I was married at EPM on May 28, 2011. Everything was wonderful and you will not be disappointed! I got a lot of great information from this site even though I really didn't post much, so I will return the favor. Yamina was still working there then and I am surprised that she is no longer there. When I first decided on a destination wedding at EPM there was another wedding coordinator working there that had awesome reviews so I was nervous when Yamina took over. You shouldn't worry, I'm sure they will have a very capable replacement. I know it's hard to plan from so far away. I assume all of their options will stay the same as far as the menus, cakes, flowers, etc. so I will give you a little run-down of my options...
We were married on the beach at 5 pm, but changed it to 6pm when we got there-- the only problem with that was that pictures needed to be rushed along but we got some great sunsets shots. We used the resort photographer and were happy with the photos (you only have ceremony shots included in gold package and will need to buy an hour for $350 to get shots after or longer if you want the whole event photgraphed) Some were included in the gold package but then we opted to upgrade the plan and basically bought everything that was offered. Even though I was happy with the photos, I should have looked into the other photographers in the area and their packages.
The beach is very windy, which helps with the heat, but not so much the hair-- so if you are going for hair all down you may want to re-think it. I had half up-half down and it was a great choice, but I should have secured my side swept bangs a little better. so they weren't blowing all over in the pictures. I got my hair and makeup done at the spa...my hair turned out well...I wasn't crazy about the make-up but it looked good in the pictures. (both were included in the gold package)
We paid for the guitar player to play at the ceremony which costs $500 and I feel was well worth it and really set a mood with the ocean in the background, but there is a sound system and you do have the option of playing recorded music which they have the traditional songs for you to use. The payment for a solo-ist at the ceremony is just added onto your final bill at check-out. We had white covered chairs and the seashells and starfish making an aisle in the sand. We also had the white fabric draped over the wooden structure--we thought we would have to pay $200 for this set-up but I didn't notice it in the bill. We also had a table up front with flowers on it as a decoration where we did the sand ceremony and signed the documents (we had a symbolic ceremony)-- we didn't discuss the sand ceremony but it was there when I got there so I just went with it-- I knew it was an option but thought it needed to be requested.
We had cocktail hour at the x-lounge where we opted for all of the Mexican foods and the marriachi band (part of the gold package) and then dinner on the terrace of the spice restaurant. We had 37 people total so the first 20 were included in the price of the gold package and then you pay $45 for each additional person. Dinner was great except for the mahi mahi-- it was completely breaded and it was very dried out-- I didn't really eat it and all of my guests at first tried to be polite but then admitted it was not good at all. The beef tenderloin on the other hand was a big hit. We chose the silver menu III and added the mahi mahi choice. (you can mix and match items from gold and silver if you get the gold package.)-- they are very accomodating and will probably honor most requests. Since we wanted to offer two different entree choices we needed to give a count a month ahead with all of our final choices. People raved about the chocolate dessert that was part of that menu and also the vanilla cake with strawberries that we chose.
They will have tables with white linens set-up...we opted for roses and gerbera daisies in bud vases spread out on table with some votive candles-- very simple, but pretty-- I think in this location over doing it with flowers can sometimes look out of place. (we did not pay extra for the centerpieces since I didn't get any flowers that were included in the gold package except my bouquet so I printed out a picture and brought it with me and asked Yamina if I could just substitute) my bouquet was red and dark pink roses and gerbera daisies tied with a turquoise ribbon...very beautiful. I was hoping for dahlias since I prefer larger blooms, but the daisies were pretty much the only option for larger blooms. -- again I brought pictures just to show the look of the bouquet and the color (different flowers were used)-- I requested a flower for my hair which was not brought to the spa as promised and was brought to my room last minute with a hair pin. I never would have been able to put it in securely and it didn't lay in my hair correctly so I opted for a fake red rose that I had brought from home to use in my trial photo...it was actually a "real touch" flower and everyone thought it was real.
We did not opt for a DJ...we are having a reception at home in a month and the dancing will be done there. The guests who came to Mexico weren't a group that missed the reception feel while there. We just brought an ipod dock and played music on the spice terrace during dinner.
We didn't bring OOT bags, but did bring fans to put on everyone's seat at the wedding but they were not needed because it was very windy. We decided to meet up at cafe kafe the night before the wedding and wanted to send around a typed-up itinerary but would have been charged for it to be delivered to each room so I suggest type it up yourself and bring it with you to be given when people check in. We did not have a rehearsal or rehearsal dinner. We had no wedding party so we didn't feel the need. We all just met up after dinner (you could probably all just eat together at one of the restaurants if your group is a reasonable size)-- we almost chose the bonfire option on the beach for $400 but you would have to pay $14 a person for drink service because it was considered a private get-together. It would have been too hot for a fire anyway and I didn't regret it since you are at an all-inclusive and our guests were just happy to be together, sitting outside, enjoying the musical entertainment and taking advantage of the included drinks.
The resort itself was great and it was big enought that everyone can do their own thing but still run into each other. Some people chose to do excursions, some didn't. We basically had our beach spot daily so if people wanted to hang out we would meet there and come and go to the swim-up bar, the lazy river pool, or to enjoy the activities.
I could go on and on...if you have any specific questions, feel free to email me and I will answer them. (email@example.com) Everything turned out great, but I did do a lot of planning on my own sending lists of questions to Yamina every now and then. -- I would email the temporary person and ask her to email you all of the options lists for cakes, flowers, decorations, menu, etc. if you don't have them already so you can start narrowing things down.