Hm.... So it sounds like I should expect some better communication...
One question, someone mentioned the private island that belongs to the Renaissance. That's a Marriott chain as well, right? Do you think it would be possible to hold the wedding on the private island even if I am staying at the Marriott / Stellaris? We already put down a deposit, but maybe since it's the same ownership company we could shift the venue?
Still worried, although less "concerned" i guess. It seems like you guys think the Marriott is pretty great! I'll keep digging to find out what I can on my end. Anyone else have any experiences there? Anything I should know about?>
Ok Damond -- here is what I think you are looking for... the (ugly?) truth - an un-Photoshop-ed photo taken from the back of the ceremony. There they are - the swimmers and sunbathers. It's really surprising that I wasn't at all bothered because I am extremely shy. I didn't notice anyone other than my guests. It was overwhelming to be surrounded by so many people that love us.
No - privacy is the one thing that won't be an issue. Its the only private beach available and by the time your wedding starts, visitors will have headed back to Aruba. We were considering it when we were in Aruba for our site visit last spring. You take a short little boat ride to get there.
Those that love it absolutely love it (you'll find plenty of gushing in the board), however it wasn't for us. I needed clean bathrooms and wanted to be back out of the sand and on solid ground for the reception. (They have a small concrete slab under the sand though, that they clear away for a dance floor.) We also had a wide range of guests ranging in age from 9 to 81 and I wanted them to easily be able to go back to their rooms when they were done. We also snuck back up to our rooms for a little bit between the ceremony and reception to change clothes and have a little private time. I wouldn't have wanted to change from my gown to my reception dress in a small (like you'd find in a park) bathroom.
Some find the island 'glamorous', some find it cheesy. (You might want to check TripAdvisor.) For me seeing 6 cans of bug spray ready and waiting for the wedding that was about to start was enough to take it off my list. Some people find the mosquitos a brief, minor nuisance, others have bigger problems. I just know I'm really sensitive to them and would probably end up with a welt on my forehead for my reception photos. =)
But we really liked their wedding planner, Juney, who showed us around (we had two different appointments with him) and the cost shouldn't be any more than you would spend at the Marriott. Marriott's food was top notch and I would expect Rens food to be as good. We didn't care for their hotels though (we found them outdated and musty) - I think we saw 5 rooms between the Ocean Suites and Marina hotel, and stayed at the Ocean Suites one night, so if you're at all fussy, you'll be much more comfortable staying at the Marriott property.
But I'm the first to admit I'm a hotel snob and kind of a control freak so chances are you are a lot more laid back than me. I get distracted by some pretty silly things sometimes. For me I chose a little less privacy at the ceremony for an unbelievable reception I can't imagine having anywhere else.
Still, a couple of the coolest brides I have met have gotten (or are getting) married on the island. Ladies with very high standards!
My fiance and I just got back from a site visit to the Marriott. I didn't think it looked cheesy at all. Its a lovely resort and I am excited about our wedding there in November. I think the pictures earlier in the thread were completely representative based on what we saw. Two of the three days we watched the sun set on the beach the ceremony would have been no problem. There were a few couples hanging out and taking pictures, but not a huge crowd. One night there were a ton of people, including two families playing football on the beach and in the waves. That night it might have been a little frustrating to have a wedding, but then again, chances are they would have been respectful and moved further down the beach if that was the situation. Its a consideration, but I at least feel forewarned and will try to go with the flow...
As to the communication: it was tough at first and I never did get a response to my inquiries from the Marriott website. However, after a kind person on here gave me a contact I have had several good email exchanges, got the deposit done and date set, and made a face to face with the wedding planner herself. We met with the planner, not the sales lady, while we were there last week and it was well worth it for us. My fiance wants to be very involved, and it was great to sit down and go through all the options with her together. I also know that after she sends me some pictures of options and colors and such, and a quote, I won't here a lot more from her for several months. Now that I had this meeting, I think I will be more comfortable with that.
Anyway, the Renaissance may work better for you, but I honestly think the Marriott will do a good wedding as well. At least I hope so since that's where I am heading! Good luck either way!
I was a wedding planner in NYC and did many destination weddings as well and one thing you have to think about is transporting all your guests from the Marriott Stellaris (where I assume most of them are staying) to Renaissance Island (which involves either taxi rides downtown OR group transportation arranged by you or your wedding planner to the Renaissance Island water taxi port and THEN a boat ride to the island) and then doing that all over again on the way back. That means pushing your ceremony time earlier to accommodate for the extra transportation (which means no sunset at the ceremony) OR pushing your cocktail hour/reception back at least an hour (which means hungry/cranky guests). I would recommend that you stay at Marriott for your reception to save yourself the headache of all that extra transportation, to be more cost efficient, and to make the experience equally positive for your guests.