Photography courtesy Casa de Campo
What do Morgan Stanley financial advisor Brian Pfeifler, the Duke of Anjou Luis Alfonso de Borbon, and the many of the wealthiest young Dominicans have in common? They got married at Casa de Campo, in La Romana, Dominican Republic, best known as the playground for lovers of luxury and the outdoor life.
If you are about to tie the knot, you too should consider this resort. The diversity of Casa de Campo, which rightfully describes itself as the most complete resort in the Caribbean, makes it possible for the resort to offer competitive wedding plans to those who are not rich and famous.
Casa de Campo can offer such a wide range of wedding locations because it is set in a landscape of endless undulating hills and plains of a sugar cane plantation, right by the sea. This 30-year-old, 7,000-acre sprawling resort offers the largest variety of photogenic locations for wedding parties of up to 1,500 in a single resort in the Caribbean.
The resort’s most popular site, especially for medium to large Catholic weddings, is St Stanislaus Church, in the resort’s own Italian medieval village of Altos de Chavon. The church seats up to 90 people, but chairs may be placed outside for larger weddings. The plaza surrounding the church is filled with shops and restaurants and can accommodate parties of up to 600-700 guests. For small Catholic weddings, the hotel can assist with arrangements for churches in La Romana town, and the reception and other events can be held at nearby Casa de Campo.
Marry at the church and then have a dinner party at one of the private terraces of Chavon, such as the Mirador de la Posada, or La Piscina de Chavon, hidden in the vintage stonework. Or choose the air-conditioned fancy Zanzibar Restaurant overlooking the Chavon River, or the larger Casa del Rio Restaurant also perched above the river. For smaller parties, a festive dinner can be arranged at the enchanting and also air-conditioned Piazzetta Restaurant or the informal open-air Caf? del Sol overlooking the Chavon church. Earlier, you can have an impressive family portrait taken with the backdrop of the 5,000-person Greek amphitheatre, which was inaugurated by none less than Frank Sinatra in 1982.
Another popular wedding site, of course, is Casa de Campo’s private beach, Minitas. While Catholic weddings are held in the Chavon church, couples of other faiths have been partial to beach weddings under the stars. Indeed, a recent challenge for the wedding coordinators at Casa de Campo was to carry off a successful Indian wedding for a couple that met while studying in the United States.
Several Jewish weddings are also held every year, with most couples bringing their family rabbi. But Casa de Campo can also arrange for the rabbi who serves in Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, to hold the ceremony. Protestant weddings are booked year round, too, under the stars of Minitas Beach where the Caribbean Sea may witness your vows. Attire can range from a bride in white and groom in black shorts and tuxedo shirt to the most informal of arrangements.
Minitas Beach is also popular for celebrating a pre-wedding pirate night. And then there is the option of taking a sunset sail to Catalina island to set the tone for the wedding to come, or a morning-after catamaran trip for brunch at this tropical dream spot.
In addition to Chavon and Minitas, there is La Marina de Casa de Campo, a modern-day replica of Portofino port in Italy. The palapa overlooking Chavon River flowing into the sea can cater for up to 600 people. Many a couple has married to the strains of National Symphony Orchestra musicians who come from Santo Domingo for their special evening, or to the catchy beat of one of the big-name merengue bands at parties that are sure to last until after 2 am. La Marina is especially popular because guests can mix afterwards and feel the salt spray while strolling along the luxurious yacht and sailboat port, browsing through the many stores and restaurants in the marina, many of which stay open until midnight.
Indoor formal affairs can be had at the Flamboyan convention centre halls, which are air-conditioned and can accommodate approximately 400-600 guests, banquet-style.
For smaller parties, the bride and groom have been known to tee off as a couple right on holes 11, 12 or 19 on the famous Teeth of the Dog championship course, rated by Golf magazine among the top 100 courses outside the US. There have been weddings with the best men and witnesses in tuxedo, posing teeing off, right by the sea. Weddings can take place on any one of four golf courses, including Teeth of the Dog or Dye Four, with their royal vistas of sprawling hills over the Chavon River.
Some fun-loving couples have chosen to stage a pre-wedding donkey polo game (a broomstick is used to hit the ball) for the groom and his party versus the bride and her party at the Equestrian Center. A cowboy Tex Mex rehearsal dinner or barbecue event at the Dude Ranch or Safari Club of the Shooting Clays may follow. Tennis players have married at La Terraza Tennis Center, with its 13 clay courts, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
And yes, children are welcome at Casa de Campo, which offers one of the island’s best children’s entertainment programmes at the service of wedding parties.
The most difficult part of celebrating a wedding at Casa de Campo seems to be the task of choosing from all the diverse sites. But the decision is made easy by the Casa de Campo wedding coordinators who are experts at matching what Casa de Campo has to offer with the personality and style of the couples. Wedding coordinators help organise the rehearsal dinner, dress the bride, groom and guests, plan the wedding ceremony, the wedding brunch—all the way until the entire wedding party leaves on their return flights home.
Wedding coordinator Katherine Romero, who has worked at Casa de Campo for 17 years and knows the resort inside out, comments, “Weddings can be stressful, so we stay by your side until you leave.” She sees the role of a Casa de Campo wedding coordinator as that of a psychologist, working first to get to know the couple, and then to personalise the wedding, based on their expectations, style and, of course, budget. Casa de Campo, being the most complete resort in the Caribbean, makes it all that easier.
Marriage licence requirements:
Submit the following paperwork before the Oficial’a del Estado Civil for the preparation of your marriage certificate. Note that you may send photocopies in advance and bring the original with you: passport, birth certificate, single status affidavit translated by an official translator into Spanish, divorce certificate translated into Spanish by an official translator (if applicable).
Legal transcripts of the birth certificates, single status affidavit and divorce certificate need to be prepared at the Dominican consulate in the country where the documents were issued.
You will also need two witnesses. If they are foreigners, they will need to have passports as identification. If they are Dominicans, “cedulas” are sufficient.
After the marriage:
You will be given a document that proves that the wedding took place. You then need to request a marriage certificate from the local Justice of the Peace. The document issued by the Justice of the Peace is a valid marriage certificate anywhere in the world. M