Beach Club: Venue A
We had an overwhelmingly positive experience at Ana y Jose and we would highly recommend the Beach Club as a wedding venue without reservation.When we did our site visit we fell in love with the rustic chic charm of Tulum. The stretch of white sand beaches peppered with thatched cabanas is idyllic. It suited us better than an All-inclusive. Ana y Jose Beach Club was the only place in Tulum that seemed to embody that rustic charm but still have excellent recommendations and experience catering to wedding parties. The beach beds, leaning palm trees, and particularly beautiful stretch of white sand beach make the site feel like paradise.
During the months leading up to our wedding Jackie and I emailed often (daily in the weeks leading up to our wedding). She always responded to my emails within a week. She is very straightforward and I trusted her completely. We did have a bit of confusion about what her fees were when hiring vendors that were not on her ‘preferred vendor list’. However, when we reviewed our contract with her she was very reasonable. It is important to understand her fees for having outside vendors prior to booking with Ana y Jose. In retrospect, however, it was really was easier to deal with her vendors, even though they are more costly, because she coordinates everything with them on the wedding day.
When we returned for our wedding we noticed that the beach had eroded significantly but it is still an amazingly beautiful magical place to have a wedding. We initially intended to do our dinner under the grape trees but due to wind we had dinner under the palapya. Jackie, Claudia and Franklin met with us before the wedding and they were able to execute all the little details I wanted—hanging lanterns, bamboo fans, table and escort cards, flip flops, programs, colored cushions –-flawlessly. I brought 60 paper lanterns which they strung across the whole palaypa using fishing wire. This was a lot of work for their staff and I think it shows their level of professionalism that they were able to do this for me. I would definitely give them an A+++++ for set up. I didn’t have to worry about anything on my wedding day and they took care of all the little details. They even moved the flowers from the cocktail area to the cake during the reception so that we really got maximal use out of our arrangements.
Use of the air-conditioned bridal suite for getting ready is complimentary until evening time but we rented the suite for the night and I’m really glad we did so we had a home base at the beach club. We were also able to come get all our stuff the next day instead of the night of the wedding and the girls could go and refresh in the room.
They have a policy that you have to pay for gratuity and vendors in cash. It was a little daunting to carry so much cash with us.
Day of Coordinator Claudia: B
Jackie leaves after the ceremony and isn’t present at the rehearsal so Claudia is the day of coordinator. Claudia is really sweet and bent over backwards to make sure everything was perfect on our wedding day. As I mentioned above she and Jackie did a great job with the set up and execution. At the rehearsal, however, she really didn’t provide much direction, which left me orchestrating the processional and recessional (not something I really know how to do). At the ceremony I thought she could have done a better job of making sure that the guitarist started playing and knew what songs to play (although ultimately that is the responsibility of the guitarist since he was one of our outside vendors). She also didn’t direct people from the beach to the cocktail area after the ceremony so the people had cocktails by the ceremony site instead of the cocktail area. That could have been easily rectified with advance planning by us having one of our guests or the DJ know the schedule and help usher people to each area but I assumed the WC would take care of that. Jackie did mention to designate someone with a loud voice so I would keep this mind if planning a wedding at the Beach Club. Lastly we paid for our bar tab in advance in cash and intended to leave a credit card at the bar in case we went over. We forgot to leave the credit card at the bar. When we did go over I ran upstairs to get the credit card but the bar stopped serving while I was doing this. I think that they should have continued to serve while I went upstairs. These are all very minor details and none of them had a significant impact on our wedding day but I thought it would be helpful to future couples when planning.
We had the lobster grilled and flambÃ©ed with tequila, The grouper with sundried tomato, fresh cheese, calamari and shrimp (Fish Supreme), and the Aztec Pie (veggie option). I didn’t try the Aztec pie but the Lobster tasted phenomenally delicious and the presentation was amazing. The Lobster was a bit of a splurge for us but I’m really glad we did it. The fish supreme was also very good. The Chilean Wines were reasonably priced and tasted quite good. The margaritas, mojitos, and pina coladas were some of the best I’ve ever had. I never ate the appetizers but my brother was raving about the guacamole. We also had food brought up for the bridesmaids at lunch and the ceviche was really outstanding. We had trouble choosing between the open tab and open bar. We went with Premium open tab in the end (pay per drink) but only served beer and wine during dinner. We spent just a few hundred more than we would have had we done with the domestic open bar but we also drank a lot of nice aged tequila.
The service was impeccable. Each dinner was exactly as I had it on my seating chart, there were plenty of attentive staff members, the bar was very well run. The service was of the quality I would have expected at a fine restaurant in the States.
Several people commented on how professional the staff were. As soon as the ceremony was finished the wait staff rushed out with cocktails and appetizers on trays which was a really nice touch.
Ajua: Music C
I chose to use Ajua for the ceremony music based on just a few recommendations on BDW. We hired a classical guitarist for 1 set (45 minutes) and a Mariachi band for 1 set through Ajua. They were significantly cheaper than the vendors offered through the Beach Club but I ended up having to pay an ‘outside vendor fee’ to the Beach Club so I really didn’t save that much in the end. Stephanie was very easy to deal with and answered all my questions and emails. I also appreciated their online payment system as most vendors I used required bank wire transfers. Stephanie and I agreed that the guitarist would play for 20 minutes while the guests were arriving and we had suggested a few songs that we liked. Then, he was supposed to play 2 songs during the processional—Here Comes the Sun for the bridesmaids and You are the Sunshine of my Life for me and my parents. I had never spoken to the guitarist but Stephanie assured me he understood what he was supposed to play and when. The Mariachi was supposed to play during the recessional and cocktail hour.
I wish I had spent the money to use the beach club vendors. First, the guitarist arrived late and I was scrambling around trying to reach Ajua to see where he was. Then he just stood around while the guests were being seated. Granted I think the day-of coordinator could have done a better job of getting him situated despite the fact that he was late, however given that he was late it was a little hectic. My husband went up to him and asked him to start playing and said that he did have our list with him. However, he just played the first song on our list during the processional and didn’t play the two songs I had chosen. He was a very good guitarist, and helped with the microphone when my sister played during the ceremony. Still, I was disappointed that the songs we chose to walk down the aisle to were not played.
The Mariachi also arrived late. I saw the guitarist getting ready to play for the recessional since they weren’t there. They must have arrived at the last minute, however, because they started playing when we walked down the aisle. They were very good musicians and I loved having the Mariachi band.
Doranna Debortoli: Hair A
I booked Doranna because of only 1 review on BDW so I was a little nervous about her but she turned out to be fabulous. She is an Italian woman who lives in Playa Del Carmen. Her prices are quite expensive but she offers a discount if you book 4 or more—and she’s totally worth it. It is also cheaper to have your hair done in Playa than to have her come to Tulum. I did a trial with her at her home in Playa a few days before the wedding. This made me feel more comfortable with her but I don’t know that it was necessary. She did a great job on my hair and it looked very similar to the picture I sent her. She is also a really pleasant person so it was nice having her around all day while we were getting ready for the wedding. She was always on time, and always responded to emails. Initially we scheduled for her to do my hair and 4 of my bridesmaids’ hair but 2 more of my bridesmaids decided they wanted their hair done when they saw what a great job she was doing. There are a few things I would change about my hair if I had to do it again after looking at the pictures but if I had asked her that day to change it she would have. I got so many compliments on my hair! It was also really windy on our wedding day but not a hair blew out of place after she styled it. I don’t know how she did it! It was still in place the next morning. I would highly recommend Doranna. She can be reached at email@example.com At this time she doesn’t have a website but she said she is building one now. She will also email you pictures of other weddings she has styled for. One thing to know is when you send her a wire transfer make sure that her name is written all over the transfer form and hold onto the paperwork your bank gives you in case her bank requests it.
Turtle Bay Bakery--Cake B+
The cake was beautiful, delivered on time, and stood up to the heat. Jen was awesome to work with. The cake tasted pretty good and people really liked the tres leches. It was a bit denser than I would have liked (maybe because it was frozen to stand up to the heat?)
Vanessa Jaimes: Flowers A-
Vanessa is not cheap but she is very professional and talented. My flowers were absolutely beautiful and they exceeded my expectations. Vanessa and I emailed back and forth many to discuss the flowers. She always answered my emails although there was a delay sometimes. On the wedding day her staff arrived and set up everything. She even included a few extra complimentary arrangements for us on the wedding day for the cocktail area and provided beautiful flowers for the cake free of charge.
I have a few tiny complaints. First, our wedding colors were fuschia and mango but when the flowers arrived they were more baby pink and mango. Also there were supposed to be only white flowers on the Huppa but there were purple flowers on the Huppa too (which wasn’t one of my wedding colors). Finally I was supposed to have been emailed a photo of the centerpiece as a trial in advance and I never got the trial. I would still definitely recommend Vanessa without hesitation. I knew that I would have to be flexible about flowers at a destination wedding. Although they weren’t exactly what I imagined they were still really incredibly beautiful and Vanessa was really pleasant and professional. She also works with Jackie at the Beachclub regularly so she knows the area very well.
Sol Tamargo (Del Sol): Photography A+++++
Everyone said that the one thing to splurge on is photography. Sol was one of the first vendors that I booked and I trusted her completely. Sol was incredible in every way. I haven’t seen all the pictures yet but here is a link to a slideshow of her favorites:
04.04.09 Sarah and Jivan | Ana y Jose Tulum | Photography by Sol Tamargo
Zamas: Welcome Dinner A
Our welcome dinner was so wonderful. Susan was really easy to deal with when planning. We were able to mail a check to an address in the states for the deposit instead of doing bank transfers. We had the dinner on a Friday night and they had live music already! We sat outside on the beach at their iconic brightly colored wooden tables. We had our own section so it was semi-private and the atmosphere was perfect. We had the taco menu which included appetizers, fish, chicken and veggie tacos, and desert. Everything was really tasty. The appetizers were really great—particularly the shrimp—which some of my friends are still talking about. The flan and chocolate cake were write-home worthy. Including margaritas and beers the diner was only 48 dollar per person. I couldn’t be happier with my experience at Zamas. We just wanted a relaxed social dinner and we didn’t plan any speeches or anything but, if we had, the outside seating with the live band wouldn’t have worked.
Amy Kuschel: Dress A+
I splurged on my dress but I adored it and it was worth it. I bought the dress at the Amy Kuschel flagship salon in San Francisco. I loved that my dress was designed by a local designer. The gowns are custom made in their salon so the dress was literally made for me. I had a great experience at all my fittings. I think I might sell it now but I am having trouble parting with it.
Bella Bridesmaid: Bridesmaid dresses A
Bella Bridesmaid was wonderful. I chose 5 styles and 5 colors from the Jenny Yoo collection and then each of my bridesmaids chose a dress and color that they liked best. We still got the group discount. When one of my bridesmaids found out she was pregnant they were able to have her dress made in a bigger size even though we had already submitted the order. I think the dresses looked beautiful and hopefully the bridesmaids will be able to wear them again. It did take 4 months for the dresses to arrive from New York so it requires advance planning.
John Stimson: Calligraphy B+
John has been doing calligraphy for a long time but he is just getting into the wedding business. His work is very reasonably priced and he did a meticulous job on our calligraphy including painting names on sand-dollars for the seating cards. He did miss one escort card and one shell but when I looked through and noticed that they were missing he made them and shipped them the same day. He charges by the hour instead of by the piece which I didn’t like. He will give you an estimate before doing the job though. He was only a half hour over his estimate for our wedding. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org He said he is starting an etsy site soon as well.
La Zebra B
Most of our guests stayed at La Zebra. It was fun to have a home base to hang out at. The prices are a little high but we liked the vibe of the place and their beach is outstanding. They have a good bar and a fun salsa night on Sundays. The food was only ok and the service at the restaurant was really slow.
Rancho Pedro Paila: Beach House A+
We rented this vacation property in the Sian Ka’an Reserve directly from the owner through the website VRBO is Vacation Rentals By Owner. The property is 10 miles (20 minute drive) South of Tulum. Our wedding party stayed here after the wedding. We rented all three houses on the property. The big house has 4 bedrooms and each of 2 the little houses have 2 bedrooms. The back doors open onto the most amazing stretch of white sand beach you have ever seen. Most of the rooms have 2 Queen sized beds in them. There is an amazing roof deck. The property is completely private and there are no other houses visible. The care-takes cook lovely meals and clean up after you everyday. It is truly paradise!