Hi ladies, it is finally here - my detailed wedding review. Video of ceremony coming soon!
Wedding Review â€“ March 1, 2011 at the Sandos Playacar, Mayan Riviera
I have to start my review with Maria because she was one of the top reasons we chose this resort. She responds to emails within a day or two (which is unheard of with most wedding coordinators in Mexico) and she is really flexible â€“ you can do anything at this resort. Maria is amazing, you will not be disappointed! She looks after every detail with ease. She works very hard to make sure your wedding day is stress free. I was pretty relaxed but being the organized freak that I am, I was worried about stupid little stuff like the delivery of flowers and getting my dress steamed. While at the spa she delivered the flower for my hair and when I was done the flowers were waiting for me in my room. She is organized, efficient and there for you! Do yourself a favour though and send her your guest list and other details two weeks before the wedding. This way you can have your rooms together if you want and any other special details. Also Maria works so many hours and days without a day off and does not complain one bit. If you can squeeze a monetary gift for her in your budget she will greatly appreciate it (and not expect it).
This was the best wedding planning decision Jay and I ever made!!! I totally recommend the Mayan ceremony! Our guests were amazed and we know that our ceremony will be remembered by everyone forever. It is really hard to describe but it was such as spiritual and cultural ceremony, it really connected Jay and I in a different way than I ever imagined. A few notes about the ceremony â€“ it has to be at sunset (ours was at 5:30) so you will need to get your pictures taken before hand, it is in Mayan, not English, but it is so spiritual that you donâ€™t need translation. The ceremony is about 45 min long including the Mayan performers. The performance was sooo amazing though. There are a few different price points but we got the entire package. It was $1400 USD for the Shaman, musicians and performers. It was worth every penny! Since we were not using the resortâ€™s contracted minister, we went with the free wedding package and just added everything on. This turned out to be cheaper for us. I will try to attach a description of the ceremony to this posting. We are also in the process of editing our wedding ceremony video, when it is done I will post the link to it on YouTube.
The Mayan Ceremony is a symbolic ceremony so we got hitched in our living room a few days before we left for Mexico. This also gave us the chance to â€œelopeâ€ with our best man/maid of honour. We had fun with it and decided on a football wedding theme â€“ super fun!
We went to the Italian Buffet. The food was similar to the regular buffet but they had an area separated for us and servers just for us. I got to pick the table arrangement, we did a grand entrance, they put our wedding favours on the table and we even cut the cake. If you want to save some cash I really recommend this option â€“ it is FREE!
We went with the disco. It did not smell like cat pee like others say. In fact, we partied in there most nights. The DJ played the music we wanted and they made it look nice for our reception despite the graffiti walls. A year ago, Jay and I went to Mexico to check out the resort. When we did the disco was painted yellow. When we go there for the wedding, it had been painted white and people were given markers to write graffiti everywhere. So while it was not really nice to look at, it was super fun and all of our guests really enjoyed writing on the wall!
Hair & Make-up:
I had my hair and makeup done for the wedding at the Resort Spa. Hair was $100 and makeup $60. My hair turned out great but I hated my makeup and had no time to redo it myself. Also the hair stylist/makeup artist (same person), did not speak any English at all so do yourself a favour and bring a picture of how you want your hair and makeup done (unless you speak Spanish). I said natural for makeup which she interpreted as brown and I found myself rubbing a lot of it off and adding my own blush. Maria will make your appointment for you which is convenient.
We decided to hire a private photographer (Dean Sanderson). We really struggled with this decision because I always told myself that I only needed one good wedding picture and we did not want to spend a lot of money. Guess what? You will want several amazing wedding pictures to choose from and that is what we got! Plus the resort photographer is not going to touch up the colours and lighting in your shots â€“ Dean will! He is quick to get them back to you to â€“ 3 weeks, a lot of my friends waited 2 months. I was so anxious I checked my email every day in anticipation!
My only complaint was that since our ceremony was at 5:30 we had to do pictures at 3pm when the sun was in a bad spot. Not the photographerâ€™s fault but not a great time to shoot pics at the beach. A lot of pictures have squinty eyes syndrome. Also ladies, make sure you scope out the resort first for any cool wedding picture spots. Dean is good but this may very well be his first time on your resort. He has great tips though like drink a lot of water 24 hours before the wedding and bring blotting papers to the photo shoot.
Dean was also really good to work with, and has reasonable rates â€“ contact him directly for more details. He is also getting more into underwater photo shoots so we decided last minute to go to a cenote with him the next day and â€œtrash the dressâ€. Sooo cool and it was a really really fun day. By the end of the day we felt like Dean was also friend, not just the professional photographer. He is very personable and we soon discovered that we had a lot of the same interests â€“and food allergies! And my dress was not ruined at all! The cenote is fresh water so it actually cleaned it a bit â€“ lol.
If you want to check out my wedding pictures, I uploaded a few of them to Flickr:
Overall, I would highly recommend this resort. I have been to several resorts in Mexico and this is in my top 2 for sure. The layout of the resort is second to none, the staff is great, the drinks and food is good too. The beach is wide and has nice sand.
This is my biggest piece of advice â€“ stay in the beach section!!!! While the Riviera section has fancier rooms with Jacuzzis, it is far from everything. The swim up bar in that section is also super lame because all of the action is in the beach section of the resort! Maria upgraded Jay and me to an oceanfront room which was amazing. We set our alarm to get up and watch the sun rise almost every day. The rooms are close to the beach, pool, restaurants, disco, sports bar, etc. If you are really concerned with having the fanciest rooms on the resort and you want a really quiet wedding celebration then the Riviera section or Haciendas are for you, if not STAY IN THE BEACH SECTION!!!!
This is where the resort screws you big time. Their exchange rate is different in different sections of the resort (store, spa, front desk). For example at the Spa, prices are posted in US dollars but you cannot pay cash at the spa. When you go to pay at the front desk, they convert everything into pesos at their rate. Then when you go to pay in USD they convert your USD back into pesos at their rate (donâ€™t forget that buy and sell rates are different). Anyway, we felt like we got totally screwed and I made a big stink about it when we were checking out. Honestly, the best rates were by using our credit card. Do not exchange you money at the resort or withdraw from their bank machines. Go to Playa and shop around, you will save a lot of money.
Ceremony $1400, Hair/Makeup $160, Flowers $233, Photographer (used private), Dress Steam ~$35, Day pass for photographer $77, Disco $700, Cake, wedding toast and dinner were free