By kykai, · 1,456 Views · 5 Comments
Just a few things about our group: we had 34 people at the wedding, we are from alberta, Canada, and I was trying to make this day as inexpensive as possible. (Prices were important to me, so this review will include the prices of everything we paid for - including all the little extras that no one talks about).
We booked the divine package because when I number crunched it was a waaaaaayyyyyy better deal than doing the middle package.
our guests paid $1350 plus tax. We booked with air transat and for every 5 rooms booked we got one free. We ended up getting $3600 back from this deal. My travel agent was fantastic! She dealt with all of our guests, gave us advice on how to plan the wedding, and even stepped in when I was not hearing back from the resort. I would defiantly recommend booking with a travel agent.
The hotel is very new, so everything looks amazing. It was super clean. The bathrooms are the best part of the rooms - huge! The rooms look exactly like the pictures online. No one will be disappointed! Beds are super comfy.
The staff are great. One of the only downs are service by the pool is very slow. Sometimes you have to wait 20 min for a drink.
There are tons of chairs by the pool and beach. You do not have to get up early and reserve a spot.
The restaurants have no reservations, and there is never a line or a wait.
Welcome cocktail party:
When we booked our wedding there was a promotion on. If we booked that month then we would receive a free cocktail party. This worked out great because over half of our group had never met each other before. It was an hour long, had 2 servers just for us and 4 appetizers. We had it at 5:00 on the pool deck (this was a little early as lots of people were still hanging around the pool- I would have changed it to 5:30). They had several 'standing' tables set up so people could mingle. It was just a great opportunity for everyone to meet. We introduced the bridal party, parents, and then had everyone say their name and how they knew us. A great start to the trip!
We booked in February, and our wedding was dec 5, so we had tons of planning time. We started working with wedding coordinator edith, but she left and Fatima is the new coordinator. Here's where it gets tricky because Edith promised me some things that Fatima had to honour (even through she wanted to charge me - I had my old emails from Edith saved). Fatima is AMAZING! She is super organized, she gets back to you within a few days, and she is so sweet. She knew every detail of my wedding, and when I got down to Mexico we had a meeting that lasted under ten minutes because she 'got' my vision. Love her!!!!
I told the spa what time I wanted my bridal party to be done with hair/makeup and they scheduled my appointments accordingly. They took FOREVER to email me back. My travel agent eventually emailed the manager of the resort and then they got back to me. I don't think they did an awesome job....the makeup was really heavy even though we all asked for natural . The hair was just ok. Also ladies be aware that with the humidity your curls will fall down. You might want to consider an updo....by the start of the reception I was regretting having it done down.
I wanted to walk down the aisle in sand, so we booked a beach ceremony at 4:00. I would NOT recommend any earlier as it will be too hot (I had originally wanted it at 3 so I would have more time for pics- don't do it- 4:00 is the earliest you want to have it) the beach ceremony is set up right beside the gazebo deck. It is a long walk down to the beach, and people will still be in the pool and sunbathing. They will stand up , cheer, and clap for you. Let me tell you, it is good for the ego! However, if you do not like to be in the spotlight, you will probably be embarrassed. All these people (strangers) are clapping and cheering for you and they expect you to wave, or raise your bouquet...I enjoyed it but some people might not. I was very worried about random people in bathing suits in my pictures, but everyone respected the wedding. Several people were watching from afar, or behind my guests. But no one was watching from any angle that would have been in pictures. I would highly recommend the beach ceremony. Included with my package was live music - we choose the guitar. He played the songs I requested very nicely (I wanted to walk down the aisle to canon in D). However, I would say that live music is not necessary at all. If you didn't get the divine package don't feel like you are missing out.
I saw several other weddings while I was there. The gazebo is also very nice. Its a little more private, but still has the ocean as a background. The altar/gazebo is a little nicer than the altar they put on the beach.
Lucie aubert was our officiant. She had emailed me the ceremony months before the wedding. I made lots of changes to it, and she was fine with it. She did a great job reading it. She had done all of the other weddings that I saw that week too.
We had a sand ceremony (I would recommend this as it's something to extend the ceremony). They really like to keep the ceremonies short, like 10-15 min. So do everything you can to make it last longer. We also had our guests read the readings, and we said our own vows. I watched a ceremony that was seriously under ten minutes.
Ok, what I paid for the ceremony:
I wanted a pop of color, but they were asking WAY to much for the chair bows. I bought 35 chair bows off of kijiji for $1 a piece, and brought them to Mexico.
The altar with the white tule is included in your package. You could buy flowers, but I honestly think it didn't need it. It is so beautiful with the ocean as a background that you don't need to add extra to the ceremony.
I did buy a microphone, and I would tell everyone to buy one! The waves are loud, guests at the hotel are talking, get a microphone so everyone can hear. We got the electronic package for $1000 which included a microphone for ceremony, DJ for cocktail hour, and for reception, (I'll talk more about this in reception)
That's it. I didn't buy any more extras for the ceremony.
After the ceremony servers greeted our guests with a drink, and we all just chilled for ten minutes having a drink (this would be the time for a receiving line if you wanted one). Then we went straight into pictures.
One hour (included in the package) was not enough for me. Pictures are forever, so I wanted great pics at a reasonable price. I booked the complete wedding package (from the hotel-the same people that would be included with the package). The package included rehearsal dinner, full wedding day, and a trash the dress. We didn't have the rehearsal dinner but we did have the welcome cocktail party (as mentioned earlier) so they came and photographed the cocktail party instead. Marvik met us at the spa at noon on my wedding day, and stayed with us until 9:00 pm. Then the next day we spent 2 hours in the ocean and the pool taking pictures. We paid 1500 for this. The thing is the package only included 200 pictures. Which was not even close to enough, as he had 1500 pictures. So I traded the photo album (included in the package) for more pictures. He did this no problem. Also, just to let everyone know you get to pick the pictures you want - you can sit down and scroll through all of his pics, and pick your favourites. Marvik was Amazing! I could not have been happier. He memorized all of my bridal party names, he had lots of great ideas for posing, I was very specific about the kinds of poses I wanted and he incorporated those no problem. The trash the dress shoot was so much fun. After we went in the ocean we jumped in the pool and got some under water shots - lots of fun. Ladies do not feel nervous about trusting your photos to someone you have never met - he is very professional!
Included in my package was a 1 hour videographer (and he will give us a 30 minute DVD) I haven't seen the video as he will mail it to me in 4-6 weeks. But he taped the whole ceremony, us taking group pictures, and guests saying a few words.....we will see how it turns out!
Reception: originally I had chosen the gazebo deck for the location of my reception. I wanted to have a dance....but not have to pay for a dance floor! So the beach location was out. When I got to the resort, I was very nervous because the gazebo deck is basically the only way for the guests of the hotel to access the beach. It is right in the way of everything (for the ceremony it is ok- because the chairs are contained to a small area) but for the reception it didn't seem like there was enough space for all the tables, plus the dance floor. It turned out I was right, the day of the wedding Fatima told us it had to be moved to the pool deck because they couldn't fit the tables in. This worked out fantastic! I liked the pool deck location much better! It is right by the bar, so guests didn't have to wait for drinks, the ocean is still the backdrop (meaning you have a great view of the ocean), and it worked to our advantage because Fatima changed the pool lighting to blue (our wedding colors). It is not a closed off space, but it is not wide open either. We didn't have any outside guests strolling across our reception (but if we had it on the gazebo deck we would have). So ladies beware - I would NOT recommend having the reception on the gazebo deck.
I did see a reception on the la vista terrace. This location is totally private! If that is what you want, then book it there. It is somewhat small, so I'm not sure how many tables would fit (especially if you wanted space to dance). But it has a great view of the ocean.
The beach reception location was lovely too. But you would have to rent a dance floor if your guests wanted to dance. Also, you have to rent more lighting because it is right on the beach, so you don't have any hotel lighting to help you see.
Food: we paid for the divine package, so we had the most expensive menu. The package includes 25 people, but we had 34 - so we had to pay $95 per person over 25. This was too expensive for us, so we downgraded to the silver menu (which had good choices too) and only paid $85 per person over 25 people. We chose the fish option and it was delicious! The rice was the best rice I had ever had. All of my guests (even the ones who don't really like fish) thought the meal was excellent.
Cake: the cake was very plain. 2 tiers with white icing. We brought our own cake topper from home. The cake wasn't important to me but if it is important to you then you need to upgrade because you will be disappointed.
DJ: we paid $1000 for electronics which included a microphone for the ceremony, a microphone for the reception (for speeches) and a DJ for 4 hours. The DJ had a office at the hotel, and was great! I emailed him the songs I wanted for first dance, ect... And I also emailed him the songs we for sure wanted played. I asked for a slightly country genre....and he have us exactly what we wanted! I have no complaints, and I think it was worth getting the DJ because the price of a microphone was $200, and the price of speakers (if you wanted to hook up your iPod) was $550.
Lighting: I had no idea how much lighting to buy. We brought 2 strands of Xmas lights that fatima put on Palm trees. We also brought enough small candles to have 4 on each table. We then bought 4 lights at $40 each. The lights were a pole that had 4 white lanterns on it. So we actually had 16 lanterns, which was great. Everything was completely visible. Looking back, I would have only purchased 2 or 3 lanterns instead of 4.
Slideshow: my one splurge-I really wanted a slideshow so I paid $200 for a 50' plasma screen tv that was set up by our reception. I thought it would only be used for our slideshow but the dj actually put music videos on it during the dance. During dinner some nice background pictures were displayed (fish, ect...) we had put the slideshow on a DVD and I asked them to play it when everyone had a piece of wedding cake! It was very nice.
Table set up:
I asked for a rectangle table as the head table, and 3 round tables for our guests. I handed Fatima a seating plan and she set everything up just as I had written. I had brought down maracas for everyone with their names on them. These were on the tables both as a favour, and a name place. I brought down $1 vases from the dollarstore, and had them on the tables. When the bridal party came in I had one person take our bouquets and put them in the empty vases. Candles were also on the tables.
Timeline: this is what my timeline looked like (just to give an idea of how long things take)
Getting ready pics: 3-4
Group picture: 4:20-4:30
Bridal party pictures: 4:30-5:30
Cocktail hour for guests: 5:30-6:30
Bride and groom pics: 5:30-6:30
Cake cutting: 7:50-7:55
First dance: 8:10-8:15
Father daughter dance: 8:15-8:20
At 9:30 everyone went up to the room to change, and then we met at the disco which opened at 10
This timeline worked great, I would just change the speeches to during dinner, so that everyone had longer to dance.
As part of the divine wedding package a 50 minute Swedish couples massage was included. It was a good massage, but I don't think it was worth the money. I would have been just as happy going down the street and getting a massage from one of the many shops there (which is what several of my guests did). It also included a private beach dinner - which was amazing! Delicious food, super romantic atmosphere. We had it at 6:00 so we could watch the sunset. I would definitely recommend this. The romantic turndown service was really great too - they put rose petals on the bed, and in the tub. They also drew us a bath. It just added a nice touch.
We were there from nov 30-dec 7. Our wedding was dec 5. I would recommend this time because a waiter found baby sea turtles in the sand that had hatched earlier in the day but hadn't made it to the ocean (just as the last song was playing for my reception). The whole wedding party helped the babies into the ocean (could not have been more perfect!)
Overall, this was the most amazing day of my life. It ran so smoothly. Fatima, and the staff at now amber are fantastic! I am a very happy newlywed!!!!!!
Post any questions you have and I will be happy to answer them :)