Hello All, I want to thank everyone on this forum for their help in my destination wedding planning. I could not have done this without the help of all the lovely ladies who are members here..That being said, I wanted to share my wedding experience and maybe help future brides in the process! Our wedding was held May 29th, 2010 and the Barcelo Maya Palace.
We left Tues May 25th for our big day. We flew American Airlines out of St. Louis with a layover in Dallas/Forth Worth before arriving in Cancun. The flight down was great. The flight attendants hung my gown in the closets at the front of the plane on both of the flights to Cancun. They even offered to upgrade me to first class for the flight from St. Louis to Dallas, however, they only had one seat and I didn't want to leave my hubby to be alone in economy, so I stayed there with him... When we arrived in Cancun, the lines were long, but moved very quickly. We all got through customs without difficulty. Even though my FMIL was stopped by a red light and had most of my reception favors in her suitcase (shells, welcome bag items, etc, ) the officials barely looked through the bag and let her go. We did not have any of the difficulties described in previous threads, but just in case, I was prepared with receipts!!! I think they were taking pity on me as I was struggling with this ginormous dress bag. They were even joking with DH asking him about the wedding and joking that it was "Game Over" for him On the flights back home, Our flight was delayed 50 min due to bad weather in the Dallas/FW area. My FIL's flight was completely cancelled and we only found this out 5 minutes before all of the family had to board the flight to Dallas. So we had to leave him without knowing what the plans were for his return to St. Louis. The flight attendants on the flight back to Dallas were not as pleasant. When one of them saw me boarding with the dress, I actually saw her roll her eyes at the other flight attendant!!!! The flight was pretty empty, so we were able to spread out throughout the cabin and have entire rows to ourselves. Once we arrived in Dallas, it was very hectic. Everyone on the flight had connections elsewhere and we had to go through customs and check baggage, make it through security, and get to our next terminal where they were HOLDING the plane for us..Anyone who has flown through Dallas/FW knows how big this airport is, So we were running, dress in hands, through the terminals to make our flight! We made it onto the plane and again, I was able to hang the dress in the closet. Literally, 5 minutes after we were seated, they closed the doors on the plane! Once we arrived home in STL, we were able to get in contact with my FIL who was still in Cancun. The airline had put him up at the Cancun Hilton for the night as his flight was cancelled until 7AM the next morning. All in all, I felt the travel went smoothly, with the exception of my FIL's flight.
Arrival at the Palace: A
We had a transfer waiting for us. The transfer was arranged through Olympus tours. Again, everything went smoothly. It was a non-stop transfer to the resort. Once there, the bellhop was waiting and took our bags and the dress and directed us to check in.
Check In and Front Desk: B
When we arrived at the desk, there were no lines! Bonus!! We were able to check in immediately. We were supposed to have a welcome drink waiting for us, but unfortunately, there were no drinks. Once our group had their room assignments, we realized that John and I were in the Oaxaca building and had a great room and location. However, all of the remaining members of our party were in the other building and in the farthest rooms from the pool/beach. We had sent our WC the guest list, ~2 months in advance as requested, specifically asking that at least the wedding party be in rooms close to us, however, as it turns out, we were the only ones not with the group. The front desk stated there wasn't much they could do about it, in so many words, and said to speak with our WC the next morning at our meeting. We did discuss with Victoria, but nothing was ever done about it. And to be honest, since it was only John and I who were separated from the group, it was OK...
The second problem occurred that night. My cousin and sister/BIL were sharing a room. When my cousin prepared to go to bed that night, there were large red stains all over the sheets. Disgusted, she called the front desk to complain. They said they would put her in another room for the night. She suggested someone come to change the sheets as everyone had already settled into the room. THe resort insisted on putting her in another room, I guess because it was late and they didn't want to mess with it. She made sure to clarify that they were only putting her in a separate room and not my sister and BIL and they stated yes, this was the case. the next day my cousin arrived back to her "new" room to find that someone had apparently been going thru her luggage. After not getting any help on the phone,She went to the front desk to find out what was going on and the front desk said she owed them $250.00 for sleeping in a separate room that evening. After much arguement and attitude from the front desk staff, they did remove the charge and placed her back into my sister's room. They did finally come and change the sheets too!!!!!
Besides these hiccups, I found the staff to be helpful with my questions the rest of the stay.
The rooms were beautiful. We had a regular Jr. Suite, but it was one of the first rooms behind the corner suites, very close to the pool and only steps away from the beach. Our bed actually had a fairly thick mattress pad on it and was very comfortable. The only complaint I have about the room is that there were very small ants on the desk and on 2 instances I found a dead cockroach in the shower...Yuck!
The housekeeping staff would forget to change out the glasses in the bathroom daily, but the rest of the room was always kept very clean and picked up. We had no trouble with anything coming up missing. We used the safe to keep our passports, I pod, cameras and rings safe for the 2 weeks we were there.
Wedding Coordinator: Victoria: A+
Victoria was wonderful to work with! She typically responded to my emails within 1-2 days. I felt lucky having her as I had read that some of the brides on the forum were not having very good communication with their WC's. Throughout the entire 1.5 year planning process, the longest I went without a response was one week. I feel we had most of the details secured before my arrival at the resort. We had set up a time and date for our meeting about one month before our arrival. Victoria called me the evening of our arrival to confirm our meeting for the next morning. John and I met with her at 9:00 AM the day after our arrival. We met in the lobby where I could see a lot of brides waiting:) Victoria picked us up and took us to her office in the Palace. In all, the meeting took about 1 hour. Victoria had all of my emails and photos on her computer so she had an idea of what I wanted as far as decor. The only hard part for me was deciding on flowers. I had cymbidium orchids in mind for the bouquet and decor, but after learning they were an extra $25.00 per bloom, I decided to go with hydrangeas instead. Call me cheap, I guess, But the green hydrangeas were beautiful too. (I'll use some orchids at the AHR!!!!) I left Victoria with a suitcase of decor and favors I had brought with me. We picked the fuschia chair ties and table runner. I brought white shells and starfish and black and white candle holders for the tables. I also brought fans and programs. I had extra silk orchids in the suitcase and Victoria used those to create centerpieces for the reception tables. She did not charge us for the glass vases used to drown the orchids. I also brought my own votive candles.
She gave us instructions for what would occurr the day of the wedding and told us our reception location at that time. We went with the Mint Breeze package. I had already emailed her our menu and music selections. I had talked with her about arranging a welcome dinner for Friday the 28th at the French Restaurant. She confirmed this had been done and gave us our reservation time. It was late, 9:30, but she was able to get all 23 guests in! And that was it! We were off to enjoy the rest of the day!
In the days after the wedding, I went to Victoria's office to pick up the leftover items, suitcase, marriage certificate and the gift from the resort. For anyone who has Victoria as their wedding coord, don't worry!!! She's great
Welcome dinner: French Restaurant A-
As stated earlier, the reservation was at 9:30, so we ended up having most of the restaurant to ourselves. That being said, the waiters must have been tired because the service was awful! Waiters were rude, service was very slow. Food however, was good. Decor inside: Beautiful!
I hired Adrian Guerra to do my makeup. He was one of the best decisions I made! I loved my makeup for both the rehearsal and actual day of!!! He is funny, upbeat, and truly gifted at what he does. I felt so glamorous. The airbrushing was wonderful and I loved the false lashes!!! If anyone is interested in hiring him, I have contact information and will tell you more, just PM me!
I brought in a photographer from the States. I hired Maggie Stolzberg to shoot the wedding! Maggie is amazing. So fun to work with, and so great at her craft! I don't have my pics yet,to share, but you can see some of her work at MaggieStolzberg.com LOVE HER! Another one of the best decisions I made!!!!! With regard to the whole resort rules thing, Maggie stayed at the Beach/Caribe level of the resort. I had told Victoria I would be bringing my own photographer and she would be staying at the resort. No one gave us any trouble about her being at the Palace the day of the wedding or any other day for that matter. I did not pay any fees for having an outside photog.
I have to say that my sister did my hair. Lucky me for having a sister who is a hairdresser and loves to travel:) Thanks Jill!!!!
Wedding Ceremony: A+
Victoria picked me up right on time, 3:50 for our 4:00 ceremony. She had brought the flowers to my room about 2 hours prior and confirmed that I would be ready 10 min prior to ceremony. John was to be at the Gazebo 15 min prior. The minister was at the Gazebo to talk through the details with him. When we arrived, via golf cart, to the Palace, it was go time. No waiting around. I hear the violinist start playing Canon in D and then my girls were off...Then I heard the music change to "here comes the bride" I think, and it was my turn. ALthough it was a very sunny day, we had shade around the gazebo at the 4:00 slot. I was worried about looking all squinty. The minister, (female) I don't remember her name, did an amazing job. We wanted a religious ceremony and she had beautiful words to say. As a surprise she read a poem I had placed in the programs in rememberance of lost loved ones. This was really touching as we had just lost John's Step mom one month prior to the wedding, and our wedding day was his dad and stepmom's anniversary as well.... THen it was over, about 20 minutes...It went so quickly.
The only time I was aware that I was not the only one getting married that day was right after the ceremony! We had our toast and gathered on the steps for a picture. Right after that, here came all the staff sweeping up my rose petals and pulling off the pink chair bows, replacing them with orange and blue! LOL!
We took pictures around the resort while our guests went up to the Carey bar for drinks. We did not have a separate cocktail hour and am really glad we didn't spend the extra money on it. The Carey bar is great, snacks and strong drinks, air conditioned, which we all appreciated, and was in close proximity to our banquet room.
We were in Tule 3 banquet room which was perfect size for our party. We chose the long rectangular tables. The dance space was long and narrow, which was a little odd, but to be honest, we didn't have much of a dancing crowd, so it was fine (I'll explain more later). I had reservations about going with the Mint package as I had always envisioned an outdoor reception. However, I am very glad we chose Mint Breeze. It was HOT and there were tons of mosquitos!!!! I was eaten alive during our stay. I could not have imagined eating outdoors in the heat and slapping bugs the entire time. (I'm not trying to be negative about outdoor receptions, we saw many, and they were very pretty, but for me, I was relieved to be inside!) The meal was good. We chose the beef tenderloin which was overdone. The Caesar salad was good, French Onion soup was great and the Creme Brulee also very good. We went with Chocolate Cake, also very tasty. They had a specialty drink waiting at each setting. It was pink in color to match our wedding. The waiter called it Terreza, not sure if I'm spelling that right, but it tasted somewhat like a Shirley Temple only with alcohol...It was a nice surprise from the staff!!!
We had a very chatty group, the meal took 2 hours.. so we didn't have much time for dancing. The only real complaint I had, is that the waiters did not do anything to get this party going either. No one came around with tequila shots like I had read in other posts. No one came around asking if you wanted another drinks. The service was actually very poor. No special treatment for Bride and Groom. The waiters just stood in the corner by the cake. My BM's and I actually had to drag them out onto the dance floor to get things going. John and I did the first dance, cake cutting, garter and bouquet toss and everyone got up to do a little dancing. By this time it was 9:30 and time to go. Victoria asked if we wanted to extend the time, and we chose not to. Everyone went back to their rooms and changed clothes and again met up in the Carey Bar for more partying!! By this time, the place was hopping! With several weddings that day, I think many groups had the same idea!
We missed it, but I heard that later that night there was a fire at the lobby. Per rumor,Someone had flicked a cigarette off the balcony of the bar and it landed in the thatch roof below and it went up in flames. No one was hurt and the roof was repaired in the days following, but it made for excitement I guess for those who witnessed it!
Breakfast in Bed: D
Don't expect too much. Cold Toast, fruit, coffee, OJ, champagne and sweet rolls. That's it. We went to the buffet....
Sorry this is so long, many details to share! All in all, we had a wonderful wedding. It was a great day spent in a beautiful location with loved ones! I would choose the Barcelo Palace again and again. If anyone has any questions, please ask!!! I'll try to attach a link to some photos on when I get them!