My husband and I had the most beautiful wedding at the Radisson Aruba in May 2011- we could not have dreamed of anything more perfect! I am never happier than when my toes are in the sand, so getting married on the beach in Aruba was the natural choice. Even though our wedding was 8 months ago- it feels like yesterday- our friends and family are still talking about how it was "the best wedding EVER"! So if you have chosen to get married in Aruba (and I HIGHLY recommend the Radisson, as you will see in the following), you will definitely not regret it!
We had 40 guests who traveled to Aruba from all over the US and stayed at the Radisson for varying lengths of time. My husband and I arrived in Aruba 6 days before the wedding and stayed for another 7 after. We started our wedding festivities on Thursday with a "Bonbini/Welcome to Aruba" dinner at the Radisson. We had tables set outside in the sand and ate by torch light as the sun was setting. There was a buffet dinner, and we had a bar with beer, wine, soft drinks. The food, set-up, etc, totally exceeded my expectations! Our guests were amazed by the beautiful surroundings, and it was the perfect way to kick off our celebration. My girlfriends organized a surprise bachelorette party at Senor Frogs (across the street from the Radisson) after this dinner- also a very fun memory
On Friday evening we had a quick ceremony rehearsal on the beach with just the wedding party and parents, and then we hosted a dinner for all of our guests at Hostaria da'Vittorio. For those of you who are not familiar, this is a great authentic Italian restaurant that is in walking distance of the Radisson/Palm beach hotels. We had a set menu of salads and appetizers for each table, guests then had the choice of 4 different entree options, and then the most delicious chocolate cake. I must admit that it was very difficult to organize this. My parents, husband, and I had traveled to Aruba 6 months before the wedding and went to the restaurant to reserve this, but after that it was next to impossible to communicate/confirm with them, until my mom finally bought a phone card and called. We went there as soon as we arrived in May to confirm all the details, but that felt a little too last minute for me- the nervous bride In the end, the food was delicious and the ambiance was beautiful, so it was all worth it!
Now on to Saturday, the wedding day! I spent the afternoon at the Larimar spa with my mom and 3 bridesmaids getting hair and make-up done. I had a hair and make-up trial 2 days before, and my bridesmaids got just what they asked for. The spa is a really beautiful setting and the ladies there did a wonderful job. Apparently it had rained for a few minutes while we were in there, but the sun was shining again by the time we left. The girls and I got dressed in my lovely hotel suite, and then our amazing wedding photographer Angela (Bellaruba Photography) arrived to start taking pictures. She took some great photos of me with the girls in the suite and on the balcony before we headed down to the wedding party. We did things a little unconventionally by having the cocktail party before the ceremony. Cocktail hour was supposed to take place at the Mira Solo martini bar, but unfortunately it was closed for renovation at the time. For those who have never been there, Mira Solo is an open air martini bar with beautiful views of the beach/gardens/pools at the Radisson. I was really upset about not being able to have cocktails there, as we had not been informed that this was the case until a week before the wedding. But these last minute glitches can pop up before the wedding, and there was really no choice but to get over it and go forward! So we had cocktails at the "temporary mira solo" set up outside the Laguna restaurant. My husband and I were taking pictures with friends/family, etc, the whole time, but it was nice for our guests to mingle and have drinks/hors d'oeuvres before the ceremony.
Our wedding ceremony was literally like a dream! It began around 6:30pm, just before the sun was setting. The ocean/sky were beautiful! My aunt served as our ceremony officiant (the beach ceremony is not legal, so really anyone can do this). This was a great personal touch, as we were really able to work closely with her to "compose" our ceremony. There was hardly a dry eye! We had steel drums for music, which was great. My uncle was our videographer. We are lucky in that he is in that business, but I really just wanted something basic so we can look back/remember how it went. This part was very surreal! We then had a champagne toast and group picture on the beach, followed by some awesome wedding party photos (the sky was amazing!), as guests headed over to the reception.
The reception was located on the pool deck. We had a plated dinner with salad, appetizer, and entree, and an open bar. The food was delicious and presentation was very nice- again, exceeded my expectations. A DJ from Marc Benson/Elite Productions DJ'ed our reception. He did a great job playing music during dinner, and then getting the party started with dancing after. I did provide a pretty extensive playlist, and he followed that and added some extra. Unfortunately I didn't last in my gorgeous gown for long. It was really HOT that night- no wind- crazy for Aruba, right? I ran up to the room quick to change around 10pm so I could keep dancing. Around 11pm, everyone was so hot that they started jumping in the pool! All (but a handful) of our guests ended up jumping in, and we danced in the pool for the last hour- such a fun memory!
I can't believe I've gotten this far without mentioning Lisa, the amazing wedding coordinator at the Radisson! She really went above and beyond, making sure everything was perfect for our special day. When we arrived in Aruba, she took my mother and me to Price Smart (similar to BJ's/Costco) and the grocery store to buy food and wine for our guests' welcome bags. She set up meetings with all of the vendors when we visited in November and again a few days before the wedding. This is just the beginning of all she did, and I can't say enough how lovely she was to work with.
A few other things...
Our wedding flowers were done by Floritek and came out beautiful! We did go to the shop in November to go over the basics- colors, arrangements, etc. If you aren't able to do this, preferences could be easily communicated through Lisa. I was not very specific (just with colors), and the bouquets/arrangements were just perfect!
In our guests' welcome bags, we included 350ml bottles of Palmera dark rum with personalized wedding labels. Palmera was great to work with. Very quick at returning emails, and they delivered the rum bottles right to the hotel a few days before the wedding. Our guests loved these!
It's hard to imagine that I left anything out, but I am more than happy to answer any questions/concerns or provide more details for future Aruba brides! Wedding planning was one of the most fun hobbies I've had, and my husband and I both loved our whole Aruba wedding experience! We cannot wait to go back in May for our first anniversary!
I will try to figure out how to upload some pictures
Glad all went well with your wedding at Radisson. I have had the pleasure to meet Lisa Dammerman personally and she is a wonderful understanding human being who goes above and beyond the call of duty to make the wedding couples wedding perfect in every way. Radisson is lucky to have her. I had coordinated a wedding at Radisson with another Radisson Wedding Planner at Radisson a few years ago before Lisa joined them. I wish I could have worked with her at that time. Belated congratulations and a long and happy life together. My husband and I recently celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary in Aruba and renewed our wedding vows for our 50th wedding anniversary on the beach at sunset two years ago. We met at 16 years of age and got married at 18. When anyone asks my husband and I what made our marriage last so long, my husband answers " Lots and lots of patience!" LOL! All kidding asside, it is a strong love that gets stronger every day, even after all of these years I wish the same for you and your new husband.