By ndvidul, · 1,515 Views · 9 Comments
Moon Palace Complimentary Beach Wedding
I had the wedding of my dreams!! And ALL for under $8,000 (including our flights & room stay for the wedding AND honeymoon - 9 nights). I share this personal info with you because it IS possible to not break the bank and still have one of the most beautiful days of your life exactly how you want it. This website SAVED me and helped me beyond measure. Thank you to everyone out there that takes the time to pay it forward on here. It’s my turn, now! I hope this review and my planning thread helps others have the wedding of their dreams! Enjoy!
Host Resort: Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort
Room Block: Sunrise Side
Wedding Date/Time: Saturday, February 18, 2012 / 4:00pm
Miami Coordinator – Geraldine Flores
On-Site Wedding Coordinator – Claudia Fonesca
Wedding Package - Complimentary / Symbolic
Number of Guests: 18, including Bride & Groom
Number of Bookings: 46
Welcome Dinner: Los Caporales (Nizuc Side) Friday, February 17, 2012 / 7pm
Ceremony Site: Tucan Beach
Officiant: Provided our own
Photographer: Octavio Montes
Cocktail Hour: Tucan Terrace (next to the Tucan Beach), 5:00 - 6:00pm
Reception Dinner: El Caribeno (Grand Side), 6:00 - 8:00pm
Wedding Package: Complimentary / Symbolic
We chose the complimentary package because we wanted to bring in our own photographer, and we wanted to customize the decorations. We chose to get married in the U.S. first because my 90 year old Granny would not be able to fly to Cancun to join us - and she is one of the most important people in the world to me. Plus, we saved hundreds of dollars of extra fees in not having a Civil Ceremony in Mexico.
Here’s how we customized our wedding (yes, I did a LOT of planning!):
Horse and Carriage: $136
Flowers: DIY $160. Used complimentary groom boutonniere to give to groom’s father during ceremony.
Bride manicure/pedicure - Free with 7 nights booking
Groom manicure/pedicure - Free with 7 nights booking
Bride’s hair/make-up trial: Free using $165 RESORT CREDIT
Bride’s hair/make-up: Free using $155 RESORT CREDIT
Octavio Montes Photography for 3 hours wedding day + Trash the Dress: $1300
Bride & Groom Attire Steaming - $130 ($65 each)
Decorations: (see pics below)
Decoration Set-up Fees for wedding, cocktail hour, & reception: $195 ($65 each event)
Ceremony Chair Decorations: Zuniga $60
Seashells for aisle: Zuniga $175
Crystal Curtain for Huppah: Zuniga $75
Petals for tossing: Moon Palace $70 (2 bags, $35 ea)
Ring starfish: Zuniga - $15
Vase for parent’s roses: Zuniga - $5
Shells to decorate Judge’s Table & Guest Book Table: Zuniga $10
Ceremony programs: DIY $57
Guest Book Table: Moon Palace - Free (cocktail table)
Guest Book Table Decorations: DIY
He/She Frame $11
Frame of Us $5
Time Capsule Guest Book $67
Chest with Shells for blessing $19
Judges Table: Moon Palace - Free
Judges Table Frame of us: DIY $5
Shepherd’s hooks & basket for cocktail hour: $50
Centerpieces for cocktail hour & dinner: $106
Disposable Cameras: $30
Cake table decorations: Free - used roses from complimentary bouquet & decorations from
cocktail hour/ceremony to decorate table. We brought our own cake cutting set.
Overall Experience: A-
It’s difficult to plan a destination wedding where you’ve never been to the resort and you’re asking your friends and family to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to join you for your special day. I wanted to pick a resort where all my guests felt like they received their money’s worth and where I wouldn’t have to worry about a single thing on our wedding day. I’m happy to say that Moon Palace succeeded here!
All my guests had a BLAST and loved Moon Palace. The service was fantastic, we loved the food, and the drinks were indeed top shelf and very tasty. Since my parents are members, all of our party got to enjoy the perks of having the black bracelets, so we could go to the VIP beach area, which we frequented daily!
The only thing that was disappointing was the water. The beach area is beautiful with fine, whitish sand. But the water has a lot of seaweed and is super rocky and hard to walk on. The color isn’t as beautiful as the water near the downtown resorts either. But this wasn’t a big deal to us since we didn’t really go in the water - we just sunbathed on the beach!
We tried almost all of the restaurants except for El Bambu. Our favorite dinner restaurants were Arrecifes, La Trattoria, and El Caribeno. The chicken, flank steak, and turkey at Arrecifes is some of the best I’ve EVER had. If you go to the golf course to eat, make sure you wear bug spray!!! We were totally eaten up by mosquitoes.
Overall, we loved our experience so much that we’re planning to come back for our 1st anniversary.
Miami Office: C
I used email as the main way to communicate with my Miami coordinator. It seemed to take a long time to receive a reply. So, when I emailed questions, I emailed a whole BUNCH of them. Eventually, there were questions that Miami couldn’t answer, so they forwarded my questions to a bunch of Moon Palace representatives. One time, they put me in contact with my on-site coordinator, about 6 months away from the wedding. So, that was a plus that I got to be in contact with her before the 90 day mark. I’m not pleased with the service of Miami, but I hear they are revamping this aspect of the wedding planning. I hope so! I highly recommend asking a bunch of questions at once in order to get anywhere with planning ahead.
On-Site Wedding Coordinator: A-
My wedding coordinator was overall quick to respond to my emails unless she was out of the office, which seemed to be quite a bit. I was impressed with how much we were able to plan over email before we arrived at the resort, and she was really helpful. She even helped me get our reception dinner reservation for El Caribeno, which normally doesn’t do reservations for our size party - 18 people. I really liked having Claudia as our coordinator and would really recommend her.
I’ve travelled the world quite a bit, so I wasn’t really worried about travel at all. The only thing I was nervous about was all of the DIY decorations I was bringing into Mexico - a huge suitcase full. Luckily, when it came time for customs, my husband-to-be got a green light. So, none of his suitcases, including the DIY suitcase, needed to be checked. I was the one who got a red light, and it took them only a couple of minutes to do a very cursory search of my bags. And then, we were ready to find our shuttle!
Shuttle service was easy. We arranged it ahead of time through the link Moon Palace gave us when we arranged a room block for our guests to book. (They gave us our own website link for us and our guests to book, and it worked out really well.) Ours was complimentary since we stayed more than 7 nights. The ride was only like 10 minutes to the resort.
Loved check-in! We got yummy champagne, and the bellman service was exquisite - very friendly and helpful. The walk was long to the rooms, but only because the bellman have to go a special way with the carts.
When we arrived, we had a honeymoon cake and champagne in our room waiting for us. The cake was AMAZING. I think it was Tres Leches with Chantilly icing? Whatever it was, I highly recommend finding out what it is and having that for your wedding cake. J
The rooms have tile floors, flat screen TVs, big Jacuzzis, and a nice patio. We stayed on the sunrise section, and our guests got rooms with hammocks on their patio. We were assigned a corner room, so we didn’t luck out with a hammock. After the wedding, we relocated to a beachfront room on the Nizuc side, since we didn’t have a great view of the ocean, either. I was really impressed with the rooms! They felt clean and great quality.
Room service was AWESOME! We did breakfast often, and it always came with yummy extras. The fajitas are some of the best we’ve EVER had. Highly recommend this.
Overall, I’m really happy we picked the Sunrise section for our guests. The Grand side seemed absolutely deserted, and the Nizuc side didn’t seem as lively and fun.
OOT Bag Delivery: C
I spent a LOT of time on our OOT bags. And the day we arrived, we had 3 other rooms arriving later that day. We went down to Guest Services to arrange the bag delivery to their rooms, and this went totally smoothly. I think we paid about $2.50 a bag for this service. However, the next day, when we came to the SAME desk to have the bags delivered, it ended up being $3 a bag, and the bags weren’t delivered on time or to the right people. This second time, they said it had to go through our coordinator, whereas we didn’t hear anything about that the first time. I’m not sure what makes the process work, but I’d be adamant that everything work out smoothly if you’ve spent a lot of time making these for your guests.
Resort Credits: B
Salon: I was happy that we didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket for my hair or make-up for the wedding and that we were able to use the resort credits for this. I was happy how my mani/pedi turned out, and my bridesmaids were, too. However, my groom’s feet were cut when she sanded his feet, so he wasn’t too happy about this. See below about my Hair & Make-up.
Tours: We didn’t do any tours except for the Dolphin Swim at Wet N’ Wild, and we stayed at Wet N’ Wild for a bit. The Dolphin Swim was a lot of fun!! I’d really recommend it. My Mom went on the tour to Chichen Itza, and it was ALL DAY… they ended up coming back around 8pm. Her friend wasn’t thrilled about the tour, but she seemed to like it.
Chef’s Dinner: We liked this. The food was yummy, and it was a fun experience. It felt like you were at a wedding reception or on a cruise in that you sat at banquet tables and got to meet other people. We’d do this again.
Tequila: We ended up spending $10 and some resort credit to bring some home. Haven’t tried it yet!
Jewelry/Sunglasses: We didn’t spend any money here. It seemed like such a rip-off to me. All of the jewelry worth spending money on was so expensive. And we didn’t like how the sunglasses looked on us.
Golf: My fiancé played a round of golf and the course was pretty! He had a great time. He even saw an alligator in the water!
Coordinator Meeting: A+
Our meeting was short and sweet. I had already emailed her all of the details 2 months prior, so it was just reviewing them in person. Plus, I covered her whole desk with all of my DIY décor! I left feeling utterly confident that everything would go perfectly.
WELCOME DINNER: A
We had ours at Los Caporales - the Mexican restaurant near El Arrecifes on the Nizuc side. I chose this restaurant for the fun atmosphere, and I thought it was appropriate to welcome my guests with Mexican cuisine. I am so glad I chose it here! We didn’t have a reservation, and they scooted 2 tables together for all 18 of us. This went very smoothly. The food was excellent, and we had a great time with the mariachi band (they even played my fave mariachi song year-round: Feliz Navidad, and were great sports about it!)… and dressing up in the clothes at the front of the restaurant. Tip: Order the Mayan Coffee - the way they make it is so much fun (think alcohol lit on fire)! J
STEAMING SERVICE: C
My dress looked great. But it smelled FOUL. When I opened the bag, it literally smelt like I was about to dissect a dead animal. We aired it out all night, but it still smelt a little on my wedding day. My advice - bring febreeze (and maybe your own steamer?). My husband’s suit didn’t smell, so I don’t know why mine did!
Hair & Make-up: A+
Alberto did my hair and makeup in the Sunrise salon (although his name is different on my receipt). He has been working there for 10 years, I think. I highly recommend doing a trial of both hair and makeup. He was glad we did this as well, as my hair and makeup looked even BETTER on the wedding day, and I was very pleased with the trial. He applied my fake eyelashes very well, too! My maid of honor even loved their foundation so much she wanted to buy it. I brought my own foundation kit though from Make-up Forever, plus my own mascara. I would also recommend bringing your own lipstick, as this was the only part I didn’t really care for. I would really recommend Alberto! I hope these pics give you an idea of his work:
OVERALL WEDDING: A++
I didn’t want to have to worry about a THING the day of the wedding, and I didn’t!! Everything was as we discussed and BETTER than I expected. Zuniga’s decorations turned out beautifully, Claudia laid things out as I wanted, and they even added extras that I didn’t even think about - like extra shells to our cake table, etc.
The only thing that was a little disappointed about was my procession music. I chose to have one long song instead of a couple of songs, and the timing for my carriage was too soon. BUT it wasn’t a big deal to me. It was pretty close. My recommendation - be SUPER clear when the carriage should arrive if you choose one song. Even better if you want a special song for your entrance! LOVE the horse and carriage, by the way. It was a really special time for my Mom and I. They take you a long route, and you get to ride around the resort a bit and feel like a princess.
It was really windy that day, and instead of putting my petal cone holders in the sand, like I wanted, Claudia thought it best to keep them in a basket and pass them out at the end of the ceremony. I’m really glad she thought ahead for this - it worked out really well. I really recommend their petals for tossing - they’re cheap and beautiful.
P.S. Make sure in your bridal kit to include scissors! We needed them several times while getting ready and didn’t have any!
COCKTAIL HOUR: ??
There’s question marks here because I have NO idea how anything was for this! We were taking pictures almost the entire time. I have a feeling though that it was kind of awkward. I think this is because we didn’t have any music going on. So, people just ate, drank, and watched us take pictures since the cocktail terrace was RIGHT by our wedding site. And people didn’t stay too long until they ventured to our reception dinner location (above the restaurant is a beautiful bar terrace). I haven’t heard about the cocktail food either way, but we ordered the Superior hors d’oeuvres. I think if we had music, it would have been a lot better. But we decided against it for cost. Advice: definitely don’t skip on the music!
RECEPTION DINNER: A+
The service was so special and fantastic. We had 3 people looking after us, and the manager checked in every so often. They gave us our own special bride and groom table and cake table, and our guests sat at 2 separate big tables. The décor turned out great. And the food was fantastic! I loved the atmosphere of El Caribeno. Our dinner began at 6, and hardly anyone was in the restaurant, so it seemed private. We also had it on the raised section of the restaurant, and it really felt like a private party. They had special champagne for us when we arrived with cherries in, in addition to champagne for our toasts. Our guests really seemed to have a great time. We went upstairs afterwards to the Roof Top Bar for the bouquet and garter toss.
Side note - I was great at remembering to wear sunscreen and be conscious of not getting sunburnt before the wedding. However, I neglected to remind my groom to do the same! And his forehead really got burned - the whole time during the reception he felt like it was on fire! So... remind your groom, too! ;)
The presentation was great, but I wasn’t too fond of the flavor, and I’m a dessert person! Again, I’d really recommend the sort of cake they give for the honeymoon cake. I think it was tres leches with chantilly icing. If you want them to use your complimentary bouquet to decorate the cake, I’d bring pictures for that. I requested this, and it turned out a lot different than I expected - and I think that was my fault for not providing any pictures. I brought pictures for the décor setup I wanted, and they did that perfectly.
PHOTOGRAPHER: A (Octavio Montes)
Octavio was great! His communication before the big day was fantastic He returned my emails quickly and answered my questions. I even gave him a list of photos I wanted, and he printed it and brought it with him. He arrived early to set up at the ceremony site and arrived at our bridal suite on time. I’m REALLY happy with the pictures we have from him! I was nervous since his prices were a ton lower than his competitors, but I would have every confidence in recommending him. Our favorite pictures were from Trash the Dress (below). Octavio was professional, creative, dedicated, and all at a great value!
JEWELRY DESIGNER: A+++! (Red-I By Chelsea)
Working with Chelsea was one of the most stress-free, fun parts of my wedding planning. The quality of her work is stunning. I’ve received SO many compliments on the earrings, bracelet, and foot jewelry I ordered from her. She made my pieces in record time and shipped them with such care and personalization, too. I didn’t even need to wrap my bridesmaid’s foot jewelry because she’d packaged them so beautifully! I can’t wait to order more jewelry from her for the next time I travel! HIGHLY recommended!!!
TRASH THE DRESS OVERALL:
For my Trash the Dress, I wore my same wedding dress and accessories. Octavio Montes was our photographer, and Styling Trio Riveria Maya did my hair and make-up.
Octavio impressed me even MORE for our TTD. Not only did he pick us up at our hotel and drive us AND drive two people for my hair & make-up, he also paid for us to get into the cenote, and he took us to a beach nearby afterwards. AND he even got in the water with his bathing suit on and his camera in order to get good shots (his camera wasn’t waterproof).
Styling Trio Riviera Maya did great work. Although they arrived about 20 minutes late to our hotel room (they said Moon Palace was making it hard for them to enter), they did beautiful work in even less time. Adrian did my make-up, while his partner worked on my hair. They use airbrushing, and my make-up was totally waterproof. (Again, I had fake eyelashes.) I was extremely happy with their work. They even came with us during the photo shoot in order to do touch-ups and were great sports about everything! I would really recommend them.
Overall tip - remember to bring a change of clothes and towels!! God bless Octavio - we totally forgot, and he drove us all the way back to Moon Palace in our soaking sandy clothes! Also, make sure you’ve arranged with the front desk ahead of time to allow your outside vendors… this way, they can make it on time to your room.