Ok we are back, here is my review!! Overall, our trip was wonderful and perfect, and I could not have asked for anything more. My review is long, but hopefully helpful
Akumal Wedding Review
Arrival to airport
We arrived and got through customs quickly; about 4 people out of our 34 was red-lighted. Of course, our bags with the wedding stuff were stopped! No problem with the materials all being labelled, we wrote "para la boda de Matthew Jong y Erin Taylor, el 26 de septiembre" and the guy saw these and said "ah, la boda" and left everything as it was. We had even kept most things in packaging (chair ties and table runners) so it was easy to transport.
On our way out, the tour operator found us and directed us to the bus. A few people wanted beers for the bus ($6 each) and we had a bit of a delay as we had 53 people on a 52 seat bus. The driver wanted Matt to choose someone not in our group to leave! We ended up sitting our little flowergirl on a lap so it was okay. The drive took about one hour and thirty minutes, and we left the airport at close to 5 pm.
Arrival to GBP
Once we got dropped off at the main lobby we hopped a trolley to the Golden check-in, beside the Akumal snack bar. We were given a welcome margarhita and check in moved quickly. There are snacks and free wifi, plus a free internet room in this lobby. We were given our room keys and we went to check it out (building 67) but our bags were still on a trolley and had yet to arrive. Building 67 has a beautiful view of the beach and rocks on the far side of Akumal beach. We started walking to the buffet at the main lobby, which took a while as we were in the dark and the signs were a bit tough to read. Eventually we made it and met most of our group there, and ended up just staying and having some drinks for a while, until the show started at 9 pm in the theatre. One thing to mention is that they left our bags outside of our rooms (they had said they'd be inside) so we had some people run back to put them inside. The show was great fun (Broadway night) and they served us at our tables there. After the show we drank there until the disco opened at 11:45, and from there the night was a bit of a runaway
- Zumba in the Akumal pool at 4:30 is a lot of fun, though the instructor Pedro like to hit on the ladies
- the beach on the far right side of akumal had good snorkelling, saw lots of fish and an octopus
- it's a good idea to bring larger insulated cups for the beach/pool, though they do only use non-disposable cups now, which I really appreciated
- the animation team works SUPER hard, with long hours (16 hour days!) and they are so friendly to chat with
- some of the dudes told us that tips are shared among employees, so if you give someone extra it may not stay with them. I never felt like tipping was required or made anything better, as the service was great to start with
- we had a lot of fun at the shows in the evening, and it's a good way to kill some time while waiting for disco - below is Matt and I in the couples contest; we won free dolphin passes! (he had to do pushups with me on his back, he was still sore three days later)
We met Eugenia (who is AMAZING) in the lobby on day two. We went and sat down to discuss our details. I brought a bag full of our things to give her (chair ties, table runners, rocks for our rock ceremony thingy). She pulled out our file and we reviewed all the details once more, including # of people, restaurant location, music, flowers, and names of our outside guests. She gave us a photocopy of our passports with directions to find clinic that day in Hacienda for bloodwork. We brought the passports and tourist cards for our witnesses and she double checked these and gave back. We had to pay her for the speaker rental for our dance party ($70/hr) and also for a bowl that we were borrowing for the rocks. She let us know her hours of work and that we could call anytime from lobby and she would be there. She was super chill and sweet and made me feel like all was taken care of. The only unexpected portion of our meeting was that she brought the girl from Arrecife to the meeting. I had told her in my initial documents that we had a friend to do photos and we would like to decline all photos. The girl was clearly not expecting this, so she was MAD and told us it wasn't allowed, and that they had exclusivity in the resort. I explained that this was not new and that I'd emailed way back, and could find that email if needed. She said if she is a professional photographer then she was not allowed to take photos. I said she is not a professional in Mexico and that she's a guest of mine who brought her camera. It was SUPER AWKWARD. She then took down her complete name and said she would need to look into it. She left and came back with about three different sheets that said we were cancelling her services. Eugenia reassured us that it was okay, but I hated that part!! Thank god for this forum, as I stood my ground because I knew the rules.
After the meeting we found our way to the Hacienda for bloodwork. We first forgot our cash and then forgot the paper in the room, so it took us way longer than it should have, lol. Once there, it was only ten minutes. Make sure to put pressure yourself on the bandaid, he didn't press on mine and I had a honking big bruise
Our entire week was unpredictable for weather, with usually a half day of clouds and some rain. We woke up to a complete downpour on the day of the wedding, but I had a good feeling it would get it out of the way. I went for breakfast in the main buffet with the girls at 8:30, as I knew Matt wouldn't go until around 10. We started in my room with hair at 9:30, as my friend had 3 bridesmaids plus myself to do. Eugenia called me around 11, and the clouds were beginning to break up and rain had nearly stopped. We agreed to chat in an hour to make the final decision about inside or out (wedding was at 3 pm). Our photographers showed up around 11:30, and took photos of us hanging out and getting ready. They are both close friends of mine who are professional photographers, so I was very lucky and it didn't feel wierd at all to have a camera nearby at all times! I did my own makeup after a session at Sephora back home, as I was a bit worried about someone else doing it after my high school grad disaster. I started my makeup at 12 and did a bit at a time for the next couple hours. When Eugenia called back, we decided to go for it with the hammock location. She said if it were raining at 3, they would wait 20 mins, and move inside if needed then (with no decorations though). Our flowers came at 2:00 and they were absolutely perfect. I would suggest bringing a couple of straight pins just in case, as a couple of them were unravelling a bit after the ceremony. We started my hair at 1, and it took about an hour as she had blown it straight the night before. I put my dress on at 2:40, as my photog had recommended to not do too early. I'm glad she did - the trolley was supposed to come at 2:55 and he didn't come until 3:10, so we were getting a bit antsy for sure! One of the girls stepped in mud on our way out (we wore barefoot sandals) so we also had to go back and wash her foot first, lol. They transported us a short distance to the snack bar/entrance to the beach. All of the guests had met at the snack bar at 2:30 to walk down to the site together at 2:50.
We met Eugenia at the top of the 'aisle' and she reviewed the order of walking. I think my first bridesmaid was more nervous than me! She had a radio to speak with the music guy and everything rolled out as planned. Our flowergirl had a bit of a wander down the aisle but she did great. My mom and dad walked with me and we all had some tears walking down. The entire ceremony was about 15 minutes tops, and the only thing that went wrong is they played the same song twice during our signing, so our fun recessional song ended up being a slower one...ah well. They were a bit late picking us up so the boys were waiting for almost 30 minutes at the site - Matt admits he was getting a bit nervous! It was quite windy at the beach but not too bad. We then walked up the beach and everyone joined us for the toast. We did some photos with family members and then took off with the bridal party to do photos for a couple hours. Everyone else went to drink at the snack bar and some changed clothes.
We met back at the Dolce Vita restaurant at 6 pm for dinner. They were wonderful, and had a pasta meal for our one veggie girl, as well as making chicken fingers/fries for the little one. We asked them to turn the music down for the speeches (only about 20 minutes) and other people began to come in around 7:30. Dinner was good, my chicken a bit dry, but to be honest my dress was so tight I didn't feel like eating much! The cake (coffee flavor) was DELICIOUS and soft. We finished up and trolleys were outside at 7:45 to take us to the indoor location for the dance party (it started to sprinkle rain earlier so we had to make that call at the ceremony. Didn't end up raining, but better to be safe!)
The dance party was fantastic fun!!! We brought an iPod with music - beware that the speakers eat through the battery. I would suggest bringing an iPhone or maybe a bigger iPod?? We had to run for a charger and switch off with the phone. We also got the full bar for the lesser price, and the drinks were strong Our friends and fam really loved this part, and I would recommend it for sure. They brought the chair ties in from the wedding chairs and put them on the inside ones. We brought glowsticks and everyone had a lot of fun with those.
After the dance, we headed to the Hacienda and sat out in the courtyard. They had the outdoor salsa/zumba lessons, which I loved we went into the disco when it opened, and it was no problem that we had cut our bands off. The photographers brought a camera right into the disco and got some amazing photos in there. We left about 1:30 as I wanted some chicken nuggets at the snack bar - they were out, but made a few pizzas instead. We got back to our room around 2:30 to find it all decorated and fun.
Sorry for the long post! We had an amazing time. Not the most relaxing trip, but we'll do our own thing in a few months. Here are a few pics from the wedding day (first is our photographer, rest are random)