We got married at The Royal on Dec 3. We are back! Since the other wedding reviews I read were so helpful, I wanted to do my own.
In a nutshell â€“ the wedding & hotel (The Royal) far exceeded our expectations and wildest dreams. We had 65 guests.
Hotels: Most guests stayed at The Royal and those with kids stayed at Gran Porto. This worked out superbly because The Royal people could go hang out at the Gran Porto but then come back to The Royal. The food at The Royal was better than Gran Porto. I only ate at the buffet at Gran Porto, but went running back to the amazing food at Royal. It was nice to go to the Gran Porto & hang out with all the kids (we had about 10 kids of all ages) and then nice to come back to the elegance of The Royal. Our guests all asked to be invited back for the one year (or 6 month) anniversary trip!
The Royal â€“ the facilities are amazing. The staff is so attentive and most of all they are sincere and kind. Coming from NYC, we know what good food and service can be. The Royal hits it on the mark! We had some pretty discerning guests who have traveled around the world and expect luxury, and they got it. Mediterraneo restaurant had delicious food that was artfully presented with great service. I did not eat at the Chefâ€™s Plate but was told it was amazing! The facilities from check-in to check-out were superb â€“ you get a personal concierge who will handle anything you need. The beds were comfy, they give you about 10 pillows per bed and you can request specific types of pillows. Room service and the Magic Box were a big hit. I ordered all sorts of things at all times and it was always prompt. The first day, I sat on the floor in my room with a plate of guacamole from room service with sister-in-law and we did all the prep for the wedding (welcome bags, etc). I ended up having a room with 2 double beds rather than one king bed because of availability when we checked in. I advised that I wanted a king bed and by the next day my personal concierge was tracking me down with a new room available, but we decided to stay in our original room because it was a good location and we were already unpacked. My parents had their room changed to a location closer to the pool because my mom had injured her foot (before the trip) and could not walk far. While the wedding package included a room upgrade if available, there were no ocean view suites available - this did not matter and we were very happy with our room - you're hardly in it!
WC Zulma â€“ she is so great and so calm. We sat down with her at our initial meeting and she listened to everything that we wanted and took all of our decorations, etc and took notes. Everything was perfect. I stopped in a few times to drop of some things for the wedding and if she was not there, the other WCs knew who I was and took care of me. Zulma was present during the entire wedding and made sure everything ran smoothly (which it did!).
We did the Mayan Ceremony at 4pm on the beach in front of the gazebo. The shaman was great and the ceremony was very meaningful and perfect! We had the mayan dancers and it was just awesome!!!!
Following the ceremony, there was a 1/2 hour break (maybe a bit less because the ceremony started a little late due to our guests being a bit slow to get there) while we took photos on the beach right there. Everyone had a blue tequila cocktail from the ceremony so it worked out well. Then the cocktail hour followed at 5 and that was also located at the beach in front of gazebo. The cocktail hour was supposed to be cold food only but there was hot food â€“ delish sesame chicken strips and popcorn shrimp â€“ other yummy stuff too, but thatâ€™s what I focused on to make sure I ate!
Wedding Reception: For the reception, we moved down the beach to the area in front of Pelicanos. This was ideal because we did not have the cocktail hour tables still set up next to our reception. (they were down the beach a ways). Jose, the manager of Spice restaurant (the buffet spot at The Royal) was our head waiter. To say he was amazing is putting it mildly. Throughout the reception he checked in with me to see when I wanted various courses served (people were dancing & not really sitting & eating!) and also made sure I knew when my food was out so I could grab a few bites. The service was great. But it did not end there. For days, I had people greeting me at the hotel by name! William, a server at Pelicanos, greeted me by name and wished me congratulations on my wedding. We saw Jose at Spice several times and he was so gracious in congratulating us and our families.
Lighting: This was a concern for me because I am an avid photographer and lighting for photos on the dark beach was important. If only I had known â€“ no worries!!! There are spotlights set up (which they will also turn off if you request). One small note: the tables at the reception do light up, but not very brightly. It did not matter, it was just an observation. That might be my sole criticism. (ha ha!).
Photographer: Nate BroShot. Licensetostill.com. He was awesome and fun to work with and my friends (including married ones) were fighting over him . Without going on and on and on, I highly recommend him. I have not seen my photos, but I have seen his work and I am so excited for our photos that I almost cannot stand it! We did a TTD the session Sunday at sunrise (wedding Friday). My fianc© was a bit skeptical about the TTD but while we were hanging out with Nate, running around various locations on the beach north of the resort (we drove 5 minutes), he admitted that this was awesome and that the photos are going to be amazing!!
Music: we did an Ipod with a person to run it for $80. There was a table set up to the side with 3 guys, one worked the ipod. I think the others worked the lights and sound system, but not sure. I made a playlist in the order I wanted the songs. We also had a guest sing and did the Hora with the chair lifting. I just wrote a note telling the Ipod guy a few instructions. It worked out really well. We also had the light-up dance floor which was awesome and a big hit!! We also had a microphone for speeches, cake cutting, and our guest singing. This worked out well - I just had to signal for the microphone and it was handed to me and the music lowered.
SpaAzul: First, let me say that the facilities are beautiful and clean. I used the sauna and steam room and soaked in the hot tubs and cold plunge. I also had a deep tissue massage that was excellent (it was a few days after the wedding - the perfect antidote to all of the planning and mingling, etc.). I planned on having my hair and my mom's hair & makeup done for the wedding. We had a trial two days before and both decided to do our own hair. My mom's hair looked good but she said the woman pulled so hard that it was painful. My mom started to get her makeup done but was not happy with the makeup the woman started to put on her so decided to not do it. I had photos and a video of my hair and I must say that the woman totally replicated the hairstyle. However, I have very thick hair & I was told that for the wedding I had to come with it blown out due to time constraints. Also, at the trial, the curls were not as great as I wanted so that I could let my hair down during the wedding. So, my 16 year old niece is a wiz with a curling iron and I decided to blow out my own hair & let her curl & style it. Also, one of my best friends does wedding makeup as a side gig so she did our makeup and did a great job. So for me it was great to have family/friends do my hair/makeup. I've read reviews that SpaAzul did a great job with hair & makeup and I would not necessarily not use them based upon my review. I am pretty picky about my hair and get it done at a Madison Avenue salon in NYC.
One other note, my sis-in-law has a child with severe and extensive food allergies. They stayed at Gran Porto and after 2 days to adjust and explain to the staff about his allergies and what he likes to eat, they were great. My sis-in-law was raving and sooo excited about the level of service and how they catered to her son â€“ they even made a special menu for him for the whole week. They were so excited to not have to worry and search for food â€“ they will definitely return! Also, Zulma and the WC people made sure that he had an appropriate meal for the wedding and he ended up getting the same meal as the other children but appropriate to his food allergies. This is just one example of the lengths that the staff goes to at the resorts.
I will try to post some photos in another post (never done it before). If not, I will post a link later when I get some photos online.
Ladies- My advice is to enjoy the planning process. Don't stress. Be creative and create your vision. Don't stress if the WCs take a day or two to get back to you (that happened to me). You have lots of time and it will all come together. When you get there, you will be treated like royalty and the onsite WCs will ensure that you have the best day of your life!!!
I cannot wait to go back!