By MarryMeMexico, · 900 Views · 4 Comments
Hello! My groom- no, husband!- and I just returned from Dreams Riviera Cancun for our wedding and it was PERFECT. The roller coaster ride of wedding planning included some excitement, nervousness, aggravation and anxiety; in the end, everything was perfect and in the days since my wedding, I have said several times like a broken record: there is absolutely NOTHING I would have changed! The day, the resort, and the wedding was perfect. I'll tell you all about it!
Location: Dreams Riviera Cancun
Wedding Package: Dreams of Love
Travel Dates: 3/24/12-3/31/12
Wedding Date: 3/26/12 @ 5 PM
Wedding Ceremony Location: BEACH!
Ceremony Type: Symbolic (so we didn't have to arrive in advance, do blood-work, etc.)
Reception Location: BEACH!
Room Category Booked: Preferred Club Ocean View w/ Jacuzzi ($3400 total for 2 people, 7 nights booked approx 6 months in advance- AAA discount of 10% applied, additional discount of $1000 for other guests in our group booking rooms through Dreams group package discounts, so total of $2400 for Honeymoon Suite for 7 nights during peak spring-break season...not bad!)
Room Category Upgrade (FREE w/ Package): Honeymoon Suite- Room 1501
Color Scheme: Black/White/Orange (only after originally purchasing for a Green & White wedding...)
FIRST: Wedding Planning w/ Dreams
I originally emailed to see if my date was available and Ana became my coordinator. She was cordial, but hard to reach. Sometimes it would take her several days to respond to me. Then, all of a sudden one day, an email came from one "Evangelina" stating that she was to be my new wedding planner and asking me to let her know what my selections were. I panicked- did they not have any of my info? Luckily for me, everything I picked was still set for my day (March 26th, 2012.) I wanted to get married AND have my reception on the beach and it was "no problemo!" Soon after, ANOTHER wedding planner emailed me stating that she was taking over- this time, it was Yamina. She was just as nice as the other two but again I panicked, because this email came only a few months prior to my wedding and I worried that they didn't have me on the books. Yamina reassured me everything was fine and we emailed back and forth up until my day. She progressively got better at responding as my date drew nearer, and eventually she was emailing me back the same day (a couple of weeks prior to my wedding, that is!) However, I had to ask lots of questions- there was not a 'checklist' for planning my day and as things occurred to me (such as, how do we rehearse? Is there a rehearsal dinner? Do we bring sand or a candle?) Luckily, she was responsive close to my arrival and we got everything hammered out. There were times, though, 9-12 months out from my wedding, that responses would take weeks and it was extremely frustrating!
Wedding Planning on MY OWN:
I bought my dress at the Nordstrom bridal suite and they treated me like a queen. Recommend it. They also dressed the moms and my Groom. Other bridal shops were excessively pricey for the type of dress I was looking for (think: beach casual, not beach princess, but still long and flowy.) Groomsmen wore Tommy Bahama embroidered shirts (photo below) and bridesmaids picked their dresses from Banana Republic- WAY cheaper than a chiffon dress of my choice that they'd never wear again but hey, it's up to the bride! I flip-flopped on my color scheme about ten times prior to my wedding, ordering two sets of chair sashes when I changed my mind! Yes, the resort WILL let you bring your own decor- just ASK them how much certain things will cost. Originally I was thinking of a colored carpet to walk down, and colored fabric on the gazebo (beach wedding comes with a Chuppah and white fabric decor, white carpet aisle.) I was told it'd be over $200 for them to decorate with different colored fabric- so I said NO WAY and stuck with white. I planned to dress the chairs up with colored bows instead. The resort was going to charge me $5 a piece so I found a bundle of 25 on Amazon for $18 total, free shipping. Better deal (and like I said, I have two color sets because I was so indecisive!) I decided the week of my wedding I also wanted colored table runners for the reception and luminaries as table decor, but shipping transit times were not going to be practical so I told Yamina the runner color that I wanted and she made it happen, for $20. Not a bad deal. I went without luminaries, but was at Big Lots picking up sunscreen the DAY BEFORE I was supposed to leave for our wedding, and they had HUGE baskets of starfish (not tacky looking, surprisingly!) so I bought two of them to bring along for table decor at the reception. The wedding came with seashells along the aisle and I used the bridal bouquet that came with my DREAMS OF LOVE package in exchange for a centerpiece to use during the ceremony (since I made a brooch bouquet at home ahead of time using family heirlooms.) Again, exchanging things was no problem, just make sure you ask and clarify if there is a cost or not. Some things they were not flexible on but with a little courteous prodding I was able to get the perfect package. I got my bridesmaid's flowers from The Wedding Petal shop on Etsy, she sent me photo proofs and tweaked until my heart was content but after getting them, and having already made my own brooch bouquet from scratch, I wondered if I could have done it myself for less expense (the answer is yes.) She also sent me an unexpected hair piece, which I wouldn't have picked out but wound up wearing on wedding day! So if you aren't into DIY I recommend combing through Etsy for some fun stuff.
CEREMONY & RECEPTION: We chose to get married on the beach, and not on the pool deck under the gazebo. After viewing SEVERAL weddings during our week there, we couldn't be happier with our choice. We were accidentally in the middle of a pool-deck gazebo wedding our first day there, in our swimming suits and pushing our stroller through someone's wedding procession- it's in the thick of things, right on the pool deck, and we didn't even notice we were in the way (PS I feel terrible about it! But we weren't the only ones who walked through.) Other people were tanning in pool chairs and gawking while weddings were going on all week long, so it's just a matter of what your preferences are and what you get worked up about, personally I wouldn't have been thrilled about that but the pool deck weddings were undoubtedly beautiful also and some people don't want to be in the sand. Again, the weddings were absolutely gorgeous, but don't have any illusions about the level of privacy. You don't see it in the pictures, but it is not secluded AT ALL. They make people who are in the way move, however, but still there are tanners and families all around and plenty of people to witness your special moment. For our day, the wind was non-existent (okay, there was a small breeze) so blowing sand was not an issue for our beach wedding but I can see where others may be concerned about that. It's all up to the experience you want to have, we loved the beach and knew we wanted to be married with our toes in the sand, and it was a surprise bonus that it was totally secluded down there (North Beach wedding, South Beach reception for those of you looking at planning.) They decorated some tables in the beach area for the cocktail hour after the wedding, served champagne when we got down the aisle, and lined the procession aisle with huge conch seashells and starfish. It was more perfect than I could have pictured.
We had a 'soundsystem' for the ceremony (a technician pushed play on our iPod basically) and we walked down the aisle to 'This Must be the Place' by the Talking Heads. The long instrumental in the beginning was enough to get the 4 bridesmaids and groomsmen down the aisle, and just as I was walking down the chorus started. It was absolutely amazing, sound quality was perfect, and it wasn't too noisy or too quiet. They played Grateful Dead's 'Scarlet Begonias' at the kiss and as we walked back down the aisle, and that was also perfect. I was hesitant about paying $180 for the ceremony sound (that's the going rate per hour, so we basically paid $90 each for 2 songs!) but I was glad we did it, it really set the moment for us. We also only paid for one hour of soundsystem for the reception, and had our guests bring their iPhones and iPod's down with playlists. They wound up staying for 3 hours (without us paying extra!) I think they were enjoying our party enough to stay, we had some outrageous and inappropriate music and our group was fun. Maybe that's why they stayed, who knows!
We also had the buffet. Not on purpose- apparently you only get that if you have 40+ people, but Yamina said that it works better for beach receptions and we weren't opposed. We had 24 people in attendance, and chose the Caribbean buffet. It was sensational- seriously, one of the best meals of the week- and EVERYONE raved. We opted for a 2-tier wedding cake (stupid for 24 people!) and it was a mistake- the cake was great but the buffet came with dessert so people were just eating that, and I don't think anyone even noticed we had cake until my husband shoved it in my face! We bought a plain white, upright starfish cake topper from Amazon for $30 and literally it was on the cake for 30 seconds (the cake was brought out- wasn't at our ceremony the whole time- and as soon it was brought out we cut it. If you wanted the timing differently you could probably ask, for us it didn't matter but we were remiss that we paid $180 to 'upgrade' a cake that nobody ate- or noticed.)
PHOTOGRAPHY: Since the Love package included only 36 wedding photos, we were in a pinch. To upgrade to a better package with what we wanted (including more photos), it was going to be $1000+... I was very upset about this because it would stand to reason that you'd just pay the difference, but I guess that the resort holds the trump card here. So, I found Photos In Cancun (via this blog) and decided to reach out. I got a great price on a package, paid less than I would have through the resort and got unlimited photos. Now I just had to figure out how to use the photos in my package, since the resort wouldn't give me credit for something else in my wedding package. I worked with Yamina, and she allowed me to have Adventure Photo take family photos on a separate day in lieu of using the photographer for my wedding. I told her that Derek and Lorena, the photographers for Photos In Cancun, were friends and guests at my wedding who would be using day passes and taking photos. There are no restrictions on guests bringing photo equipment, so I paid their day fees and we were all set. Adventure Photos did an excellent job of taking photos later on during our session and I was SUPER pleased, but there was no way I was willing to pony up and pay for the package that I wanted through them. I wouldn't recommend this solution for everyone, though, because on the day of the wedding the front desk said they were full and not giving out any more day passes, and I almost didn't get my photographers in! I had to work with Yamina to have her personally get them in. It was scary, I thought for a moment there that I'd have no wedding photos.
TRAVELING: I worked with a travel agent to a very small extent- she only helped a couple of my guests, but the rest found great deals through Travelocity or Orbitz at the last minute. My family and I booked through the resort directly, since it was too far in advance for other discount websites and we wanted to take advantage of the AAA discount. There were no problems at check-in for anyone, and since we all had rooms in different categories we weren't 'together' anyway (but the resort is surprisingly small, so walking from one building to the next to connect with guests was a breeze.) Bringing much of my own decor was no problem either- my husband and I had 6 suitcases between the two of us (YIKES!) and we paid dearly for the bags on US Airways, but there was no issue in customs. Part of the reason our bags were so full was because we brought OOT (out of town) bags for our guests that included customized tumblers, tote bags, sunscreens, etc. My groom also contributed to the baggage, as he insisted on having these huge bubba keg cups for his guys (since he thought the tumblers were girly.) So our bags were mostly cups! We survived, paid the fees, and flowers and cups alike made it to Mexico with no problems or damages.
SALON: I had hair appointments for all of my bridesmaids. My hair and makeup came with my package. I was super pleased with everything; none of us knew what we wanted going in, so we all just looked at photobooks. It was kind of funny, because two of my bridesmaids picked the exact same hair-do (it was the "Carrie Underwood," in case you were wondering) and it looked totally different on each of them. But all of us looked great! I put some of my own makeup on back in the room (lip-gloss, extra eyeshadow since theirs was pretty matte and I wanted a little more of a 'beach look.) The products they used were mostly some off-brand, which wasn't a huge deal but I had just gone out and bought a ton of stuff for the big event and was a little bummed that the products they used weren't slightly better. I think they used a MAC blush and that was the only thing I recognized. My skin is SUPER sensitive and I break out easily, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered taking notice of the products, but I suspect that some brides may be wondering. I brought my Clarisonic with to Mexico and managed to avoid a humidity-and-alcohol related breakout while on vacation, so if you're thinking of something to bring that will help you then I recommend that FOR SURE.
That's it for my review! If you're doing research on the hotel, be sure to check Trip Advisor. The place was great, food AMAZING and beach was perfect and never crowded (not bad for a "spring break" week!) I'll be sure to post more pictures, for some reason I think I have maxed out here because none are going up but I will post links to slideshows when available. Let me know if you have any questions!