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evonut

evonut's Review: RIU Palace Riviera Maya, Playa Del Carmen, Nov 2007 (Heavy Pics)

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After a hectic Destination Wedding #2, Christmas and New Year's, I finally have some quiet time to sit down and write my review.

 

My new husband and I were wedded on August 31st, 2007. We had two weddings--one simple legal wedding in Las Vegas (read my Las Vegas Review) and one formal symbolic wedding in the Mayan Riviera on November 22, 2007.

 

This is my review for the Mayan Riviera Wedding at RIU Palace Riviera Maya in Playa Del Carmen. Since I'm limited 10 images per post, my review will be broken down to 3 parts.

 

PART I of 3:

 

Hotel Accommodation: RIU Palace Riviera Maya, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico: A

 

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Beautiful place! We were put off initially by the pungent moldy smell but we knew this is common in any place in the tropics. After while, our nose adjusted so we didn't notice it as much.

 

Service was EXCELLENT from the front desk, the wedding staff, bell service, waiters, housekeepers. We handed out tips like confetti, because they deserved it!

 

One of the best places we stayed at.

 

 

 

Wedding Attire: B+

 

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I bought my dress on e-Bay from some Shanghai factory, China for $75. With custom tax, exchange, and shipping/handling, the total price came to around $150. I like this dress for its simplicity and elegance. Not the best quality chiffon fabric or sewing job though (but nothing a good photographer can't fix). I had my mom alter it from a generous, tall size 6 to fit my 5'4 110 lbs frame. Other than that, I was very happy with it.

 

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I also bought my flip-flops online for $43, including shipping and handling. I needed the height because hubby is 6'3.

 

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I also bought a second dress (picture above) for the reception at David's Bridal in Seattle for $140. Wore the same necklace I wore in my Las Vegas Wedding, which I bought for $25 dollars!

 

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Make-up and hair: I did it myself. :-) Unfortunately, at the end of the wedding day, it succumbed to the humidity and frizzed out.

 

 

 

Flowers: A+

 

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I was disappointed with the limited selection of flowers being offered by RIU Palace. However, when they came, I was thrilled with the quality of it. Price-wise, it was fantastic compared to what I paid at Las Vegas. In Vegas, I paid $320 for the bride bouquet, maid-of-honor bouquet, groom and best-man boutonierre. For a similar amount at RIU Palace, I got all the above PLUS two large flower stands by the wedding gazebo, two more boutonierres for our mothers, and table centres for the reception.

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PART II of III:

 

Photographer, Elizabeth Medina: A+

 

Photography is an area I don't scrimp on. We wanted Sol Tomargo but she wasn't available on our wedding date, so we went with another great photographer, Elizabeth Medina. I was a little apprehensive at first, because usually at this price, we expected to get two professional photographers. The weather was also all over the map--sunny in the morning, overcast in the afternoon, cloudy late afternoon, rain in the evening. I was praying the pictures would turn out...and they did! We were thrilled with her work! All the pictures posted on this thread (except for the flip-flops) are from Elizabeth. Here's some of our favorite money shots (below)--worth every penny!

 

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PART III OF III:

 

The Wedding Gazebo: B+

 

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It was a perfect ceremony venue!..almost, lol. It was surrounded by the beach and sunbathers. During the ceremony, we had a bigger audience then we intended to have and a few sunbathers were snapping pictures and video-taping our wedding. We were warned beforehand by the posters of bestdestinationwedding so we weren't surprised. :-)

 

The great thing about the gazebo is it's already breathtaking beautiful as it is and any more decorating than what I have done would've taken away from it.

 

RIU Palace arranged for the minister, who was excellent, although his his english was heavily accented with spanish (not unexpected). What was a pleasant surprise was RIU arranged for mics and sound system (a detail that did not cross my mind). It came very handy so guests can hear the minister and us exchanging vows.

 

Because the gazebo was small and tight, photography would be challenging. Elizabeth solved the problem by arranging the ceremony to be performed with the couple facing the guests while the minister's back was to audience. It was a great idea because she was able to capture our expressions in the photos.

 

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Entertainment: Mariachi Band at the Ceremony, Trio Band at the Reception, iPod for the remainder: A+

 

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After reading some opinions of brides here questioning the value of having bands, I went with my gut and hired them anyway. They were FANTASTIC! The live singing, dancing and music delighted the guests and added intimacy & festivity to the events. At one point, I caught lovers in an act in the corner of my eyes--one of the female wedding staff smooching the lead singer of the Mariachi Band. It was very cute, lol.

 

In addition, we brought our own iPod stereo (excellent decision!), laptop and audio-visual equipment (for our 'Memory Lane' slideshow). We had a little bit of scare when the electrical outlet that we requested at the restaurant did not work with our equipment. The wedding staff found someone last minute to fix the problem, which delayed the start of the reception by 20 minutes. The wedding staff was amazing.

 

Our family and friends gave warm-hearted speeches (we didn't need mics at all. The sound carried well.) and yes, for our small wedding party of 18 guests, we had a dance. It was priceless and memorable!

 

 

 

Reception Dinner, Chilis Restaurant, RIU Palace Riviera Maya: B+

 

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My maid-of-honor, sisters and brothers, and the wedding staff were charged with decorating and setting up the reception. Most of the decorations (i.e table coverings, picture frames, glass vases, candles) were brought from home (just a note: due to the baggage weight and size restrictions, I had the stuff divided into many suitcases and spread evenly among my family members to bring). The reception was held at Chilis, an open-aired restaurant (no walls), but after it was obvious that it was going to rain, the wedding staff pulled the screens down, enclosing the Mezzanine section. According to the wedding package, we could only have the restaurant area for 1.5 hours, not enough time to have a decent reception. We were able to extend the venue by another 1.5 hrs for an additional $300.

 

We had a small team of servers serving the entrees. Salad and dessert was buffet. The food was great! The wedding cake was a joke, lol, but I didn't care at that point. I was elated by how well the wedding day went...and was even pleasantly surprised that the cake was delicious.

 

 

 

Total Mayan Riviera Wedding Cost (18 guests), $12,278: A+

 

The total cost includes:

RIU Royal Wedding Package: $1330 [we didn't use the free spa service (not too crazy about getting caked in mud), complimentary champagne (we don't drink) or breakfast in bed (why have breakfast in bed when they have an excellent breakfast buffet at their main restaurant?)]

Flowers: $330

Mariachi Band, 1 hr: $430

Trio Band, 1 hr: $330

Decorations & Misc: $981

Accommodation & flight: $2406

Favors: $319

Guests trip to Chichen Itza: $406

Bridal & Groom Attire (includes wedding rings): $1400

Bridal Party Gifts: $300

Photography & Assoc costs: $3729

Stationary & wedsite: $219

 

Higher price per guest, but overall much less expensive than the traditional wedding. I'm absolutely thrilled.

 

I just checked the RIU Wedding website and noticed that they increased their wedding package prices and add-ons for 2008. The Mariachi Band went up to $559, Trio Band to $430, flowers almost doubled, and the Royal package up to $1465.

 

We decided not to do the Out-of-Town bags as is the custom of destination wedding, and splurged on the favors instead. Guests got truffles, macadamian nuts, Mexican candies and treats nicely bundled and decorated with seashells (picture below).

 

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Also, we opted to bring our decorations, audio-visual and sound system from home instead of getting them at Playa Del Carmen--it saved us alot of time, cost, and uncertainty of availability.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

If I wasn't the bride (thus, biased), I would have to say this is the best wedding I have ever been to. I was amazed and relieved that despite the lack of rehearsal, the events pulled together for the most part seamlessly. Alot of it was due to upfront planning, communication and consulting with all the parties (RIU wedding staff, bridal party, family). For the guests, it was the most intimate, genuine, entertaining, good quality wedding they've ever been to.

 

It was hard on me during the planning stages, when I realized many of our closest friends and family couldn't make it. After the wedding, the bonds of love strengthened and the appreciation grew for those who did come. That's the beauty of destination weddings--and I am a big fan of it.

 

After our wedding, we sent out e-announcements to announce our marriage. If you would like to see more pictures (and slideshows), visit evonne-forrest.com.

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Wonderful review Evonne! Congratulations!

 

Your dress and flowers were so beautiful. I absolutely am in love with Elizabeth's work- it's so wonderful to see another BDW bride use her!

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