We've just started planning our wedding for mid-July, 2015 at Secrets Maroma Beach. We will be celebrating with 20 family and friends and are having our ceremony on the beach and reception on the gazebo terrace. We're super excited and can't wait!!!
Cecilia seems wonderful so far and has been very prompt at responding to my emails which is very reassuring. I do have a couple of questions for other brides.
Did anyone travel with decorations, welcome bags for guests, etc. and if so, how did you travel with them? We'll be staying at the resort for almost 2 weeks and I was wondering if I should just pack a separate suitcase with wedding "supplies" or ship them depending on costs.
I'd also love some tips on traveling with a gown... We're flying Jetblue and they do not have any hanging storage. I'm also a bit paranoid that airport security may have to see inside my dress bag and I really don't want my fiance to see it!
Who did you use for flowers and roughly how much did you spend on various arrangements? Did anyone use Planner 1 Events for lighting or decor? If so, what are your thoughts?
We have opted for the Ultimate package which comes with the sound system for the ceremony. I'd love to know your thoughts on this. We are considering having a live musician but the sound system would definitely keep costs down. Was there a technician who was able to play/change the songs during your ceremony or did a guest have to do it?
We have a friend doing photography for us so we will be substituting the photography and video services for music. Who did you have for a DJ and what did you think? Is it worth it to have a DJ or should we just rent the sound system and use our own playlist?
We're also considering doing a welcome event, maybe the bonfire on the beach but I'm not 100% sure yet as we're trying to keep our budget in check. What other events did you host for your guests?
Thank you so much, I really appreciate your help!
((WOW this turned out to be really long))...
HI! Congrats on the upcoming wedding! My husband and I were just married at SMB on January 10, 2015 and I can definitely share my experience with you! Everything was absolutely perfect and I don't regret any of the choices I made, not to mention nearly all aspects of the wedding and related events exceeded any of the expectations that I had going into it! I wish the same for you and your fiancé, and I'm sure it will be more than perfect for you as well
Here is a link to see our photo preview that our photographer posted on their blog…our wedding is the first one you should see (Kayla & Beau – Secrets Maroma Resort)
or via this link, whichever way you find easiest….
Our wedding seems to have a lot of similarities to what you are planning so I hope you find this at least somewhat helpful and/or reassuring that you picked a greatplae
...we were married on the beach and had our reception at the Gazebo Terrace.
Cecelia is sooooo sweet and wonderful! Actually my WC was Valeria throughout the whole planning process up until a week or 2 before the wedding when something came up and she would not be available (she was sweet and super helpful as well but never met her). But Cecelia picked up right where she left off and nothing was missed or forgotten. I was really hoping for Cecelia from the beginning anyway because I knew someone who had gotten married there in 2012 (I did not know her at the time so was not in attendance) - and she had told me that there were 2 WC's - Cecelia and Valeria - and she had Valeria but wished she had gotten Cecelia, only because she could tell that Valeria was newer. But from our communication at least, I can say she was great, and Cecelia is just a doll!!
Our total guest count was 22 not counting my husband and I (still feels weird to say husband lol since we were together over 9 1/2 years before finally getting married). I think it was the perfect amount of people for us, and everyone that mattered the most to us was there, which made it even more perfect to me. I was initially worried about it looking too "bare" at the ceremony, and especially at the reception, but 24 people was definitely enough to fill the space. We had 6 in the wedding party altogether.
And boy did I travel with decorations & a variety of other things lol! At least it seemed like a lot. And miraculously everything made it there in one piece! I depended on my parents and my sister/MOH to help me get everything over there, which was super helpful. And now that it is all said and done, I think if I had to do it again, I would probably bring most of everything again. I had thought about shipping everything there ahead of time but I wasn't too crazy about the idea from the start, and ended up not having everything together early enough anyway to ship it in time. I know that you can use USPS to ship there if you think that it might make you feel a little more confident in shipping everything ahead of time. I know that I had priced Fed Ex flat rate international and it was more expensive than USPS from what I can remember.
I would just recommend not waiting till the last minute to come up with a packing plan, or pack for that matter, because that’s what I did and it was a little stressful – I ended up staying up all night before we flew out trying to organize the packing to fit as much as possible. And really had more items to bring than what is listed, but ran out of time to get it all packed before we had to leave (I am a procrastinator by nature obviously lol).
Here's a list of the stuff I brought ----
-Welcome bags (large jute tote bags) and the contents (koozies, bottle openers, easy spanish books, travel size suntan lotion & aloe vera gel tubes, lip balm, hangover kits, & candy)
-palm hand fans
-6 silver lanterns
-cake stand and serving set
-toasting glasses for us and the wedding party (8 total)
-18 hanging mercury glass votives (was planning on bringing more but ran out of room)
-Small wooden box from hobby lobby that looked kind of like a little chest to be used as a part of the guest book setup
-an artificial toss bouquet
-special sunglasses for us 2, the wedding party, and the 4 parents
-Our coordinating collection of wooden signage that I had made through an Etsy shop (thebackporchshoppe) - 2 different larger signs (including the stakes used to set them in the sand!), our chair signs (senor & senora), and 3 6" wooden letters (K, &, for the cake table
--> You can see the 2 larger signs I am referring to with these links - these are actually my signs in the pics And if you think you might want some of your own, Darline with TheBackPorchShoppe on Etsy is absolutely fantastic! Not only is her work amazing & high quality, she is so sweet to chat with and offers exceptional customer service And sooo easy to work with - as you can see, mine were a collaborative effort - and she will make exactly what you want!
As far as packing goes....I had to keep in mind that I was depending on my parents and others to get everything back home, including my dress & accessories, his suit, etc. because we were all leaving from Secrets on the Monday following the wedding - our family and friends were going back home and my husband & I were starting our travel adventure towards our honeymoon destination - Coco Plum Island, Belize – which involved taking a cab to Playa del Carmen --> overnight bus to Belize City --> cab to the Belize airport --> plane to Dangriga sea port--> van to the boat landing --> boat to the island! And knew that we would be doing it again in reverse to get back home -- so we were definitely not going to be able to take any extra stuff with us. So here's what I did...
I had a large suitcase that I used for the welcome bags and the stuff to go in them. I used the left over room for the hand fans and most of the maracas. That was really the only bag completely dedicated for wedding stuff because the rest was just put in with other bags among clothes, etc. I was responsible for 4 of the 6 lanterns, while my sister packed the other 2. Her and I split the mercury votives which were just mixed in with clothing – which worked out because it added extra cushion for protection. My parents packed some of the sign stuff - I think we had the largest sign and it's stake if I remember correctly - which I packed the sign in a suitcase and put the stake in my dress bag because it was too long to fit in any suitcase - I'll explain below about just how helpful the dress bag can really be lol….
As for my dress – this is what I did and highly recommend it….
I bought this exact black dress bag off of Amazon (see link below) for < $15! And then I put my dress in it (which was already in a clear heavy plastic wedding dress bag). So then I used the black bag to hold other stuff too, while my wedding dress was still protected from anything that I put inside of the outer black bag…
http://www.amazon.co...black dress bag
In this bag I was able to fit my wedding dress (which even has fluffy tulle & a train), my shoes in their original shoe box, my Mrs. Beard wedding hanger in the box it was shipped to me in so that it wouldn’t get bent, the stake for one of the signs that wouldn’t fit in the suitcases, and the toss bouquet! I also hung my getting ready shirt and my husband’s ensemble inside – that way I had more room in the bags to pack the other stuff lol and also because you never know that might happen to you checked luggage. One of our friend’s luggage got “misplaced” due to flight schedule changes and he didn’t get it for several days – although he did get it before the wedding. I would call your airline and ask about their policy. We flew United and I had called ahead to ask about the wedding dress situation – they said that they allowed you to hang it in the flight attendant’s closet out of courtesy, and therefore could still bring the allowed carry on and personal item in addition to the dress. I never did get to hang it in a closet but I never had to check it and it didn’t cost any extra....our flight schedule included a small plane from Lafayette, LA to Houston which had no closet to hang it in – so they let me do with the black dress bag the same as they typically do with carry on’s that don’t fit in the overhead bins – kind of like checking the bag for the flight and you pick it up when exiting off the plane. From Houston to Cancun, there was no room in the flight attendant’s closet but I was able to easily fit it into the overhead bin (folded in half) with the other items still packed inside of it. From what I remember, no one in the US airports ever attempted to unzip it – and I kind of remember that the customs people in Mexico went to unzip it (since we got a red light!), but it was a lady and a man, and I made the request that if they had to unzip it to please let us know so that I could make my fiancé turn around because my wedding dress was in there and I didn’t want him to see it. And I honestly can’t remember now if they actually unzipped it – I don’t think they did. But they did open our other bags – which I think supported the wedding story as they saw tote bags with “Hola” painted on them, maracas, and other wedding related stuff.
We used Planner 1 for pretty much all of the décor (everything except for what I brought and the dance floor lighting for the gazebo), including the flowers (and bouquets & corsages). Gabi Lavor is the main planner (at least the main one that I dealt with) and she was fabulous! Never met her but she was super attentive to my detailed requests and everything was done even better than I imagined. I didn’t contact her until about a month before the wedding because I was so busy with school and everything that I kind of forgot! But she was super quick to respond and made it all happen. This was my approach…In the beginning I told her everything I wanted and sent her examples of what my dream wedding would include (as I had become a little overly obsessed with details from having so long of a planning period to think about things), and she sent me a very detailed price quote for everything, which of course was way over budget, as I had figured it would be, and then we scaled back from there. And honestly, the total ended up being more than 50% less than where we started and I never once felt like what we ended up with was lacking from what I originally wanted, and all I can say is that I couldn’t imagine how many flowers we would have had if we had not “scaled back” because it was perfect the way that it ended up being done. If you message me I can give you more detailed information about the prices you want to know about, or even email you the price quote(s). The most expensive arrangement was the linear arrangement at the top of the wedding gazebo but man was that a ton of flowers! Not saying they were super cheap but that arrangement (you’ll see it in our pics) was 50% less than the arrangement originally quoted – so that’s what I’m talking about when I say that the amount of flowers for the original quoted arrangement would have been crazy! And then it was broken down and used on the reception tables. They did an amazing job and she was easy to work with as far as trying to get exactly what you want within your budget. And just remember it never hurts to try and bargain! Again, just message me if interested in more details! To rent lanterns from them I felt was pretty pricey though (was quoted ~$500 for 8) so that’s why I ended up bringing my own since I already had them. Oh and another good thing is that she was willing to allow me to incorporate any decorations, etc. that I was planning on bringing and adjusted the quote accordingly and then placed everything as specified when setting up the ceremony and reception sites. Cecelia collected everything from me the evening before the wedding and after that I didn’t have to worry about a thing. And everything was done just as I had specified. And then after the wedding I didn’t have to worry about being responsible for collecting everything that was mine – they collected all my stuff for me (although I did make one last mention of what was mine as they were starting to pick up after the reception just in case) and then they delivered it all to the room the next day, including our left over cake that they had kept refrigerated for us overnight. They are absolutely wonderful and go out of their way to give you the best experience!
That’s nice that the ultimate package now comes with a sound system included in the price! We had to pay a couple hundred dollars extra since it wasn’t included in the package when we originally booked. I would definitely recommend it for the ceremony. There is a technician that changes the songs. Cecelia will get your list of songs from you for the all the main parts ahead of time. I actually made the play list on my phone, which she came to my room and got from me about an hour or so before the wedding, and then my phone was given back to one of my family members afterwards. But it doesn’t have to be your phone I am assuming. We gave her a few songs to play while people were sitting and waiting, a song for the wedding party entrance, a song for me, and one for the recessional, and it worked out perfect. I chose the Mexican Trio for cocktail hour and although my husband and I were away taking pics for the majority of that time, we got some fun pics with them and the wedding party, and I know that it was nice entertainment for our guests with a Mexican flare.
We used the DJ and MC that the resort typically uses. Cecelia provided me with a questionnaire about song choices (1st dance, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance, cake cutting song, etc.) and names of everyone for the grand entrance announcement. I would strongly recommend using the DJ & MC (it’s 2 different people) rather than just the sound system because that way you have the MC running the show while the DJ plays the songs, which keeps an organized flow for the various events you want to include – like he announced the wedding party and our entrances and then played the songs I requested to go along with it, the first dance, dinner, speeches, cake cutting, bouquet, garter, and last song. I know that if I had to depend on one of my guests to do it (and even though my brother in law is actually a DJ) it would have not flowed as nicely as it did just because everyone was drinking and having a good time themselves. And they played all the songs we requested, which you can even request ahead of time but of course my mind had drawn a blank when trying to fill it out lol. It just makes for a great carefree time for everyone there.
We decided to do a bonfire on the beach and it was a nice way to get the celebration started, not to mention allow everyone who had never met before, the chance to meet. I would recommend it! My husband and I arrived on the Wednesday, as well as everyone attending on my side and the majority of our friends, while his family and 2 friends arrived on the Thursday. Our wedding was on the Saturday. I didn’t want to do the bonfire on the Friday night just in case people would end up hung over (we chose to do the open bar option which I though was a nice touch, and included use of the sound system for us to play our own play lists – no technician) so we opted for the Thursday evening from 8-10. And it’s a good thing that we didn’t pick Friday because there were at least 4 people that I can remember that were feeling pretty hung over the next day and never made it out of their room lol. The disco bar place is quite fun and a great way to continue the party all night lol! We ended up there after the bonfire and after the wedding! As far as other events, there weren’t any that were advertised ahead of time but we did have an unofficial “rehearsal dinner” on the Friday night just so everyone could eat together, which surprisingly, the resort was able to accommodate our group size since we had asked about it shortly after our arrival. And we had an unofficial “farewell dinner” on the Sunday evening. Had originally planned on a brunch but the majority of us had decided the night of the wedding that there was no way that we would feel like getting up early. Again, if you have any questions about more details just message me, because I could go on and on, even though I already am, but there’s still more lol.
And one thing that I would make sure of is that your photographer (or whoever it is that you will have) is someone you know will be able to capture all the important moments. It went by so fast, kind of like a blur really! It was not even a week later and it seemed like it had been months and the details seemed fuzzy. Especially little things, like whether I had my bouquet with me during our post-ceremony photo session and walking into the reception….I could have sworn I didn’t have it but sure enough I have proof that I did after having seen the preview of our wedding photos! Anyway it’s just the little things that you might miss or forget all about if not captured by your photographer. Not to mention that you can’t possibly see everything going on! We are still waiting on our video and the anticipation is killing me!
And P.S. ----- If anyone is looking for a GREAT photographer and videographer/cinematographer I HIGHLY recommend Sarani Photography (Sarani Estrada) and Gallardo Films (Carlos Gallardo)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were absolutely awesome to work with and now that I have seen our photo preview from Sarani – the proof is in the photos of just how amazing her work is! I have already written a review for her on here and you can also check out the review I wrote on her Facebook page – Love her! And even though we have not seen our videos yet, I know Carlos will have an equally amazing creation for us because they are both true artists and the best at what they do!! I couldn't have asked for a better experience with everything! Makes me wish I could get married all over again – to the same man of course