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Heidi's Royal Playa del Carmen Wedding Review!

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#1 h&a

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    Posted 21 June 2008 - 06:42 AM

    Wedding Date – June 4, 2008
    Wedding Location – Royal Playa del Carmen
    Number of guests – 23

    For those who don’t know, when you go through customs in Mexico you walk up and press a button, which randomly goes green (you’re free to leave) or red (need to go to the side to have your bags checked). We had so many bags (2 big bags full of just decorations), and I was worried about bringing some of the items through customs (namely the starfish). Of course, Alex and I walked up and got the red light. The customs official we had, though, was really nice (especially, it seems, upon seeing me carrying my wedding dress). He randomly selected two bags (of just clothes), and was less than thorough going through them (although it did seem that others officials were being slightly more thorough). All in all, though, immigration and customs went really smoothly for us.

    Resort: A+
    I can’t say enough great things about the Royal! The resort is gorgeous, and the location right off of 5th ave in Playa is perfect. Most of all, though, the service and the food is fantastic. I’ve been to my share of AIs and by far this resort stands out for the excellent food and presentation. The rooms are all gorgeous with their own Jacuzzi in the room, and the housekeeping staff was excellent. We especially loved the nightly turn down service with chocolates and your choice of an aromatherapy scent (perhaps specific to our room type – the beachfront walkout – I’m not sure if this is included with the regular Junior Suite rooms).
    As usual for AIs, we had an ever growing collection of daily towel creatures left by the housekeeping staff, but the Royal seemed to always go a bit above and beyond. For example, one of our guests was five months pregnant and her and her husband were thrilled to come back one day to find a baby made out of towels left for them on their bed.
    Most of all, perhaps, the Royal had a bit of everything for everyone. Alex booked lessons with their tennis pro (lovely rooftop grass court) every morning, which he loved; some guests loved joining in on all their activities (biking, pilates, etc); others just wanted to lay quietly by the beach; finally, I think everyone loved the proximity to 5th and being able to walk along the shops at their disposal.

    Welcome Dinner – Di Vino (located on 5th ave): B+
    We organized the welcome dinner after we arrived in Playa (seeing as we didn’t do a site visit we arrived a bit ahead of our guests, which I would definitely do again). There are so many restaurants to choose from on 5th, but we specifically chose this restaurant because there was a section a bit tucked away in the back with a huge table, which would fit our welcome dinner of 19. This was the first time our two families were meeting (Alex and I live in Ontario, my family is in British Columbia, and Alex’s family is in Germany) so it was important to us that everyone sit together (especially because we wanted to have separate tables for our wedding night).
    We negotiated a price with the restaurant owner for a set menu (better for service with a larger group) but were not able to get a set price for the food and alcohol together as we had hoped for.
    The service was fairly good – not outstanding, in my opinion; the food was good (but not great). We did enjoy the ambiance, though, and overall they did a good job of accommodating us.

    Ajua Wedding Coordinator – Stephanie Morton: A+
    I contacted Ajua Weddings about booking a mariachi band through them for a 45 minute set during our cocktails and appetizers (post gazebo ceremony and pre beach reception). Stephanie got back to me straight away, and I prepaid for them using PayPal, which was convenient. It was $100 cheaper booking the 45 minute set through Ajua as opposed to the Royal, and I found out when I arrived at the Royal that both Ajua and the Royal use the same mariachi band for their booking.
    I also contacted Stephanie about booking a welcome dinner and excursion prior to leaving for Mexico, although I was running short on time and we ended up booking ourselves once we arrived in Mexico. She was excellent, though, about responding to my emails in a timely fashion and answering all my questions.
    I later met Stephanie when checking Ajua’s restaurant (Ajua Maya) just off of 5th as an alternative rain location for our reception (more on that later). Stephanie was really friendly, seemed very organized, and the upstairs open air restaurant would have worked well for a wedding reception. In the end, though, everything worked out with the Royal and they were able to provide me with a great backup for if it rained (which, luckily, it didn’t!).

    Wedding Coordinator (onsite) – Zulma Dominguez: A+
    Before leaving for Mexico I was feeling really discouraged with my lack of communication with my WC at the Royal. Instead of waiting a week or two to hear back from the Royal, I was waiting a month or two and still not hearing from them. Now looking back, I can see that I had all the important things set up and that all the little details can be sorted out once you get there. It’s hard to realize that when you have so many unknowns about such an important day, and this is perhaps where a site visit would come in handy. I decided to forgo a site visit in lieu of the excitement of seeing everything for the first time when I left for my wedding. Luckily, my expectations with the Royal and Zulma were far exceeded once I arrived, and the wedding day and coordination went better than I could have imagined.
    Zulma was extremely accommodating, friendly, and on top of everything. I brought a lot of decorations with me, and she had everything set up perfectly on the day of the wedding as I had requested. I brought everything to the wedding office ahead of time and showed her how I wanted it all laid out. I knew when I pulled out my monogrammed cake toppers and she asked if I wanted it H & A or A & H on the cake (all the while taking notes) that I was in good hands!

    One word of caution, though, and this isn’t about Zulma as much as the Royal. Weddings can get rained out, and the five days prior to my wedding it rained cats and dogs (thanks to Hurricane Arthur). Zulma kept telling me that the weather would be fine for my wedding day (even though all the forecasts were showing otherwise), but finally I decided to face reality and check out their backup location.
    Perhaps take what I’m saying with a grain of salt as I always envisioned my destination wedding outside, but I was extremely unimpressed with the ballroom where we would have had our wedding if it had rained. The Royal is a fabulous five star resort, but I found the windowless ballroom to be rather dingy – think Holiday Inn conference room, at best. After my mum and I checked it out, I went to see Zulma to tell her there was no way I would have my wedding there, and to request Pelicanos (the open air restaurant next to the beach) if it rained. She told me that they can’t close down restaurants for wedding parties, and so Alex and I spent an afternoon scouting out alternative venues outside of the Royal. Before we left, we went back to see Zulma to let her know what we were up to and to see if we could possibly have the Tapas bar, which is at the back of Pelicanos (although this would have been fairly tight for 23 guests). Zulma said she would see what she could do, and we left to see what we could find.
    We arrived back at the Royal prepared to cancel everything there and book Ajua Maya (an open air restaurant) if our only alternative at the Royal was the ballroom. We went to see Zulma and she told us that she had been trying to call us with good news – she was able to secure Pelicanos as our backup location. I told her I could hug her and kiss her (which I did), and Alex and I (along with my poor parents) went for a stiff drink to celebrate the good news!

    Spa: A- (nails)/A+ (hair and makeup)
    I had my acrylic nails filled in the day before the wedding and although they weren’t perfect, they nonetheless did a good job. The price was pretty steep, though - $80 for a fill and around $110 to have a full set put on (whereas it’s $35 for me in Ottawa for a full set).
    I decided to forgo the trial hair and makeup, which I wouldn’t really recommend. I was really happy with my hair and makeup (exactly what I wanted), but thanks to the humidity my curls fell out quite quickly (even with half a bottle of hairspray!). Alex loved my hair, though, and I probably still would have chosen the same style.
    I think the hair was $80 and the makeup $60 (or very close to that price).

    Flowers: A+
    We booked our flowers through the Royal, and they were exactly what we had requested. The flower choices they give you are completely customizable as far as color and even down to the fuchsia satin wrap I requested to be wrapped around the stems. All of the flower choices were made once I arrived (although orchids need to be ordered in advance).
    Our wedding package included a large selection of bouquets, some of which (such as the orchids) had an additional cost. We decided once we arrived to choose one of the bouquets with orchids, and Zulma said she would call the florist to see if they were available and to find out the cost. Apparently the orchids I chose were more common orchids that they were able to get, although some of the orchids required 20 days notice. The extra cost for the bouquet was going to be $250, though, which I found extremely steep. I momentarily was going to go for it until Alex talked some sense into me.
    We had our flowers for the ceremony and reception matched to my bouquet. We ordered three flower arrangements for the ceremony (one for the ceremony table and two attached to the gazebo edge close to us). They were large and beautiful, and were $50 each, which I thought was reasonable. After our ceremony, Zulma made sure to have them moved to our beach reception where they set them up on our head table.
    We also ordered four centerpieces for our tables, which were also $50. Again, they were exactly what we ordered and we were really happy with them.
    Before the wedding we were sent the bouquet choices, but had never seen any pictures of available centerpieces or arrangements for the gazebo. We brought our laptop with us to the Royal, but the file Zulma had of centerpieces and arrangements was too large for her to email to us. We had brought a USB stick with us so we got her to copy them onto there for us as I wanted time on my own to look through and choose exactly what we wanted.
    We also ordered corsages for the mums and boutonni¬®res for the dads. The extra cost for this was $5 or $10 each (sorry, I don’t remember!).

    Ceremony (4 pm): A+
    We had a legal ceremony and talked to Zulma ahead of time about incorporating our sand ceremony. We wanted one of our guests to read our sand ceremony script, and we were hoping to do this after our vows but before the judge announced us as husband and wife. Mexican legal ceremonies are very strict, however, and Zulma said it would either have to be at the beginning or the end of the ceremony. We decided we would start with the sand ceremony as once we were announced husband and wife everybody would be expecting us to walk down the aisle.
    When the judge arrived for the ceremony, however, Zulma or Michaela asked him if it was possible to interrupt the ceremony for the sand ceremony and he was willing to do that, which was nice.
    The Royal deals with two judges – one who speaks English and performs the ceremony in English and one who doesn’t. The Royal doesn’t know which judge will be performing the ceremony until they show up so it wasn’t until minutes prior to the ceremony that I found out we had the Spanish speaking only judge. Michaela translated and spoke beautifully. She spoke so clearly, slowly and calmly, which I really appreciated as I found her voice calming and reassuring.

    Cocktails and appetizers (4:30 – 6:30):
    We used the garden area right outside of the gazebo to have cocktails and appetizers. The set up looked lovely, although neither Alex nor I ate (or for that matter even saw) any of the food as we were off with our photographers.
    The guests all said the appetizers were delicious, and I know Alex and I loved the glass of champagne that was waiting for us at the end of the aisle after walking down as husband and wife.
    It was really hot (although after all the rain I was only counting my lucky stars) and I requested umbrellas for the garden area, which were never put up. I think after we left to take pictures on the beach, though, that the wind picked up and the umbrellas weren’t needed although I’m not exactly sure what happened there.

    Reception (6:30-11:00): A+
    I was stressed that with all my decorations and my vision for how things were to look that the setup wouldn’t be as I had hoped and would fall short of my expectations. I had nothing to worry about – everything was set up as I had hoped and then some, and at the end of the night the staff took the time to pack all my decorations back up in the suitcases I had brought them in.
    The servers we had for our beach reception were fantastic! The food came all at once and with no mix ups as far as our few vegetarian requests. The staff waited on us hand and foot as far as drinks, and it was a dream come true. The food was delicious, as were the drinks – thanks to a server we discovered mango tangos (half mango slush/half strawberry daiquiri) on the wedding night, and they became our wedding drink and drink of choice for the remaining days.
    We used an IPOD for music, which worked out perfectly. There was also a wireless microphone set up for us for speeches and a dance floor in the middle.
    The reception was supposed to last no longer than four hours (10:30), but we started dinner a bit late (after sitting around on the lounge furniture with drinks beforehand) and 10:30 would have been cutting it too short. I begged the head person in charge of the reception to let us keep going until 11:00 (and promised a good tip!) and we were able to stay until 11:00, which worked out perfectly.
    I had brought with me cake boxes for guests to take a piece of cake back to their room with them and had asked Zulma ahead of time if we could pay for a bigger cake to make sure there would be extra. It was $3 extra per extra person of cake we wanted so I decided to go with a 40 person cake for our group, which was a mistake. There was way too much cake left over (I think we would have been fine sticking with the cake for our group of 23 and there still would have been leftovers for guests to take away). The cake was decent, perhaps a bit dry, but I was honestly too full from the dinner to eat much as were most of the guests. The cake really wasn’t a huge deal for me (I just wanted the pretty cake boxes for decoration) and they had it decorated with fuchsia flowers as I had requested.

    Lounge Furniture – Events and Weddings: A+
    To me, the lounge furniture completely created the atmosphere on the beach that I was going for. The cost was more than I wanted to spend, but I was able to negotiate the price a bit. Looking back, I would have spent even more as it completely created the ambiance and completed the look for me. It was also nice to have a more causal area for sitting around before and after dinner.
    I got the information on the lounge furniture from another Royal bride on here (thanks, Antonia!) and booked them myself. Raffaele from Events and Weddings, who I was in contact with, was always quick to respond and always answered all of my questions.

    Photographer – Vincent (associate photographer with del Sol): A+
    Vincent was great to work with (as was his assistant, Diego), and we love the photos he captured of our special day and from the TTD the following day. I’m so glad we spent the extra on hiring a great photographer – it’s so wonderful to be able to relive the day through your photos and I think I would be very disappointed if our photos were only mediocre (I don’t think I even realized how important this is to me until after the fact).
    Not only did Vincent do a great job of shooting Alex and I, but he also captured great shots of all the details that went into our wedding including the set up of our reception.
    We had a great time the next day with our TTD, and were so happy to have that extra day to take some more photos in a more relaxed setting.
    You can check out our slideshow here:
    del Sol Photography Wedding Photojournalism
    del Sol Photography Wedding Photojournalism

    Whew… I think that’s about all! I hope this review helped those who are having their wedding at the Royal or who are considering doing so. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. My wedding was really a dream come true for Alex and I – we’re already planning on next vacation back to the Royal for the end of the year or the early part of 2009!

    #2 Carolyn

    • Sr. Member
    • 1,235 posts

      Posted 21 June 2008 - 07:12 AM

      Wow that sounds like it turn out perfect. Great review.

      #3 nikkianddean

      • Sr. Member
      • 1,881 posts

        Posted 21 June 2008 - 09:35 AM

        heidi, you looked absolutely gorgeous!!! The pictures are beautiful :)

        Mr. & Mrs. C
        February 14, 2009

        #4 Shay2679

        • Jr. Member
        • 493 posts

          Posted 21 June 2008 - 10:22 AM


          You answered all of my questions...and then some.

          Thank you for the review, I am just that much MORE excited for our wedding to arrive!


          #5 Sandra E.

          Sandra E.
          • Sr. Member
          • 2,183 posts

            Posted 21 June 2008 - 11:23 AM

            Great review and awesome pictures. Del Sol photography does a great job.

            #6 Taradactyle

            • Jr. Member
            • 427 posts

              Posted 21 June 2008 - 12:27 PM

              Heidi, thanks for the great review. Your pictures are so beautiful and it looks like everything came out perfectly!
              Tara & Patrick

              Our Non-Pro Pics: http://bestdestinati...om/forum/t32280

              #7 cuban_flamingo

              • Newbie
              • 22 posts

                Posted 22 June 2008 - 08:22 AM

                You're the first Royal bride I've seen to show actual photos of the food...you definitely calmed my nerves in that regard.

                You wedding party also seems like it will be the size on mine. It looked like you all had such a great time! You look gorgeous!

                The lounge furniture, abosolutely right about setting the mood and balancing out the decor. Lovely!

                #8 Kryztan

                • Member
                • 743 posts

                  Posted 22 June 2008 - 09:31 AM

                  Heidi your pictures look soooo beautiful:)

                  #9 tlomlad

                  • Banned
                  • 1,949 posts

                    Posted 22 June 2008 - 10:40 AM

                    great review!!!!

                    #10 antonia321

                    • Newbie
                    • 122 posts

                      Posted 22 June 2008 - 02:29 PM

                      YAY!!!! Great review, Heidi and FABULOUS pictures!!! Thanks for mentioning me, too! he he :P

                      Your review and pictures took me back to March when we got married and further confirmed that we both made such a great decision with The Royal! Isn't Zulma just the sweetest? All the staff there is so wonderful and very accommodating. They really just make you feel so special there. I just read my husband that part where you mentioned the Mango Tangos. And we started laughing. That was the popular drink at our wedding, too and I think some of our guests had them for breakfast daily!

                      The lounge furniture looked great and your pictures are amazing. Go del Sol photography!!

                      Wasn't the location so perfect? You can be lounging at a 5 star resort then just a block away is downtown Playa del Carmen. Our guests loved it.

                      Anyway, congratulations and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review. Hopefully, we can help out more future "Royal" brides!!


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