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Barcelo Maya Palace
March 28, 2012
Ceremony at Coral Beach 3:00
Reception at Playa Azul 6:00-11:00
Photography: Gonzalo Nunez http://www.gonzalonunez.com/
Hair and Make Up: Styling Trio (Adrian and Cristian) http://www.stylingtriorivieramaya.com/
DJ: Discomovil http://www.discomovilcancun.com/
Catamaran: Catayama www.catamaya.net/
Real Touch Flowers: My bouquet: Enchanting Memories http://enchantingmemoriesstore.com
Bridesmaids/Flower Girl: DIY made with flowers bought from another bride originally www.afloral.com
Hope you have a coffee and a comfy spot to get through this review. I was able to get a lot of info from here and wanted to give a detailed review on the resort and vendors I used. These aren't our pro pics with the exception of the TTD ones.
SUNDAY March 25- We had 76 people mostly from Edmonton, some from Calgary and a few from all over. We flew Transat and it was uneventful. We brought an extra 6 suitcases and 2 boxes for OOT bags and decorations that were spread out amongst our guests to take down. With so many guests, 80 of anything is a lot. The raffia fans took up one whole box. We sent 100 mugs from discountmugs.com to our friends in Florida who brought them down for us. I also sent some packages to my sister in NYC to bring down for me (including 50 sky lanterns that the resort no longer allows but failed to let me know).
Dress went up in an overhead compartment as other brides had stated. FYI I had two wedding dresses both are replicas from babyonline from DHgate and his suit, both dads' suits and both brothers' suits were from StudioSuits.com. Arrived at 2:00pm and got through customs pretty quick. They had a private transfer for 45 of us from Edmonton and we were able to add the Calgary people who had arrived at the same time. A couple people got the red light but they were let go when they said it was wedding stuff. One guest didn't get his suitcase for 30 minutes after everybody else but other than that, we were quick. They had water and coronas for purchase on the bus. Ride to the resort was about an hour and we arrived just after 4pm.
Considering there were quite a few of us checking in, it wasn't too bad. Didn't get any perks for being the wedding couple. For Transat brides who purchase the wedding package through them, you do not get Club Premium perks. We tipped the bell boys to make sure we got our suitcases right away so we could get the OOT bags ready. We were disappointed our room was on the second floor but soon realized we were closest to the lobby and pools out of all our guests. Even though they tried to group us together in the same building, the resort is HUGE and it was a trek for some of our guests.
Room was nice and clean. Bathrooms are big with double sinks. Love the rain shower. We received a fruit platter and bottle of tequila in our room. Our ceiling fan didn't work but maintenance fixed it right away. When we got back from dinner that night there was champagne and chocolate covered strawberries - received that a few nights throughout our stay. For Transat guests we got pool towels in the room and didn't have to worry about towel cards. It was nice to get as many towels as you wanted. Also, we got 15% off spa treatments. Make sure you let them know cause there are so many different bracelets for them to keep track of.
We were on a tight schedule and by the time we got to my parents' room it was 5:00 and we still needed to unpack and organize OOT bags for 80 people!.
Welcome Dinner at 6:30- We had a welcome white night and had all our guests dressed in white. The hotel sectioned off part of the buffet for us. It was a really good idea to have everybody in white because you could tell who was part of our group. We ended up at the Carey bar in the lobby afterwards. In hindsight, I wish we would've done the welcome dinner on Monday night. We thought people would want to party it up, but most were tired from all the traveling.
MONDAY March 26- met with our WC Lillian who was awesome and super organized considering we showed up with 5 suitcases of decorations. She always answered emails within a few days. We booked the Euphoria package through Transat back home for $1500 that included 24 guests vs. Strawberry Passion package at $3500 for 15 guests. The resort really nickles and dimes you for extras. Paid an extra $20 for each extra adult, $27.50 for every single adult for beach reception. Kids got chicken fingers and fries for free. Euphoria only includes three courses and 2 hour reception but has a cocktail hour. We substituted the cocktail hour for an extra hour at the reception and a soup course. I had previously inquired about a free cocktail hour for bringing so many people. She said yes they have given free cocktail hours but usually for Strawberry Passion packages but she was willing to give us an extra hour at the reception. Done. Saved us almost $1000. We paid for one extra hour with appetizers at $14.50/adult and they served mexican appetizers at 10pm. Added the huppa with the flowers $400 (the flowers were reused as head table centerpieces) and because I brought my own bouquet, just asked them to place the resort bouquet on the ceremony table. Didn't get extra centerpieces just used the fruit ones with the hurricane lamp and it looked great. Confirmed hair and makeup for my mom at the salon. I hired Adrian to do my hair and makeup.
We went through the spreadsheet, finalized food and cake, and confirmed location. We opened each suitcase and went through the decorations and how I wanted it laid out. Nothing I asked was refused or questioned (except sky lanterns) and we brought a lot. While she was getting our receipt written out, we went next door to Kodak to pay our $300 for outside photography (which is now $500 from what I hear). With our Transat package we still got their photographer for 30 minutes and 24 prints which we just let them choose. They had those pictures ready 4 days later. I asked Lillian to tell the Kodak photographer to please not get in the way of our other photographers, and he was pretty good about it. I've read about their photographers deliberately getting into outside photographers shots. But you could tell he did not stay one minute more than he was supposed to. He only shot up until the exchange of rings and bolted. We did end up paying $150 for digital copies of all the pictures he took (appx 200) on a cd.
Lillian then took us on the golf cart to see our ceremony and reception locations. Coral beach did not look big enough for 80 people for our ceremony but she assured me it was ok. It looks over the rocky part of the beach and is not right up to the ocean which was still beautiful. Playa Azul is spectacular. Secluded, soft sand, close to the ocean. Then we went up to the front desk to pay. We also scheduled a quick rehearsal on Tuesday at 1:00. You have to ask for it. She said the rehearsal would be 15 minutes but would give us a general idea of what to do and where to stand. The whole meeting with Lillian took appx 2 hours.
Adrian and Cristian came to do my hair and makeup trial at 4:00. Showed Cristian a picture of the hair I wanted and it was perfect but we really struggled with the makeup because the colors weren't quite right. We later figure out that he should use some of my personal eyeshadow colors. After an hour and a half, he insisted that it would be perfect for the wedding day. Cristian redid my hair so it looked different for dinner.
FAMILY DINNER: French restaurant at 6:00 - Lillian set this up. They had two tables of ten for us and we had to have a set menu. She sent me two different menus a few weeks prior and I mixed and matched between the two menus. Shrimp salad - which is just 4 deep fried shrimp with some greens, french onion soup, choice of filet or sea bass and scallops and creme brulee. Service was good and very prompt. They also brought out a special dessert and serenaded us with some sombreros.
JAGUARS - went to the resort disco that night. Didn't go again. We were there for a whole 30 min. It was spring break so lots of young drunk obnoxious kids. Most of us are all in our 30s and love to party, but felt very out of place. Music was too loud, drinks weren't very good and most of the kids were very rude. The bus ride to and from was more exciting for the 30 of us that went. I'm glad we went though, as that was our plan after the wedding.
TUESDAY: Catamaya Catamaran Cruise - 3:00-7:00 we chartered this for our guests as a thank you and 51 of our guests came. Most guests that did not come had small children. One of our friends got really sea sick and spent most of the trip on top of the boat. I researched a few companies, some were cheaper, most were more expensive. Some did not have big enough boats (we could've had up to 100) or their communication was not great. We were able to finalize numbers the day before through email.
They provided transportation and sent one bus and two vans to take us to Puerto Aventuras 10 minutes away. Sailed for an hour, snorkeled for 45 minutes then had dinner and sailed back. Had steak or lobster (very small lobster tail) or burger dinner with some salads. Unlimited beer and booze. And we were able to hook up out iPod to play music. The water was a little rough that day but it was a great time.
WEDNESDAY March 28 wedding day! I stayed with my sister the night before and got up and had breakfast with my family. My fiancé was supposed to get a courtesy room from 9-3 (Transat pkg) but had a little bit of difficulty. He went and got Lillian and she sorted it out and he had keys by 10. His room ended up being directly across from us and there were a few times we almost saw each other and I was pushed into walls by my bridesmaids lol.
We rented a golf cart for the $85/day as we have some guests with mobility issues.
Adrian and his team showed up at 11. There were 4 of them. Then Gonzalo and his assistant at 12. And right after Mediamorfosis showed up with their team of 3. With the groomsmen coming in and out to grab things my fiance had left behind, my three bridesmaids, and later on my dad, niece (flowergirl) and her mom, it was a zoo but never felt cramped. I'm glad all the rooms are junior suites. My mom had her hair and makeup done at the resort. It was a disaster. I barely recognized her. I know other brides have had positive experiences, but beware. Our hair and makeup looked flawless, but it was pretty windy that day and some of our hair didn't hold up the whole night.
I didn't realize how much time would be needed to do some posed shots for photography and videography would be needed so all the "extra" time I thought I had quickly disappeared. But other than that, you really didn't notice them after awhile. I had all wedding related things for them on the table for them to shoot. Bouquets, shoes, garter, rings, invitations and my two dresses that they took around to shoot.
We got to the gazebo and started right away. The huppa with the flowers was just beautiful. The resort bouquet was in a vase and was small, a few liles and maybe 6 roses so Transat brides, you may want to upgrade. With the package we got 8 boutineers but I substituted it for 4 bags of rose petals -wasn't very much or they may have blown away. Everything was laid out beautifully. Raffia fans with programs, parasols in the aisle, bubbles and years of joy packets on a table. It was windy and most of the shots, my veil is draped in the front of my dress but it still looked beautiful. Here are some Kodak pics:
We had music on our iPod and the sound system was great. My brother officiated the ceremony and he was awesome. His sister did a hand blessing, we exchanged rings and did a sand ceremony. It was probably 20-25 minutes. Then we had a champagne toast and the paparazzi ran to the roof of the coral grill to take a group shot of us. It took a little while for them to get there and by this time it was done it was 4.
Afterwards, the family and wedding party went down to the rocky part below the ceremony to take some quick family shots (it was too hot and we wanted to get them out of the sun). Then we did some bridal party shots. It didn't seem like very much time though because I had to change into my second dress and get to the other end of the resort by 6.
A bus came to pick up our guests to take them to Playa Azul at 5:40 but everybody couldn't fit. The bus was supposed to come back but didn't. Groomsmen drove guests with the 8 person golf cart a couple times, there were still 10 of us left sitting in the lobby and we (bride and groom) were 20 minutes late. This was upsetting because we missed having any shots at sunset.
I thought playa azul was spectacular when I saw it the first time. Nothing compared to the setup for the reception. We brought lanterns to be strung from the palapa. Luminaries that were set up along the path and around our reception area. Maracas, menus, table numbers. We also had a few long tables set up. One with props for photos. One that had starfish escort cards, pashminas and flip flops for the ladies and our special hockey jersey customized with our name and wedding date that we used as our guestbook.
They had a podium set up for our MC. Discomovilcancun had the light up dancefloor but had some difficulty with the audiovisual equipment for the slideshow and took a little while to get it set up. We had pictures from the last few days and the wedding ceremony playing throughout dinner and our official slideshow after speeches. These aren't pro pics, but gives you an idea of what the area looks like. NOTE: Usually for smaller weddings, they set up everything under the palapa. This was perfect for us. We were steps away from the ocean.
Food was good. Not great, not terrible. We kept it simple. Ceaser salad- nice presentation, asparagus soup- he loved it, roasted chicken with portobello mushrooms on mash with some veg-surprisingly good, half baked chocolate cake-good. Then they also brought out a plate of mini squares, chocolate covered strawberries. One for each table. We got a 3 tier cake. 2 would've been fine but I liked the look of 3 tiers. Pineapple, coconut and chocolate. They left the top which was chocolate for us the next day (gross, stick with tropical flavors) the other two were delicious the guests were raving. I only tried one small bite of pineapple. Too busy!
Then we did our first dance with cold fireworks near the end-omg the best ever!!!! Father/daughter dance and mother/son dance and then the dj rocked it! It was pretty windy so nobody took the photo props that were hiding under some huge sombreros to keep them from flying away. I grabbed them off the table and passed them around. The dj also had some stuff too and it was amazing. Most of the boys were drinking and the bartenders were great. The rest of us made really good use of the dancefloor.
Apparently there were a couple of wedding crashers during the dance portion. My bridesmaid asked them to leave. I'm glad we were at the very end of the resort because I'm sure there would have been more had we had our reception at one of the other locations at the resort.
Having the golf cart was helpful for transporting back some parents with their young ones early. In the golf cart a roundtrip was appx 30 minutes. The resort bus does come by every 20 minutes or so, but it stops at every single stop and can take awhile to get to the other end.
The next morning our breakfast arrived at 9 (make sure to specify no salmon in the eggs if you don't like that) and we slept all day while it rained a little bit. The only time in two weeks we were there!
We picked up the leftover decorations a few days later and received our "gift" from the hotel which was a frame.
DJ -Discomovilcancun They were half the price of the resort. I know the light up dancefloor is a lot of money ($1200 through the resort but $600 through dj) And he rented us a generator for $200 as the hotel charges you $100/hour to use their electricity. The dancefloor really made it the focus of the party and looked awesome on the beach. It's really worth it to have a dj as he can feel the crowd. He cleared the dancefloor once with ACDC but quickly changed it. We gave them a list of important songs, must plays, and do not plays. They mixed it with their own and uploaded all of my husbands songs off his iPhone in like 15 seconds to make sure they didn't miss anything. Great guys.
Mediamorfosis: Videography- they were great. There were three of them and you really didn't notice them at all. They did ask us to do some poses for their video but it wasnt that much and they worked hard all day long. We will get a 4-5 minute highlight video and a 45 minute one with all the important stuff. We wont have the video for 9 months but their work is amazing. Check out their website or videos on Vimeo. Amazing.
Gonzalo Nunez- photography. Honestly words cannot express how much admiration, respect and gratitude I have for this man. We hired him for the wedding day and TTD and brought an assistant for both. He has such a calm demeanor but is so creative and fun. He blended in seamlessly and only forced us to take shots with our guests during the party because it had been too hot out earlier. He just said, grab some people and I will follow and shoot. My husband didn't like missing out on the partying but looking back now, it was really important to get shots with all the people that travelled to be with us.
He came back a few days later to pick us up for our TTD. What was supposed to be 4 hours ended up being 8. He kept getting inspiration for other shots and took all of my suggestions and requests without a complaint. He just kept going and going. We went to the Grande Cenote for our underwater shoot first. It was tough for me cause I don't swim very well and my dress did not allow me to dive or stay underwater. He was so patient and he posted a picture on his Facebook that is amazing! I accidentally removed the ring off my husbands finger in the cenote and they both went diving to find it. We then went to grab some tacos at a roadside restaurant. Really good! Then he gave us a quick tour of Tulum and then we went to the beach for some more shots. We brought some Mexican wrestling masks and got some action shots and then got some beach shots. I had wanted to do a sexy one at the cenote with just my bikini bottoms on but there wasn't enough time. But after the beach I was head to toe in sand. His assistant stripped me and I was standing there in my husbands suit jacket when he got the inspiration for our last shot. Walking into the ocean topless with my dress in tow. I can't wait to see all of his pictures!
His style is photo journalistic, his prices were a fraction of others, his email communication is quick, always responsive and he was just featured in a bridal magazine and appeared on TV. My husband now says he wishes we would've had a third day with him. Serious? The one who dreaded doing two days? Book him now before his prices go up. You won't regret it! Here are the two he posted on Facebook
DECORATIONS: Make sure you let your WC know what you want back. Lillian was pretty good about it, but we were missing our sand ceremony frame and some extra table runners we brought down and they tracked them down the next day. Also, we had bought a polaroid camera that mysteriously walked away. I think it may have been one of the wedding crashers so no big deal.
PREMIUM BOOZE: make sure you ask for booze by name. You're paying for it, so make it count otherwise they just serve you whatever local alcohol they have! We got hooked on Havana 7 and Bacardi Solaris rum mojitos
A LA CARTES: the French and show table at Kyoto at the Colonial was the best. Others complained they weren't able to get reservations, or only really early or late. We tipped the concierge $10 the first night and she was able to get us resos the whole two weeks we were there in the 6:00-8:00 range. The second week, there were 8 adults and 4 children and she just made us 3 resos of 4 and the restaurants usually had us have an adults table and kids table beside us. Ask for the mayan coffee. Some of the restaurants still do it. It's basically a special coffee made with liquer that is set on fire. The server has a cart and does a show for a few minutes.
ADULT POOL: You can reserve the cabanas at the adult pool for $10 for the day. There are only ten of them and they are a hot commodity. Show up by 8 or they are all gone and be sure to make friends with Uleses the bartender there. Pay for it then go have your breakfast.
ROMANTIC DINNER: It cost $290, but it was held at Coral Beach where we got married. We had our own personal server and a manager overseeing it. The lights were lit up, they set up the sound system, champagne, a four course meal and such great service. We weren't rushed and enjoyed our dinner. It was our one week anniversary lol. They also made me close my eyes and gave my husband a dozen roses to give to me. When we got back to our room, champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and rose petals in a heart shape. Well worth the money.
DRY CLEANING: Get your dress dry cleaned at the hotel. I sent it away and had it back in 24 hours and the best part? 130 pesos. If you trash your dress, run the tub and let the dress soak. The sand will sink and then you can let it dry and/or have it cleaned.
CHECK OUT:the night before you leave, clear your tab with the hotel at the front desk. Then the next day, when you are ready to go, head down to the concierge table that sits in your building on the main floor and avoid the line up in the lobby. You just have to hand in your room keys and towel cards, if you were given them when you checked in, to the concierge. They will call to confirm that you do not owe anything and give you your check out slip.