Hi Brides to be!
I was married at Barcelo Maya Palace on 11/21/14, and just wanted to share my experiences with you all. We had 37 guests, and most stayed at the Palace, a few stayed at the Tropical.
Overall the resort was wonderful! We really enjoyed our time, although we wished it could have been a longer trip! We thought the food quality was on par with other resorts that we have been to in the area. The drinks were GREAT- definitely better with the upgrade to premium liquor. The beach was beautiful and we loved being just a short walk away. The resort was at eerily low capacity, so there was never a problem finding lounge chairs together, and we even managed to pull off group dinners every.single.night. at the a la cartes. If you try to do this, you need everyone's room numbers to make reservations, and the hotel will not give you room numbers until the guests have arrived. A word of advice, if you have any control over this I recommend having your guests arriving on the same date. We did not, and we spent a lot of time trying to "find" people or make sure they were updated as to our whereabouts.
Our WC was Estrella, and she was so nice! We met with her just a few days after arrival, and went through all the items previously discussed via email. All of our selections were confirmed, and she took us around to see the options for ceremony and reception sites. In the end, there wasn't much to pick from other than our original choice. I assume this is because there were 5 other weddings throughout the resorts that day! I was a little disappointed in the options for a beach side ceremony when I saw them in person, however I did not actually witness any weddings there, so I can't speak to that. All communication with Estrella was easy and she was always available when we stopped by to see her. We brought a LOT of stuff from home, and she did a wonderful job having things set up exactly as we specified. We paid for our total wedding cost days before the wedding, after meeting with the WC.
OOT bags/favors/decor: I brought from home. We had 4 large cardboard boxes, which were all opened at customs. They searched through everything but helped put it back together for us. If I could go back and change it, I definitely wouldn't have brought as much stuff. I wanted personal touches, but in the end it wasn't all necessary. We made OOT bags with a "in sickness and in health" first aid kits with lens cleaner, scope, abx ointment, OFF wipes, band aids, gum, Advil. We included insulated mugs to keep drinks cold and sunglasses (big hits), and an itinerary for the week. Again, we were running around trying to "find" people to give them the bags, as the resort charged a $3 delivery per bag to put in the rooms- we should have just paid it. We tried leaving at the check-in desk, but found they weren't reliably being given to the guests as requested. We also brought personalized votives/shot glasses for the ceremony which were dual purposed as decor/favors. It looked pretty but the wind blew out half the candles! We also used luminaries for additional lighting around the center of the table set up. We brought our guest book, cake topper, a photo and a sign. Our place settings/tags were on maracas and the guests LOVED them! The label said "Shake for a Kiss." They were shaking them all night! We ordered online from Amols, which saved a lot of money but they took up an entire box on their own! I strung flowers on fishing wire to hang from the huppah during the ceremony and it looked beautiful. I also brought vases, lights and shells from home to make my own centerpieces. I would not do this again as they took up a lot of space in our boxes and I don't think were really noticed as much as I thought they would be. Honestly, votive candles would have been enough. We used the bridesmaids bouquets in our centerpieces, which worked well.
Hair/Makeup: I hired the Styling Trio. I thought they were great, and my bridesmaids really seemed to like them too. They were very efficient. I gave my mom my hair and makeup that was included in the package, and she paid the "vendor fee" of $150 for the Styling Trio in return. That worked out well, and I'm glad I did this. I thought my moms hair and makeup was OK, but I can't really compare apples to apples. I didn't think my mani/pedi was very good. They seemed behind the times, and it was painfully slow- I just wanted to hit the beach!They didn't have many color options. I wish I gave this to someone else and just kept my nails as they were from the salon at home.
Ceremony site: I had my ceremony at 3:30 PM. It was a symbolic ceremony, and I thought the officiant was great! It was very hot, and I was so concerned with sweating that I barely noticed, but everyone commented on how good he was He even made a little joke about the heat, asked my hubby to dab my face, incorporated it wonderfully, which made me feel much better! The $300 was incorporated into our total wedding cost.
We originally picked the Coral Beach area, and stuck with our decision after seeing all the options. It is a small cliffside on the far end of the palace side of the resort. In the end it looked beautiful and I'm really happy we chose that spot. It was very private, and we only had a few onlookers, which I barely noticed. We overlooked the ocean, and there is some lush greenery around, with palm trees overhead. It wasn't the "on the beach" option that we wanted when we originally planned to do a destination wedding, but it was beautiful and had its own advantages. Immediately after the ceremony there was a champagne toast, and we took our group photos.
Cocktail hour: We didn't have one. We put our money towards extending the reception, which was SO worth it! Our guests went to the Coral Grill for a quick bite, or to the Coco's Bar and played bingo while we took pictures. They seemed to have fun and no one appeared bothered by the lack of cocktail hour. The Carey Bar in the palace is beautiful and would be a good option too. Our guests that stayed at the Tropical/Colonial WERE asked about their bracelets, but the bartenders let it slide on the couple occasions that they were at the Palace.
Photos: We had a friend do our photos, and he was a guest of the wedding, therefore I did not have to pay the vendor fee. We did cover the cost of his room and flight. I'm waiting on pictures, but I have a sneak peak slideshow- if anyone is interested in photos just send me a message. We ran out of daylight since some clouds rolled in, and we were really sorry that we didn't allow more time for photos.
Reception: We had the reception at the Coco's Pool. Estrella we helpful in getting the location moved closer to the Pool, which is what we wanted. She let us choose the setup, and we were sorry we did because we ended up blocking the pool view with the head table- oops! They were working on the lap pool the entire week we were there and it was an eyesore, which kind of annoying since it was right next to our reception site, but they tried to do what they could to block the view of it with black fabric. I appreciated the efforts
The dinner went without a hitch and everything was set up exactly as I requested. We had Crispy Proscuitto Grissini (good), Lobster Bisque (AWESOME) and Surf and Turf (I thought it was OK, but everyone else seemed to love it!). We had the Chocolate Fondant (great) for dessert. I didn't even try my cake because I was busy dancing, but I heard it was good- we got Vanilla/Vanilla. The cake looked beautiful and I thought 1 layer was more than enough! I think we had half leftover!
DJ: We went with the resort DJ (DJ Aztecca?) and everyone LOVED him! The music during dinner was meh, but dancing was excellent! We had friends say they wished they could fly him in from Mexico for their wedding. Hehe. He definitely got everyone up and moving! One weird thing..he didn't MC the event at all. We asked him to do introductions, and he did do that, but he didn't prompt the speeches or anything else that we thought he would.
We did not get a dance floor, and in the end we are glad we didn't. It started raining the second dinner ended, and we moved under a thatch roof covered area that was by the pool. This turned out to be perfect, as the original dance area was very small. It worked out great because we were outside but still under cover, and there was some additional lighting.
At the end of the reception we surprised our guests by running out to the dance floor in our bathing suits, and then jumping in the pool. Most of our guests ended up jumping in after us and it was SO much fun! It capped off a wonderful night and everyone loved it.
This is already lengthy so I'm going to cut it off- but happy to answer any questions, and hope this advice helps someone out. I scoured this thread in the weeks leading up to my own wedding