. We went with High Performance Aruba, which was recommended by Lisa. They did a great job that night and the reception pictures came out quite nicely due to the extra lighting.

    Welcome/Dinner – We hosted a welcome dinner for all our guests at Gianni’s on Friday night. We chose this place since it could accommodate 70 people and was located right across the street from the Radisson. It received rave reviews on the forums as well as from people we knew who had been there. We were put in contact with one of their hostesses and as we attempted to negotiate price, the emails were inconsistent, confusing and vague. We had to keep asking if this or that was included or what plated menu vs. family style meant etc. We decided to just talk to them when we arrived. When we met with the hostess, we agreed upon two appetizers, two main entrees, and tiramisu for dessert, all served family style with unlimited refills on soda and juice. She reassured us that our guests would have plenty and “be very happy.” This was not the case on the night of the dinner. Tables of 12 had to share 4 pieces of chicken parmigian and 2 plates of clam linguini. The portions were so tiny many of our guests asked the staff if more food was coming. When they brought out more food (plain pasta with olive oil), they actually asked to take THAT food and serve it to OTHER tables that also didn’t have enough. How unprofessional is that? There weren’t even dessert plates because the tiramisu came out on a communal plate, enough for everyone to have forkful (literally). For people who are in the food business, they must have known that the amount they served was not enough to adequately feed the number of people. The wait staff came around so rarely that most guests just had one drink. My sister-in-law asked for soda FIVE times and never got it. So much for the unlimited refills! To top it off, the hostess at the end of the night wanted to place an empty bill holder on each table for “tip” for the waiters. Apparently, the 20% service charge they already added to our bill was not the tip, but the fee that is split among the staff at the end of the week. Not only was the service charge very misleading, we were certainly not going to give extra tip for the poor service and the stingy portions of food. The one positive thing about the restaurant is that the food was quite good. All our guests commented on how delicious the food was. It was just unfortunate that everything else was such a disappointment.

    Snokeling Tour –The Mi Dushi sunset/snorkel tour we hosted the on the day after our wedding was also recommended by Christene. I suggest you get in touch with them if you plan on doing something like this. They pick you up at the Radisson Pier, bring you out to their boat and make two snorkeling stops: Antilla Shipwreck and Catalina Bay. On my first trip to Aruba, I snorkeled at these two places but also did a snuba dive through the Antilla. To see the shipwreck up close is phenomenal and pretty amazing. Lastly, they are VERY quick and good about responding to emails.

    Photographer – Our photographer was Kenny Kim (http://www.kennykim.com). I met Kenny back in ‘07 at a friend’s wedding in the Bahamas and have kept in touch with him ever since. He has shot several of my friends’ weddings and I’m very familiar with his work. To me, the photography for my wedding was of utmost importance. As an amateur photographer myself, I had to have someone who was top notch. Prices aren’t cheap but I promise that you will have AMAZING photos. You can see some of our wedding photos here: http://blog.kennykim.com/2010/04/des...m-beach-aruba/ If you’re curious, here are some of our engagement photos that we took in NYC: http://blog.kennykim.com/2010/03/peg...ement-session/ He is HIGHLY recommended and I have nothing but praise for his amazing work! Thanks Kenny!!

    Videographer – This was a personal friend of ours who was into videography. He attended the wedding as a guest but we paid him for his services. His videos were shot on his Canon 5D Mark II and T2i.

    Officiant – Our officiant was my Pastor from the church I attend in Boston. He’s a good friend of mine and I flew him out to perform the spiritual ceremony on the beach. We got our marriage license in Boston since it was easier than having to go to city hall in Aruba to perform the civil ceremony.

    Words of Wisdom – We did not use another wedding coordinator as others have on this forum. We did all of the planning and organizing on our own. If you plan on doing it yourself, just make sure to keep on top of all your vendors. I think culturally Arubans take their time with things, including email correspondence. Don’t expect the same response time as the US. If something isn’t getting done or isn’t set yet, try giving them a call. We bought a calling card through www.pingo.com. It’s a lot cheaper than dialing international on your cell phone. Most of the vendors want your business so if you give them a budget of how much you’re willing to spend, they’ll work with you as best as they can. Remember, start your planning early and you’ll be fine.

    Good luck to everyone who’s planning a wedding in Aruba and feel free to ask any questions!!
    Last edited by oneeyejack; 05-18-2010 at 12:10 PM.

  2. #2
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    sorry to hear GIANNIS' customer service was disappointing and their portions left the diners still hungry ?!

    most everything else sounded good though!
    congratulations.
    i am confused............did you use the services of Lisa Dammerman ? In your last paragraph you say you did all of the planning and organizing "on your own". So, i am a bit confused.

  3. #3
    Member oneeyejack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    sorry to hear GIANNIS' customer service was disappointing and their portions left the diners still hungry ?!

    most everything else sounded good though!
    congratulations.
    i am confused............did you use the services of Lisa Dammerman ? In your last paragraph you say you did all of the planning and organizing "on your own". So, i am a bit confused.
    yup we used lisa since it was provided by the hotel. meaning, we didn't use another planner like some have on the forum.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

    The Radisson is in the midst of renovating all of their guestrooms. At the present time, I understand they are working on the Bonaire Tower. No use to you now but good info for future guests.

    Their suites are gorgeous!

  5. #5
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    Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous photos! You both looks so happy and seem to have had a picture perfect day. =) I'm sure your thoughtful review will be appreciated by many!

  6. #6
    Senior Member cindyo's Avatar
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    Great report...we love TINO ! He's the best...Ah, Gianni's, I could have told you that one b4 you even booked them...

  7. #7
    Senior Member cyclone promotions's Avatar
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    Nice review
    Professional Island DJ's
    For All Your Weddings And Party Needs.
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    DJ TINO
    https://www.weddingwire.com/biz/dj-t...472c213ea.html

  8. #8
    Member oneeyejack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclone promotions View Post
    Nice review
    hey tino...nice to see you on here! =)

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    thank you so much for your review! i'm so happy to hear you had a great experience! we're getting married at the radisson in july & lisa has been wonderful! we're also having the cocktail hour on the beach & reception poolside. think we're going with the around the world stations but i'm definitely going to check out the aruban buffet. so glad to hear the food was great!

    did you feel like the extra lighting was absolutely necessary? we were thinking about hiring someone for that. right now our guest count is at 35 (love that number! haha) how many people did you seat at each table? was there plenty of room to dance by the pool? we're so excited! july will be here before we know it thanks again for sharing!!!! it sounds like you and your wife had a beautiful wedding! congrats!

  10. #10
    Member A_J_Mitch's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review!! I actually booked Jennive for my hair after reading this review!!

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