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Ana y Jose Beach Club review, 6-21-08 wedding (long and pic heavy!!)

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Bottom line, in case you don't want to read the novella: We had an amazing time, in a gorgeous magazine-worthy setting, surrounded by our favorite people on earth. pinkie.gif


My hubby and I decided to forgo the AI route. We loved the idea of going down to Mexico, and really loved the Yucatan peninsula, but weren’t as keen on doing the all-inclusive thing. It certainly would have been leagues easier, but we just couldn’t find what we were looking for at the AIs -- they just didn’t feel like “us”, so we branched out a bit and are SO glad we did! So I'm going to do two separate reviews: everything at the wedding, and then our accommodations/welcome dinner elsewhere, since they really deserve separate treatment.


We looked at countless locations, but ultimately decided that Ana y Jose Beach Club in Tulum was our ideal spot. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and isolated enough that you don’t feel there are hordes of strangers in Speedos watching as you say your vows. We had an incredible time and pretty much everyone who came couldn’t stop telling us that they’d had an incredible time, too. (They all certainly had a more relaxing time than we did!) Below are reviews for vendors, location, even my dress. embarrest.gif Please forgive if it goes on too long...blah.gif...I just wanted to make sure that anyone who wanted/needed the info had it, as I know there aren't really many (any?) lengthy reviews of AyJ on here.


Location: Ana y Jose Beach Club

Grade: A++

Multiple guests told us that it felt as if they were inside the pages of Travel & Leisure or Conde Naste Traveler. The beach beds, the set-up, the vows under a leaning palm…it really is gorgeous. Granted, the venue has some wonky policies, such as requiring a minimum of 120 people or $4000 to reserve the space for yourselves (and not keep it open for beachcombers, sunbathers, and diners). We certainly couldn't afford this -- it would have almost doubled the amount we spent! We were worried about it not feeling private, but our worries were totally unnecessary. After about 5:00 there wasn’t really anyone there… they don’t get much in the way of evening visitors, so we really didn’t find that to be an issue and we pretty much had the place to ourselves all night.


The space on the beach is gorgeous:

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.


There are three spots available for dinner/cocktails: the palapa, the beach beds, and underneath the grape tree canopy. We choose to do cocktails among the beach beds, and then dinner under the grape trees (max 70 people here, although there’s room for many more under the palapa). This worked out really well for us, felt quite intimate but we didn’t feel like we were on top of one another. Only thing to remember: votives won’t stay lit in this breeze. (doh! We brought our votives from the States so as to save money on rentals…fat lotta good it did us!)


Our cocktails set up (sorry, I thought I had some pics from a wider vantage point!!):

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.




Our dinner set up:

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We loved this. As someone told us later, it made it feel a little magical...in her words, kinda like "fairy lights."


(more to come.....)

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Food and drink: Ana y Jose Beach Club

Grade: A

The food at Ana y Jose was one of the things that sold me on the place. I’m a New Yorker, and a bit of a foodie, and this was important. Other than a cilantro debacle (mentioned below), all was incredible and our guests were amazed. The tortilla soup was divine (they made a vegetarian version and I would eat it every night if I could), and the lobster…grilled with lime and a touch of tequila…was out of this world. Best part of the sit down dinner? The waiters brought an entire table’s worth of plates out at once, stood behind the recipient until everyone was ready, then placed the food on the table in one quick swoop. Nice. As for the drinks, they were strong and amazingly tasty. Tamarindo margaritas were a specialty of the house, and we took full advantage!


Nopalitas: Click the image to open in full size. Soup: Click the image to open in full size. Lobster: Click the image to open in full size.



Ana y Jose Coordinator: Jackie

Grade: A-/B+

Everything that night looked incredible, and that’s all because of Jackie. She was wonderful at making sure so many of the things I asked for worked out well. There was no question that everything looked amazing—no question at all. Note: Because they host so many events and Jackie is the only coordinator, she can be relatively slow to respond to emails right up until about a month before your wedding. But then they come fast and furious. Jackie was great at taking our ideas and translating them into reality.…but due partially to our lack of organization (attention went first to moving cross-country, second to a sick pet, third to the wedding plans) and partially due to the fact that she left at 9:15 on the night of the wedding itself, certain things didn’t quite get done the way we’d hoped. Below are the reasons that the grade is not as stellar as it could be.


I only had two dietary requests: no nuts (for our allergic guests), and no cilantro in the dishes but served instead in small dishes on the side. (To some of us weirdos with wonky taste receptors, cilantro actually tastes like soap and is a sure way to kill a dish!) There was cilantro in almost all of the appetizers during cocktail hour, which I didn’t notice because I was too busy talking with everyone. But then the very first dish that appeared on the tables, a nopalitos (cactus) salad, was chockablock with cilantro. The solution? To go around asking guests whether they “liked” cilantro, and those who didn’t would get another salad, which had no chopped cilantro but had still been marinating in it. I’m putting this under Jackie’s grade as I feel that it’s the job of the coordinator to be on top of details like this. I was not a picky or fussy bride…in fact, this was one of my ONLY requests and it went forgotten.


The other issue had to do with the fact that we ran late. That was totally our fault! But since Jackie left at 9:15, there was no one left to talk to people to keep them on the later schedule. There was no one to coordinate with the band, to ask for dessert to be served, to take care of any issues, which meant that I did this all myself. (We didn't have a wedding party, so I couldn't really ask anyone to have done this for me...) I would much rather have spent time chatting it up with our peeps than running around through the sand to make sure that our peeps were happy. Yes, Jackie left with people in charge. But mostly these people seemed as if they were there to answer my questions, rather than coordinate. And since that’s what a coordinator is supposed to do (right?? Was I expecting too much??), it felt like this was an area that was lacking.


Outside Vendors


Cupcakes: Turtle Bay Bakery

Grade: A+

We got our cupcakes from Turtle Bay Bakery in Akumal (see my other review), who made enough for everyone to take home. We got three types: limon, tres leches, and Mexican chocolate. People couldn’t stop raving, and hubby and I fell in love with the proprietors of Turtle Bay, who couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful and accommodating and just overall awesome. We gave them the cupcake boxes we’d brought so people could bring their cupcakes back to the hotel with them, and they even tied little matching ribbons around the box lids.

Click the image to open in full size.


Photographer: Matt Adcock

Grade: beyond expectation

Really, Matt, everyone on here sings your praises and they’re right to do so. We had an incredible time working with you, and we like to think we maybe made a friend that night.


Matt was friendly, professional, and he and Diego managed to be everywhere at once. Our one request was that they get as many pictures of friends and family as possible instead of concentrating on us, as we didn’t know when we’d next have such an amazing pair of photogs and so many people important to us all in one place all at once. The two went far beyond and worked their butts off all night long. We ended up with amazing photos of not just us but also our best friends and family. Most photo credit below to Matt and Diego, with a few filled in from friends. My only regret was not asking them to take a group shot of everyone…but that’s my fault, not theirs!



Flowers: Vanessa Jaimes

Grade: B+

Vanessa ended up doing our huppah, my bouquet and hair pin, the boy’s bout, stalks of orchids for each table, and the bamboo/orchid/ribbon stakes that were used as decoration for the aisle, the cocktail hour, and at dinner. The flowers themselves were beautiful. Gorgeous. They just weren’t always what we asked for, and I think that’s largely due to a language barrier.


Bamboo stakes:

Click the image to open in full size. Bouquet:Click the image to open in full size.


The bamboo stakes were amazing…because they were something she had used before, shown us pictures of, and we then requested. The bout and hairpins were easy to get right because they were just single flowers. But the bouquet had flowers in it that I’d never requested, and despite numerous emails back and forth she never really seemed to understand what I was asking for. (Simple bouquet of green cymbidium and white dendrobium orchids.) And despite numerous emails back and forth about what we’d like the huppah to look like (simple brown bamboo poles, white canvas on top) she somehow forgot and wound floofy tulle around the poles. Looked fine, but not what we’d discussed. As I said, it was beautiful, and I’m a pretty laid back person so it didn’t really bug me too much. But if you’re super-detail oriented, you’re going to really want to go over and over and over the specifics and then check them on the day of.


Dress: Wai Ching Alterations: Madame Paulette (NYC)

Grade: B Grade: A

(Didn't know where else to put this random review, as it really is a vendor review!)


Ultimately, I loved this dress. It didn’t start out that way.

I really had trouble finding a dress I liked...they were all just so white, lol. But I found this amazing designer, Chrissy Wai Ching (Wai-Ching Clothing), who has incredible vision, was willing to use hemp-silk (!) at my request, and who hand-dyes all her own fabric -- the colors are just stunning. Her prices were also so much more reasonable than so many of the designer dresses I'd seen. She had a design that was beautiful but not really my style, so we did a lot of back-and-forth emailing and she came up with a modified version that I loved. But the fitting was hurried (during a short visit to her studio when I was briefly in town) and the end result didn’t really fit or flatter me at all. At. All. The seams were uneven, there were lumps where there shouldn’t have been, and later I even discovered that some of the fabric had been glued rather than sewn. (!!!) But the design was so pretty, the silk so gorgeous, that my friends convinced me to find a tailor who could make it fit the way it should. That’s exactly what the amazing seamstress at Madame Paulette did. I was hesitant to do a real “bridal” fitting, since I was trying to save money, but it really was worth it.


Front:Click the image to open in full size. Back:Click the image to open in full size. Side:Click the image to open in full size.



Transportation: Paradise Tours

Grade: I can’t easily grade this one. Please read below.

We used the same transportation company to pick up our guests at the airport (ended up being very cost effective, and quite organized this way), to go on two separate tours, and to transport almost every single one of our 48 guests to and from the Beach Club. The proprietor, Stuart, is a Brit and incredibly nice. We met with him when we first got to town and hammered out all the details, which was a really smart thing to do -- that way, we all felt comfortable about what was going on. And I hate to admit it, but not having a language barrier was REALLY helpful. (My Spanish fluency is middling, at best.)


The airport transportation worked out nicely, with just a few hitches due to airline delays, mislabeled flight info, etc. It was cost-effective, and I highly recommend this route if you have a number of different guests arriving on different days at different times. Stuart was communicative, and even able to tell us why our family didn’t arrive when we were expecting them to.


Tours: We used Paradise for both a small group outing to Coba (there were 14 of us) and for a slightly larger (25 person) trip to Tulum on our wedding day, which was also the summer solstice. The trip to Coba was good…the driver was helpful…but there was one large snag. Stuart was supposed to provide water, juice, soda, etc. in a big cooler, along with breakfast pastries, so we told everyone not to have breakfast. He got the pastries…but forgot to give them to the driver! Hence, a van full of starving people and a driver with no cash. Stuart was very accommodating, said that he would lower the amount he was charging per hour and we could put the rest toward stopping at a market and buying food/drinks. We did, but it was a much bigger PITA than I was prepared for! The trip to Tulum was a bit more coordinated, with water on board and ready for everyone.


Wedding: We coordinated organization for just about everyone to be picked up from their respective hotels and dropped off in Tulum. But unfortunately, one of the drivers disappeared with no notice (apparently they found him in bed somewhere in Playa del Carmen, totally ignoring his job, his cell phone, everything!), leaving some of our guests stranded at the wedding until MUCH later that night. Everyone was pretty easygoing about it, and Stuart was incredibly contrite and – again – very quick to adjust payment in response. But it was just a glitch that couldn’t be mentioned. Thus, no grade for this company as it was a bit of an unusual situation. Most important for us was their flexibility, their ability to figure out a solution, and the fact that they MORE than made up for the shortcomings. EDIT: I also forgot to mention that in order to fix the problem, the amazing Stuart ended up working 15 hours on his day off, trying to make sure everyone (ultimately) ended up where they needed to go.



I guess that's it. I'll try to remember to post the link to the del Sol website slideshow, if you all still need more pics. =)

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Everything sounds amazing.


I wondered why some people hate cilantro. i wouldn't if it tasted like soap to me. It's my favorite herb. I add way too much of it when i cook.

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What a great review!! I loved your dress and you are right, where your dinner was held looked like something you would see in a fairy tale with all of the sparkling lights. Thanks for sharing and congrats.


Whenever I get a taste of Cilantro, it is spicy to me. It is in a lot of pico de gallo and salsa here in Tx.

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Great review! I love pictures of Ana y Jose. It always looks so beautiful. I love your dress!!!!


I also LOVE cilantro and do not think it tastes like soap at all. But, I grew up in South Texas where it is put on everything. Yum! Too bad about the mishap though!

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It makes me so sad that I don't like cilantro, as my two most favorite kinds of food use it liberally. (Indian and Mexican.) I want to like it so badly!!!


You know, it's funny. The cilantro thing was the closest I ever got to a "bridezilla" moment...and one of my friends had even predicted that if it happened, it would be the closest I came. LOL. Mostly it bothered me, I think, because I was so starving and desperate for food that I was incensed that I couldn't eat it when it was placed in front of me!

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BLAH I hate Cilantro as well. I LOVE salsa though and it is soooo hard to find a good salsa here in Texas without gobs of it. Anyway, Back to Topic... great review and I love your dress.

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Originally Posted by Kat81 View Post
BLAH I hate Cilantro as well. I LOVE salsa though and it is soooo hard to find a good salsa here in Texas without gobs of it. Anyway, Back to Topic... great review and I love your dress.
I'm always so happy to find others who feel this way about the bad, bad herb. =)

thanks for the comments about the dress! Forgot to mention that I'm planning to cut it off at the knees and keep it as a (fancy) sundress. Hopefully, I can even get this done in time for the post-wedding party we're throwing in PA and wear it to that!

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Great Review! and I love your dress! All the little details you put into the wedding just made everything look so beautiful and almost whimsical cheesy.gif can't wait to see more pic!

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Congrats! Great review! And of course I love your dress - it's very interesting color combination for wedding but it looks really gorgeous. Waiting for the rest of photos))))))))

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