Our Wedding on the Tequila Terrace at NOW Sapphire, Mexico on 6.2.2012 Sorry for the multiple posts: I couldn't get the photos to post. Hopefully it works this time! We spent 10 days at NOW Sapphire to celebrate our wedding, which took place on June 2, 2012. I received so much helpful information from this discussion board that I wanted to share my experiences too. I waited to post this until everything was over because I think hindsight is helpful. So, below is a lengthy (sorry!) account of my experience as a NOW Sapphire bride: First, some context about me as a bride: I had a budget. My husband and I paid for our own wedding. I am a relaxed traveler and try very hard not to sweat the small stuff. When we decided to have a destination wedding I embraced the following philosophy: â€œLive in the moment. Donâ€™t sweat the small stuff. Donâ€™t stress about the big picture.â€ I am so glad I did because it allowed me to make plans for my day, including particular details that were important to my husband and I, without worrying about every little thing the day of. Travel: We used our local travel agent, Mary Ann Downey, at Rainbow Travel in Harrison City, PA. We distributed her information to all of our guests in our homemade save the date cards (this is one place we saved a TON of $$-- see photos below) and everyone loved her. She was a joy to work with! She booked us through Apple Vacations (weâ€™ve used them on several occasions and have never been disappointed) and our guests through Apple and Go Go Worldwide, depending on who was running a promotion and had the lower price. I know that using a travel agent made it possible for more of our guests to attend because 1) she was aware of lower prices and 2) they didnâ€™t have to pay for everything up front. When you use a travel agent you make a deposit and have a due date for the rest of the money owed. Many of our guests made payments throughout the yearâ€”essentially making our wedding a part of their monthly billing cycle. This would not have been possible without Mary Ann! Resort: The resort is beautiful! Honestly, I donâ€™t have any complaints about the hotel that are worth logging (some room service snafus but nothing unreasonable). The staff is patient and caring; every person we encountered had a good attitude and was happy to help us with whatever it was we wanted or needed. Our guests were not housed in the same building (we were under the impression they would be) but this ended up not mattering at all. The resort is not huge (which we love! It is one of the main reasons we selected it.) and people have no problem finding one another. Honestly, I wish we hadnâ€™t even spent time trying to find out if people would be in the same building. The pool is huge and gorgeous. I recommend upgrading to Preferred Club (we did when we booked) simply to reserve the bali beds at the main pool. When you upgrade you are also able to reserve palapas at the beach and bali beds and the preferred pool (we only used this pool one day because then our guests started to arrive and we wanted to spend time with them). The beach has soft, cool white sand and is very pretty. The water is full of seaweed (think pine needle like stuff) due to the nearby reef. I prefer the pool anyway so this wasnâ€™t much of an issue for me; my husband enjoys the beach and was not bothered by the seaweed. One note: Unless you are having a very small wedding I wouldnâ€™t recommend the gazebo that is in the middle of the pool. There was one wedding here during our stay; it took place around 4pm, while the pool was still open. Everyone in the pool was witness to their wedding and my guess is that the background of their photos consisted of the tops of the grass umbrellas that surround the pool area, not the ocean. There was at least one wedding every single day we were there so the resort staff (Ramon, the folks at the spa, the wait staffâ€”everyone) has this down pat. As a bride I think it can be easy to get tunnel vision and focus only on your day (& why shouldnâ€™t you!) but when you are interacting with the wedding folks at NOW try to remember that they do this every day; they are pros! We found the food to be fabulous; the only place we were disappointed was Fresco. The wedding food was outstanding. Wedding Package: We selected the Eternity package because we didnâ€™t need the upgrades in the Divine package. We were also concerned that weâ€™d have more than 25 guests (We invited approx. 125 people, many of whom we knew were not able or going to attend. We were thinking we would have about 30â€”we ended up with 23 which was perfect) and the cost per guest over 25 can get pretty costly. The Divine package is more per person. For every person over 25 you pay for the extra chair, food and drinks for cocktail hour, plus dinner. You can also add champagne and cake but they arenâ€™t required. The wedding information packet has all of the prices. I wouldnâ€™t change this decision. We had everything we needed except a bouquet for my maid of honor and the sound system for our iPod (we added both of these). We were also in need of additional photography servicesâ€”more on that below. Photography: Our wedding package included 24 prints. When I looked at the work of the resort photographers I wasnâ€™t overwhelmed. Many of the brides here ended up with beautiful photos from them but I was concerned and didnâ€™t want to make a mistake with photography. I searched for other photographers in Cancun the area but ultimately wasnâ€™t pleased with their prices or communication turnaround time so I decided to look closer to home. I read so many things about how to spend your wedding dollars, and as I said earlier, I was a bride on a budget. After much debate, and moving funds from one category to another, I decided to hire Amberlee Christey Photography for my destination wedding. Her prices are reasonable, and she is professional and timely (really, she is much more but I wonâ€™t gush). This is the BEST decision I made in relation to my wedding day. Photos are so very important to me and I knew that I wanted a photographer whose creativity and passion would shine through in every photo. Needless to say, I hired the right person. Her photographs give us the opportunity to relive every moment of our special day. They fill our home with even more love and memories of the family and friends who travelled so far to show their support and love. You can check out her blog about our wedding (including more photos) here: http://www.amberleechristey.com/photo-journal/teresa-keenan-married-riviera-cancun-wedding-photographer-13-6-12 I recommend her to anyone looking for a destination wedding photographer, and as you can see, she rocks at shooting NOW Sapphire weddings! Since we still had the 24 photos from our wedding package we used those to capture the groom getting ready. Amberlee was going to be with me so we figured it would be nice to capture both sides of the preparation. To be honest, the photographs werenâ€™t particularly polished. For example, there were lamps popping out of peopleâ€™s heads. We had 97 shots to choose from and had no problem narrowing it down to the included 24. Wedding Coordinator: Ramon was our wedding coordinator and he was fabulous. We met with him the day after we arrived. We had a golf cart pick us up at our room because we brought an entire suitcase full of stuff for our wedding. Literally. I brought my own centerpieces, table runners, chair bows, paper lanterns, candles, luminary bags, escort cards, table numbers, menus, programs, decorative napkins, guest welcome bags and all the goodies to go inside. We had to check an extra bag in order to do this but it was still cheaper ($30 for checked bag in each direction) than having the resort do all of thisâ€”just a bow on a chair is $5! They charged us $1 to put the bows on. In other words, I brought the small details but the big picture was completely in Ramonâ€™s hands. We went step-by-step through each part of the planning form. I highly recommend including pictures of things that are important to you: bouquet, cake, etc. For example, I included an example picture of how I wanted the paper lanterns to look. He asked about every detail and then walked us around the resort to show us where everything would be and what our options would be if it rained. (It rained every day we were there, except our wedding day!) I felt so much better after our meeting with Ramon and knew that he understood what we were looking for on our wedding day. We did include a detailed timeline for Ramon. This developed over time. Initially we just sent him â€œCeremony beginsâ€ through â€œDancing on the terrace.â€ So, here it is: Salon and getting ready: begins at 1pm Keenan begins getting ready: 230pm NOW resort photographer should arrive at best manâ€™s room for photographs as groom and best man get ready. Sneak peak: 345-400pm (will call menâ€™s room to update/let them know). Bride and groom only! Photos with bride: 4:30pm Photos with bride and groom: 4:45pm Photos with groom: 5:00pm All guests arrive at Tequila Terrace: 5:45pm Ceremony begins: 6:00pm Ceremony ends: approx. 6:30pm Group photo following ceremony Additional sunset photos with Teresa and Keenan Cocktail hour begins: approx. 6:45pm Dinner served: 7:45pm Champagne toast and toasts by wedding party: 8:00pm Cut cake: 9:00pm Coupleâ€™s first dance: approx. 9:15pm Dancing on the terrace: 9:30pm-11:00pm Guest Welcome Bags: We put together welcome bags for our guests that included â€œIn Sickness and In Healthâ€ bags with bandaids, Tylenol, motion sickness meds, etc; beach balls and Frisbees, a deck of cards, word and number games with a pencil, and a few other personal touches. Our guests loved their bags. Each bag was personalized with a note to our guests, including a schedule of events. This is the only thing I would change. Because our bags were personalized it seemed that the NOW staff had a hard time getting the right bag to the right person. We had guests coming in Monday-Friday, with more than 10 guests arriving Friday. By Thursday not a single bag had gone to the right person and what was supposed to be decreasing our stress (paying for the bags to be delivered rather than personally delivering them) turned out to be more stressful than anything else. We went to Ramon (who was aware of the problem) and told him weâ€™d like to deliver our own welcome bags and he refunded us the entire charge for the bags. So while I would certainly do the welcome bags again, next time I wouldnâ€™t personalize them so that the resort staff wouldnâ€™t have to pay attention to who was getting what. It would have just been easier for everyone. On the other hand, I love that our bags were personalized and that in the end we got to hand them to each of our guests on our own and save a couple of bucks in the process. Added Events: We did not do a rehearsal dinner or even a run through. We had a small bridal party (just us plus best man and maid of honor) and weâ€™ve all been to enough weddings that I trusted things would go smoothly. In general, I am happy with this decision. While things did not go exactly as plannedâ€”groom and best man were standing at the front nearly 15 minutes before start of ceremonyâ€”Ramon was able to wave them over and take care of everything and Iâ€™m certain our guests didnâ€™t notice and/or care. We did do a cocktail meet and greet the night before the wedding. We just had everyone meet in the lobby area at 9pm. We grabbed a few couches and everyone arrived when they finished dinner or the show ended. It was a nice opportunity for our guests to get to know one another before our wedding and a great chance to grab some group photos. We also did a wedding morning breakfast at the buffet. Some of our guests attended but others were already poolside. It was a nice way to make our single guests comfortable but ultimately was unnecessary since most groups and individuals organized their own breakfast plans anyway. We did two excursions during our stay: Chichen Itza and Xplor. Both were a lot of fun! They do take up your entire day (I think you can do a Â½ day Xplor but Iâ€™m not sure) but we had plenty of time to be lazy near the pool so the change of pace was a good thing! Spa: We had our free couples massage and enjoyed it-- nothing special but free and relaxing!. I also had my hair and makeup done here for our wedding day. In my opinion there is no reason to bring your own hair stylist or makeup artist with you. These women are trained professionals who do bridal makeup and hair at least once a day. I brought pictures of what I wanted and explained my preferences and my stylistâ€™s work exceeded my expectations. I really couldnâ€™t have been happier with my look! Flowers: I took a photo of a bouquet I liked and told Ramon I wanted the rest of the flowers (boutonnieres, corsages, bridesmaid bouquet, ceremony table centerpiece) to play off of my bouquet. I trusted him with the rest and I loved my flowers! I included charms of my parents, grandparents and pet and Ramon attached them to the bouquet for me. Location: We booked our entire event on the Tequila Terrace. We did NOT get married on the beach because I didnâ€™t want the hassle of the sand. The Tequila Terrace is right off of the beach and they set the wedding ceremony up at the very top of a set of stairs that lead down to the beach so you are essentially on the beach. The background of our entire weddingâ€”ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, dancingâ€”was the beach and ocean. I am entirely pleased with my location decision and my decision to have my ceremony on the terrace instead of on the beach. Iâ€™ve included some photos that illustrate exactly how everything was set up. There are slits between the boards on the Tequila Terrace that could be large enough for a heel to go into. I warned my guests and made the decision to wear wedges. This was a good decision because 1) I didnâ€™t have to worry about my heels falling in and 2)I had more support with the wedge and didnâ€™t have to change my shoes! Some brides were concerned with privacy on the Tequila Terrace. It is surrounded by the Bluewater Grill (an outdoor restaurant), the main buffet, and Fresco. Fresco was closed the night of our wedding (we used it as our back-up location as a result) and there were, of course, people eating at both the buffet and Bluewater during our wedding. I hardly noticed. While I was in the bathroom apparently my husband and my mother had to get some people to leave (ultimately Ramon did handle it) because they wanted to come over to danceâ€”apparently they liked our music. Other than that people were polite and respectful for the most part; many people congratulated me when I went inside to use the restroom (which is right inside the doorsâ€”you hardly have to walk through â€œpublic spaceâ€ at all) but they didnâ€™t intrude or interrupt our private event. Ceremony: We were married in the US before we went to Mexico. I recommend this. It is cheaper and easier. So, for our ceremony we had the minister provided by the resort. We wrote our own wedding script and it was very important to us that the minister stick to the script and she did exactly that. She was articulate, loud, and clear. We had several of our friends and family members read and take part in the ceremonyâ€”all of this was not a problem. The aisle runner (in plain white) was included; we didnâ€™t add flowers or anything like that. Music is included for the ceremony; we brought our own iPod with clearly labeled playlists. The resort staff operated the iPod per our instructions (Ramon asked for details about what to play when during our meeting) throughout the night. We rented the sound system for our entire event and Iâ€™m glad we did. It allowed us to bring our own music to the event and our guests really enjoyed it! We put together our playlists rather carefully. There was a playlist for each part of the evening: Pre-Wedding (for guestsâ€™ arrival), Processional, Recessional, Cocktail, Dinner, and Dancing. I recommend having MORE music than you think youâ€™ll need just to be safe and using a similar playlist organizational strategy. Cocktail Hour, Dinner, Dancing: We did include two signature drinks for our guests to try but the bar had everything you could ever want. The wait staff was on top of it; no one ever had an empty glass. Literally every time I finished a drink one of the servers was there with a refillâ€”awesome! Our cocktail hour food included goat cheese mousse with sundried tomato, beef brochettes with rosemary sauce, roast beef rolls, and prosciutto ham and melon. Servers carry them around and offer them to you and your guests. Everything was excellent. For dinner we had the spinach salad, leek and potato cream soup, supreme of chicken and strawberry cheesecake. Our cake was tres leches. Everything with dinner was excellent; there was so much chicken on the plateâ€”I donâ€™t think anyone finished it. Our cake as moist and delicious; however, since everyone had dessert with their meal hardly anyone had cake. I didnâ€™t think to mention anything about the cake at the time so we didnâ€™t get any of it (not that it really mattersâ€”you can order the same type of cake for room service). We had no plans of saving the cake to bring home so really not such a big deal. I know other brides have the cake taken to their room but we would have had just a ton of cake and nothing to do with it! For dancing we again used the rented sound system. You can do whatever you want. We only did one â€œspecial dance,â€ our first dance, but we were asked about mother-son, father-daughter, etc. If you plan to do these, again, I recommend making a playlist (even if it has only one song) explicitly for this part of the night. I had a blast and I know all of my guests did; we all danced all nightâ€”so much so that we all headed to Eclipse after 11pm. We didnâ€™t have a reason to extend the night on the Terrace when we could just go to the night club. Eclipse isnâ€™t anything fancy; it is a bar with a dance floor and a DJ. They did play some of our requests. I've included pictures at the bottom of my post of the Tequila Terrace decorated as we requested for our wedding. Our wedding was everything we dreamed of. I consider us lucky to have been fortunate enough to get married at NOW Sapphire! I know Iâ€™ve covered a lot of information here so I hope it isnâ€™t too much. If I happened to miss anything please feel free to shoot questions my way. Happy wedding planning! -T.
Half of the chairs for the ceremony; cocktail area-- which was later changed to be the dancefloor. Our table. We brought electric candles since the Terrace is so breezy but the wind died down and they later replaced them with the real candles we brought. Cake Dinner tables before the chair were moved-- they just moved them from the ceremony to the tables; ceremony centerpiece is on the right-- we had them move it to the escort card table.