I am sure many of you future brides are as nervous as I was right before the big day, so I am going to be as detailed as possible in my review of my wedding at Sandos on June 27th 2010. Sorry it is so long!
First and foremost, Maria is absolutely incredible. She wants nothing more than for you to be relaxed on your entire vacation. At the "meeting" to finalize all the details, she asks for everything from music to programs so that you do not have to worry about a thing! She is organized, kind, and conscientious. I could literally sing her praises all day!
A tip for the "meeting"-we had 64 guests total. If you are trying to get a discount on your wedding package through the number of total nights booked from your guests, it is best to make Maria a list of those names with the dates they are checking in. It makes the process go MUCH faster.
As I mentioned, we had 64 guests. For the rehearsal dinner we arranged semi-private seating in the Italian buffet (one of the better tasting buffets). They set us up in three long rectangular tables in our own section of the restaurant; it was very nice. A side note, for guests who do not like Italian food, the international buffet connects to the Italian and they will allow guests to get food from the other restaurant but still eat with the rest of the party. After the dinner, we rented the disco ($280 per hour, includes DJ and drinks) for watching the slide show (screen was provided and a very nice size) and for any toasts or speeches. This was one of the guestsâ€™ favorite parts of the entire trip! The DJ was awesome and bartender was so much fun! As for the reviews of the cat urine, I had a few guests allergic to cats and they did not experience any problems. I myself am not allergic, so I did not experience any problems or smell anything at all. It had been raining off and on for most of the week so maybe keeping the disco door closed helped to keep the cats and their urine out of the disco?!?!
As for the wedding day itself, we originally planned to have the ceremony and a private reception on the beach. For any of you compulsive weather channel watchers, yes, hurricane Alex did make a brief appearance. We arrived on Wednesday the 23rd and had sunshine (with a few showers) until Saturday. It rained all day Saturday (which worked out fine for my guests because they all sat in the outdoor sports bar and watched the USA in the World Cup). At about 12:00 p.m. Maria came and found me and said that the tropical storm was not changing directions and we needed to make some arrangements "just in case" the storm continued to rain on our parade. My mom and I met with her for a total of maybe 20 minutes to make a few back-up plans, and then back to the bar for the soccer game. Sunday morning (the day of the wedding) I woke up to rain but since there was nothing I could do, I just relaxed. Here is the breakdown:
Venue: We had to move into the conference center on site because of the weather. We left the doors open so you could still see the fountain outside and the beautiful foliage that is present all around the Sandos grounds. Maria moved my arch with the flower medallions inside and placed them in sand-a really cool touch since it was supposed to be on the beach. The tables were set up in a mixture about the room with the buffet on one wall and the bar along the other. Although it wasn't the "beach wedding" I had envisioned, it was absolutely perfect and I couldn't have been more pleased.
Hair: I did my hair at Vida Salon in Playa Del Carmen. It was a 5 minute taxi ride. The place was GORGEOUS. Everyone was so professional, and all of my girls were so pleased with their hair and nails. We ordered drinks and tapas from the restaurant next door and they were delicious. I would suggest the duck carnitas on blue corn tortillas and the bruchetta with goat cheese. If you want to see pictures of my hair (or anything else for that matter) I have a few taken by family members, since my professionals won't be in for a few weeks.
Flowers: Absolutely amazing. I did a mixture of three of the bouquet options because I wanted gerberas, stargazers, and roses without the baby's breath, etc. I had Maria add in the little sprigs of green bulbs for some extra color. I was so pleased with my bouquet (it was big and gorgeous) and the bridesmaids bouquets were mini versions of my own (so cute). The mothers and grandmothers loved their corsages as well. The medallions on the archway matched the rest of the arrangements beautifully. We opted out of the flower arrangements for the tables and instead bought bags of rose petals ($15 a piece). Three of them covered the aisle and all of the tables for the guests.
Cake: We had a three layer cake that alternated chocolate and vanilla cake, with the white chocolate coating. It was delicious. Something about the coating helped the cake to stay moist, we had so many compliments! We just went with the fresh flowers on top and it looked beautiful.
Food: We chose the Mexican buffet and it was fantastic. I had some VERY picky eaters and some very experienced palates (a chef that graduated from Johnson and Wales, etc). My friend the chef even asked if I was able to taste the food prior because he really enjoyed it! There was everything on the buffet line from fresh salad and guacamole, to fish and chicken with a fantastic mole sauce. They even had coconut macaroons and Mexican wedding cookies to tie the guests over until we cut the cake.
Music: I originally planned to hire the DJ, but since I am such a control freak when it comes to music, I had already downloaded and arranged a playlist for each event (cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing). Maria suggested I just use what I had brought. One of her assistants simply changed the playlist at each change of even (which turned out fine because someone was on the microphone at each change so there wasn't a "lull" in music).
Photography: I went with Claudia Rodriguez Photography. Her husband, Erick, shot our wedding. He was totally professional and awesome! The weather even cleared up for us to take our photos on the beach (yay!) and he was totally patient with the girls hair blowing everywhere (with the weather it was WAY windier than normal) and the fogging of the lens because of the moisture.
The Sandos itself is awesome. It has the best beach hands down in Playa. I have stayed all over Playa (including the RIU resorts) and these buffets were definitely the best. As far as the A La Carte, I was least impressed with the steak house and most impressed with the French and Asian. Make your reservations as soon as you arrive if you have a large party because reservations fill up fast! Tuesday night is market night, they bring in local vendors and you can buy anything from jewelry to dresses and even do tequila tastings. Fun!
Sorry this is so long, but I am sure some of you are really wondering about everything since the destination wedding is usually done "sight unseen". Bottom line: even with a tropical storm-turned-hurricane I still had my dream wedding at Sandos! I hope this helps some of you, and if you have any more questions-please ask! Email me for pics at firstname.lastname@example.org.