Hello everyone, I'm sorry for the delay in posting our review but we have been so busy since we came back from our wedding in May 2013. Here is a quick synopsis of our experience & a couple of photos too. Overall we had the most INCREDIBLE experience. First of all - regardless if you are getting married at Gran Bahia / just a guest - we absolutely loved the resort - the staff were incredible, the food amazing and we can't honestly fault the place in any way.
Here is a brief summary of our special day -
Date - May 9th, 2013 16:00
Wedding Location - Akumal Beach
Wedding reception - Dolce Vita
Photographer - Arecife (amazing!!)
Post-reception - 24 hour snack bar (no poolside reception - was amazing!)
Wedding coordinator - primary - Eugenia; secondary - Gina
Honeymoon - 2 nights in Cozumel (Coral Princess)
The flow of the day -
16:00 - ceremony - we also wrote our own vows & had 2 friends do a reading for us
which I recommend
16:30 - pictures (guests who aren't involved watch & drink champagne at a small beach hut)
16:45 - group picture & then toast (we also had our guest book out at this stage to act as a conversation piece)
17:30 - drinks at 24 hour snack bar
18:00 - dinner, speeches, cake etc.
20:00 - party time at 24 hour snack bar (own music playlist) - we considered going to the Tulum bar for dancing but were quite happy where we were.
Many of you brides may get frustrated - as I did - before you arrive with the lack of communication. I can tell you that it is OK and normal from what I gather. I was quite nervous about our initial meeting as was worried that things wouldn't go as I wanted them to. I was wrong - Eugenia has this down to a T and was very helpful. The only snag I had was around the flowers. I had given extensive instructions about these in advance but I felt that she didn't have that with her when we met. There was only one issue on the day and that was with the corsages (they had pins vs wristbands). However this was quickly resolved by Gina so no really worry in the end. The flowers were gorgeous - especially my bouquet and my bridesmaids.
I would highly recommend a 16:00 time for the wedding. I saw other brides who had theirs at 14:00 and there was a lot of waiting around after and people ended up having to have a snack in between so they didn't get too tipsy before the meal. Also this gave me more time to relax before my big day. The staff were very helpful to me and even obliged when I requested a bottle of champagne to my room - no extra charge either.
The biggest suggestion I can give brides who are looking to keep costs down is to reconsider the poolside reception. My husband & I were unsure about this from the beginning. We didn't feel like it was good value for money. If you have a big group maybe it would be worth it but we only had 20 people. Here is what we did. We noticed that the poolside reception would likely be in front of dolce vita (where our dinner was) and that was literally beside the 24 hour snack bar. I was able to see that there was a small area around the side we could take over. We had asked all of our guests for 5 favourite songs they'd like us to play in advance of going to Mexico so we created a playlist of all the songs and loaded them onto an ipad. We purchased speakers for about 30 pounds before going too. Anyway after the meal, we headed to this area. I had bought a mix of decorations from the uk - very basic stuff (outdoor candles, colourful napkins etc) and we got that from our room. We then played our playlist, got drinks from the bar there and had a great time together. We had the option to go to one of the many bars to listen to live music and dance but we were having such a fun time, we just decided to stay where we were. It was almost like our own private party (right beside the pool) and saved us a lot of money. we didn't mind spending money but we thought it could be better spent. We ended up taking that money and spending more on our photos as well as a few more bottles of champagne for our guests as well as some nice gifts for them too.
Also I highly recommend coco bongos in playa for a girls night out. It was super fun. The guys went too but we all did our own thing before and then met at the end of the night. We were still fairly separate at coco bongos but it was a lot of fun - definitely something to do and see.
The final suggestion I would give brides & grooms is to try & get away for a couple of nights. This was something I'm so happy my husband and I did. It is very tempting to just stay on the resort with all your guests after the wedding. Since it is a big resort (and lovely too) you could theoretically stay away for people for a couple of nights to get privacy. However the chances are that you will see them and it won't give you that same feeling of being on your own. All we did was find a hotel in Cozumel for a couple of nights. My husband used www.hotelscombined.com to book and got a good deal at a lovely hotel called Coral Princess. We took a taxi from gran bahia to playa del carmen which was quite cheap. Then we took the ferry over to cozumel - this goes every hour. There are 2 ferry firms so just buy a 1-way ticket so you are not stuck to one firm - there is no discount for a 2-way anyway. Cozumel was a perfect getaway - it's a lovely island. The sea is so aqua blue and the food was lovely. It was definitely a highlight for us. The way we justified doing this was that it was like an excursion. we weren't able to do many other excursions but at least we had time to be together and we did do a snorkelling trip while we were there too. We know we'll be going back to this area again soon so we'll have time to go ziplining etc then. I'd love to go back to cozumel again too as it is really lovely. There are a lot of party areas there but we didn't really go down that road - it can be very quiet and relaxing too.
Anyway good luck to all of you who are getting married - it is a place I will never forget. We are so happy that we chose to have our special day here!!
Enjoy Miriam & Richy