Hello everyone! My wedding was on March 23rd and wanted to share my experience... Some horrible and some good, so you know this is going to be super lengthy!
My background: I'm a teacher with an art degree so I'm VERY picky with visuals, like decorations and details... And also need to have everything ready ahead, double-check, triple-check to have a peace of mind. (You can see why I was stressed out majority of the time!!)
Ok, onto my review:
Check-In - It took us over an hour to help our immediate family members to check-in at the Tropical and take the shuttle to the Palace to check in ourselves. The shuttle driver wasn't clear so we were stuck on it for almost 30 minutes before it got to the Palace, even though the Tropical is right next to the Palace. My advice: ask the driver which direction it's going before you get on it. There's usually two going opposite directions but they stop by every location.
Receptionist - Good luck trying to get any fast service from the receptionists. If you run into any problems I suggest asking for the supervisor. I went to the Tropical on the second day to help my elderly guests check-in, and found out both their rooms have been changed to the Beach, all the way on the other side of the resort! My guests were only there for my wedding, almost 70 years old, have trouble walking and don't speak English so no way they could be separated from the rest of us! I had to fight for TWO HOURS to get back their rooms. Originally, the receptionist said there were "no more rooms", which I knew was a lie. When the supervisor finally came out she instantly solved the problem. During the two hours of standing in the lobby, other people were also told to check-in at the Beach and reluctantly did so, but I was determined to get what my guests paid for and deserved!
Also, a receptionist who could barely speak English called our hotel room at 11:00 PM THE NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING saying that the payment for the wedding was incomplete and that I would need to come down to the lobby (a separate building from our room) to finish paying for it... My husband doesn't yell normally but he was already stressed out from all the previous arguing that he took the phone and blew up on them. Basically, they charged the wrong amount (a mistake on their end which they did a poor job explaining) and although we were willing to pay the rest they shouldn't have called us at 11pm the night before our wedding to demand us to come down, especially with no apologies! We were already in bed!! It's not like we're able to check out before paying it. Then they tried to tell us to come first thing in the morning, which is more ridiculous since we had a line of appointments with hair and photographer and had no time to spare! We paid it full during checkout, which was a PAIN (more later).
First of all, Yasmin is amazing!!! If you have her, she will take care of all your needs! She is the most professional person at the resort. To be honest, I was a bit worried because there were times when she didn't get back to me for almost a month. Upon check in, I was told by the receptionist that Yasmin was on her way to take me to her office. Our meeting was short and sweet, but I would definitely print out the emails as the the wedding planners have so many weddings to take care of and may not remember all the details from your conversations. I was glad to hear from her that there was a 25% off wedding package promotion (only applied to the original package price, not on vendor fee, extra costs for decorations, etc). Like I mentioned, I'm a very picky person when it comes to decorations.. And when I handed her a big luggage full of decorations (and drawings of where everything goes) she seemed a little overwhelmed but she reassured that everything will be set up for me... And it was! She's absolutely the best!
I met Yasmin again at the Palace for the rehearsal, which was also short and sweet and headed for the Italian Restaurant in the Tropical for the rehearsal dinner. Yasmin even drove all the way to the entrance of the restaurant to get us checked in. We had our own private outdoor area, already set up beautifully! And it was great for the kids to run around and play hide and seek after dinner. We received great service and the food was amazing. I picked out the bean soup, grouper and cheese mousse for the dessert, but they gave out 4 other types of special dessert for us! The indoor salad bar was included, which was fancy on its own. I definitely recommend booking there for the rehearsal dinner.
Free couple's massage was included and we took our mothers there to get massages as well. Carlos, the manager, came out and greeted us upon arrival. He also helped out with last minute hair appointments for some of my lady guests. I put it all on one charge and received a nice chuck of discount for all the services! The lady I had for the massage said she worked there for something like 15 years and was amazing. But my husband and both our mothers said their girls were just okay... Not enough pressure and they couldn't hit the spots very well.
If you didn't/ don't book Hideki Falcon from Button Up
Photography, you will regret it! I'm super picky with photographs. I did not want dramatic, cheesy, over-the-top photographs overloaded with Photoshop effects. I wanted subtle, natural, photojournalism style that would capture the essence of the day. So many photographers' starting prices were $4000, and while some are definitely worth that price tag, many were just overpriced! When I stumbled upon Hideki's website I fell in LOVE but figured he would be another one way out of my budget. While I was waiting for his price list I told my husband I REALLY wanted him regardless of price, and my husband agreed. I was surprised to find out that his prices were very reasonable. But even if he was over my budget I would have still splurged. His photos are beautiful... Just check out these sneak-peaks! Hideki and his assistant Emilio were prompt, professional and friendly. They even took the efforts to learn my guest's names. BOOK HIM NOW before someone else takes your date!
HAIR AND MAKEUP:
I did my own makeup because I wanted to look and feel like myself and not someone else on my wedding day. Plus, I've been wearing makeup for years and learned what works for me what doesn't. I don't regret my decision at all! On the other hand, I can't do anything with my own hair so I did my hair at the resort spa. I just got a simple half-updo with natural curls. It was okay, But I had to do some touch-ups myself with he blow dryer back in my room.
First off, I chose a bouquet from the list and requested to replace the purple roses with pink. I had sent Yasmin a picture of an ideal bouquet but I honestly had low expectations. When Yasmin came in to give me my bouquet, I was surprise by how close they made it to the photo I sent her! Apparently she forwarded my photo to the florist to get it close to what I wanted. It was perfect.
Aren't these beautiful? They cost less than $200!
A little secret about these- they're artificial flowers put together by my friend who used to be a florist. The gold vase is actually plastic, spray painted in gold by my husband! Call me crazy, I loaded these in a luggage and took them down to Mexico with me but I saved a TON of money and they looked gorgeous!
I made a cake topper with leftovers
After hair and photography sessions I went back to my hotel room for Yasmin to come pick me up to make a secret entrance to the gazebo area. The weather had been perfect (high 70s) our whole stay, but guess what I saw as soon as I went outside... POURING RAIN! I freaked out, my number one fear was getting rain during the ceremony. Yasmin quickly contacted the staff at the gazebo to take the chairs indoors. She assured me that it would pass, and it miraculously did. By the time I arrived at the Palace on her cart the rain had stopped and actually worked on our advantage since photos come out better with an overcast. The ceremony was short and sweet. The wedding was small and intimate with 20 guests, all family members. It was a rare event in that all of my father's siblings came together for the first time in decades! My oldest uncle was the officiant, my mother-in-law read a bible verse and my dad sang a special song that made me cry. People all around the gazebo area stopped to watch, listen and take pictures. Everything was just perfect and precious. After the ceremony we had a toast I'm the gazebo area, did some family photos by the beach right down from the gazebo and did couple photos while the guests headed to the reception hall.
Reception was indoors in the Tule 2 Reception hall, because I had a lot of elderly guests so they really needed the air conditioning and quick access to restrooms. I don't regret it at all, it was soooo nice to have air conditioning after sweating all day in a wedding dress. The reception area was decorated just as I wanted, thanks to Yasmin. I picked the sea scallops salad, minestrone soup, beef tenderloin and crime brûlée. All were amazing! I'm glad I went with just one tier of cake because no one touched it! We were all too full. The open bar was nice, a lot of my guests had a blast with the bartenders.
Reception setup picture by dad
SURPRISE & BREAKFAST IN BED
This was in our room when we came back from the reception!
Breakfast in bed, but we ate it in the balcony
Here comes the worst part. WE WERE SCAMMED and did not find out until check-out so we almost missed our flight. PLEASE READ THIS SO THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN TO YOU. I still get goosebumps thinking about this. So... my husband and I booked through Barcelo.com back in September of 2015. We didn't want to go through third-party websites just in case things went wrong with flights and rooms. The week before our flight, my husband received an email with the subject line, "CONFIRMATION FOR TRANSPORTATION" from "Vacciones Barcelo". Since we booked our shuttle transfer when we booked our flight and hotel on Barcelo.com, we thought the email was to confirm our shuttle. After all, "confirmation" means confirming a prearranged service!! So the message followed,
Thank you for choosing Vacaciones Barceló services!
We get in touch with you as we have received your reservation which is complemented with transportation services:
Our services include the following:
* Staff at the airport waiting outside the exit doors with customized sign.
* Representative in hospitality desk at the resort, with him you could verify any information about tours and transfers.
* Flight schedule reconfirmation for arrival & departure.
Please we need some information:
* Holder name:
* Hotel reservation number:
* Name of companions:
* Airline company:
* For arrival: Date: ___, Flight Number: ____, Arrival time at Cancun airport: ___
* For departure: Date: ___, Flight Number: ____, Departing time from Cancun airport"
So looking at these key words like, "THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING", "CONFIRM", "WE RECEIVED YOUR RESERVATION" of course we assume this is to confirm our shuttle we already paid for, we sent our information. It turns out that this so-called "confirmation email" was actually a "reservation email" and double-booked a shuttle. This Vacaciones Barcelo is not the same shuttle service we originally booked for. How the heck did they get my husband's email and the fact that we were staying at Barcelo? Did Barcelo sell our info to them? I'm pretty sure they did but they're denying it.
So they charged a room charge in ridiculous amount of almost $500 for roundtrip transfer for two people, when we already paid for our original $160 through the hotel website. The lady from Vacaciones Barcelo even went through the trouble of ALTERING the date on the printed email and claiming that we booked their services back in May 2015. Um... I was still searching for a venue back then. So we were furious when we finally figured out we were
scammed.. We argued, raised our voices and even threw in some bad language in the lobby (like 20-30 people around but no shame by this point) for two hours. Half our family members were already at the airport wondering where the heck we were. Finally the lady said she would not charge us, which just confirms the fact that they scammed us! If they REALLY believed we owed that much money, they wouldn't waive it!!! Ugh!! but told us not to take her shuttle.
Since I already had the prearranged shuttle, I got on it. As soon as the shuttle started pulling out, the lady comes out saying that this is her shuttle. What the heck?! So I asked her what the name of our original shuttle is, and she says, "Lomas Travel". I asked her to call them (since my phone didn't work) and she told me, "Nope, you figure it out" and gave me a smirk. UGH!! So I ran to a bell boy and asked them to call Lomas Travel, and they told me their office is just downstairs.... The lady obviously omitted that information on purpose! I finally go down and meet the ORIGINAL PREARRANGED shuttle service, Lomas Travel. The last shuttle for Barcelo already left, so they went through the the trouble of making another one of their shuttles from another hotel to stop by Barcelo to pick us up on the way to the airport. A newlywed couple on the shuttle was very understanding and nice and even translated my situation to the driver, who contacted his team at the airport to help us cut through all the lines for ticketing and security. PHEW! We made in time for the flight, but only because Lomas Travel went out of their way to insure that we got to the airport safely and on time.
So overall, I'm grateful that the wedding day was perfect in the midst of all the crap I had to deal with the staff. It was definitely worth having a destination wedding with just family... Now it's become such a precious memory for all of us! And a learning experience dealing with the scammers.
I apologize for the lengthy post, but I know there are brides out there who would appreciate the honest details, I know I definitely did with the previous brides' posts. Let me know if any of you would like more details!