For centerpieces I am bringing down votive holders with the little mini candles and some candlesticks and taper candles in bright colors. I can easily bring these down with us and we will save on not buying the flowers for the centerpieces. Even here in the U.S. people try to save costs by foregoing the flowers and we will all have the beautiful surroundings of Mexico. I think the flowers could be a good cost savings, but for some people the flowers are important, it's all personal preferance. If you are having bridesmaids and doing bouquets you could ask for a vase or two on each table and have the girls flowers in there. They usually just end up laying on the table or floor somewhere for the reception anyway, might as well put them to use! I was also told that we would need to bring the things for our centerpieces with us, (as opposed to sending with other people), so that we can give them to the planner beforehand when we have a meeting during the week. I assume this is the same with decor. I feel like I will end up bringing just about everything myself then, since I will also need to have the welcome bag things there with me as well.
For those of you thinking of skipping the DJ they do have a sound system with microphone that you can rent and just plug an ipod into. You can make 1 or 2 wedding mixes and bring them down with you.
For photographs we are going to use blue lens caribe. They did our engagement photos and we really liked the way they came out, (minus the ones where we were making hideous faces from the sun being directly in our eyes, but you don't have to get those ones For anyone getting pictures done on the beach, it is way harder to keep your eyes wide open than you would think. I was sure I would be able to do it and I would be fine, but your eyes water because of the wind and sun. We liked travelling around the resort and doing pictures all around. The beach shots that we got (with eyes open) were great too, you can't beat the backdrop!
For the cocktail hour, if you do want to do it, just arrange a gap between the ceremony and cocktail hour, it's your wedding! People can amuse themselves in the all-inclusive resort in the meantime! We plan on being present for most if not all of the cocktail hour. I don't want to miss out on any of my own wedding festivities.
For the added expense of things I did not agree or understand it much at first either, but when you think about it you are paying for the whole orchestration of it. It takes a lot of prep time and staff to be able to churn out that many meals all at once. You also have the set up and the servers to account for. The additional cost for beverages at a cocktail hour is a little hard to swallow, but again it's special staffing and set up for a private event. Ultimately I am trying not to get hung up on the stuff I cannot control, try not to think too many negative things about it because it is your wedding. I know that it will all work out wonderfully for everyone and together I am sure we can think of ways for potential savings, weather it's different flower species or no flowers at all, or a sound system instead of a DJ, or entertainment from a friend's band.