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jello

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About jello

  1. This is my favorite photo from our wedding — we look so happy, exactly how we felt all day.
  2. Here's my after-the-fact planning journal. First off, I owe a HUGE thanks to this message board for giving me so much help with information and ideas. This board is how I found my venue and all my amazing vendors — I am so grateful it exists, and I hope my planning journal will be helpful to all you future brides and grooms. VENUE: ANA Y JOSE HOTEL IN TULUM, MÉXICO We decided right away to do a destination wedding, since my then-fiancé had been to one before and swore it was the best out of the dozens of weddings he's been to. I didn't really care where our wedding was, but I was determined to have a small one. We're Chinese, and in our culture weddings are usually huge with over 200 guests, and I really didn't want that. So a small destination wedding seemed perfect for us. We looked for a venue that was 1) a short non-stop flight from NYC and DC, since most of our family and friends live in those two cities; 2) something “off-the-beaten pathâ€, e.g. not a big all-inclusive resort. The boutique hotels we researched included Tensing Pen and Half Moon in Jamaica, the W in Vieques Puerto Rico, Le Reve in Playa del Carmen Mexico, and several places in Tulum: Hotel Jashita, La Zebra, Las Ranitas, and the one we ultimately chose, Ana y Jose. First of all, I have to say that if you are considering a wedding in Tulum, DO IT! Tulum is 1.5 hours driving from Cancun, and there are tons of flights to Cancun, so it's a great combination of “relatively easy to get to†while still maintaining that “secluded beach†feel. Every single one of our guests raved about Tulum, and I felt like it was incredibly easy to plan our wedding there because the location is so drop-dead gorgeous that there was really no way for us to go wrong. Here are some of our photos from Tulum: We ended up choosing Ana y Jose Hotel because in my opinion, AyJ is the nicest hotel in Tulum: gorgeous beach, lush lawns, 23 spacious rooms with air conditioning (rare in Tulum!), a swimming pool, and a beautiful palapa restaurant where we had our reception. AyJ also stood out among the other hotels for its flexibility and affordability. There is no location fee and no required packages. You just pick the food and beverage you want off the menu (ours came to roughly $120 per person for hors d’ouerves, dinner, cake, coffee, 4 hours of open bar, wine during dinner, soft drinks, and tax + tip). Same with flowers, rentals, music, etc. — everything is a la carte, you only pay for what you want. They do have recommended vendors, but you are not obligated to use them and there is no fee for bringing in an outside vendor. Here are some photos from Ana y Jose Hotel: You know how sometimes, you see amazing photos of a venue but when you get there it's not really that impressive, and you realize the photos were just cleverly taken to emphasize the good angles and hide the bad ones? Ana y Jose is the opposite of that. The photos look great, and then you go there and it's even better than you thought it would be. And the staff — wow. Jackie (manager) was super responsive to all my emails and very helpful. Ignacio (concierge) is one of the friendliest, happiest people I’ve ever met. Sandy and Claudia (event coordinators) made everything run smooth as silk, and we didn't have to worry about a thing during our wedding. I actually have very high standards for hospitality; I'm quick to notice when the service is slow at a restaurant or when a hotel's towels aren't the fluffiest. But I found absolutely NOTHING to complain about at Ana y Jose. PHOTOGRAPHER: CITLALLI RICO OF CLAUDIA PHOTO Right after we booked our venue, the next item on our list was the photographer! I inquired with a number of photographers in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico — Claudia Photo, Del Sol, Ivan Luckie, and Fine Art Photo. They were all really professional in responding to us, and they all have impressive portfolios. Average rates were around $500/hr (with discounts for multiple hours). In the end it was a very subjective decision — we chose Citlalli Rico of Claudia Photo just because her vision and style really resonated with us. I cannot put it into words, but I just love her photographs! We also booked a videographer for 2 hours through Claudia Photo. Here are the reasons I love Citlalli: Super responsive and friendly on email. Unobtrusive photojournalist style. Except for the formal family and couple photos, she never interrupted us to tell us to pose or kiss. She just let us enjoy the day, and somehow magically knew exactly where to be to capture great moments. After our formal photos were over, I never even noticed her, but she was definitely there getting the shots. Technically excellent photographer and artist. She doesn't just capture all the great moments during your wedding; she nails them. The lighting, angle, colors — everything is just right. As an avid amateur photographer myself, I know that's not easy! All-around great person: friendly, warm, positive, calm. Exactly the kind of person you want around on your wedding day. Here are some of the amazing photos she took at our wedding: SAVE THE DATES: PAPERLESS POST We used Paperless Post for electronic save-the-dates. They were easy and super affordable, and we got a ton of compliments about them from our guests for being eco-friendly! We sent out save-the-dates 14 months before the wedding date. WEDDING WEBSITE: WEEBLY I made a custom wedding website for us using weebly.com, and we did digital RSVPs through a form on our website. The wedding website and password were included on our save-the-dates so guests could start their travel planning (although no one actually planned their trip until about a month before the wedding, sigh). Here's the information from the "Travel" pgae of our website, I hope it's helpful to someone! Quote: Location: Our wedding will be held in the beach town of Tulum in the "Riviera Maya" area of Mexico. Tulum is about 1.5 hours south of Cancun, and 45 minutes south of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Weather: Expect the weather to be around 85 degrees Farenheit. You will want plenty of sunscreen and bug repellent. Currency: Most places will accept US dollars, but you'll get better prices with Mexican pesos. It's easy to withdraw pesos from ATMs there, and you'll get a better exchange rate than at the airport. Flights: The nearest international airports are Cancun International (CUN) and Cozumel International (CZM). Car Rentals: We recommend renting a car, as you'll probably want one for activity excursions and taxis from the airport are quite expensive. Hertz, Budget, National, Avis, and Thrifty all have locations at the Cancun Airport and at Playa del Carmen. If you are interested in carpooling, please let us know on the R.S.V.P. and we'll match you up with another guest arriving and departing on the same day. Activities: Outdoors Scuba Diving (Cozumel): There are many dive shops in Cozumel, but we had a great experience with and highly recommend Blue Magic. If you don't dive, Blue Magic also does snorkeling tours. Snorkeling (Akumal): Halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Yal-ku Lagoon is a great place for snorkeling, with lots of fish and turtles. Cenotes (Tulum): These natural underwater caves are beautiful places to scuba dive, snorkel, or swim. Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos Cenote are two of the best. $5 entrance fee. If you want to scuba dive, we recommend Acuatic Tulum. Xel-Ha (Tulum): An aquatic theme park built around a natural river, Xel-ha has snorkeling, tubing, dolphins, and an all-day buffet. Good for kids. Sian Ka'an Tours (Tulum): Owned and operated by locals, Sian Ka'an Community Tours offers one-day kayaking, hiking, and fishing tours in the jungle. Kiteboarding (Tulum): Extreme Control Kiteboarding does lessons and rentals. Whale Shark Natura (Playa del Carmen): Espacio Natura takes up to 10 people per boat snorkeling with whale sharks. Hotel pick-up and drop-off included. Golf (Playa del Carmen): Grand Coral Golf and Playacar Golf Club are both well-reviewed. Culture Tulum Ruins: Located ten minutes from Ana y Jose, the Mayan ruins in Tulum are beautiful but small, 1-2 hours to visit. Optional tour guides available. Coba Ruins: About 45 minutes west from Tulum, the Coba ruins are much larger and you can climb to the top of the temple. Optional tour guides available. Xcaret (Playa del Carmen): Xcaret is a Mayan theme park with snorkeling, wildlife, buffet food, and cultural performances. Definitely an all-day activity, good for kids. KaoKao Chocolate Factory (Cozumel): See how chocolate is made and taste different samples. You must make online reservations. Nightlife Playa del Carmen: Tons of restaurants, bars, lounges, and clubs, mostly concentrated near "Avenida Quinta" (5th Avenue). Tulum: A few hotels will have live music on the beach each night (especially Zamas and Playa Azul). La Zebra has salsa parties on Sunday nights. Yoga and Spa Yoga Shala (Tulum): Vinyasa, Hatha, and Ashtanga. See website for more information. Maya Spa (Tulum): Free yoga classes every morning, massages, body wraps, salon and beauty treatments. See website for details. INVITATIONS: A PRINTABLE PRESS + MERCURIO BROTHERS At first I didn't even want to do printed invitations, but eventually I gave in to stationery-lust. I ordered this papel picado design from A Printable Press, and had the invitations letterpressed by Mercurio Brothers. Then I got some hemp and red string to wrap around the invitations. My then-fiancé and I put together about 60 of these in an afternoon (our one and only DIY project!) Here's what the finished invites looked like: We sent these out 4 months prior to our wedding, and we asked guests to RSVP two months in advance through our wedding website. I guess this is every couples' experience, but only about half of our guests had RSVP'ed by the deadline. The rest told us by phone or email whether or not they were coming, or RSVP'ed a few weeks later. Our venue was really relaxed about it (we didn't end up getting the final final headcount to them until the week before!), so I tried to be relaxed about it too. We invited about 100 guests, and ended up with 54 adults + 4 kids at our wedding. DRESS: NICOLE MILLER I stressed out about this WAY more than I should have. Let's be honest here — at the end of the day, many wedding dresses look pretty similar, and I think I would've been happy with a lot of different dresses. I felt a lot of pressure to find a dress I absolutely loved, "the one perfect dress", a dress that would make me look like a supermodel, a goddess, and a bride all at once, and that would make my mom cry as soon as I put it on. It was totally unrealistic. My advice for those of you shopping for a wedding dress: Do not spend hours looking at wedding dresses online. Don't shop at too many places. Just pick a dress you feel really pretty in, wait until the last possible day to buy it so you don't have time to change your mind, and invest in a great tailor. Anyways, the dress I ended up with was the Nicole Miller Dakota gown. They sell this dress at Nordstrom's and Bloomingdales and I've seen it pop up on wedding blogs a number of times, so I guess it's pretty popular. I really adore this dress — I just wish I hadn't stressed so much in the process of finding it! Here's a model in the dress: NECKLACE: BHLDN I wore the reflecting pools necklace from BHLDN. Here's a photo of me in the whole ensemble: GROOM'S OUTFIT: JOHN VARVATOS + JCREW My man wore the pants from a light gray John Varvatos suit, paired with a white linen shirt from JCrew. He's a very casual kind of guy, so a full suit was definitely not in the cards for him. We both went barefoot for the ceremony and the reception. Here's a photo of us (taken on a friend's iPhone) where you can see his outfit pretty well: FLOWERS: MARVIN KUNIL (MAYA DISEÑO) I gave Marvin a budget of $1000 and told him to make a bouquet, 8 table centerpieces, and a chuppah for the ceremony. All I told him was that I wanted red flowers with a "wild", "natural" look to them, and he did a phenomenal job! I was really happy with the result. Here are the inspiration photos I sent him: and here's what my bouquet looked like (taken with my phone): The second photo was taken the day after the wedding, which is why there's a dropping flower. I don't have a photo of the table centerpieces, but just imagine the bouquet in a vase. In addition to the flowers, I also brought papel picado to decorate the palapa restaurant. I take no credit for those cool-looking lights — those are just part of the everyday decor at Ana y Jose restaurant. MUSIC: THE SHINE BAND We booked the Shine Band on the recommendation of JessiTaylor on this board. They were PHENOMENAL. We got 6 musicians, two dancers, and props for $2300. The band played 3 sets of 45 minutes each, and then the DJ played in between sets. The props were so great — they brought hats, maracas, mickey mouse ears, balloons. Our guests packed the dance floor all night, jumping up and down in their mickey mouse ears and hitting each other with balloons. We had a crazy, non-stop dance party until the hotel had to shut us down, which is exactly what we wanted! WELCOME PARTY: CABAÑAS TULUM The day before the wedding, we held a welcome party for everyone at Cabañas Tulum's Ziggy Beach, which is right next to Ana y Jose hotel. They did a buffet-style BBQ for us over an open fire pit, which was delicious and super fun. We even had smores! TIMELINE We arrived in Mexico a week before our wedding and spent the whole week with our family and friends. As the week went on, more and more friends arrived. I cannot describe how phenomenal this was — we got to go snorkeling with our parents, explore cenotes with our friends, enjoy long leisurely lunches and dinners, and have impromptu dance parties on the beach. The wedding day itself, we wanted to keep as simple as possible so that we could enjoy ourselves instead of running around worrying about details. We purposefully cut out a lot of things: bridesmaids, groomsmen, music during the ceremony, a first dance, garter and bouquet toss, cake cutting, slideshow, etc. I kept saying that all we wanted for our guests was to eat, drink, and be merry. It made for a really relaxed atmosphere, and we loved it! Here's our wedding day timeline: 1:00PM: Banished my husband from our room and started getting ready with my girlfriends. 4:00PM: Everyone dressed, photographer arrived for family and couple portrait photos. Photo time. 5:00PM: Ceremony on the beach 5:30PM: Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres 6:30PM: We all moved into the palapa for dinner. Food served family-style. 6:45PM: As soon as everyone had food, my best friend and his best friend gave their toasts. 7:30PM: Cake and coffee served. We didn't have a special cake, just from Ana y Jose's normal dessert menu. 7:45PM: Band started playing and the crazy dance party got underway. 11:00PM: End. Our ceremony was officiated by a family friend, and we wrote our own vows. We kept them short so that we could memorize them, and it's been really sweet because since the wedding we keep quoting them to each other. Our guests stood in two lines to form an "aisle", and we were each walked down the aisle by both our parents. As we walked out, they shook maracas and cheered, and then they gathered in a semi-circle around us for the rest of the ceremony. We kept the ceremony quite short — I think it was only about 10 minutes — so we didn't bother with chairs and everyone just stood around us. It worked out great. I loved doing photos before the ceremony, because I was super nervous and seeing my husband really calmed me down. It also meant that we got to spend cocktail hour with our guests rather than off taking photos! On a last minute whim, Ana y Jose found us a piñata so that we could break it instead of doing a first dance. How awesome is that? PLANNING NOTES + ADVICE If I could go back in time, this is what I would tell my newly engaged self: The first step is to figure out your guest list, and the second step is to pick a venue. After you've done those two things, honestly? None of the other decisions you make will really matter that much. Wedding guests only want 3 things: 1) to see you happy, 2) to catch up with some old friends they haven't seen in a while, and 3) to have plenty of food, alcohol, and music. That's it! When you're stressing about which dress or invitations to pick — just know that you really can't make a bad choice. Listen to your fiancé. When he says that all the invitations and all the dresses look pretty and it doesn't really matter which one you pick? He's right. Be kind to your parents and to his parents. This idea of a "destination wedding" is new and weird to them, and while their reluctance about the idea stresses you out, you'll be glad later that you were patient and answered all their endless questions about travel, safety, food, etc. In the end they will come, have an amazing time, and go back home raving to all their friends about how great Mexico is. Don't believe anything you see in wedding blogs or Pinterest. Photos on wedding blogs are all about pretty closeups of flowers, food, and creative details, but your wedding day will not feel anything like those photos. I experienced my wedding day as a blur of all my favorite smiling faces in the whole world and everyone I care about the most in one room, loving us so hard it hurt. It didn't feel pretty; it felt raw and overwhelming. Don't get me wrong — the pretty details are a really fun part of the planning and I definitely spent hours pinning pictures to my Pinterest board. Don't let anyone make you feel frivolous or silly for caring about the pretty details. I'm just saying that the blogs are not an accurate representation of what a wedding actually feels like, and also when your wedding day finally comes around you probably won't give a sh*t about the flowers. Read A Practical Wedding. Here are some of my favorites: Your wedding is not a show, Your wedding is not an imposition, What do you remember?, and A Practical Wedding. Don't buy your dress too early. You'll just second-guess yourself and change your mind a lot. Don't stress so much. None of the big things you worried about will happen — it doesn't rain, no one gets food poisoning, and none of your guests will be kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel. Some small things will go wrong: some of the people you wish to be there won't be able to make it, and your mother will trip on the train of your dress while walking you down the aisle. But it's ok. The day will be so stuffed with love and joy that you will not notice or care about any of the small things. You will have a gigantic, ridiculous grin in all the photos, and nothing could've change that. Best of luck to everyone currently planning their weddings! I wish you so much joy and happiness in your wedding and your marriage.
  3. We gave our venue the final, FINAL guest count and paid the balance for food and beverage in cash the day before the wedding.
  4. Just wanted to add my experience. We just had our wedding last Saturday. We sent out save the dates last April (over a year in advance) and then sent out formal invitations in February (4 months in advance). Our RSVP deadline was April, and I think on the day of our deadline we had something like 20 official RSVPs from ~ 100 invitations sent, though many more people had verbally told us yes or no. Only 7 people booked anything until a month before our wedding, and the WEEK BEFORE, I was still hearing "oh surprise! we're not able to make it after all" as well as "hey guess what! I can make it after all". In the end we had 58 guests attend our wedding, but the exact number was fluctuating until the very last minute. I really wish people were more organized, but what can you do?
  5. I just got back yesterday from our wedding this past Saturday in Mexico. WOW. I never bought into the whole "your wedding is the best day of your life" thing, but that truly may have been the best week of my life. The experience of being surrounded by family and friends in a gorgeous tropical setting, seeing old friends reconnect, watching grandmas dancing with little kids, drinking tequila with your best friends and jumping in the ocean... I can't even describe it. It was everything I hoped it would be, and even better. What I would do again: Choose great vendors and trust them completely. We held our wedding at Ana y Jose hotel with the amazing Jackie and Claudia as wedding coordinators. Marvin Kunil of Maya Diseño did our flowers, Citlalli Rico of Claudia Photo was our photographer (I haven't seen the photos yet but I just know they're amazing), and the Shine Band was our entertainment. I spent a lot of time researching vendors, and it was totally worth it because they were all incredible professionals who made everything look beautiful, run smoothly, and happen without us lifting a finger. When you have great vendors, you really can just sit back and enjoy. Book a band instead of a DJ. I went back and forth between getting a DJ vs a band, but at the end of the day the Shine Band's energy, performance, and props made for an amazing party that no DJ could have matched! Do photos before the ceremony. We did our first look, family portraits, and couple portraits all before the ceremony. It was really great to see my husband before the ceremony because I was so nervous and taking photos helped me calm down, and I'm also really glad we got it out of the way because after the ceremony all I wanted to do was hug all my guests and have a drink with them! Delegate like crazy. On the wedding day, we put two of our friends in charge of decorations, another one in charge of making sure audio was set up for the ceremony, and our dads in charge of place cards and seating. This was on top of having two professional wedding coordinators from our venue. I made printouts in advance with the wedding day timeline and vendor contact information, gave them to our friends and closest family, and then let go. For the entire day, we were able to just enjoy being in the moment and let other people worry about logistics. Keep things simple. We didn't do OOT bags, favors, or formal dances. Instead of doing a traditional wedding cake, we just served tres leches cake (already cut) as dessert. We gave our guests maracas to shake as we walked down the aisle instead of playing a song or hiring a musician because you can't screw up maracas, and we served dinner family-style so there would be no mix-ups with people being served the wrong dish. During the entire planning process, I kept asking myself "how can I make this as error-proof as possible?" and it was great, because there just weren't that many details for me to worry about. Be present to enjoy all the unscripted moments. There were so many great moments during the day that we could not possibly have prepared for, and because we kept things simple and delegated all the worrying away, we were able to be present for them. For example, halfway during dinner a giant blue crab came crawling through our restaurant on the beach! The guests all gathered around, some people were trying to catch it, and it was just a great, hilarious moment. Another great moment was when my new husband and I snuck away for about ten minutes during the crazy dance party to sit in some hammocks outside and just be alone in the cool night breeze. What I wouldn't do again: Worry so much. During the planning process, I worried about everything that could go wrong: what if there's a hurricane, what if the food tastes bad, what if the guests don't have fun, etc. etc. Now looking back, I can tell you that there is absolutely no reason to worry. This is going to sound super cheesy, but it's true: the love between you, your new spouse, and all the people there for your wedding will just completely overpower everything else. Even if we had gotten married in a parking lot in the pouring rain with no food, everyone still would've been thrilled for us and we still would've had a great time. Choose a dress early. This is embarrassing to admit but I ended up buying, changing my mind about, and then selling my wedding dress TWICE, and the dress I actually wore was the third one I bought. If the wedding was a few months from now, I might even have changed my mind again. Ladies, if you know you're fickle like me, wait until the last possible moment to buy your dress so you don't have time to change your mind. Worry at all. Really, everything will be perfect, and the things that don't go perfectly you won't even notice.
  6. We just got back from our wedding at Ana y José Hotel on Saturday. Wow, wow, wow! Our wedding on Saturday was unbelievable. Everything went perfectly, and we didn't have to worry about a thing the entire day. They did an amazing job setting up the beach ceremony, the palapa, the tables, and the patio. The setup looked a million times better than I had hoped for; I literally gasped when I saw how beautiful everything was. And everything ran so smoothly. Jackie, Claudia, Ignacio, Sandy — all of them are incredible professionals. I was a little worried the day before the wedding when they told me that there was another wedding happening on the same day as ours at Ana y José beach club (our was at the hotel), because I thought that meant our event wouldn't get enough attention. But I shouldn't have worried at all. Every single little thing was perfect. Drinks and food just appeared after the ceremony, music during dinner was great, everyone found their seats easily, the band knew exactly when to start playing. The Ana y José staff even found us a piñata at the last minute. That was an incredible memory that would not have happened without their help. All of our guests were raving about what a wonderful wedding we had, and the amazing venue. Several of them told me that it was the most beautiful place they'd ever been to. If you're thinking about holding your wedding at Ana y José, definitely go for it!!
  7. Kate, what.is your wedding date? Mine is June 8. If we're getting married the same weekend, would you be interested in combining flower deliveries, as Marvin charges a flat fee of $100 to Tulum?
  8. I'm not sure how many people El Camello can hold, but it's not the kind of place you'd want to do a cocktail party. Emphasis there is definitely on food over ambiance. You can look it up on Tripadvisor to see photos. The fried fish is so amazing though, I still crave it months after my trip to Tulum!
  9. jello

    Pinterest

    Actually, it looks very cohesive to me! Soft pastel colors, romantic tulle and lace dresses... and a wicked sense of humor. Love the Ryan Gosling pin.
  10. Is anyone else on here using Pinterest to plan their weddings? I thought we could share inspiration boards with each other for color and decoration ideas. Here's mine, lots of papel picado and bright colors: pinterest.com/juliazhou/mexico-beach-wedding/
  11. Would love to. I noticed you're planning a wedding in Grand Cayman - one of my best friends is from there, so I've been quite a few times and love the island! PM me with contact details.
  12. Honestly, I wasn't really impressed with any of the food on the hotel strip. I ate at Ana y Jose, Cabanas Tulum, Playa Azul, Casa Banana, and Zamas. While the food was pretty good, it was all priced at mid-to-high end US prices (~$20 entrees), and I just didn't think it was worth it. If you go into Tulum Pueblo, however, the food gets really cheap. I highly recommend a place called El Camello for AMAZING fried fish and ceviche at rock bottom prices; that place is constantly packed with locals, so that tells you something! I wouldn't really choose your wedding venue based on food. Feeding 100-130 guests at the same time is a HUGE challenge for any kitchen, so I think realistically, you'll have to settle for pretty-good-but-not-mind-blowing food. Ana y Jose has a big palapa that can do a reception for 100+ guests, and I think Las Ranitas does too. You might also want to check out El Pez.
  13. Sorry for the late reply! I haven't been on this site much recently, as I got busy with work and life stuff. I booked Citlalli Rico of Claudia Photo for photography, and Marvin of Maya Diseno for flowers. I think we're going to go with a mariachi band during cocktail hour and a DJ during the reception for dancing. I'm leaning towards DJ Doremixx as he has amazing reviews on here. Both Marvin and Dj Doremixx have been great in correspondence and they have great reviews on here, although I can't testify first hand as to the quality of their work yet. Our plan is ceremony on the beach, cocktail hour by the pool, and dinner + dancing under the palapa. We were thinking about doing the reception outdoors, but decided to go with the palapa just in case it rains - the space will already be decorated and ready to go! Let me know if there's anything else I can share.
  14. I've heard from several outdoor brides that candles just won't stay lit when it gets windy. But you could try battery-powered candles (they have some very realistic looking ones now) in hurricane candle holders, or maybe some lanterns, or decorated paper bags (aka lumineres). I've also seen wine bottles with the bottom cut out used. Here are some photos for inspiration:
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