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Our Catholic wedding in Playa del Carmen (LONG w/ Pics!)

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#1 superez

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    Posted 27 July 2008 - 12:50 PM

    I am so sorry this is LONG overdue, but I wanted to wait until my professional pics arrived so I could include them with my review! First of all, I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement as I went through my planning…years ago I had a dream of getting married in a faraway, beautiful tropical locale, and thanks to this forum I did not let that dream get away from us! Your pictures, personal recommendations, and stories made me more certain at every stage of my planning that we made the right decision…and our wedding day certainly lived up to that! Our wedding day was simply magical, a day I will never forget! I wish I could relieve it over and over again, but since I can’t, my hubby and I want to make it a point to return to Playa del Carmen to renew our vows in a few years :).

    Ok, so here’s my review!!

    Wedding Planners: Caribbean Blue Weddings
    Grade: A

    I found CBW through my contact with Hotel La Tortuga, a fantastic 51-room hotel off of 5th Street in Playa del Carmen. They advertise wedding coordination on their website, so I filled out the inquiry form and sent it off. My initial questions about wedding packages, prices, etc (as well as the rooms) were handled by the marvelous Anna Bassi of the hotel. I went back and forth with Anna for about a month before we made our decision to have CBW plan our wedding. During that time, Anna was always so helpful and patient, being the intermediary between Irene of CBW and me. I decided to go with CBW after having compared both beach and catholic wedding packages with Yazmin de la Mora in Playa and Juliette Franze of Papillon Weddings on Isla Mujeres. CBW was the most reasonable, had good reviews on their website, and the fact that they were Hotel La Tortuga’s wedding planners, a reputable hotel, made the decision easy to make. Once I made my decision to go with CBW, Anna handed me over to Irene and I sent our deposit to CBW’s US bank account. Within one hour of sending the deposit, Irene emailed me to let me know she received it and we began our planning of the wedding. From the get go, Irene was on top of everything…she answered my emails within 24-48 hours and was open to all my ideas, all the while being very cordial, helpful and fun to work with. She coordinated our catholic ceremony at the gorgeous Nuestra Senora del Carmen chapel on 5th Street, including following up that our catholic paperwork was received by the diocese there and meeting with the priest for us to ask if we could have a bilingual Spanish/ English mass with specific Mexican traditions (the lasso and arras, and flowers to the Virgin Mary), ceremony music, reserving Casa del Agua restaurant for our wedding dinner, flowers, hair, makeup, wedding cake, transportation to the chapel, and a traditional Mexican trio to play during dinner.

    The day of the wedding Doranna the hairstylist and Olivia the makeup gal arrived at my hotel room right on time and did a great job. They were so sweet too. By the way I’m soo glad I wore my hair up because it was EXTREMELY windy for our pics on the beach (it had poured rain up until 2 hours before the ceremony so the rest of the day was soo windy!) and, as you’ll see in some of the pics, my hair came a little undone. The beautiful flowers arrived on time to my room as well, and were so pretty. The only snafu we encountered was with the transportation. I had Irene hire a van to first take my hubby, his mom and aunt to the chapel then come back to pick me and the rest of my family up. Our ceremony was at 5pm and the chapel only 8 blocks away, but in order to get there with plenty of time, Irene had the first pickup scheduled at 420pm and the second at 440pm. By 435 there was no van, so my hubby Jose called Irene and via phone she was working with the hotel’s front desk staff to get us there right away since apparently the van had broken down. Our photographer Citlalli was just leaving our hotel and on her way to the church and offered Jose and his mom/aunt a ride, so they took off on time, then we had to wait for some taxis to take the rest of us. Luckily we only got there a few minutes late! Aside from this issue, everything else Irene coordinated for us was great and we were very satisfied with her work!

    All the other vendors were fantastic! We originally were going to have a classical guitarist play during our mass, but he was not familiar with all the songs we wanted to have, so Irene found us a violinist and vocalist from Cancun and they played everything we wanted during the ceremony so beautifully, including Canon in D, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, Ave Maria, the Wedding March, and a few other selections for the mass. Even when our priest lost track of our program a couple times (I wrote a bit on him and the mass too below) the violinist/vocalist kept up. The trio during dinner by the name of Shaman were sooo good! We had them play a variety of Mexican and other Latin music, we just loved them! For the cake, we decided on mango with white cake, and just a simple design with orchids on top. I had seen a similar cake on a Hawaiian destination wedding website and sent it to Irene so she could forward to the baker. The cake was good but a little denser than what we are used to here in the US. I think they had also chilled it very well due to the high humidity and heat. But even so, it was just fine and we really liked it!

    Photography: Citlalli Rico of Claudia Rodriguez Photography
    Grade: A+

    I am SO glad Jose convinced me that we should splurge a little on some good photography, so we decided to go with Citlalli of Claudia Rodriguez. CBW’s photographer’s work was nice and very reasonable, but nowhere near as impressive as Citalli’s as shown on their website. We also considered Sol Tamargo, but she was a little more than what we wanted to pay. First of all, Citlalli and her sister Tamara who worked the lighting were such a joy to work with!!! They both made all of us feel so comfortable, were so nice and extremely helpful (i.e. the car issue, and they were very helpful with Jose’s blind mom). Although there were only 8 of us total, we opted for four hours of photography so we could have getting ready shots plus coverage of our mass, beach pics, and some photos during dinner. Citlalli has such a wonderful artistic eye as well, as you can see from the beach shots and especially the bike and fruit stand shots :).

    One thing I have to say about getting married at the chapel is that it is very convenient for pics on the beach and cute park/plaza. The plaza is right beside the church and the beach is only like a block away, so it was perfect! Then having our dinner at Casa del Agua which was only 2 blocks away from the church, just gave us more time for pics on the beach!

    Wedding Dinner: Casa del Agua on 5th Street, Playa del Carmen
    Grade: A

    It was so convenient having our wedding dinner at Casa del Agua, everyone just walked over there from the chapel/beach so we didn’t have to worry about transportation! I thought the restaurant was perfect for our small group, it is a beautiful locale and we had a table set up in a semi-private area beside the pretty fountain. Since we were only 8 of us, we decided to let everyone order from their regular menu and not go for a set menu. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea because they got to order whatever they wanted :). The menu is quite good, a mix of seafood and pasta dishes. They also have a wine list and cocktails (we ended up having a mix of mojitos and margaritas!) The service was great and we also took some pretty pics on their beautiful staircase. I’m so glad we picked Casa del Agua instead of Maramao on the beach (another restaurant Irene recommended)…like I mentioned earlier it was sooooo windy that day and it also rained again during our dinner, so I can imagine how it must have been on the beach that evening. I’m sure Maramao has some tarps to put up, but from the pics I saw a lot of it is out in the open. Plus, I liked the menu at Casa much more than Maramao.

    Accommodations: Hotel La Tortuga, Playa del Carmen
    Grade: A+

    Everyone in our family LOVED this hotel! I highly recommend staying here if you are not into all-inclusives and would rather stay in a small 51-room boutique like hotel with awesome service. We got to know all the staff so well, they were always so kind and ready to lend a hand. In fact we still keep in touch with Anna Bassi, she is fabulous! Our rooms were great and very reasonable, plus we loved being a block away from the action on 5th but far enough for it to be nice and peaceful at night. To be honest I did not miss being on the beach staying here, their pool area is this gorgeous lush oasis with a snake-like free form pool and they also give you passes to Mamitas or Zenzi beach clubs. We went to Mamitas and it was simply beautiful! The hotel includes breakfast in your rate and we had our pick of delicious egg dishes, pancakes, fruit, etc. We cannot wait to go back!!!

    Our other accommodations for our honeymoon included La Zebra beach cabanas in Tulum (AMAZING, go now before Tulum becomes more developed!), Hotel Ixchel on Isla Mujeres (reasonably priced condo-like hotel on beautiful Playa Norte) and Hotel El Rey del Caribe in downtown Cancun (we were only here our last night, in order to be closer to the airport…it is a dirt cheap but very cute hotel that is popular with backpackers and also includes breakfast with their rate).

    More on the Catholic paperwork process and our Catholic ceremony:

    I have to say that we were intending on a beach wedding at first, but when Anna first sent me a photo of the newly remodeled seaside catholic chapel on 5th Avenue, I knew this is where we had to marry! I’m so glad we decided on the catholic ceremony…it just made it all more meaningful for us and of course our parents were very happy! The most complicated part of our hassle-free planning was the catholic paperwork process! But honestly it was all worth it. We met with our parish priest in January since all the paperwork needed to be sent to Play by March 30, 2 months before our wedding. We had to take the one-day marriage preparation class (turned out to be better than we thought!), get new original copies of our baptism, communion and confirmation certificates (this was a bit of a hassle since we had to call Mexico for Jose’s communion and confirmation)…even though you have the originals, the Catholic Church makes you get new originals so they can see if there are any notes on them saying that you’ve been married before, etc, meet with the priest again individually to go through that testimonial/marriage readiness questionnaire, then take our parents to meet with the priest to make sure we weren’t being forced into marriage, etc. Once all that was in order, our priest sent the paperwork to the Los Angeles Archdiocese for their approval and so they can send it directly to the Diocese in Playa/Cancun. This is where it got a little annoying with our priest, he kept dragging his feet and we had to be on him so that it would arrive by the March 30 deadline. The other thing was that we had to make sure the package was sent to Mexico via Fed Ex, but our priest kept saying don’t worry, that it would arrive ok via regular mail. Thank god we didn’t leave it at that, we ended up doing our own research and found out what office at the LA Archdiocese he sent the paperwork to, and we found the most awesome gal who made sure it was sent FedEx and followed up with the church and diocese in Mexico to make sure it arrived. The diocese in Mexico then sends it to the church in Playa. What a process huh? But like I said, it was well worth it :) . And, another thing that made it well worth it was that our parish priest offered to marry us civilly when we got back from Mexico! At first we were planning to just go to the County office when we returned. However, before we left on the trip our priest told us that if we show him the marriage sacrament certificate that we would get from the chapel in Playa, stating that we got married through the Catholic Church, he would see that as an official marriage and could sign our County marriage license here when we got back, making us civil. So about week after we got back we went to get our County license, then had our priest sign it. He did briefly have us repeat marriage vows, but the whole thing literally took less than 5 minutes, and we were dressed casually so it was very convenient! We got a confidential County license so we didn’t need witnesses, but we took our parents with us and had dinner after. So, for those of you who are getting married through the Church in Mexico and not having a civil ceremony there, I would suggest talking to your priest about this just in case!!

    So the priest that officiated our wedding was Father Jorge Castaneda. He speaks English and Spanish, and luckily he was very cool about doing a bilingual mass for us. The day of the wedding he looked a little bothered that we arrived a few minutes late, but whatever. Like other brides who have gotten married by Father Quinn, the other English speaking priest there, Father Castaneda was quite monotone and kinda dull. Luckily I was prepared for this but honestly it did not detract from us enjoying the ceremony. He lost track of our program a few times, not allowing the violinist/vocalist time for 2 songs (although they managed to squeeze them in at the right moment!) and then did one part in English that we wanted in Spanish. Also, after we gave flowers to the Virgin, his assistant rushed up to us so we could sign all the paperwork, which I found a little odd, but luckily the violinist/vocalist continued with the Ave Maria during this part. Then, all of a sudden the priest was gone, he didn’t tell us it was time to kiss (isn’t that hilarious! We totally laugh about that!) so we did that on our own. We have to laugh about these little incidents but again it did not detract at all from loving our ceremony and being in that beautiful chapel!!! I’m soo glad we got married there!

    On having a small, intimate wedding:

    Had we gotten married here, we would have had to have the big fat 300-person Mexican wedding, and that’s just not us. So we decided to just limit our group to our parents, 2 aunts and an uncle. We knew other family and friends would have gladly come, but I’m so glad we did it this way….we spent good quality time with our family (we are both only children so we are close to our parents), they got the chance to know one another, and they had a blast being on vacation (they NEVER go on vacation, which is why we wanted them to go and enjoy themselves before they get too old and can’t move around anymore!) And in a few months we are going to have an informal AHR so we get to celebrate with everyone else.

    Again THANK YOU all so much for your support and help! Here are some of our pics (UPDATED...please go to page 2 for our pics...it finally worked using Photobucket!!! :)

    #2 superez

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    • 106 posts

      Posted 27 July 2008 - 12:52 PM

      Oh no, why are the pics coming out so small? Ok, give me a minute, I'll use Photobucket instead of Kodak Gallery.....

      #3 superez

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      • 106 posts

        Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:06 PM

        I'm deleting this msg since the pics I posted on here did not come out ....see below for the pics!

        #4 Yari

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        • 10,928 posts

          Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:08 PM

          Bummer I can't see your pics.

          #5 Carolena7

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          • 785 posts

            Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:12 PM

            Nice review!! I can't see your pics either

            #6 superez

            • Newbie
            • 106 posts

              Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:18 PM

              I deleted these pics since they did not show either....keep scrolling down for the real pics!

              #7 ACDCDCAC

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              • Wedding Location:Santa Maria Bay Beach, Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico
              • LocationSeattle

              Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:19 PM

              great review :)
              cant see the pics on my computer cause of work

              #8 superez

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              • 106 posts

                Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:20 PM

                can you see these bigger pics from Kodak gallery? I can see them but wanted to make sure you can before I add more - thanks!!!!

                #9 superez

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                • 106 posts

                  Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:37 PM

                  Pics did not show....keep scrolling to see them!

                  #10 NotYourAverageDW

                  • Jr. Member
                  • 361 posts

                    Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:39 PM

                    I don't quite think your pics are showing up at all. Sorry

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