I'm back!!! It was absolutely amazing! We had 36 guests and all of them were so impressed. We had the best time and Valeria and her staff did an incredible job! I will post pictures when I get a chance. In the meantime I wrote down some post-wedding thoughts and notes for all you future brides. I know every little bit of info I got from this site was a huge help. Especially when youâ€™re planning a wedding at a place youâ€™ve never seen in person.
I don't have much to compare it to, but I loved it and we had some well-traveled guests who've been to several all-inclusives and everyone said this was the nicest they've ever been to by far. The service is excellent and everyone was very polite and eager to assist. The resort and the beach are beautiful and well maintained. The food is great! The place pretty much shuts down around 1 (room service is always available though) so if you have a younger crowd who wants to party late into the night, you may want to plan a night in Playa Del Carmen. I've heard there are some great clubs there.
We went on a Catamaran trip (CataMaya) with 10 of our guests the day before the wedding. It was awesome! Highly recommended! They guys on the boat were so much fun and they even did a tequila toast for the boat when they found out we were getting married.
We also visited Tulum which was really cool. We booked both of our trips through Olympus Tours. They have a desk at the resort. You can pick them out by their orange polos.
Some of our guests took taxis to Playa Del Carmen in the evening and had a lot of fun there.
We got a coupleâ€™s massage and I got a mini facial. Both were very good. The Spa is gorgeous!! I didn't get my hair and makeup done there, but I wish I had gotten some more treatments and taken advantage of the place. It really is nice.
Beach Bonfire Party
This was fantastic! We walked away from it so happy we did it. Our guests loved it! We did it Thursday night (wedding was Saturday) at 8:30. Most of our guests arrived Wednesday and Thursday so we did it that night as a welcome party. It was a great chance for everyone to meet and get to know each other. I really think it made the rest of the trip more fun for everyone. Iâ€™m not sure if it had anything to do with the size of our group but the setup was great, much better than I had expected. It was in the center of the beach in front of the resort. They put big white flags in the sand in a big half circle. As you walk up to it there was a rack for everyoneâ€™s shoes. They did a half circle of lounge chairs around the fire at the end of the space and in the center, had some cocktail tables and regular chairs (like they use for the ceremony and reception without covers). The bar was a big setup on the side. We didnâ€™t do any food and I donâ€™t think it was missed. The party is 2 hours and it goes by soo fast. We brought our own speaker, The Big Jambox (awesome little thing by the way!) and had a playlist. We also bought a bottle of high-end tequila for Eric and some of our guests to try and I brought a couple packs of glow in the dark bracelets from the $ store which ended up being fun. If itâ€™s in your budget I highly suggest this, especially if you have a bigger group of people.
These were a big hit! I had drawstring beach bags, disposable waterproof cameras, a waterproof key/tip holder, and a survival kit type bag with Tissues, Motrin, Imodium, Tums, Bandaids, Emergen-C, Hand Sanitizer, Aloe, and personalized SPF Lip Protectant. Everyone really appreciated the thought and it seemed like they found everything useful. It was cool seeing the smile on everyoneâ€™s faces when we handed them a gift as they arrived. That said, I was glad I resisted the urge to go overboard. I thought I was keeping the stuff I was taking down there to a minimum but I still underestimated how much room it was all going to take up in our luggage. I almost did mugs or cups but while they might be a nice momento if they are personalized, theyâ€™re not really necessary here. Just keep in mind that you picked a top notch resort and you and your guests are paying for that, so a lot of things are already there.
THE WEDDING DAY!
Sorry if itâ€™s long. This is just the highlights believe it or not!
Iâ€™ve mentioned here several times how Juan was going to do our picturesâ€¦.well he didnâ€™t. Turns out he fell earlier in the day doing a TTD session and hurt his back, so Tony took his place. I havenâ€™t gotten any pictures yet, but he was great to work with and from what I can tell from what he showed me on his cameras he got some great shots.
I was soooo glad I changed my ceremony to the new beach location. Itâ€™s beautiful and the ocean was the perfect back drop. The wedding gazebo also happens to be located at the same end of the pool as the swim up bar which is open til 6. I saw a wedding at the gazebo on Sunday and I felt bad for the couple because the bar was still full and it was pretty loud. As far as ceremony d©cor, we kept it pretty simple, and honestly I donâ€™t think you need much. The setting is gorgeous by itself and the ceremony is short. I just had the included white fabric, white chairs with no covers, pink and orange rose petals in the aisle (no runner, just sand underneath) and the included centerpiece (different colors of lillies) on the ceremony table. I was glad I didnâ€™t spend any more money on that part. It just wasnâ€™t necessary. The view is stunning in itself.
Even though we had our own speaker system, we rented the resortâ€™s system for the ceremony. It was well worth the money to ensure that everyone could hear the ceremony (it would have been difficult without the mic) and it was nice we didnâ€™t have to worry about who would man the music. They did a great job with that!
We did the sand ceremony which was only takes a few minutes but was a nice addition to the ceremony. I went back and forth on even doing it, but at the last minute I bought a set at Michael's. I was glad I did. It was really sweet. Unfortunately someone stole our sand L so Iâ€™m glad we have it on video.
We did the cocktail hour in the Gazebo thanks to Valeriaâ€™s suggestion and I was glad we listened. The spot on the beach for the cocktail hour has no shade and it was still really hot that time of day. The bar wasnâ€™t really an issue for that part. Even though there were people still there, we had the mexican trio and everyone in our party was talking so you didnâ€™t notice. Everything was cleared out by the time we sat at the tables for dinner.
Dinner was fantastic but slow. Valeria told me initially the dinner would take about an hour leaving 2 for dancing and other stuff, but it ended up taking more like 2 hours. Valeria stopped by to see how everything was going and I mentioned it to her. Within 5 minutes, one of the servers stopped me to apologize saying there was a miscommunication or something in the kitchen and said they would all stay extra time to make up for it. They stayed an extra hour for us! Thatâ€™s how good the service is there. They really do try to make everything perfect. Although slow dinner service was the norm while we were there. The servers were always attentive, it just took a long time to get through dinners.
For D©cor, I brought table runners (purchased on ebay), maracas (amols), seating cards (with starfish and had no problem with customs but I didn't get searched), table numbers and a cake topper. I also had three cards for each place setting tied together with a ribbon. The first was a Thank You, the second was a menu, and the third was an I Spy game. Since we didnâ€™t have a photographer for the reception, the I Spy was a good way to encourage people to get certain shots. I got the Ispy and the thank you from Weddings by Jamie on Etsy. She's on this site as well since she just had her own destination wedding. She was great to work with! She sends you the file and you just print it out. She was really fast! I also got center pieces through the resort. I chose to spend money here instead of on the ceremony location. I was happy I did. They looked great!
We did a photo guest book with the instant fuji camera. That was a HUGE hit! We have some hilarious pictures and our guests had a lot of fun with it. I got some colored sunglasses and a tiara from the dollar store and made my own mustaches on a stick using some items from Michaelâ€™s. I got a photo album from Michaelâ€™s for under $10 and added a satin ribbon to it. It was a suggestion from another BDW bride and it was so much better than spending a ton of money for one like Iâ€™d seen on the Knot or Etsy.
For the music, we used our Jambox and Ipod. It worked out great. We were in complete control of the music and since our Jambox is controlled by Bluetooth I could control the music from my seat or the dance floor. We didnâ€™t miss a DJ at all. We did use the Gazebo as a dance floor and while I had the same concerns about lighting as some of you, it was very well lit. There are sconces all around the inside of the Gazebo and itâ€™s bright! The lights around the tables are also nicer looking than what they appear in pictures Iâ€™ve seen and we had a few of them. There was also some lighting under the tables which was cool. With the pool lit up blue and the lights wrapped around the trees it was nice. I donâ€™t think you need extra lighting at all. For our first dance and the dance with our parents we actually danced near the tables instead of the gazebo. Everyone was at the tables and they were set up in a circle so it felt right to just dance in the center of it all so they didnâ€™t all have to get up and move to see.
Instead of heading to the disco, we all went to the Sugar Reef Bar in the resort. They have tables that sit in a few inches of water, which feels GREAT on your feet after being in the heat in a wedding dress all day. J