Hello, all! I have been meaning to post in this forum for quite awhile; as I've spent countless hours reading through the thread, taking notes, and reading everyone's experiences. I booked our wedding at OCT back in July, and our wedding date is set for May 16th, 2014. I am pretty relaxed about planning, as I'm impeccably organized and knew we had so much time to plan everything out. Now, we are 6 months out, and I think the majority of the planning is done. From the other posts, it seems Ana is hard to get a response from, but it has never gone more than two days without a response. I have only asked her very straight forward questions that she can reply to simply, so perhaps that is it. I'm not quite sure what this post should entail,but I know I had A LOT of questions in the beginning. I wouldn't even say I'm a "planny" person, but I was over analyzing every detail, I've since let go of that stress. My MOH's sister was married here in MAY, so having someone who went through it was very helpful. Her advice to me was to not go overboard with the tiniest of details, because the setting for the wedding is absolutely gorgeous, and that I need to relax, and realize that it all does come together, and honestly, probably could be done in a week's time, honestly. BUT, I've started really focusing on the planning about a month ago. I mean, I JUST bought my dress a few days ago (I was scolded for waiting so long... lol) I never saw myself as an actually girly girl who would get so into this, but I have, and have loved it. So, here is what we have figured out so far:
Ceremony will be on the beach. Now, I am just going to buy sashes for the chairs (mint green with a starfish on the back) since it is cheaper than renting them for $3ish/ea. I was told to move my ceremony from 5 to 6, by the sister of my MOH. She was married right around the same exact time and said the sun was just a liiiiitle too bright at 5, but would have been perfect at 6. So we are doing that. We toyed with the idea of a cocktail hour, but after reading everyone's reviews, we've realized that everyone can hang in the lobby bar, as our reception will start an hour later on in the lobby terrace, so they will be just outside the door. Saves SO much money and they will have something to do while we take our photos. We are not doing one of those "first look" things, so we'll need to get all of our pictures done withint that time. Reception will start around 7:30, and we extended it by an hour, for a total of 4 hours.
There were two things that we decided we would splurge on:
*An excellent photographer. I've seen the photos taken by the resident photog, and I was not impressed at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure my cell phone could take better pictures (no offense to anyone that has used them) I'm just saying, you will have these pictures for a lifetime, it's worth it. We hired Samuel Luna, who has been an absolute pleasure to work with so far, and his work is outstanding. We scheduled a Trash the Dress session with him for the next day (it was included in the package we paid for.)
*A DJ. Now, I know that a hot topic in here is just using iPod to play your own playlist, and I thought about that as well, and am sure it would turn out just fine. The DJ at the hotel, as far as I can tell, doesn't MC, he simply plays YOUR playlist for you, and does not interact. This is supposed to be something that everyone will remember for a lifetime, and it was important for us to have someone to handle the ebb and flow of the evening. We don't want to worry about someone introducing us, or our first dance, etc...and we really believe it will help keep the order of things. We are giving him a list of 30ish songs, I could have easily made my own list of 100's, and 100's, but someone that can read the crowd, keep things energetic, get involved, to us, it's worth it. We are bringing glow sticks and Thundersticks with to give to him, to incorporate into the party. Also, his rate was VERY affordable. I spoke with him on the phone for nearly 45 minutest last night, and laughed nearly the entire time. GREAT guy-- DJ Bob (http://weddingdjrivieramaya.com/)
Now...the part I hate! The fees! For a 2014 wedding, the hotel is now charging $500 for outside vendors. And they told me I need to pay an additional $200 fee the DJ, as this serves as an "energy" fee. I think it's completely ridiculous. Add to that, an outsider fee, to allow them onto the grounds for the day, which is, I believe, $80/ PP, Per day. I have two photographers coming in, and my DJ, so you can see my dilemma. I'm going to get them rooms for the night, which will be cheaper than paying all of the fees. However, Ana emailed me today saying that need to stay a minimum of three nights, which, I'm sorry, is BS. You can book rooms by the night online, and since they are having dinner with us, I have fully considered them my guests, so... I'm getting around this and not dealing with this noise!
That is really the only complaint I have so far about working with the hotel, or with my planner, Ana. If anyone has questions about planning, I know I have not gone through this yet...but I think I have it all pretty much covered so if you're wedding is around the same time as mine, and you're freaking out about anything, you're not alone. More than likely I have freaked out about it as well. I feel very confident now, though, that everything will run smoothly.
We are bringing items with us (menus, programs, welcome bags, place cards, table #'s, paper lanterns, string lights, party items for the reception dance, personalized Patron bottles to do a shot together, and some digital photo frames, guest book, I THINK that is it. We aren't bringing any huge items for center pieces, or lanterns, etc. But these are all small details that I'm sure nobody cares to hear about : )
I work online all day, so I've literally been to this board 100's of times, and thought I would put my two cents in, in case anyone is interested in chatting!
Hope everyone's wedding planning is coming along nicely and hope to exchange tips in the coming months as we prepare!! Eeeek! I'm so excited!
Sarah! Thank you for all that info! I'm getting married the day after your wedding- May 17th! I'm getting so excited! I'm just starting to do all my planning so I'm sure I'll be messaging you with lots of questions!