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rhiham

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About rhiham

  1. And I would say that if it's within the girls' budgets, the $35 for the hydrotherapy is worth it! Shaun and I thought it was really fun and relaxing...we were like little kids oohing and ahhing at the water jets and hot stones and stuff haha
  2. Hey TealMarie! I'm not sure if the hydrotherapy tour is included if you purchase another service - my guess would be no, or that it probably depends on the service you choose.
  3. We paid with a credit card. The wedding package + any wedding extras (sparklers, other add-ons, etc.) totals were added to the cost of the room and we paid for it all together. When you meet with Gloria before the wedding, she goes over all of your choices and the cost that you will be charged. We didn't have any additional fees for using our credit card internationally, but I'm sure it's a good idea to ask your credit card company in advance!
  4. We didn't have any extra fees charged to our credit card...the price of our stay was charged about a week before we left and the price of the wedding + extra things we did at the resort posted about a week after we left. The amount for the wedding and stuff was exactly the total on our receipts. We used an American Express card if that matters. TealMarie - thanks so much for the compliments! You so sweet. I'm glad my review helped. And my dress for the cocktail hour is from Torrid (http://www.torrid.com/torrid/Clothing/Dresses/Purple+Cutout+Sleeve+Dress-500394.jsp) Excited for all of you with weddings coming up soon! You're going to have a blast!
  5. Blergh, I forgot to post a picture of the (out of this world delicious!) cake!
  6. Hi everyone! We just got back from getting married at ERC and I posted a LONNNNG review with a few pictures at the review page here: http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/products/excellence-riviera-cancun-luxury-adults-only-all-inclusive/reviews/7392
  7. Okay, here is the link to my (long! and includes photos!) review of ERC: http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/products/excellence-riviera-cancun-luxury-adults-only-all-inclusive/reviews/7392 Or, I've copied and pasted it below (hoping this works with the photos!): We checked in to ERC on Wednesday, June 12 and left on Thursday, June 20. Our wedding day was Saturday, June 15. We did the Gold Wedding Package. Check in: Just driving up to the resort is so exciting! There's a beautiful gated entrance where staff checks off each person entering and leaving the resort. For transportation to and from the airport, we used the car service that you reserve through ERC's concierge. It's a private car that takes you directly to ERC. The price for round trip transportation to and from the airport was $120. Some of our guests did this as well, and other guests reserved shuttle service with their airline reservations, which I think cost $35-40 each way. Checking in was a breeze. We were welcomed with champagne and a cool towel by the doorman, then led to the Excellence Club Lounge for private check-in. Right off the bat, I would recommend being part of the "Excellence Club" during your stay, if it's within your budget. We got private check-in at the Excellence Club Lounge, plus extra perks throughout our stay (nightly turn down service, fruit and snacks delivered to our room each afternoon, upgraded room mini bar, etc.) that we thought really made the extra cost worth it. Room: We had an ocean view swim-up suite. The room was gorgeous: spacious and comfortable, with beautiful natural lighting. There’s a pretty big flat screen TV that had several American channels, a strong air conditioner (much appreciated!), and I swear the king size bed is bigger than a standard king size! The bed was really comfortable. The room’s mini bar is great! It includes: rum, vodka, tequila, and wine, plus beer, water, sodas and juice in the mini fridge. A few candy and snacks are included in it too. All of these items are free (included in cost of the stay) and replaced each day. 24-hour room service is also free. I had a lot of space to get ready for the wedding day even with a bunch of girls and my photographer in the room. Some of our guests also did swim-up suites and loved it; others did second- or third-floor ocean view suites and loved those equally. I think it’s personal preference: do you like immediate access to the pool and having a semi-private “yard†space without having to hunt out a pool chair every day, or do you like the view of the resort and ocean from above? You wouldn’t be wrong with either choice – the rooms are all pretty similar, so it’s really just up to you and what you want from the view outside your window. With a swim-up suite, we had a little mini “yard†with nice grass and two lay out pool chairs. It was nice for us not to have to go out super early and reserve a chair at the pool. The resort discourages people from doing this, but I think it’s kinda natural for people to try and stake out the best chairs haha. We had a hammock and a Jacuzzi tub on our porch, plus a little table and outdoor loveseat. We also had a Jacuzzi tub inside the room, which was a really great added detail. We paid $35 on our last night for “bath valet†to come set up a romantic bath for us – bath salts, aromatherapy bubbles, relaxing incense and candles…yes, it’s a bit over the top for normal every day life, but this is vacation! We enjoyed the romantic set-up. *thumbs up* Resort: This is our second stay at ERC. We have stayed at other resorts and my parents have as well, including Excellence Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and we just love this one. Absolutely gorgeous grounds, wonderful bars and restaurants, and the staff everywhere is exemplary. You get the feeling that the staff genuinely enjoys working there and helping guests have the best vacation ever. In fact, we recognized SEVERAL staff members from our first stay at ERC almost three years ago, which means as a whole, the resort probably has a low turnover rate among its employees, something that most likely indicates that it’s a good place to work. All servers, housekeeping staff, concierges, etc. are highly trained and super attentive to anything you need. The restaurants and bars are all fun and amazing (I can’t stop using the word amazing, because it’s TRUE). The martini bar, swim up bar, and Café Kafe were personal favorites of ours. Request top shelf liquor in your drinks for added satisfaction! Whatever you want, they have it. The restaurants are all delicious, though we personally enjoyed the Indian restaurant (Basmati) and the French restaurant (Chez Isabelle) in particular. I was anxious about some of my guests’ comfort and satisfaction with the food, as I had some picky eaters coming (looking at you, MIL!), but there is truly something for everyone at this resort. Nightly entertainment included live music (really talented solo artists or bands, romantic setting to listen before or after dinner), followed by a show at the theater (Madonna, Michael Jackson, cirque du soleil, fire show, prehistoric Mayan show, American show, Caribbean show, which repeat weekly), followed by more live music under the stars or time at the club/disco if you’re so inclined. Again, there’s something for everyone. All of our guests had a blast, whether they got late drinks at the martini bar, enjoyed a live show, or stayed in the comfort of their rooms ordering dessert from room service. There is huge list of activities held at the resort every day, ranging from volleyball and beach soccer to tequila and cigar tastings, salsa lessons, air rifle shooting, beach yoga, Spanish lessons, trivia games, etc. etc. etc. Husband and I painted pottery with his parents and have awesome souvenirs we brought home with us! Wedding planner: Gloria was totally amazing, from the beginning of our planning stages, through the wedding day, and after! I can’t say enough good things about her. She was responsive to emails and thorough in the answers and explanations she gave, always. During our check-in, she called the Excellence Club concierge to speak to me personally to set up a meeting to go over our decisions and preferences for the wedding day one last time. We met with her on Thursday before the wedding. The meeting was quick and thorough – she confirmed all of the choices we had made up to that point, and we tied up any loose ends that were still remaining (flavor of the cake, color of the rose petals for the aisle runway, how many sparklers we needed.). Gloria checked on me on Friday (day before the wedding) to make sure I didn’t need anything else or had any other questions, and checked in with us once on Saturday morning to make sure we didn’t need anything. She set up the guests and groom in place at the ceremony then came to get me from our room to walk me and my parents and sister (who all walked me down the aisle) to the aisle. She was so sweet and attentive the whole time. Everything – including ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner – went off without a hitch and with incredible attention to detail because of her. Ceremony: We did the ceremony at the beach gazebo. It was gorgeous. We brought our own chair sashes and used whatever decoration was included in our package. The Gold Wedding Package includes either chair sashes or rose petals on the aisle; since we brought our own chair sashes, we got rose petals as well. I walked down the aisle to “Sea of Love†by Cat Power, and we played “First Day of My Life†by Bright Eyes for the recessional. The walk down the aisle lasted about a minute. We edited our songs down to cut out long intros or parts of the song we wanted to skip and made two versions – a short one (thirty seconds) and a long one (like a minute long) because we weren’t sure how long the walk down the aisle would be. It ended up working perfectly for us to use the longer edited versions. Gloria told me to just have the songs on my iphone, and it worked superbly. We did a symbolic ceremony, as we were already legally married by a justice of the peace in the US before going to Mexico. We had a fairly non-traditional ceremony in mind (nothing crazy hahaha, but we are an interfaith couple, so we had to keep it religiously neutral), and one of my biggest anxieties before the wedding was making sure the ceremony was unique and true to us. I wrote the ceremony myself and asked Gloria if it would be okay to give to the ceremony officiant. She checked with the officiant and said it was fine, so I sent the ceremony script to Gloria about two weeks before the wedding, and she said that the officiant had looked it over and said it was totally fine and that she’d be happy to do it. I can’t tell you how important this was to us – their willingness to please and support in helping us build a wedding day that was truly ours can’t be overstated. I’m so grateful for Gloria and the officiant’s help. We said our vows to one another and everyone was a crying blubbery mess hahaha…our ceremony was beautiful and I am nothing but pleased with how it went off. There was a lovely cool breeze the whole time, and no one was hot or (too) sweaty at the ceremony. Hair & Makeup: Okay, I might not have the most useful perspective for other brides at ERC because I did my OWN hair and makeup instead of going to the spa, so I only have a couple things to say. I am particular about my makeup and know a lot about it/enjoy doing makeup, so I was fine doing my own and happy with the results. If you’re thinking about bringing your own foundation for the makeup artists to use (for proper skin matching or whatever), I would highly recommend the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer kit – it comes with primer and the tinted moisturizer, which looks beautiful and STAYS. I have a TON of hair that causes my head and face to sweat quite a bit at times, but I never felt like my makeup had a problem staying or like it looked bad. I would also recommend DermaDoctor’s Med-e-Tate anti-sweating wipes (I got them at Sephora and you can order them online)…I heard about them here on the BDW forum from other brides, and I’m glad I spent the $40 on them! They helped a LOT with excessive sweating, because, let me tell you, it is HUMID at the resort. A few people told us it’s much less humid in the winter months, but for those brides getting married at ERC in spring or summer – be aware! Like I said earlier, the ceremony on the beach was fine because there was a great breeze from the ocean, but we took pictures before and after the ceremony at different locations around the resort, and it was supppppper humid. So the antiperspirant wipes were really, really helpful on my face and neck. I wiped my face with them THEN applied moisturizer and makeup per my normal routine. In terms of hair, I have a LOT of long, curly hair, and I wanted to wear it natural for the ceremony. If you get your hair done at the salon I don’t imagine this will be a problem, but one small issue for me was that the humidity prevented my hair from drying as quickly as it needed to after I washed it. I ended up with longer curls that were a bit limper than my usual bouncy mane, but it wasn’t a huge problem. I am 100% fine with how everything turned out, just wanted to give a heads up on the humidity and how that might affect your overall look on the day of the wedding. I have heard other brides comment on the techniques the salon uses to make sure your hair looks good for the day (curling it much tighter than what you actually want so that when the curls inevitably fall, they’re already at the right level, using lots of hairspray, etc.). Cocktail Hour: I had heard that the square at Agave restaurant and the foyer were really hot with no breeze at cocktail hour time, and that the pier was windy, so I chose Las Olas for the cocktail hour location. Las Olas is on the beach, very close to the beach gazebo. It’s an area with chairs and small tables on a wooden plank floor under a tiki hut-type covering. We had 13 guests, so space wasn’t an issue for our smallish group, but they had done tequila tastings and other activities at Las Olas before our wedding day at the resort, so it is definitely big enough for bigger groups…I’d say fifty people could stand and mingle there comfortably. There was a lovely breeze so temperature wasn’t a problem. Not exaggerating, it literally feels fifteen degrees cooler at times on the beach than it does further in on the resort. Right next to Las Olas was a full bar for us, which was open for the cocktail hour. The waitstaff served delicious frozen drinks – a coffee chocolate drink with Bailey’s I think, plus a fruity daiquiri type drink as well – that everyone loved, plus the bar was open if anyone had specific requests (water at this point was a big one!). The appetizers we had chosen were absolutely delish (you get four hot appetizer choices and four cold appetizer choices in the Gold package…not sure what the other package options are): chicken strips, buffalo wings, mini fish tacos, and some sort of tomato feta spinach thing for the hot appetizers, and the cheese montage, salami cornet, tomato & buffalo mozzarella and smoked turkey something for the cold appetizers. All of the food was awesome and the guests couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. We had the Caribbean trio during the cocktail hour for our music, and they were awesome! Everyone loved them and several guests tipped the musicians. Gloria was standing off to the side for most of the time, directing waitstaff and the timing of everything. It was a great hour of talking and processing and hearing from our guests what they thought of our ceremony. Husband and I brought gifts to give to each set of parents – him to my parents and me to his parents – so this was a perfect time to present them with those items. It was a fun, happy, emotional hour with good food and good drinks. Who could ask for more? (The snapshots below were taken at the cocktail hour, just to give you a better idea of the setting/what I'm describing) Dinner & Reception: We had dinner at Barcelona restaurant. I honestly chose this spot over other options (the foyer, and I think the Lobster House was an option) because this was the only place on the list that was air-conditioned. I figured that our guests (and myself, to be honest) would appreciate the A/C after a day more or less outside for the ceremony and cocktail hour. The other options are beautiful, and I think the decision probably comes down to your personal preferences and specific wishes for the look and feel of that part of your day. For us and for the guests we had in attendance, air conditioning was a nice relief that helped everyone relax and enjoy the evening. However, with this choice, lighting and space were a concern for me. The natural light of being outside is beautiful for photos, and I worried that the lighting inside the restaurant was too yellow and dim for good shots. In terms of space, Barcelona is a huge restaurant (where the breakfast buffet is served every morning), and we only had fifteen people total. I feared it would feel kind of ridiculous with our small group in such a big space. My fears were immediately put to rest though. We had one long table for dinner, and it was set up next to the front of the restaurant, close to huge windows that let in great evening natural light. Once it got dark, the lighting of the room was not unpleasant at all, and my photos from that time are perfect. For the anxiety I was having about it being too big of a space for our group, I can’t really even say how they set up the room to feel so intimate and comfortable…they just did. Hahaha it was just an amazing set up and the staff was so attentive and everyone felt so great that at no point did I look around feeling like, omg we have one little corner of this giant room and everything else is empty around us. It was perfect. For food, we chose option 1 from the Gold Dinner Menu which was: 1. Cesar salad, 2. potato chowder, 3. mandarin orange amaretto sorbet, 4. Mahi filet and stuffed chicken breast with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies, 5. Dessert (which I don’t remember because I only ate cake, which was in. cred. i. ble.). I cannot describe to you in like real words how delicious every part of the meal was. The main course was amazeballs. Everyone was like, “OMG THIS IS SO GOOD.†And I had some picky eaters in attendance! The wedding cake was mind-blowing. There are several options for flavors: chocolate, vanilla, marble, carrot, cheesecake, and something else I think. We chose cheesecake because I’m a huge fan haha and we were not disappointed. The cake was three tiers of some of the best cheesecake I’ve ever had in my life – it was like marbled chocolate and regular cheesecake, not too rich or way too sweet…just perfect. It was a huge hit with the guests too, even though everyone was BEYOND stuffed after dinner. I have never been waited on so graciously and attentively as I was at this dinner – the servers were absolutely incredible. This dinner was one of the highlights of my entire life. We did not hold a traditional “reception†period after dinner since our group was kind of small. Originally we planned to bring down our Bose sound system music player thing in lieu of hiring a DJ, and using that as our “DJ†with a party playlist I created on my phone. Unfortunately a few of our friends had to drop off the guest list at the last minute (a couple weeks before the wedding!) and it made our group a lot smaller, and skewed the ages a lot older. The only people that would’ve been dancing would’ve been me and like, two friends. So we decided not to stress about the dancing portion of the evening – after a long, amazing dinner and cake, we ventured over to the theater and enjoyed the scheduled show for the evening (Madonna! So fun!), then the younger people and my parents went to the resort club and danced for a couple hours. It was a perfect night that worked for our needs. Photography & Videography: My aunt is a professional photographer who was a guest of the wedding and stayed at the resort, so we didn’t have to pay an outside vendor fee or anything like that. We used the videographer included in the package for our ceremony…we got the DVD the day before we left, and we love it! It’s cheesy and not the highest quality ever, but it works great for its purpose…we don’t plan on watching it really at all, after our initial viewing. Maybe show the grandkids one day. They found our songs from the processional and recessional and used them in the video, which we thought was a thoughtful, personal touch. The sound is clear (no windy background noise or anything), the only complaint might be about the picture itself…like it’s a tad bright or something? The colors aren’t super vibrant in the video…but that’s what we have a photographer for! Spa: As I said earlier, I didn’t use the spa/salon for my hair and makeup on the wedding day, but included in our package was a 50 minute couple’s massage, plus an aquatherapy session which I think comes included as part of the Excellence Club. We both were very impressed with the gorgeous spa facilities (think waterfalls, pretty pools, lovely showers and such). The couple’s massage was A-W-E-S-O-M-E. It was so relaxing and fun. We did our aquatherapy session immediately following the massage, and it was super excellent as well. It all felt so good, plus we had a blast doing it. You basically have a staff member who guides you through each step – first there’s a steam room, then you enter a pool where you lay on your back over an underwater bed with massaging jets, then you enter another pool that has various stations for different jets that massage different parts of your body and you cycle through all of them. Then you walk over hot stones, then enter an ice room, then another hot room, then jump in some super cold water. I’m simplifying the process here, but rest assured that it felt AMAZING and was really, really FUN to experience. Afterwards we were glowing. PLEASE feel free to ask any questions! We had a blast and have absolutely no regrets about our wedding at ERC. YOU SHOULD DO IT!
  8. Mandy, I'm not sure about allowing outside vendors at the resort - you would have to work that out with Gloria of course, and they might charge you an outside vendor fee. There is a gift shop at the resort, in case that is useful for your guests. The gift shop has lots of stuff, for a range of prices - we got a few magnets/shot glasses/little figurines all for less than $10 each. And there are more expensive gifts too. A fun souvenir thing we did as a couple with my husband's parents was pottery painting. A woman has a little cart on the resort with all these pottery figurines: different animals, plates, etc. and you buy the item and she provides paints and brushes so you paint it. When you're done painting, she touches up your work and glazes it so it turns out BEAUTIFUL. Shaun and I actually did this the first time we visited ERC a couple years ago, and did it again this time because we loved it so much. I'm glad we did. Anyways, that's just another idea for souvenir + activity all in one! Syl2013, I had my reception at Barcelona. The lighting was lovely - our table (we had one long table for all the guests) was set up next to the front of the restaurant, and there are huge windows there, so lots of really nice natural light came in all evening, and the interior lighting was totally fine after it got dark outside. Our photos from that portion of the evening are awesome! I had some anxiety that the space was going to be too large because I didn't have that big of a group, and the restaurant is BIG (it's where the breakfast buffet is every morning), but the setup was incredible. I didn't even notice the size of the room or feel like I wished we were somewhere else. Almost ALL of my guests said that they appreciated that the dinner/reception was inside with A/C after spending the day outside, so to speak (my ceremony was on the beach and the cocktail hour at Las Olas). Granted, you will be there when it's cooler and less humid, but I just wanted to share my experience! The foyer is beautiful...you won't be wrong no matter what you choose! I'm working on a long review now with all the details that I'm hoping to post tonight or tomorrow! I'm going to post it in the reviews section and here.
  9. Hola from Mexico! The wedding was INCREDIBLE! KayLynn, we had no problem getting OOT bag stuff through customs - we had receipts and were ready to get searched/questioned about all the stuff we were bringing, but we literally just walked through customs. They asked why we were coming to Mexico, we said we were getting married, and they said "congratulations!" and we walked through. It was a breeze! I have a LOT more to say, but please rest assured that everything was beyond lovely and there were absolutely NO problems. Gloria is a literal angel sent from the heavens. I'm planning to post a longggg review as soon as we're back in the US, but for now here's a teeny tiny sneak peek of our wedding on our photographer's website: http://www.schwagerandhanks.com/2013/06/fort-worth-wedding-photographer-rhiannon-shaun-excellence-riviera-cancun/
  10. SEVEN DAYS TILL WEDDING DAY! I am so excited! I'm running around like a maniac for the next week (flying to Texas from Colorado tomorrow, doing my final appointments and errands, then going to Mexico on Wednesday) but I really am intending to be back on the forum to update you ladies about how everything went and to answer anyone's questions. This forum has been a HUGE help to me. BUT, in case I forget and don't log back in, please feel free to email me: Rhiannon.hamam@gmail.com. Wedding day is Saturday the 15th and we'll be back stateside on Thursday the 20th. Happy planning ladies! It's been real! -Rhiannon
  11. Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for all the great info. I'm wondering about receipts and getting through customs with all our stuff - I have receipts for MOST of the items going in the OOT bags, but not everything, as I've been slowly buying things in bulk for such a long time in preparation for the wedding. What was your experience traveling to Mexico - did customs officials look really hard at your items and your receipts and did they check that you had receipts for EVERYTHING, or did they just check that you had receipts in general? I'm starting to get nervous! Thanks for your help!
  12. Thank you SO MUCH Carolyn for sharing all of this info! You are awesome! I feel soooo much better about my wedding coming up (exactly one month till wedding day tomorrow!)...if Gloria and the rest of the staff can handle your wedding of almost 90 people, then they can def handle my measly little 20-person wedding! Your pictures are so pretty, and I love what you did with all the details - the tumblers, OOT bags, etc. Thank you thank you thank you for all this info! - Rhiannon
  13. Ampanda52, I was just wondering about this over on the other thread. We are actually doing the symbolic ceremony, but we want it to be pretty personal and inclusive of our families and guests...I basically just wrote the ceremony we would like myself. I asked Gloria about having the officiant say specific things, and including guests who would do readings, and she said it should be fine as long as I sent the "script" to her in advance so that the officiant can look it over and practice. We have two readings we'd like done by our friends, and we want to personally recognize our parents and families, as well as those not present. We're a little hippie-ish and don't want something too traditional At this point, with just over a month left till the wedding, the personal touches (like the ceremony) are the thing stressing me out the most. We chose a destination wedding because it is more low-key and simpler, but we want it to be representative of US and still be unique, ya know? I keep thinking that I'm forgetting important details! Since all the big stuff is decided, it's like now it's all the small things that need my attention...and that is anxiety inducing! I am sooo ready to be married and on vacation! Thank goodness for this website and all you ladies - I wouldn't have made it this far without you! - Rhiannon
  14. Just sent all our final details decisions to Gloria (food choices, decor, flowers, music, guests, etc) and got an itemized sheet back from her that shows all the choices and prices for each thing. It's almost surreal to have all this stuff actually picked out and finalized...I literally just have to wait for the wedding day to come! No more planning! 1 month and 5 days till beach wedded bliss! I think the final big thing I'm having anxiety about is the ceremony. We are doing a symbolic ceremony as we are already legally married, but we're wanting some really specific stuff included - things we want including our parents, readings done by my sister (MOH) and the best man...plus some other things. I wrote out the ceremony scripted how we want it, and Gloria said it would probably be fine but to send the script ahead of time so she can give it to the officiant to practice. This part is really important to us, so I'm hoping the officiant is cool with what doing our thing. In terms of deciding between the ocean view or swim up suite, I LOVED having the swim up suite when we vacationed at ERC. We didn't have to worry about reserving a beach chair next to the pool in the morning, and loved the privacy of hanging out in our little "yard" lol. The ocean view from the swim up suite, as someone said before, is a bit obstructed by trees, but we were literally not more than 30 yards from the beach/ocean from our swim up section, so that didn't bother me. I felt like we were ON the beach! I would highly recommend the swim up, though I totally see how it's a tough decision!
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