10/8/11 Palace wedding review from a GROOM! haha
Wedding Package: Strawberry Passion
Ceremony Location: Palace Gazebo
Cocktail Hour: Mexican Package w/ Mariachi band on Palace Rooftop
Reception location: Colonial Beach in front of Mariachi Grill
Number of guests: 71
Check in: Check in went fine. As soon as the staff saw my wife's dress they immediately escorted us to Club Premium. I requested all 70 of our guests in the upper floors of the non-smoking building and they took care of it! Our room was originally on the 2nd floor but we requested a 3rd floor after we heard all of the noise at the pool. The quickly made the change.
Welcome bags: Hands down the biggest pain in the ass of the trip! Without going into detail here are my tips:
1. Clearly label ever bag with a name
2. Ask the front desk for a printout of everyone in your party and their room number
3. Have the front desk put a comment in each one of their accounts to give them a bag.
4. Hand the bags to the desk and don't worry about the rest.
We attempted to give the first 15 bags out personally and gave up! No one was in their rooms, the place is gigantic, etc.
Things in our bags: Welcome letter with a wedding day schedule (including what people were allowed and not allowed to wear) and a who's who. Yes, we wrote something for all 71 people. It was a huge hit. Underwater cameras, koozies, hand sanitizer and a candle. We made sure the bags were beach bags so everyone used them during the week.
Wedding Coordinator: I have been dealing with Xhail for 12 months and she has been great. Unfortunately she didn't mention she was going on vacation the week of our wedding. My wife and I were really worried when the front desk told us this. Fortunately Grecia her assistant was AWESOME. We quickly looked at the Gazebo and talked about the minor details. We originally requested Coral beach even though they told us 10 times we couldn't fit 70 people and they were right Luckily we also requested Colonial Beach as a backup. After seeing ALL of the beaches that day there was no question that Colonial was our first choice. It was even nicer than Coral Beach which was too close to the buffets and didn't have any water access? After the meeting Grecia came to our room and we literally handed her 2 giants bags of stuff with pictures of how we wanted everything setup (centerpieces, welcome table, wedding favors, flowers etc.) She took the bag and everything was exactly how we wanted it.
Ceremony: First off the weather was great all week and we know we got lucky. It was HOT the day of our wedding. 4:00 ceremony at the Gazebo. I met with the minister very quickly to iron out some details and it just started! I'll say this, they know what they're doing. They guide you through every step of the ceremony. My wife looked amazing (Adrian Guerra did her hair and makeup and she had so many great things to say about him). The Gazebo honestly holds about 75-80 people so we were bursting at the seams. Luckily it went fast and everyone ran for the shade as soon as it was done! They immediately follow up the ceremony with a champagne toast and then we quickly ran off for pictures
Cocktail Hour: We purchased the Mexican package with the Mariachi Band. We made the mistake of taking too long with our photos and missed most of it though. Once again, it was still blazing hot so most people were hiding in the shade and not really dancing with the Mariachi Band. I didn't hear much about the food or drink so I can't comment. If we had to do it over again, I would just tell people to go to the Palace Lobby bar. It's air conditioned, they have food and drink and we could have had the mariachi just play in there. Luckily, since we had such a big party the hotel comped us the whole thing! About $1000 in savings
We were blown away at how beautiful the beach in front of the Colonial was. Even better was the fact that the Colonial was closed so not that many people were around. All 70 of our guests were shuttled right to the reception. We had a friend of ours emcee the whole thing. I wrote out a script for him along with when to play certain songs. We had about 10 trees wrapped in lights and they also setup 2 giant flood lights which I had turned off as soon as the dancing started.
The food: probably the biggest disappointment of the wedding but who cares! We had the crispy grinnini salad which was OK. The lobster bisque looked and tasted like tomato soup. The surf and turf was overcooked and we never even got to eat the dessert because we started dancing immediately. We ordered the 2 tiered cake which looked nice but I don't think anyone ate.
The music: IPOD. I literally spent 12 months researching the best dance music for our wedding reception. I avoided anything that screamed "wedding music". In my opinion, music makes or breaks a wedding. It was my biggest worry going into it. It was a success! At one point I think all 70 guests were dancing barefoot in the sand. The waiters got into it, spraying everyone with champagne and pouring tequila shots left and right. It was an insane 4 hours. Even our photographer said "it was so hard to shoot this reception because I've never seen so many people dancing in such a tight space". It made our night. After the last song my wife and I announced that we purchased sky lanterns for everyone to light together down by the water. It was a magical end to the evening watching 70+ lanterns floating off into the sky.
Photographer: Ivan Luckie http://www.luckiephotography.com/
Ivan traveled to New York City to do our engagement photos about 6 weeks ago. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He's very creative and has a ton of great ideas. He showed up with his wife Anell on time for our wedding day and stayed with my wife while she was getting ready. Ivan and his wife were all over the place during the ceremony. I can only imagine the shots they got. Afterwards we rushed down to the beach to do the family photos and they quickly got us back for the cocktail hour. A quick tip: make a list of every portrait photo you want. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. You can't expect your photographer to read your mind so make it easy for him or her!
Trash the dress: Ivan & his wife met us 2 days later in the lobby at 8am. We had no idea what we were in store for. Ivan took us EVERYWHERE. We walked from one end of the resort to the other taking photos all over the place. Then we jumped in Ivan's car and went to the freshwater cenote. I never knew modeling was such hard work We were treading water for 2 hours. Ivan let us see some of the pictures and they looked amazing! Finally he took us back to the resort and did some shots in the kids water park. Total time spent: 7 hours! Quick tip: bring food, drinks, sunblock and towels. It's a long day but totally worth it. Overall, we spent about 3 days with Ivan and I can't say enough about him and his wife.
Overall we had an amazing time. If you have any questions feel free to ask.