Hilary's PV/LC Vendor Reviews
Posted 15 December 2008 - 03:19 PM
Posted 20 January 2009 - 11:58 PM
Posted 30 January 2009 - 05:01 AM
Posted 08 April 2009 - 02:56 PM
As I mentioned in my review of the resort, Nicole came out to the resort the day before the wedding to meet with the wedding party. She was great and took all of the wedding things I had together for her. And to introduce even before this, I don’t think I ever had TONS of questions for, thanks to you ladies, but any I did have – she answered very promptly, in detail, and helped me figure out whatever I was concerned about. I told William over and over again that I was not worried about the wedding day itself because it was in Nicole’s hands. I was more nervous about the events at the resort (which ended up turning out great anyways). One of the groomsmen commented to William that this was the least rehearsed wedding (we didn’t practice walking or anything, people saw the location/isle for the first time as they were walking down it, etc) and the smoothest wedding at the same time.
Anyways, on the wedding day – nine of us went out to LC early. That is six bridesmaids, the assistant photographer (a friend), my Mom, and I. We grabbed cabs really easily and hopped over the marina. Nicole grabbed all the flowers and the bags I had given her the night before. She told us it was unusual how many kids were going to be on our boat out to LC on this day. They only recently started having the Disney cruise ship dock at the marina. We sat on the sidewalk beside the dock for quite a while, but I suppose it was better than being late / missing the boat. The boat ride was nice. They brought around breakfast and juice. My stomach got a little queasy, but it was fine. We were actually glad to be on the top deck because all of the children on the bottom deck puked. However, it was quite warm, and I was scared I might get sun burnt on my wedding day! Thankfully I had been the Mexican sun long enough to have a good base tan. Beware if you don’t! They came around asking us if we wanted to sign up for activities or a massage. We got first pick for the massages that day of everyone on the boat since we were VIP haha
So we get to the island, which is actually more gorgeous than any picture can depict. We went up to the bridal casita right away to check it out. It was a little tight for the nine of us but definitely doable. There is a hot tub that actually only runs cold water (as far as we could tell - which was perfect because it was HOT!) and a hammock in the shade. It was really too hot (remember this is super hot, super humid July) to do much but lounge in the shade or maybe take a quick exploring trip around the island. A few of the girls decided to swim in the ocean and came back itching from some sort of small jellyfish (not the traditional big jellyfish that is super painful but more something obnoxious) which made me glad I didn’t swim! The bridal casita is on the top of the island where you can watch what everyone is up to. We heard the sea lion “barking” all day and watched him swim people back and forth to a dock. We took our turns going to get our massages. I think I got the head massage lady, which makes sense because it was the best massage of my life! I was so hot, I was afraid I was just going to sweat on the girl the whole hour but they have the massage place at a similar height on the island to the bridal casita, and it is arranged to capture the maximum breeze. The doors are simply a sheet hung over the doorway so the breeze was coming through the whole time. Something about the oil she used plus that constant, strong breeze made me actually chilly by the end of it – which was a huge relief considering how hot I was.
Eventually Nicole came and got everyone for lunch and took us to a big table they were holding for us. There was a five minute rain shower at this point where we all huddled under the rooftop the buffet was under. It was super quick, and we thought nothing of it. We ate our super tasty buffet lunch looking out on the ocean. After walking the stairs and being full, we all decided to fill the “hot” tub up with the cold water to cool down and take the bottle of champagne in with us. That was pretty fun. We fit six girls in there at a time. Slowly girls started getting out to start taking turns with the showers. I think we asked for another bottle of champagne around this time. It took well over an hour before it came, which isn’t the end of the world. If anyone really wanted a drink, they could have walked down the zillion stairs haha.
So I didn’t have a makeup artist or a hair dresser or anything like that. One of the bridesmaids tried her hardest to curl my hair, but the curls fell out as soon as we made them, regardless of hairspray. This is probably partially because my hair is stick straight and partially because it was 100% humidity. I’m not sure if we had hired anyone if I would have felt good about the money spent because there’s no way anyone could have got my hair to curl like I wanted it. So I ended up with wavy. It was pretty hot with all those girls pilling on top of each other with blow driers, curlers, straighteners, etc trying to use the one big mirror. My mom actually brought her own hand held mirror, sat in front of an open window, and got ready in more comfort than anyone else. Also keep in mind there is one fan which just stirs around the heat. If you are getting married in any kind of heat/humidity like I experienced – mentally prepare yourself. My main problem was partially that I probably put on my dress too early and the fact that my dress was so light/thin/simple that it was literally see through so I had to wear a chest to thighs thick, rubber, sticky, hideous thing under my dress. So basically I was wearing a mini-dress with a long dress over top of it so you didn’t see naked bride. If you are getting married when it is going to be hot at all, bring a backup dress! I mean for after the wedding. I was of the mindset that I only get to wear a wedding dress once, so I should get the maximum use out of it. However, this was incredibly flawed in reality. Even if you think the same way I do, bring something as a back up, just in case. You can always wear a white cotton dress again so it’s not a waste. That being said, I had an ipod speaker and was blaring music, and we were all singing, dancing, and generally having fun. I would caution you to warn any super emotional family members to pat you (or something?) rather than try to bear hug you while you are getting ready. My super emotional sister thought it was appropriate to hug me super tight and crush my non-existent curls. I immediately told her to “Get off me – it’s too hot!” and was deemed “bridezilla.” Good luck with that.
I was sitting in front of the fan with my music blasting when Nicole came into the bridal casita soaking wet. She kneeled down in front of me and said something along the lines of – Don’t panic. It’s raining. They’re 30 minutes out. You have a decision to make. Do you want to take a risk, assume the rain will stop and have the wedding on the beach regardless? Or do you want to be safe and move it under cover? We talked about it for a few minutes. I looked around and noticed my girls had shut every window in the place and turned the music up so I wouldn’t see/hear the rain – funny girls. Basically it ended up that she let me wait a little bit longer to see what the weather would do before I had to pick. The rain stopped, so I decided to risk the beach because duh I came for a beach wedding, and hey it’s sunny now. So she runs off, and they start setting up on the beach in super speed. It starts pouring again through the sunlight. I try really hard not to cry. I think the wedding ceremony was a little delayed waiting for the rain to stop. I found out later that everyone made it from the boat to the wedding site in the interim between the rain showers. So when it started to rain again, they were all under cover in the area where we ate dinner or roaming the beach with umbrellas Nicole provided. However, I’m pretty sure their seats were soaked – whoops.
Eventually it stopped, and we start lining up. Nicole comes over to me and asks if I want to peek. Well duh I want to peek. So I get to see William escort his mom down the isle and see all the groomsmen lined up. We walked down tons of stairs (different way then we had been using all day) on the slippery, wet stone staircases to stand behind the groomsmen who are all saying hi and joking around. Eventually they all started down including my mom (who walked me down the isle). So I was alone at the top where no one could see me until Nicole told me to go. My mom was waiting at the top of the main stairs that everyone can see. I was soooo paranoid I was going to slip on these wet stone stairs that when she crooked her arm for me to put mine through hers, I just faked it and put it near hers as I was busy holding up my dress so I didn’t risk tripping, falling, and humiliating myself in front of 54 of our closest friends and family. Of course, I made it down the isle with no problems.
It was super bright so I felt like I was squinting the whole time, but it’s not like you want to wear sunglasses in your wedding so this is hard to avoid. I was emotionally drained from the almost fight with my sister (mostly came out the next day), the long day in the heat, the rain dilemma, etc. so of course when it was my turn to speak, I started crying. Just a helpful hint, if you turn your face away from the audience (to hide the crying) – you put your ugly cry face RIGHT in the video man’s view. Anyways, William actually broke the tension by offering me a tissue that he then proceeded to dab the sweat off his face with in overly dramatic gestures (which of course cracked up the crowd because everyone was roasting). I recommend practicing your first kiss and first dance a little bit. By the time we got around to it, it was the night before. He was exhausted and going to bed early so he put on the song, and we danced a little. By the time we got to the kiss thing, he was not paying attention anymore. So our kiss was a little awkward because I thought we had agreed that I would put my hands around his neck and he would hold me by the waist. However, he didn’t get the memo so I looked silly/over-eager, but whatever! The ceremony ended up being dry and without any fainting, so generally I’d say it was a success.
We had actually found out a few days prior that Brad (who was supposed to marry us) had a family emergency and had to fly to Canada. I was pretty disappointed about that because I had seen him in all of the girls’ videos, pictures, reviews, etc. and felt like I knew him already. The woman who filled in was the person who Brad replaced. She was nice enough to email me the day before and ask my wedding colors so she could try to coordinate. On the other hand, William felt like she hadn’t bothered to read the ceremony at all until that exact second, and she stumbled over a good bit of it. I was too busy crying to notice. Speaking of crying, you might want to give a head’s up to bridesmaids to NOT hide behind each other if they are going to cry (like my previously mentioned super-emotional sister did) because any photos will look like you have a Siamese twin bridesmaid instead of two individual people. Also, I think the crowd was super appreciative of the fans that I asked Nicole to provide (she’s had some left over in her magic closet) on the chairs. Also, two days before the wedding William’s uncle asked me if we could arrange having cold hand towels provided for the wedding like all the resorts do. I just ignored him because there was no way I was going to ask Nicole for something that specific that last minute. However, they did this without me asking so I looked good on accident haha.
Next we did photos. Please read my review of my photographer (or just look at her photos!) to learn more about this. Eventually my FIL came and found us (just the two of us and the photographer at this point) and told us to hurry it up, people wanted to eat. So we came back to join the prayer so they could all eat and then ran off to snap a few more (at our insistence, not Lauren’s, she was totally flexible). We then came back to eat dinner. I am a big fan of arranged seating because of the group that we had (split between kids and adults – both groups with varying behaviors) so Nicole had everyone’s nametags I had given her in advance on the tables, like we had planned out in advance. I purposefully had William and I at a table by ourselves because I knew we wouldn’t get much alone time if I didn’t do that, and I highly recommend it for future brides. During this time, one of the waiters came up to our table and told us there was a rainbow, and the wait staff thought it would be nice if we took a picture with it in the background. Our main photographer was nowhere to be found so I grabbed our friend who was acting as assistant photographer, and she snapped a few which was neat because she’s very religious and was near tears capturing “God’s blessing on our marriage” which was nice of her. Anyway, we continue our dinner, and they start to light all the candles as it got towards twilight. Lauren (our photographer) reappeared with a surprise – she had hidden in the place the guys got ready with her Mac (yes, she brought her Mac on the boat/island to do this!) to upload and edit about 25 of the best pictures. She put the Mac on our table with a slideshow running for everyone that was coming up to talk to us to see along with some of her super cute business cards.
Next it was speech time. The best man spoke first. Then two bridesmaids split the responsibility since they were from two different groups, and I had no specific MOH. There were a lot of old stories shared, and it actually felt somewhat like a roast. If this would upset you – I would recommend asking to read either or both ahead of time. I didn’t think to do this. Next William’s dad got up to speak. Right as he got started, William’s uncle climbs up a palm tree behind the banister, grabs the mike, and starts talking. Keep in mind that he is dripping wet, in his bathing suit, with snorkel/mask hanging off his head wiping the salt water out of his eyes, etc. It was absolutely hilarious! Even Nicole said later that she had never seen anything like that or anything as funny…
Next, everyone wanted to start dancing but thought that we had to dance first. We told them to go ahead, that we weren’t’ ready yet, but didn’t want to hold up the fun. So everyone started on the dance floor. Glass #1 breaks on the dance floor – which was my FIL – not a drunk kid. Glasses #2-5 break (these were probably more drunk kids haha) on the dance floor and they keep taking off and putting back on the mats in an attempt to shield people from the glass that they can’t find in the dark. I apologize to Nicole for the drinkers getting rowdy and breaking things. She replied that it was totally not our fault – the bartenders are not supposed to be using glass – it is their fault. Finally my friend who was acting as assistant photographer slices her foot open pretty good. By the time I discovered this, I found Nicole sitting on the floor holding a wet rag against my friend’s bloody foot. My Mom, the nurse, could tell she didn’t need stitches and helped bandage her up. Thankfully that was the only physical injury of the evening. However, bridesmaids’ necklaces and flip flops were breaking left and right and people were losing flip flops later in the evening as the tide was literally sloshing off the dance floor. Somewhere in there we did our first dance, cut the cake, etc. We also had requested specifically - in advance - for the DJ to play our fight song and then his parent’s fight song afterwards. The DJ didn’t bother to download these songs until they were on the way / actually on the island. And go figure the wireless internet (?!?!) on the island was being finicky so they only got our fight song (which was lovely don’t get me wrong) and not the other (which was his parents/all their friends/pretty much everyone else at the wedding). So we kinda looked bad as if we were dissing their school, but it was out of our control at that point. But since it was the school of the people who paid for the whole wedding, I didn’t feel bad not tipping the DJ. (Honestly the only person I tipped was Nicole so that statement doesn’t make much sense.)
Moving on, as expected, our group became pretty intoxicated. People were scrambling trying to find where in the world their stuff was at the end. And we definitely delayed past the “get on the boat” call quite a bit. Thank goodness we paid for the extra hour – I highly recommend it. Example of intoxicated friends, one bridesmaid was leaning/hanging onto the dock banister so much that in the one place where there is a ladder down to the ocean – aka no banister – she fell in. Two groomsmen jumped in to “save” her. Priceless. After everyone got on the boat, Nicole jumped (purposefully) into the ocean to celebrate her last wedding of the season.
The boat ride home consisted of mostly kids on the top deck and the calm, sober, and/or seasick types on the bottom deck. Technically, William and I belonged on the bottom deck based on the fact that we were incredibly sober compared to our friends. It wasn’t a big deal. Sometimes it just helps to have a buzz to deal with the incredibly intoxicated but oh well! We made them stop the music for a little bit so we could give out awards. Basically we had gotten these little plastic palm tree trophies somewhere and thought it would be funny to give them out as awards sometime during the week. These were things like best fall (uncle falling from the banister after giving his impromptu speech), best bathing suit (guy wearing girl’s bathing suit bottoms, don’t ask), most time spent in the water (the kids), and person who can’t relax when on vacation (FIL). Everyone thought that was funny, but I’m sure it was our groups’ personalities. The boat was good for getting these people to finally stop/slow their drinking because it was basically impossible to stand upright, dance, and drink at the same time. The buses were there as expected. We had a hard time locating all of our stuff around the boat. I would recommend bags that zip shut because some stuff was falling out of bags and sliding around the boat, which made it especially hard to find at the end of the night.
We got home and did the bouquet and garter toss by the hotel pool. This is where things got a little dicey. All the bridesmaids (pretty much all of the single girls there) were sworn to go directly to the pool so we could do it immediately because without them there would be no girls and no point. Two of the girls thought they were smart/sneaky enough to go upstairs and put on their bathing suits under their bridesmaid dresses before anyone was ready. They were very wrong. I insisted to wait for them, and William was getting more and more pissed. They finally showed up. Another bridesmaid had been given a job. Due to the fact that my dress was so see-through, I had to shove my garter under my “under-dress.” In an attempt to avoid my new husband not being able to find my garter, spending an inappropriate amount of time looking for it, etc – I had asked her to help me remember to pull it down right before the tosses started. My mistake was asking one of the big drinkers to do this. She was incredibly uncoordinated at this point and as I try to keep her from lifting my dress in front of everyone - we both look down at the exact same second - and hit heads at maximum force. My reaction to this incident (a curse word or two in her direction) is the other reason I was called bridezilla. Good luck not reacting poorly to a friend when she slams you in the head in an already super stressful point where your husband of a few hours is getting pissed in the background. So that was the end to my wedding experience.
We then stayed for a few more days with our group. We did some other Adventure Vallarta activities that I will review for you all. Then when everyone had left, we (William and I) moved to the Marriott (which I have also reviewed already) for a week for our honeymoon. After returning to the US, I was hospitalized for two days. We flew into Charlotte, NC, spent the night at my Mom’s house, and then woke up to drive the eight hours back to our new home in Louisville, KY. The funny thing is I didn’t get sick until we were thirty minutes outside of Louisville – point being several hours after leaving Mexico. We got home, and William immediately went to mow the lawn because it was up to his thigh. I stayed inside and continued to get violently ill to the point that I had to be in the bathroom with a bucket every 30 minutes, then 15, then 7, then down to every three minutes. It got to the point that I was incredibly dehydrated, weak, etc. Once we decided that I needed to get to a doctor, the problem became how to get me to a doctor with such a short window of time. We went to an urgent care office (remember we don’t know our city so William is freaking out and googling these things while on the phone with our moms) right next to our house. William made it very clear when they checked us in that I needed fluids immediately. The receptionist girl agreed and got him to work filling out forms as I was crawling back and forth from the restroom to the waiting room. Two hours later we get to see a doctor and her first comment is: “Wow, she needs fluids ASAP.” We agree and ask to get started immediately. She responded that they don’t do fluids, we have to go to a hospital 20 minutes away. If wasn’t in a wheelchair completely ill – I would have punched her. Anyways, we follow their directions to the “closest” hospital. (Which we later found out was NOT the closest hospital but their sister hospital – lovely!) So I tell them my social security number in a wheelchair in between heaves into my bucket. Because I am so incredibly ill at this point, they give me a private room (best thing all day!) because they don’t know what I have. They then proceeded to put two bags of fluids in me in twenty minutes time. Over the next two days, I had an additional four bags added. Keep in mind, we were both supposed to start our new full-time jobs the next morning. Also, keep in mind that since I haven’t started my new job yet, I am not insured individually. So in my sick stupor I have the insight to check in and do all my paperwork under my maiden name because I might be under my mom’s insurance if they don’t know that I’m married. William proceeded to get sick (not half as bad) at midnight and slept in my room in a recliner. Long story short, we both got better, were allowed to alter our start dates at our new jobs, and managed to sneak by under my mom’s insurance (still had to pay but not half as much!). One other person from the wedding was hospitalized when they got home also. Additionally, we heard about four people during the trip in Mexico that were sick, and two or three that got sick (not hospital sick though) when they got home. The reason I tell you this is to warn you to be VERY careful. I don’t drink beer so I had a few drinks in downtown PV that had ice in them. I’ve heard that salads are a bad idea because the water that they lettuce is washed in can still contaminate your food. Because so many people didn’t get sick until after they got home, I thought the food in the airport might be highly suspect but that’s just one of several possible culprits.
Because I don’t like to end things on a bad note, let me point out that a lot of the things that went “wrong” (super emotional sister, garter incident, heat/humidity, rain, double dress, ugly cry face on the video, Brad having a family emergency, bridesmaid falling in the ocean, sickness, etc) were not related to Nicole at all. I mostly share these to make you laugh and let you learn from my mistakes. However, the DJ missing a very crucial song, the large amount of broken glass, the long wait for champagne – were related in some way to the wedding crew – not necessarily Nicole directly. I apologize if this review is negative. I am only trying to help you avoid my mistakes/issues. Overall, I would do it all over again, even including the extreme sickness, to have the wedding in Mexico at LC specifically. To this day, when we see people who went to the wedding, they continue to gush about how it was the most gorgeous, fun, unique, etc wedding/vacation/trip they have ever been to. I can’t explain how incredibly happy we were with the decision to do what we did, how we did it. Feel free to ask me any questions. I will continue to write reviews until I’ve covered everything. I actually have the video and have since purchased a dvd burner if you want a copy. I’m not sure how to put this video up online but know it was very beneficial for me to see other video for my decision to have a wedding at LC. Hope this was helpful/entertaining!
Posted 08 April 2009 - 03:11 PM
We are really happy we paid extra to get the video. I’ve actually purchased a DVD burner and sent the video out to several of the wedding party/guests who wanted a copy. There are a few picky things I wish weren’t in the video, and we did have a few problems with the video. To be picky, it is kind of obnoxious when the videographer points the camera up at a palm tree and spins around or tapes the water behind the boat. I realize this is a technique to transition between things, but it is kind of worthless and make me dizzy! We originally got a video with generic music on it. I had told Nicole that I wanted to pick specific music to go on the video. I realize it was partially my fault for not telling her what songs we wanted on it, but she was very understanding considering I was in the hospital! I also pointed out that the date on the video was wrong – we were married July 3rd, not July 4th! For these reasons combined, she promised to re-do the video and get it to us. I waited and waited and waited and finally asked her when we’d get it. She responded that she had shipped it that day. (Seemed to be pretty convenient that I asked that day…or she had forgotten, hard to tell.) So eventually we got the re-done video with the right music and the right date – but with incorrect grammar this time (“William and Hilary presents….”) At this point, I just dropped it and went with the incorrect grammar version. Other than these minor hiccups, the video is awesome, and everyone is really glad we got it.
Posted 08 April 2009 - 03:12 PM
Generally speaking the DJ did a good job. He read the crowd well as far as when to play slow versus fast songs. He played from the lists of songs we gave him. He also did not play songs we had specifically requested for him to avoid.
The only problem was that he missed a specific song that was important. I explained this in the wedding review and will copy/paste it here for you: “We also had requested specifically - in advance - for the DJ to play our fight song and then his parent’s fight song afterwards. The DJ didn’t bother to download these songs until they were on the way / actually on the island. And go figure the wireless internet (?!?!) on the island was being finicky so they only got our fight song (which was lovely don’t get me wrong) and not the other (which was his parents/all their friends/pretty much everyone else at the wedding). So we kinda looked bad as if we were dissing their school, but it was out of our control at that point. But since it was the school of the people who paid for the whole wedding, I didn’t feel bad not tipping the DJ. (Honestly the only person I tipped was Nicole so that statement doesn’t make much sense.)”
Posted 08 April 2009 - 03:38 PM
Lauren Wright is an up-and-coming wedding photographer in Atlanta, GA. You may be surprised after looking at her photos that she is so young. She’s actually in the process of getting her undergraduate degree in Spanish at George Tech while developing her photography business. Don’t be fooled by her age – she’s started out following a wedding photographer in high school and has been photographing independently through her own business since college. She keeps sharp in the photography world by going to conferences specifically for wedding photographers.
I found out about her through an ad she posted on facebook. After looking at her website/work, I was hooked. I actually hired her to do a separate bridal shoot in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens before the wedding. She is very professional and adds little touches that make you think you are her only bride. (For example, the wedding photos came in the mail to me inside a super cute booklet in our wedding colors with a ribbon thing around it. Also the data CD’s were stamped with a label that featured a photo from our specific wedding. She included a card (her trademark logo and colors) to thank us for letting her shoot our wedding.) She is super down-to-earth/carefree but not to the point that she won’t lead the wedding photos and get everyone to listen/obey. She is flexible and is willing to do whatever you want but also has the insight to know what’s going to look good and what isn’t. I just generally think she is a super nice person and enjoyed working with her very much. I even asked her to take a picture last minute when the light was gone of our rings (totally slipped my mind to ask her earlier/ahead of time) – and while it was probably a pain to get the flash right, she did it 100% cheerfully. Also, she broke her normal policy in returning photos by a certain time to get them to us earlier for our reception in the US which was awesome of her. I’m going to leave you with my favorite story about her (included previously in my wedding review) as well as her website. If my words don’t speak to you, her pictures will!
Atlanta Wedding Photographer Lauren Wright
“Lauren (our photographer) reappeared with a surprise – she had hidden in the place the guys got ready with her Mac (yes, she brought her Mac on the boat/island to do this!) to upload and edit about 25 of the best pictures. She put the Mac on our table with a slideshow running for everyone that was coming up to talk to us to see along with some of her super cute business cards.”
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