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Dreams Tulum Bride Moved to Secrets Maroma Beach - Detailed Wedding Review


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#1 jodylynn007

jodylynn007
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    Posted 19 November 2008 - 04:05 PM

    DREAMS TULUM BRIDE MOVED TO SECRETS MAROMA BEACH – DETAILED WEDDING REVIEW

    Okay ladies, as I was one of around the first 20 brides to be married at Secrets Maroma Beach Resort (“Secrets”) and the first one to post a review of this wedding, I will attempt to be as detailed as possible.

    Right off the start I should say that some things for my Secrets wedding are going to be different than those of you who have booked from the start directly with Secrets as I was originally booked and scheduled to be married at Dreams Tulum (“Dreams”) for my November 5, 2008 wedding. In short, Dreams was shut down by the Government a little over a month before my wedding date and after a series of events, I chose another beautiful resort owned by AM Resorts in the same chain and hence ended up at Secrets. I had little time to plan my actual wedding at Secrets due to AM Resorts only confirming the change to the new resort of my choice (Secrets) only a little over a week before we left for Mexico. However, as this was the case I think it may help other ladies in knowing that a beautiful wedding CAN in fact be pulled together by the wedding coordinators at Secrets with little to no problems. I think the main difference that becomes obvious right off the bat is that I paid for a wedding package at Dreams and those charges and related services were transferred to my wedding held at Secrets so as to costs of anything done at Secret, I will have little information.

    I have divided my review into sections so you can easily skip past the parts that do not interest you and zero in on the things that are most important for each individual. Thanks to SunBride as I borrowed her review format from her review of Dreams that I found very helpful in planning my wedding, up until it was moved two weeks before the actual event to Secrets.

    PART 1 - BASIC INFORMATION

    I went to this resort with my immediate family for my symbolic wedding November 1 – 8, 2008, actual wedding held Wednesday, November 5, 2008. We booked our airfare and stay at Dreams in February of 2008 (9 months prior) and were only confirmed with our move to Secrets about a week and a half before we left for Mexico. We booked our accommodations through Click the image to open in full size.

    WEDDING REQUIREMENTS & COSTS

    For a civil (legal) wedding in Mexico you need to be “resident” in the area for 4 business days before getting married, not counting the day you arrive but counting the day of the wedding. A personal recommendation of mine is that the best day to arrive if you are doing a civil wedding is Monday, so that you can get married Friday, and have 2 full days after your wedding to relax. I would also recommend staying 10 days instead of just a week as a wedding can be very hectic and you don’t want to rush off afterwards back to work.

    As I did the civil ceremony at home and only a symbolic in Mexico, I do not have any further information regarding this matter.

    PHOTOGRAPHER / VIDEOGRAPHER

    I had planned all along to use the resort photographer and videographer that was included in my wedding package (50 shots in an album with the option of purchasing a CD of photos for an additional cost) and a 30 minute video. I provided the videographer with the song I would like for background music and I am awaiting receipt of the photos and video from the wedding ceremony. As for the photographer, I had him come to my room a few minutes before I was ready to walk up the aisle and he took a few photos of me solo. I will post up more information on this as I get it but I don’t even remember his name now and I do not know if he was the Secrets photographer or Dreams photographer. I imagine when I receive something from him, I will know more.

    As for his photos after the wedding (he stayed for about 45 minutes), he was not very imaginative with the picture taking and it was only after listening to suggestions from my friends and family about where to pose, how to stand, etc., that I think we got some nice shots. I hope they turn out, I will keep you posted.

    PART 2 – SECRETS MAROMA BEACH 9/10


    The resort was fabulous – the service was amazing, the food was delicious and everything was very new and clean. My only complaints about the resort revolve around the fact that it is so new and accordingly there is little shade (trees are new and small), the staff is just getting used to everything and there is little communication between the different departments, and the mosquitoes are horrible (bring bug spray from home!).

    LOCATION 10/10

    It took a little over a half hour to get to Secrets, this will depend on how fast your cabbie is as they are all different. Some putt putt along like they have all day and some speed way over the limit to get you there fast and move on to their next fare. Our driver on the way was a speed demon. Lol. The highway is fairly smooth except the speedbumbs every once in a while.

    Once you arrive at the entrance to the resort, it gets very bumpy! As this resort is brand new, the private road into Maroma Beach is not paved yet and the road has lots of potholes. The road is about 5 minutes long and the speed limit is about 10 km/hr. Just be prepared to be led through a thick bush on a one way road… seems strange at the time but now you know ahead!

    The location is perfect with the beautiful beach and it’s only a $20 US cab ride into Playa del Carmen for shopping (highly recommend as this town is HUGE with lots of great stuff to buy).

    ROOMS AT SECRETS 10/10

    My husband and I were booked for an “Ocean Front” room. Upon arrival we were advised that all the ocean front rooms were sold out. We were offered a swim up room in the 2400 building. We declined that room as I had read on TripAdvisor that the swim up rooms in the 2000’s were cold (water) due to being in the shade all day and requested a room in the 1500’s. We were put into a swim up room in the 1600 building and it was beautiful. My parents also paid $70 US a night for an upgrade (they were booked into Garden View at Dreams) and they were put in a 4th floor room in the 1600 bldg. 4th floor rooms have an outside tub on the balcony!

    Note, this is very important!!! I did not read about this ahead of time but found out afterward as many of my guests were booked into the 2300 and 2400 bldg. The mosquitoes on the one side of the resort are TERRIBLE, although do know that the mosquitoes are pretty bad everywhere, just considerably worse on the one side. Bug spray was provided in my room (didn’t work well) but as I had read the mosquitoes in general could be a problem, we brought bug spray from home and were very thankful for it. I bought kid’s bug spray as it smelled nicer on my wedding day, etc. That is a helpful bit of info.

    Anyhow, as for the rooms… DO NOT PAY EXTRA for a swim up or top floor suite. Every room in the whole resort is identical (except for honeymoon and presidential) and accordingly I would recommend you book garden view or whatever as you’ll be more than happy with the room. They all have double jacuuzi tubs in each room and everything is new and beautiful. The only IMPORTANT thing I would recommend you book ahead of time is a stay in the 1500, 1600, 1700 or 1800 bldg, not the 2000, 2100, 2200, 2300 or 2400 due to the mosquitoes (I think there is a swamp behind the property line on that side of the resort which causes them to be way worse).

    As far as I am aware, nobody had any problems with their rooms except for my aunt and uncle who were in a 2300 room said that their water didn’t get very hot. I had other guests in the same building who had no problems. The beds were very comfortable, a little on the firm side, but honestly I think I liked it better than my own bed back at home! The toiletries are awesome!!! Haha, seriously! The body wash and conditioning shampoo smell like spa products and are lovely. I have a large stash that I brought home.

    The safe worked fine and was large enough to fit our valuables. It has a punch code on the front for ease of use. Also, we brought a laptop laptop down with us and didn’t put it in the safe and it didn’t get stolen, nor did anything else… although I even locked up my iPod during the day just out of caution.

    BEACH 9/10

    I didn’t spend too much time on the beach and I regret that. It was hard to fit it in with everything we had planned. The powdery soft sand and clear blue water is beautiful, the best in the area (it can’t get any better than Maroma Beach). My only complaint was that there was little shade available. It was somewhat difficult to get a shaded chair on the beach but there were other lounges in the sun that could be used at any time, no problems with people taking up too much space with leaving towels out “reserving” the chairs.

    Make sure you bring lots of sunscreen from home, you will need it and it’s pretty costly in the resort’s store.

    FOOD / RESTAURANTS 9/10

    The food everywhere was amazing and the service was great (they really tried hard). Even at the buffet (World Caf© Restaurant) they were good about refilling our coffee or juice and bringing us cutlery or taking away the dirty dishes.

    One night we had supper at the World Caf© Restaurant buffet as a group (14 people) and as arranged for ahead of time (made reservation through our building concierge), we were off to the side in a section with nobody else, and it felt like eating at a nice a-la-carte because it was not too loud and we got great service from our waiter (drink orders, clearing plates, etc). The service at the a-la cartes was very very good!

    Throughout the week we made reservations ahead of time for groups of around 10 people at the different restaurants. We ate as a larger group at the World Caf© Resturant often, at Portofino and Himitsu. The other option that was available everywhere was to arrive as a group right at the restaurant’s opening (6:30 pm) and it wasn’t a problem.

    I only have two complaints about the food. We ordered room service twice and it came in about a half hour and it was never too warm. Room service was definitely not our favorite for the food EXCEPT for the coconut icecream. Very very good!

    My review of the restaurants one by one:

    World Caf© Restaurant aka buffet – Was GREAT for breakfast and OK for lunch and dinner, pretty standard buffet food. For breakfast though it was outstanding as you could choose from the normal breakfast stuff or have a fresh omelet, fruit crepe or smoothie made up on the spot. As I already said I found the service very good for a buffet restaurant.

    Seaside Grill – sorry I didn’t eat there! My brother and his girlfriend did and said it was great though! They had an amazing steak there and were surprised at how good it was as the steak at the Japanese restaurant wasn’t as good they said.

    El Patio – I had breakfast here twice and lunch twice. I would highly recommend the Mexican Breakfast and specifically the “Divorced Eggs”. Funny name, but it is delicious!! I ordered the divorced eggs from room service and they weren’t as good served luke warm. Make sure you order this item at El Patio for breakie. For lunch I liked the calamari and the chicken burger. My husband also liked the chicken wings.

    Portofino - very good. I ordered a shrimp entr©e at first which I didn’t like too much (but passed onto another family member that did) and then I ordered the lasagna. It was excellent! The service here was fabulous as they brought me a new entr©e very quickly. Wine costs extra for bottles not included in the all inclusive. As I am not a wine drinker, my husband’s comment was that the wine was quite overpriced and not worth the difference (in fact, he works for a wine company here at home).

    Bordeau – sorry, didn’t eat there!

    Himitsu (Japanese Resturant) – As major lovers of sushi, we at this restaurant four times. The sushi was terrific (Vancouverites are picky when it comes to their sushi) and the other Japanese items were also quite good. The waiter looked at us a bit like we were crazy when we just kept ordering more and more sushi and more and more ginger. They brought it though and we loved it. The desert here was delish also, deep fried ice-cream. Make sure you try that!

    My one other complaint to do with the food involves this restaurant. One night we made reservations for 14 at Himitsu and were sat at the teppanyaki table. We did not know ahead of time that it was a set menu at those tables and being sushi lovers, I was quite upset with not being able to eat sushi like I had wanted. I excused myself from the table and asked the head waiter if I could order off of the regular menu and I was actually told no! This was Tuesday night, the day before my wedding and I was not impressed. I created a bit of a fuss and eventually the servers brought out a sushi appetizer for everyone. The teppanyaki dinner itself was OK, but not as good as Kobe back at home which offers the same thing. If you want to pick what you have for dinner at Himitsu off the menu, make sure you’re not seated at the teppanyaki table.

    Despite that bad experience, Himitsu was my favorite restaurant and the service on the other nights was outstanding.

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    Deep fried ice-cream at Himitsu:

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    BAR SERVICE

    The bar service was always good. We usually got our drinks from the beach waiters who come around frequently and are only too happy to serve you (they actually were disappointed the times we didn’t order anything). FYI with mixed drinks, they don’t make the drinks very strong because even after a few nobody felt any effect although a few times thought I did get a drink that was too strong and undrinkable for me. If you like your drinks strong just ask, and they will gladly make them stronger.

    My favorite drink and the one I ended up choosing as my signature drink for my cocktail reception was the “Mango Tango.” If you like blended fruity drinks, this one is the best!!!

    SPA

    I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful the spa is at Secrets. It is truly gorgeous inside and the products they use are fantastic smelling to boot! I saw some ladies’ comments about their gift certificate not being able to be used for the hairdressing part of the spa and I just want to let you know that this is the norm with most resorts. You can use them for massages, facials, wraps, etc. You’re on a very special holiday, why not pamper yourself with a massage after the big day?

    As for myself, my mother and I booked in for the “Welcome to Secrets” package. It was $320 each for both of us ($640 total) and worth every penny. It included a seaweed wrap/salt scrub, full body massage, and facial. I scheduled the wrap/scrub and massage for before the wedding (in order to be relaxed and look my best) and I had the facial a few days after (just in case my face didn’t like their products, you never know). Anyhow, all three of the services were honestly the BEST SPA EXPERIENCE I have ever had anywhere!! Also, you should know… I am quite the spa goer, so that is saying a lot!

    The seaweed wrap and salt scrub was wonderfully relaxing, smelled wonderful and felt great. The massage was fantastic and as I see a massage therapist here back at home in Vancouver, I don’t usually enjoy spa massages as it doesn’t really accomplish a lot. The girl who did both my wrap/scrub and massage was “Lizette” and I would HIGHYLY recommend her if you want either. The facial also was fantastic and they even massaged my feet while the steam vapor was on my face… they treated us like royalty!

    Please take some time to visit the spa, you won’t regret it (I miss it already!!). As for pricing, it is pretty on par with most spas that I have been to in the past. Not the cheapest, nor the most expensive. Considering the quality of the services they performed for me, I would say it’s a bargain!

    HOUSEKEEPING

    Our room was well cleaned every day however oftentimes not until very late in the day. If you wanted your room cleaned sooner, all you had to do is call and request it.

    ENTERTAINMENT / THINGS TO DO 10/10

    Every night there is something planned for you to do! Shows and even a Monday night football are excellent! For Monday Night football, they set up a big screen on the beach (with beach chairs and have popcorn and the sound quality is good) as well as a show in the theatre, one night it was American Idol, one night a magic show, one night Mayan dancers, and one night fire dancers. They also had shows near El Patio and by the pools occasionally, i.e. big Mexican fiesta and a buffet outside. They also brought in some street vendors for shopping on the grounds two nights of the week.

    All in all, the entertainment was the best I’ve seen at any of the many resorts I’ve been to. If you don’t have too high of expectations, you will love it. We’re on vacation, just sit back and enjoy yourself!

    There is a disco/sports bar and cigar room – I didn’t use any of these.

    Nobody in our family did much of the daytime activities, although I did take part in the stretching class in the gazebo I was married in one morning. It was fun but not very informative. The setting though was beautiful and I will remember it always. I did watch a water aerobics class it the pool and thought it looked like a lot of fun. The pool bar was sometimes loud but not non-stop all day. If you are a bit down the beach then you are fine and it’s nice and quiet.

    In terms of what to do off the resort, we went to Xel Ha and XCaret.

    XEL-HA


    Xel-Ha (pronounced Shell – Ha) is quite far, cost us $60 US for a taxi from the hotel. Entrance is 75$ all inclusive (food, snorkelling equipment included, but does not include snuba, scuba or dolphin swim). We purchased the extended dolphin swim for about $150 each and it was worth every penny. We also purchased the pictures and video of the dolphin swim and it wasn’t as worth it. I am having difficulty trying to copy the video from the CD to my computer (still trying) and the photos were expensive, especially considering all the great shots that my family took while watching my husband and I.

    We were disappointed with the snorkeling at Xel-Ha. The water is very cloudy (I’m told from the salt-water mixing with the fresh water) and the only place where we saw lots and lots of fish was near the little bridge where people can throw food in. We saw fish elsewhere but not huge groups of them. For people who haven’t snorkelled much you’ll probably love it but for people who have snorkelled lots you may not find it that great.

    The lazy river ride is really really slow, takes half an hour to go down the river part but then you are still far from the main part of the park and it can take another hour or so to get back! So don’t bother unless you have lots of time.

    Overall the park is really beautiful and I would recommend it slightly if you’ve never been although if in the area and needing to choose, XCaret is better in general than Xel-Ha.

    And finally for the sunscreen, as most people know you need biodegreadable sunscreen. I left my sunscreen at home as I thought they might check bags and not allow it in, but they never did! I sprayed before we left the resort and wore a t-shirt all day, I didn’t get burnt.

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    XCARET

    XCaret (pronounced ESH-CERRAY) is closer than Xel-Ha and for the money, only $25 more for the all inclusive, is better bang for your dollar. Also if you wish to go two days (within the same week), you can buy a two day pass for one day regular price, second day half price. We took advantage of this option and went for two days. If you plan a long day ahead of time, you can really see everything in a day.

    I enjoyed the snorkeling through the caves (although the water was quite cold) and although there weren’t fish until the very end of the ride, there was lots of beautiful scenery and stops for pictures with a waterproof camera.

    I also enjoyed the butterfly exhibit as you could walk through an area sectioned off where they fly everywhere and the turtle exhibit where turtles are shown very close at all ages of their growing. I also liked seeing the wild cats and other animals.

    Finally, if you don’t purchase the all inclusive package (which includes one dinner and drink tickets for water) and you want to eat in the park, I noticed a sign that said the buffet was $30 US if you didn’t purchase ahead of time. The food at the buffet was pretty good and I would say worth purchasing the package upon entering. The park is huge and you can spend the whole day there, opening until closing. The night show which started at 6pm (2 hours long) was amazing and a terrific end to the day.

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    PART 3 - WEDDING 9.5/10

    There was no other wedding on my day and the wedding itself was amazing. Although I had had some trouble getting answers to my questions by email, once I was so there Landy (and Cecilia a bit) were great. She had a book with all my emails I had sent printed out and a long list of questions to go through about my prefences and took notes of all my answers and all my special requests.

    We used the $2,600 package which included flowers, hair & make-up, photography, cocktail hour with Carribean trio band, gazebo and reception decoration. Landy worked really hard to get the gazebo decorated the way I wanted (a bit different than the normal way) and to get me flowers I liked (I provided her with pictures of my requests for everything).

    My family were all completely blown away by the service and how beautiful the wedding sites were (gazebo, cocktail hour patio and reception dinner). Where I put less than a 10/10, it was mainly because I had always pictured myself being married on the beach in the sand and at Secrets, the beach gazebo is a bit of a walk from the main walkway and there is no other entrance (trees and bushes in the way) and the mosquitoes are quite bad on the beach, I selected the gazebo by the pool. All in all though, it was absolutely beautiful and probably even more so than if I had been married on the beach. They did an amazing job!!!

    My wedding was on November 5, 2008 and was supposed to start at 3:00 p.m. The Minister was late (got lost on the way) and accordingly, we didn’t start until after 3:30 p.m. I don’t know how long it took as we had wrote out our own ceremony and it was a little longer than the Spanish version, but the timing was perfect to get some photos done afterwards before the sun went down. We had a lovely sunset in the background for our cocktail hour. Near the end, when the sun sets the mosquitoes get really really bad, so we started our dinner at 6pm instead of 6:30 pm as planned, thankfully the staff was ready ahead of time and able to accommodate us moving indoors for the reception. Note, they do spray in certain areas for bugs, but I would highly recommend you have your reception indoors due to the bugs. Originally I had wanted it outside by the pool, but I changed my mind onsite.

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    SPECIAL REQUESTS 10/10

    I had emailed her in advance asking questions about what flowers were available, about shells or flowers to decorate the aisle, and about decorating the gazebo differently then it’s normally done (I had sent her pictures). I didn’t really get complete answers beforehand but we worked it all our when I arrived. She didn’t tell me that they didn’t have enough material to do what I wanted with the gazebo (as Secrets gazebo is bigger than Dreams Tulum I had planned for), yet they improvised and make it look absolutely stunning! I brought my blue tulle and they mixed it with the white on the gazebo.

    As Sunbride had done, she put starfish on chair bows so I brought my own starfish to do this (packed a box of wedding favors, starfish, shells, blue tulle and blue table runners). I also brought two thin roles of tulle for bows and Landy used it (she said they didn’t have any bows the right color) to do the chair bows. It is hard for me to remember what the actual chairs look like as its all a blur right now, hopefully pictures received from family and friends shortly will fill in those blanks. They made a beautiful aisle with material and sprinkled rose petals on it as per my request and put stargazer lilies along the path also as shown in my inspiration photos.

    For my cocktail hour, they used my blue tulle on each of the tables and a beautiful lantern. It looked very lovely and went well with my colours as they used my tulle in that location as well.

    FLOWERS 10/10

    The bouquet was beautiful and I loved it. I had provided several photos of bouquets that I loved and I asked for pink stargazer lilies and red and cream roses. However, it was only delivered (by Landy) one hour before the ceremony, so if I hadn’t liked it there would have been little time for a change (if even possible!). So I definitely recommend asking for your bouquet to come earlier!

    The arrangements for our reception tables were also gorgeous as well as the flowers used on the gazebo. I can’t say enough about the flowers, pictures say it all. Bring photos of everything you want done and ask to have them duplicate it.

    MUSIC 10/10

    I booked the Caribbean Trio for my cocktail hour and they were fantastic. They played danceable music and my guests enjoyed the live band during our appies and cocktails, an hour before our reception dinner.

    For the pre-ceremony music while guests were being seated, for during the dinner and reception dancing, we prepared lists on an iPod and rented the sound system. This worked out perfectly and I have no complaints! I had a friend operating the iPod for the entire time and we even had special music selected for our sand ceremony during the wedding ceremony. I believe that Landy would have operated the music for us if asked, but having a friend do it was perfect.

    TRASH THE DRESS PHOTO SHOOT (no rating yet)

    Originally when I had my wedding planned for Dreams I made friends with another member on this site, Alin. She was being married at Dreams the same week as me. She was also bringing a private photographer from Seattle to shoot her wedding. As a most generous personal favor to me and my husband, we arranged to borrow her photographer for a few hours the day after the wedding for a cost arranged directly with the photographer. He is Jean-Marcus Strole, also a member on this site. As was the Dreams policy, Secrets did not charge us anything for using an outside vendor so the cost for the TTD session was a few hours of Jean-Marcus’ time and his taxi fare from Alin’s resort to mine.

    We took all the photos in and around the resort (including the spa which we just walked into, didn’t ask), on the beach and in the swimming pool!!! Everyone watched (people we didn’t’ know) but it was great fun and I believe the photos will be great!

    I had sent Jean-Marcus (and brought with me) lots of inspiration photos. He also had lots of good ideas for poses and was welcome to suggestions from my husband and myself to make it more personal and more “us”. He gave lots of direction while taking the photos “1, 2, 3….1,2,3….look at me….look at each other….kiss”) which was great because we have little experience with having our photos taken professional and don’t know what looks good and didn’t feel comfortable inventing our own poses. Jean-Marcus was very fun to work with and I can't wait to see how the photos turn out! Starting out that morning, being tired after the wedding day, I wasn’t looking forward to it much (after actually looking forward to it most of all before the wedding). However, after the amazingly fun time we had, I never wanted it to end!!! It was one of the highlights of my entire trip. I don’t think I genuinely laughed and smiled more than I did that day.

    I’ll post more about these once we get the photos.

    HAIR AND MAKE-UP 9/10

    I made my hair and make-up appointments by e-mail with Secrets a few days before our arrival at the resort. I later confirmed them after my meeting with the wedding coordinators and knowing that the timing of my wedding would go off as planned.

    As hair and make-up were included in my wedding package, there was no cost except for the tip which I gave $20US to the girl who did both for me. She did a great job and I feel that $20 was a lot of money for her.

    I had hair extensions added ahead of time in my room by my cousin (who is a hairdresser) and she was available as back-up in case I wasn’t happy with my hair and/or make-up done at the spa. I didn’t need her!!! 

    After my cousin added my hair extensions, I made my way to the spa with photos in hand of how I wanted my hair and make-up done. The stylist’s name was “Adriana” and as she did such a great job, I made a note of her name to tell all you ladies so you can book her. They ushered me into a “Bridal Room” where she curled my hair and extensions and styled it like my photo. Note, she didn’t speak hardly any English at all, so my photos told the story and she understood it perfectly. I brought my own make-up and just used her expertise in applying it. She did a pretty good job with it, I was happy at the time, however the following day for my TTD shoot I had my cousin do it for me and I liked it more… so… I leave it up to you with that decision!

    The appointments started right on time. We had planned 1.5-2 hours for the hair and make-up in case they were late and in case it took a long time. As per my cousin’s instructions, I asked Adriana to put lots of hairspray although unfortunately the curls started to fall out upon my return to my room to put on my dress. However, as the Minister was running late, I just pulled out my curling iron added more curles and spray sprayed again! It worked out just fine. The only problem was that my veil kept falling out when we were posing for pictures and I didn’t want to tell people over and over again to not touch it. Thankfully my cousin stepped in yet again to fix me up whenever needed.

    I was very happy with my hair and I think it couldn’t have looked closer to my inspiration picture. As for my make-up, I did a bit of touching up on my own back in the room, provided a few more instructions actually at the spa, but in the end it looked nice. Just not as nice as my cousin did it the following day, so if you are good at doing your own make-up or have a wedding guest that could do it, maybe give that a try.

    CLOTHES STEAMING / IRONING 9/10

    The resort steamed my veil and dress and irnoned my husband’s suit and shirt for free as part of our package. They picked the stuff up sometime the day before our wedding and brought it back that evening. The only problem with this is that they left my dress hanging on the bed in plain view of my then fianc© and I’s return to the room!!! He caught a glimpse of it before I yelled at him to step back and turn his head. I thought they would have put it back in the wardrobe where they had retrieved it from and this was very careless for them to leave it out in plain view and not warn me about it ahead of time. Hubby said he didn’t see much but I was a bit ticked over this as I had gone through such an effort to not have him see it in the months leading up to the wedding.

    TIMING OF THE DAY 10/10

    I originally booked my ceremony time at 2pm as at Dreams, there was another wedding booked on my day already in the later time slot. This was later moved to 3pm at Secrets and that was the perfect time I had wanted. Sun sets at 5:30 pm around that time of year. I wanted 2 hours of good light after the ceremony for photos.

    Here was my schedule for the day:

    12 noon: hair and make-up appointment
    2 pm: get dressed
    3 pm: ceremony
    3:30 pm – 4:30pm: group pictures
    4:30pm – 6pm: cocktail hour with Carribean trio
    6:30pm: dinner

    The ceremony started a little over a half hour late so our cocktail hour started around 5pm and dinner was early (due to mosquitoes) at 6:00 pm.

    3pm was a perfect ceremony time (based on 5:30pm sunset) because it gave us sufficient time for photos and it wasn’t too hot. The hottest time of day at the resort is from about 10am – 2pm. The sun cools down a lot around 3pm as it’s farther down in the sky.

    CEREMONY 10/10

    I had heard that the Spanish ceremony included the judge speaking in Spanish and Landy translating. We really wanted our ceremony to be more personal so after a tremendous amount of research on the net, I wrote our entire ceremony (with my hubby and I writing personal vows also). We provided the written ceremony to Landy and the Minister ahead of time and he just simply read it out loud. There was a microphone so everybody could hear. The ceremony only lasted about 25 minutes. The cutest thing of all was that the Minister had a hard time with some of the words I had written so he improvised for little parts and instead of saying “more” which I had written a few times, he actually used the Spanish word “mucho”. It was mucho sweet!!! I absolutely loved it and the fact that it wasn’t read perfectly word for word made it super charming and even better than if it had been perfect.

    DINNER 10/10

    After looking at all available locations, we scheduled our dinner for a marble ballroom just off the terrace and beside the disco. There were other adjoining ballrooms (decorated in greens that I thought were a bit tacky), but the room we picked was sort of the lobby to the ballrooms and was perfect. It was totally private and the tables were decorated beautifully like the photos I had brought and there was plenty of room for dancing. They meticulously set-up the table lining up each piece of silverware and all the glasses required (red wine, white wine, champagne, water), very elaborate and fancy! They set up a small table next to it with the cake and a memorium for my husband’s parents who unfortunately had passed away some time ago.

    The dinner and service was wonderful. We had all the choices I had made from the Dreams wedding brochure and nothing was changed at all! Everything was an artistic creation! We took pictures of all the courses with my husband’s brother’s camera and are awaiting the photos which I will post in time. They made special selections for my vegetarian guests even! We had three private servers and they were quick to deliver more beverages whenever they ran low.

    My favorite dessert of the entire week was the wedding desert (and on top of that there was cake), it was a vanilla puff pastry with Kahlua sauce. OMG… so delicious! My guests said they loved the cake, couldn’t imagine it being better, but I found it over the top with the sugar. Way too sweet… personal preference I suppose! The cake itself was GINORMOUS and more than enough for my 17 guests, wonder what they do with such a huge cake and all the leftovers! 

    DANCING

    For $150 we rented the iPod sound system and plugged in our iPod brought from home with pre-planned wedding songs including dinner music, first dance, father/daughter dance, last dance and reception in general. My friend worked the iPod and it all went off without a hitch. The sound system they provide was perfect. My recommendation is don’t spend the money for a DJ if you can organize an Ipod to play what you want.

    CONCLUSION

    I think it’s pretty clear that I was very very happy with the resort and especially the wedding itself. Like I mention the only 2 big problems were the mosquitoes and the lack of shade.

    My wedding day was so un-stressful it amazes me. When I went for my hair and make-up appointment I was so relaxed and I felt the same way throughout the day. In fact as we were having dinner I was hit with a feeling of "that's it?". I couldn't believe it was over. I felt like it might have been better to have been more excited or emotional. I almost cried walking down the aisle, but then when I got to the gazebo I was so relaxed. But I would definitely prefer too relaxed rather than stressful!

    The weeks and days before leaving were sooooo stressful with the change of resorts and trying to get everything done, I think that once it was all underway I had just released all my tension and realized that everything would happen as it did and I had little control at that point. I didn’t need to worry though as everything was perfect!

    Sorry that I do not have too many pictures yet... my father is apparently gathering everyone's photos to make one large CD/DVD. I will post up more as soon as I can!

    #2 jodylynn007

    jodylynn007
    • Newbie
    • 99 posts

      Posted 19 November 2008 - 04:06 PM

      PHOTOS FROM AIRPORT CIVIL CEREMONY:

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      http://inlinethumb55....425x425Q85.jpg

      #3 jodylynn007

      jodylynn007
      • Newbie
      • 99 posts

        Posted 19 November 2008 - 04:07 PM

        ROOMS AT SECRETS

        Attached are some photos I took of our room (swim up room #1619):

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        Outside:

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        Inside:

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        Click the image to open in full size.

        #4 jodylynn007

        jodylynn007
        • Newbie
        • 99 posts

          Posted 19 November 2008 - 04:48 PM

          Non-pro pics taken by my brother's girlfriend of our TTD session:

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Click the image to open in full size.

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          Click the image to open in full size.

          #5 Blkatz

          Blkatz
          • Sr. Member
          • 1,025 posts

            Posted 19 November 2008 - 04:51 PM

            Amazing details Jody! It sounds like everything worked out perfect! congratulations on being a MRS!

            #6 BC Bride2be

            BC Bride2be
            • Member
            • 636 posts

              Posted 19 November 2008 - 05:30 PM

              Incredible review!! I can't imagine how stressful it was for you when Dreams closed - I am so happy that everything turned out amazing! I can't wait to see the rest of the photos!

              #7 rachelannmartin

              rachelannmartin
              • Jr. Member
              • 192 posts

                Posted 19 November 2008 - 05:38 PM

                Congratulations Jody!! You looked amazing! So happy that everything worked out in the end!!!

                #8 Helen_S81

                Helen_S81
                • Member
                • 985 posts

                  Posted 19 November 2008 - 08:50 PM

                  What a great detailed review! Congratulations! Can't wait to see the pictures.

                  #9 Jenn3878

                  Jenn3878
                  • Sr. Member
                  • 5,681 posts

                    Posted 19 November 2008 - 09:14 PM

                    wow fab review! glad everythign worked out well for you! Congrats! Cant wait to see more pics!

                    #10 Chiquita

                    Chiquita
                    • Sr. Member
                    • 2,674 posts

                      Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:18 PM

                      Great review Jody!! :)




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