By Caligirl, · 2,090 Views · 5 Comments
Wedding Resort: Azul Sensatori
Ceremony: Sky Terrace 5:00PM
Cocktail: Plaza Sabas 6:00 PM
Reception: Ocean Room 7:00 PM
Wedding Date: 7/10/2011
Couple Age: 37
Occupation: Groom Sales Medical devices / Bride Fashion dept. Store buyer
Number of guest: 55 Adult and 4 children
Karisma Miami office: Elizabeth Riff / Nahiomy Paulino
Azul Resort Planner: Ivan Alcazar / Denise Cano
Lomas Event Planner: Israel (very good with attention to detail & always had a smile)
Cost of Rooms + Transfers: $30,000 +/-
Cost of total Wedding day: $10,000 +/-
Wedding dress: $1,000 ( it was convertable dress that I made valued at $8,000 all Silk_Bead Work_Swaroski Crystals)
Ring: Tiffany Lucida Solitaire & Eternity band
Shoes: Stuart Weitzman
Groom: Hugo Boss Linen suit, special made shirt / tie / pocket hankie and Bally shoes
Elizabeth Medina Photographer: $7,500 +/-
Tony Escalante Video: $1700 +/-
Honeymoon: 2 weeks Hawaii Maui Four Seasons and Kauai Grand Hyatt Aug 20th, 2011
We live in Hoboken NJ and I started off looking to have a wedding in New York City, where I work and spend most of my personal time. I am originally from Orange County California and my fiancé is from Manalapan NJ. Yes we could have had a wedding in NJ, but having my family come from California to NJ did not make sense to me as I did not have a real connection to NJ. Then having a wedding in California also did not make sense as the number of people from East Coast out numbered West Coast guest and a Southern California wedding would be just as expensive as NYC wedding.
So we looked at places in Manhattan and discovered that all the places we like required a guaranteed deposit for 100-150 guests (just for food and venue). Then we considered what our guest would spend on airfare, hotel and food for a weekend in NYC. Not only would the wedding cost us, but it would also be an expensive weekend for most of our guest. Throw in the picture that we were getting married in 2011, one of the hardest economic years for many. We had friends who lost jobs, family loosing homes. Had it been just 5 years earlier that we were getting married it would have been a different picture!
We decided to look into destination wedding. Thank G_d for Internet & my IPAD I was able to do a lot of research and we decided to put the money we would be spending on a 5 hour event in NYC and take care of accommodations for our guest for 4 day / 3 night + transfers at an all inclusive resort.
We had vacationed at Excellence Riviera Maya and loved it. However, we now needed to find a place that was a family resort. I do not get to see my nephews and nieces often, so I loved the idea of children at my wedding. I also wanted people to travel with family and make it a vacation.
If I had a bigger budget, I would have chosen GRAN VELAS or ROSEWOOD MAYAKOBA but, since I was paying for this wedding all on my own, I had a set amount that again could not pass the amount I would have spent at a 5 hour NYC event. On a realistic budget, I narrowed down my choices to 2 resort chains KARISMA and PALACE, this was based on online research ONLY. So we made a trip during Christmas (we are Jewish and we found cheap flights leaving on Christmas). We chose Moon Palace as the resort to stay during our site inspections so that we could have free wifi, free calls to USA, free shuttle buses to take us to Cancun (research) and because of Golf course.
As far as a site inspection at Azul Sensatory this could have it’s advantages also, as you can easily walk (on beach) to Azul beach, Excellence and Dreams ( the furthest) and many other resorts. Note: before our site inspections we had to secured a date and had to make a deposit with PALACE.
After our resort site inspections. it was a hard call between the PALACE and KARISMA locations because there are SO DIFFERENT!
With Palace family resort you get so many activities, the resort Palace Moon and Aventura are HUGE (Las Vegas huge). This is great if you have a wide age range of guest. They have a Miami office that is great (worked with Janina Menendez) and they have a great production company Deco Cancun / Zuniga (Katie@decocancun.com). At Palace family resorts Moon _ Aventura I would only have Cocktail and reception wedding Ballroom or restaurant area Caribbean terrace (as seen on Vicky’s review). The Gazebos were not private enough for me and the cocktail reception areas by them I liked only if I was having a ceremony on beach.
If I would have had a wedding Palace company:
No Children #1 Le Blanc we returned to Mexico 4 months later (November 2011) and stayed at Le Blanc and we LOVED IT, the food was on par 100% with NY food, the Martini lounge was on par with any drink at bar in Meat Packing district in NYC (with out the $20 price tag). The 1500 Credits are amazing for the Spa. Le Blanc has a “Chill- Lounge” feel, and actually during our stay we had a group of under 30 visit with a day pass and as soon as they started to get loud they were approached and we really appreciated that. Ok one last thing we stayed at Four Seasons Maui and hands down for the money Le Blanc does a great job giving that level of service in Mexico.
Children #1 Moon Palace Golf (10 min from airport) #2 Aventura Spa (Adult only section)
I chose Karisma for 3 reasons:
1-Children: this resort is amazing with kids, even infants. So many of guest were so impressed with how prepared this resort is for children infant_toddler_teens. At Palace I asked to see a room with a crib and they could not arrange that. At Azul the rooms were set up with cribs, bottle warmers and they have the best kids club ( they had a super cute Santa house during our site inspection).
2-Food & Beverages: Since most of our guests are from NYC and Chicago, the expectations were higher for food. Palace food was not bad, I compare it to Cheesecake Factory. Kharisma was more Gourmet and for our wedding we met the chef, who was French. We went over menu for our guest. Prior to trip we chose the menu 1 fish and 1 Meat dish and had everyone chose ahead and we had menus made up with entre choices, so that guest new what they had chosen. Note: We did still had issues with our Vegan guest, as they kept thinking it was the same as Vegetarian. There was also a big difference in the drinks, I like to drink and at Palace I was not happy with the quality of drinks. At Azul they has a cool mojito bar. Food Tip: Italian was the favorite, but at all restaurants order at the same time per person 2 app 2 entree 2 deserts. The service is slow, they say it I because everything is made “fresh to order" and not "pre made”. The tappas restaurent is good for appetizers and drinks (it is next to Mojito bar) and then go to dinner. Le Chique was hard to get a reservation, we had to speak to manager. They were attentive and did the right thing and made sure we got a reservation. In my opinion they should just make sure that all guest have an opportunity to eat there at least once.
3- Resort grounds: Azul Sensatorie had better gardens and that meant a lot to me for the wedding pictures. Neither of the resorts had a great beach, I find that the best beaches are in Cancun (too busy) and further down the Rivera Maya (Playa de Carmen). However, many of my guest were from Chicago and NY so this beach was just fine (since we spend most of our year in the cold and we are not know for our beaches). For the California guest who had a lay over in Texas, I did not want them on a bus too long getting to resort.
Note: make sure guest get to resort 2 days min before wedding, in case of flight issues.
Both resort had great rooms and experience in doing weddings.
As far as deposited made to Palace we got a credit to use that on our visit to Le Blanc 4 months
after our wedding.
- We used our work corporate shipping account, it cost 30-40% less to ship a “few items” to resort. You have to make sure you fill out custom forms carefully and declare “wedding decoration- No commercial value”. You have to make sure the resort approves this prior to sending.
- We flew first class, so luggage is priority (relief) and they have a closet for suit and dress, they also allow 2 check in luggage each person- NO FEE.
- I had a BCBG short dress for Katuba signing on Balcony, this was great so that I did not get sweaty walking across resort. I change in a relatives room that was in the Sky terrace Building.
- I charged the whole wedding on American Express. Amex can give you and advancement of points and we used those for free airline tickets for relatives.
Most of my wedding decorations I took myself and it was not a big deal, as was so worth it. I did not have reciepts, I just said under $300 when they asked.
- ETSY.COM I cannot say enough about this ( all programs, name –table cards, passport invitations, bouquet lockets,banner, decorations, Chuppah decorations).
- WWW.STYLEMEPREETY.COM save on buying magazines are get all your wedding inspiration here.
- WWW.BEEANDLEAF.COM (Guest sign in print)
- LUNABAZAAR. COM ( fans – Parasols)
- MISHKA DESIGNS ( hand painted Maracas made in Mexico)
- ZAPPOS.COM (shoes… I must have tried 20 pairs)
I encourage negotiations with resort and vendors….does not hurt to try to save a few bucks. As a retail buyer it is in my blood...just make sure you do your research and you have valid reasons why you should pay less. For example, there could be a resort promotions “Kids stay free book by x date”, so you can possibly get them to make an exception even if your wedding is not within their window.
Photographer, after choosing the resort this should be the #2 on your list. This was the one thing I delegated to my now husband, being a girl I was more concerned about my dress, venue, decorations. I cannot express how right he was when he said you cannot skim on a photographer. A really good photographer can even make a rainy day look like a piece of art work. Elizabeth Medina is every knowledgeable and knows all the resort she guided us, with out trying to influence us in any way. The resort love her because she is very respectful.
Our wedding is on Elizabeth Medina blog it has 2 parts (Icons).
Video: Let's just say this was another battle I lost and boy I am glad I did. The QUALITY versus price for what you get in Mexico was a chance of a lifetime. Elizabeth Medina suggested we use Tony Escalante. This is important so that they were in sync through out the day.
If you are looking to have a small romantic wedding on the beach, you are in luck as Mexico has tons of options. If you want something that is semi formal or formal, I want to assure you that it can happen. For destination you have to be organized and detailed oriented (if you want to save on wedding planner). Planning this type of wedding is like a “chain” and all links have to be organized. You are the bride and you are the main link. You need to be pro-active and remember that for the 6-9 months before you wedding are crucial, everything else can wait…you only get married once.
Also, an issue that came up a lot was security. I cannot speak for resort on Pacific of Mexico as I have not been there. In the Riviera Maya all inclusive are so safe, mainly because guest are not traveling with $$$, it is all inclusive. If you have concerns, then just limit excursions outside the resort.
One more thing...
When you get to resort you have to “let go”! You have to remember that people took vacation days, left kids at home, spent time traveling and incurred travel cost… all to be there to support you and share this special day with you.
Never be disrespectful to anyone, always remain a lady and keep your cool.
I only mention this because it rained poring thunder the 3 days before my wedding but, the night before my wedding I was the happiest person (Welcome dinner was great). I was going to bed next to the man of my dreams, my best friend. I was not going to let rain get in the way of that.
The next morning I woke up to clear skies & sunshine. I had the most beautiful wedding, which even included Sun Moon over my Chuppa at 5pm ( a bride the week before had rain and then she had a huge rainbow… mother nature, you have to love it).
I HAD MY DREAM WEDDING
PS. By the way all resort should have a good indoor plan, make sure you ask about that.