I just got married at the H10 Ocean Coral & Turquesa on January 26th, 2010 and it was AMAZING! One of the brides on the Newbies forum asked for DO's & DON'T, so here they are ... also, if anyone has specific questions feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
as for some reason I'm no longer getting email updates from this site.
This resort is spectacular and you will not be disappointed! They have an amazing wedding coordinator (Ana Bautista), the resort is beautiful, beach is nice, and food is excellent (I'm a food enthusiast and it was excellent - fresh, high quality and tasty!!). Also a lot of our guests travel to all-inclusives very frequently (and have pretty high standards) and they ALL liked the resort! The only thing that's missing is an active nightlife. There's a sports bar open till 6am, but if your guests want to go out dancing and partying, I would recommend taking an organized trip to Coco Bongo in Playa del Carmen which you can book at the resort. Also, sometimes the spa has a promotion that if you book a massage you get admission to Coco Bongo for free, so check that out (I think it's limited to Monday/Tuesday nights).
DONâ€™T plan to take the collectivo directly from the hotel, because the hotel is REALLY far from the highway. You would need to go to Puerto Morelos first (45 min walking along the beach, or a 10 minute $9 cab ride) and then take the collectivo from there. Also if you need souvenirs you can get them in Puerto Morelos or in the hotel gift shop (surprisingly good prices and selection). I wasnâ€™t that impressed with the shopping in Playa del Carmen and could have happily skipped it and just gone to Puerto Morelos. Also if you need transportation anywhere, ask Benjamin in front of the lobby (heâ€™s in charge of all transportation and will help you). Very trustworthy guy â€“ I even got him to lock up my wedding dress for me when we arrived, and he took PERFECT care of it for me all day.
DO's - Put your trust in Ana. She has great taste, is very reliable and knows what to do. She's very hardworking and was there on my wedding day from about 7am when the flowers arrived for my hair, until well after midnight when the reception ended.
DO - If you have any budget limitations, tell Ana about it and she will help you. For example, I liked the centrepieces shown in her booklet, but they were outside my price range, so she adapted them to be slightly smaller and fit into my budget. Just tell her what you're able to pay for each item.
DO - know what you want in advance and tell Ana, especially if you have specific tastes. I chose the flowers, colours, chair bows, setup configuration including exact seating arrangement, menu, menu substitutions for people with allergies, and my husband chose each and every song played by the DJs. Everything turned out exactly the way we wanted it. On the other hand, my sister got married at a different resort the week prior, and she only specified the way she wanted a few things (i.e. flowers) and left the rest up to the wedding coordinator, and everything turned out BEAUTIFULLY as well. So I guess the level of detail you need to get into depends on how specific your tastes are.
DO - ask for vanilla "Tres Leches" cake - it is amazing!!
DO - ask for orchids for your hair - they are so beautiful!! I had white orchids in my hair. I also ended up getting orange orchids on the wedding cake and they were beautiful and lasted a really long time - I took a few of the orange orchids with me after the wedding, and wore them in my hair over the next few days, and they were still in perfect condition by the time we left the resort.
DO - ask for Litzy at the spa to do your hair. He's the best hairstylist there. Just get ready for the 80's music that he plays constantly. : ) And get a hair trial in advance so you are calmer about it on the wedding day. And get an updo so that your hair doesnâ€™t get all windblown â€“ itâ€™s VERY WINDY. I wanted a half-up half-down style, but decided against it because of the strong wind. My veil actually blew out of my hairdo, it was so windy, and we werenâ€™t even on the beach!!
DO â€“ bring extra bobby pins to fix your hair if needed, and bring some safety pins to fix your dress in case anything happens (bring them ALONG with you on the wedding day â€“ someone stepped on my dress at the reception and broke the bustle that was holding up the train, and I had to find time to go back to my room between speeches and dinner, and fix it up before the first dance. If Iâ€™d had the pins with me, Iâ€™d have had much more time to eat.)
DONâ€™T forget to put on your garter for the garter toss. (I did, had to go back to the room and get it.)
DO - consider getting married on one of their beautiful terraces instead of on the beach. It's pretty windy on the beach, and also lots of people around, so if you choose the terrace your guests will be able to hear better and it's more private. And you still get a beautiful ocean view but can't see all the speedo-clad people on the beach down below, if you choose the roof terrace (note you can see people on the beach if you get married on the lobby terrace). We had approx. 50 guests and used the rooftop terrace, which was gorgeous!! It looks much much nicer in person than in the photos Ana sends out in advance. Also, if you use the rooftop terrace the whole wedding party will be shaded by the large canopy (great if you've got all the guys in black suits the way we did), and you can use the second canopy (there are two) to have the food for the cocktail reception set up in advance - they do a BEAUTIFUL display of food. I can send you some pics by email if you want - I don't think I'm able to post here.
DO â€“ have your reception on the lobby terrace. BE SURE to get your guests to bring warm wraps or jackets because it does get windy.
DON'T - leave the organization of photos up to the resort photographer. I did this and it didn't work out great for the family/group photos (mainly because the photographer spoke very little English). I recommend putting someone in your group in charge of organizing photos (e.g. gathering up the people who need to be in each photo) to avoid YOU having to do it on your wedding day. Pick someone with a loud voice to do it. Also, if you're hiring the resort photographers - we booked the "Basic 2" package for $800 and got coverage for getting ready, ceremony, cocktail reception, shots with family around the hotel, beach & balcony with the 2 of us, and about an hour at the dinner reception (first dance, speeches, etc.) The only things that weren't really covered were the cake cutting and bouquet toss, and I don't think it would have been worth paying extra for that as plenty of our guests took photos too. We had a different photographer morning and evening. Antonella came to the ceremony - she is a very talented photographer but has a quiet voice and barely speaks English. We had Daniel in the evening, and he is also a very talented photographer - he got many great shots in a short amount of time and speaks great English and is good at instructing people where he wants them to stand, etc. If you don't speak Spanish, then I highly recommend asking for Daniel. Also, there is an Italian guy at Photoshops who is kind of grumpy and I would not have wanted him to photograph my wedding. Can't remember what his name is.
DO - hire an outside photographer if you want to. In addition to the civil wedding at the resort, we also had a church wedding in Puerto Morelos and hired photographer Sascha Gluck for that. Sascha is AMAZING!!!! We would have hired him to come to the resort as well but we had been told outside photographers aren't allowed, only to find out later that outside photographers ARE allowed but you just have to pay a fee. (Sascha was there shooting another wedding the day before ours). Check out his website: cancunphotos.net
DO - organize group tours for your guests in advance. We took our guests on a full-day trip to Il-Kil Cenote & CHichen Itza, through Lomas Travel. We checked out a lot of options and Lomas had the best service/prices. Just make sure you check with their onsite rep the day before your trip to make sure they are ON TIME. Our guests LOVED it - VIP bus, open bar, breakfast on board, tour guide had a master's degree in Mayan culture & history, we got to climb part of the ruins at CHichen Itza (which is not usually allowed anymore), etc. ... amazing. And do not miss swimming in the cenote - it is a MUST DO! Also, the evening show at Xcaret is amazing. You can get an afternoon admission price after 3pm and also get a 3-course "Tlacho dinner" served during the show which was amazing. We booked a bus through Lomas Travel to take us there, and we booked all our admissions for Xcaret online (10% discount online). DOn't bother booking through their groups department, otherwise they'll want you to choose a set menu for everyone, and you don't save much money that way anyways. Xcaret was a bit disorganized (e.g. wouldn't print our tickets till 3pm whereas we thought we were going IN at 3pm, and also ran out of printed tickets for the dinner so we had to just "show up" for dinner and put our faith that they would let us in). It turned out fine in the end though.
DO - if you have the "Privilege" wristbands - take advantage of the Privilege lounge for internet access, printing, booking tours, great canapes & breakfast & drinks, and also for making restaurant reservations. We were the only ones in our group with privilege access, and the lady at the Privilege desk helped us make a reservation for 13 people for our Rehearsal Dinner at the Mexican restaurant (and normally you can't even make reservations there!).
DO - request a Welcome Dinner either at the buffet (included) or in one of the restaurants. DON'T pay extra for a Welcome Dinner Reservation at a restaurant - you should be able to get it for free.
DO - meet with the head chef in advance if any of your guests have food allergies - he is great and even offered to make gluten-free pancakes every morning for my cousin who has a wheat allergy.
DO - Ask for a fresada if you don't drink alcohol (it's a tasty alcohol-free strawberry drink). And try the green juice - I didn't try it till the last day, and I wish I'd had it all week because it was AMAZING!!
DO - negotiate on prices and be persistent.
DO - let Ana know if you HAVEN'T written your own vows, so she can tell the Justice of the Peace to eliminate that part of the ceremony. Otherwise the officiant will take you through the official vows, and then say "And now it's time to say the vows you've written for each other." Not good if you don't have anything prepared!! : ) Thankfully we knew this in advance and were able to make the appropriate request.
DO - know that you need to place three thumbprints on the marriage certificate at the ceremony. It's fun so make sure the photographer gets photos of it. And try not to worry when you see the black inkpad next to your beautiful white dress! They will bring tissues for you : )
DO - IRON YOUR DRESS THE NIGHT BEFORE!! I had a silk dress with a train, and transported it very carefully in the hopes that it would not wrinkle, but it DID wrinkle, a lot, and I decided to iron it the morning of the wedding which was a BAD idea as it took way longer than I expected and made me late for the ceremony. Thankfully the hotel had a good quality iron and ironing board in our room, and my Mom and sisters were there to help me. But take my word for it, do it in advance because you'll be really busy the morning of your wedding. Also, beware that silk dresses cannot be steamed because they get watermarks (I didn't know this and bought a portable steamer to bring along, only to find out I couldn't use it).
DO - organize your room the night before so you get nice "getting ready" pictures. Get the photographer to take a picture of your dress and maybe even your wedding night lingerie (I wish I had!)
DO - relax and smile when walking down the aisle, and hold your flowers low. I've heard a lot of brides say they looked nervous in their pictures and held their flowers too high.
DO â€“ hire mariachis for the ceremony and cocktail reception. They were great! You can also play some specific songs on CD at the ceremony if the mariachis arenâ€™t able to play certain must-have songs (i.e. they can play the Wedding Marches, but if you want to have Canon in D or Air on the G String during the signing of the register or exchange of rings, you will need to bring a CD). Another option is to have a Harp â€“ we hired Bertha Michel (through Ana) for the Catholic ceremony, and she was awesome! Such beautiful music, and she can play every song you can imagine!!
DO - book Club Class if you're flying Transat. It is SO worth it, especially if you've got more than 20kgs of luggage each. We paid much less for the upgrade than we would have paid for excess baggage, and it was very comfortable. Also the Club Class cabin has more overhead space per person, so it's more likely you'll have plenty of space to put your wedding gown in the overhead bin. (Gently fold in half and place overhead). Also, going through security with the dress was no problem - they didn't even make me fold it in half - they just ran it through their scanner.
DO - plan your "honeymoon day" (day after your wedding) in advance with timing of your in-room breakfast, massages, menu and timing for candlelight dinner, etc. It will be so nice and relaxing!
DO - if you have a massage, sit in the "relax area" for a while - it's awesome.
DO - order the Filet Mignon with Peppercorn Sauce for your dinner reception, if it's one of your menu choices. It was AMAZING and all our guests loved it. Also the Feta & Balsamic salad was very nice, and our guests liked the creme brulee for dessert. Very high quality food and obviously talented chefs! I was a bit worried about ordering French food in Mexico, but it was truly DELICIOUS and exactly the way I wanted it. The only thing I would have changed is the Lobster Bisque (maybe substitute one of the other soups instead) and I would maybe have upgraded the wine - the gala menu wine they use is called Marques de Tabernillas -it's a Spanish Tempranillo, and it wasn't my favourite. But it was certainly passable and maybe it was just because of my own personal taste that I didn't love it. Also, there are some nice dishes at the Villa Marina restaurant where we had our Welcome Dinner - the stuffed fish and also the chicken breast were very good. And the pumpkin soup is excellent!!
DONâ€™T â€“ pay for extra hours of open bar if youâ€™re having a private reception. There are lots of bars around the hotel where your guests can get drinks. We had open bar from 7-10pm, and then dancing till midnight. We just had to pay a nominal fee for waiter service from 10-12 (for coffee, tea, soft drinks, etc.) which was WAY cheaper than the extra hours of open bar.
DO â€“ bring along a nice dessert wine for with the wedding cake, if you like that sort of thing. We brought along a Canadian Ice Wine and it was the perfect finishing touch!
DO - if you're having a podium and microphone for speeches, bring a clipboard people can use to clip their speech down (because of the wind - tell your speakers to write single-sided on the page) and ask for a light to be set up to shine on the podium. We had some little difficulties because people were trying to hold their speech, the microphone and their drink for toasting and talk at the same time!! It all turned out fine in the end though. Also you could also ask for a tall table to be set up near the podium for the speaker to put their drink on (the podium is slanted so you can't put a drink on it).
DONâ€™T â€“ worry about whether you book the Turquesa side or the Coral side. They are the same. However, tour operators might tell you differently because Transat has exclusivity for the Turquesa side, and I think Signature offers only the Coral side, so they are each trying to â€œsellâ€ their side. But itâ€™s all one hotel and the rooms, terraces, etc. are the same. We initially booked the Turquesa side and our travel agent told us it was â€œbetterâ€ but when we arrived we ended up on the Coral side and it was great.
DO â€“ bring along plenty of cash for tipping, and remember small bills (though if you run out, ask for change at the front desk). The service throughout the hotel is EXCEPTIONAL and youâ€™ll want to show your appreciation, especially knowing that many of the hotel employees (especially the Maya) are from very poor communities and rely mainly on tips in order to support their families.
All in all, our wedding was AMAZING and the few tiny things I'm pointing out for you to do differently were hardly even noticeable on our day because of all the other wonderful things happening! My husband and I are both very detail-oriented and perfectionist, and we ended up being THRILLED with how things turned out! All of our guests were also happy and have been making all kinds of nice comments about our wedding. I can't emphasize enough how wonderful Ana is - she is really the BEST!!
Happy wedding planning - enjoy it because it will be over before you know it.
And one more piece of advice ... walk down the aisle VERY VERY slowly to make it last as long as you can.
Good luck & happily ever after!