Stately palms, a gentle Caribbean breeze, beautiful beaches as far as the eye can see—Punta Cana has rightfully earned its place in the pantheon of iconic Caribbean wedding destinations. As a region, Punta Cana covers more than 30 miles of coastline on the Dominican Republic's far eastern shores, beginning in Cap Cana and following the island's curves north and west towards the heart of Punta Cana, aptly named the Coconut Coast.
For brides-to-be considering a Caribbean wedding, the Dominican Republic should definitely be on your radar. A quick direct flight from most major U.S. airports, traveling to Punta Cana does require a passport (although that means you'll get a few memorable new stamps). Most resorts are all-inclusive with a touch of class, meaning that anything from poolside cocktails and room service to a dressy dinner date is bundled with the room rate. In addition, many Punta Cana properties have a "resort within a resort" offering—an adults-only suite stay with some seriously luxe amenities worthy of your wedding stay.
To make planning the big day from afar as stress-free as possible, resorts that are experienced with hosting destination weddings will have a dedicated wedding planner or a wedding planning team on-site that knows the ins and outs of the property, can offer advice and local insights, and will be your behind-the-scenes organizers on your wedding day. It's a good idea to leverage the services and expertise of the wedding team as much as possible—they're there to be your eyes and ears on the ground and make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
Naturally, the biggest decisions when planning a wedding are location, date, and budget. When researching your destination wedding, in Punta Cana or elsewhere, "always ask the hard-hitting questions before making a commitment," says Paradisus Corporate Romance Manager Marilyn Cairo, a Caribbean destination wedding expert. Resorts should be fully transparent with how their various wedding packages are priced, what each package entails, as well as any other costs that might be on the table, such as if a photographer is (or isn't) included.
Paradisus, which has two properties in Punta Cana, the Paradisus Punta Cana Resort and the Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa, has a Romance Team at each site to handle all aspects of planning and logistics for the wedding day—and the rest of the weekend, as needed. Peak months for weddings in Punta Cana are January, February, and also September, when brides can take advantage of lower room rates, reduced pricing on wedding packages and other bonus perks and offers.
For most brides getting married in Punta Cana, the wedding is a symbolic one. "Legal is so yesteryear," Marilyn says. "You'll save hundreds of dollars on the cost of a legal ceremony in another country if you take care of the legal paperwork in your home state. By the time you arrive in Punta Cana a few days in advance of your wedding, your only concerns should be to eat, drink, be happy—and wear your sunscreen."