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RebelBride's Cabo Azul Wedding Review

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#1 RebelBride2008

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    Posted 16 January 2009 - 09:09 PM

    Hello Ladies,

    I hope you all are enjoying the new year! I finally finished my wedding review! I apologize in advance for clogging up the board with my posts. Also, please know that this review is VERY LONG. I am posting the entire review here and will post individual vendor reviews in the approriate threads (so other brides can easily find my review).

    I just want to say our wedding was absolutely amazing! I totally want to do it all over again- it was so much fun. We had a great time.

    Having said that, not everything went 100% perfect. So before you read on, I also want to say that the opinions expressed here are just that, our opinion of the services we recieved from our vendors. I am reporting our experience and do not wish any person or vendor any ill-will. I simply want other brides to hear our experiences so they may make informed choices.

    Feel free to contact me with any questions!
    Tara aka RebelBride

    1. Cabo Azul Resort- Booking, Sergio/Vanessa, Jennifer Hatton-cake, Javier's
    2. Baja Flowers
    3. Baja Weddings & Jenny Davis
    4. Suzanne Morrel
    5. Music- iPod, Los Mosquitos- trio
    6. Linens/Chairs
    7. Rick Collins Photography
    8. Transportation
    9. Mango Productions- video
    10. Restaurant reviews- Tequila, La Panga,Tropicana, French Riviera

    Cabo Azul Resort (CAR)
    CAR resort: Grade A+++
    Beautiful! It’s even prettier in person than the fabulous photos on the website. We love this resort and would go back anytime. The current rooms are all villas-1, 2 or 3 bedrooms with impeccable d©cor. Most units face the ocean/pool. It was totally our style, which is why we chose the resort.

    The lobby/hotel side is still under construction and I doubt it will be competed anytime soon. Once the hotel side is complete, the villas will be used for the timeshare owners only-so hop on it soon to take advantage of the awesome villas.

    The pool is fantastic- a 3 tier infinity pool with many jacuzzis, a swim up bar and ample lounge chairs w/waiter service for food/drinks. The food/drinks are served out of Flor de Noche the “snack” restaurant.

    Food/drinks- Beware, as in most resorts in Cabo, it is pricy. But since the rooms are villas, you have a full kitchen. We stocked up on snacks, breakfast foods, beer and tequila at the Mega supermarket (about 5 min drive).
    Onsite restaurants:
    • Flor de Noche (see review below)-Mexican fare, lunch items, appetizers. Margaritas are ~$10 (but pretty strong) and the lunch entrees are $15-20.
    • Javier’s- main restaurant on the property (see review below). Serves upscale Mexican food. Delicious but pricey ($25-40/entr©e). Wedding receptions are held on the patio of Javier’s
    • Caf©- there is a small caf© on the property that serves coffee, sandwiches, gelato and small snacks. Also pricey $5/latte, $10/sandwich
    • Grocery- a small, well stocked grocery store is next to the caf©. Water, sodas, beer, wine, snacks, breakfast foods, candy, canned good, etc. Pricy but convenient. Case of water was $10.

    • Booking- Overall Grade: C
    NOTE- Pacific Monarch Resorts (PMR) owns and operates Cabo Azul Resort. PMR is a timeshare company and also runs Monarch Grand Vacations. PMR is located in the US (Irvine, CA). When you book reservations at CAR (room reservations, wedding room blocks, initial wedding contact phone #/web contact), you are dealing with PMR directly, not the resort directly. When you are arranging the details of your wedding including setting the wedding date, you are dealing with the resort directly in Mexico (see below).
    oPMR-Group/Wedding Accommodations Reservations Grace Mura- Grade F
    We had the most difficult time with Grace. We found her unprofessional and difficult to deal with. Calls/emails were left either unanswered or returned after a week. Since she based is in the US, we expected prompt response to business requests.

    Contact with Grace
    We made initial contact to PMR via phone and web in early March and finally heard from both Grace (I stalked her on the phone) and Sergio (via email at Grace’s request) on March 30th . At that time, we were given a tentative wedding date but then never heard again. Finally on 4/17- we received a confirmed wedding date but no contract or room rates.

    We were anxious to sign a contract-we didn’t want to loose the venue or the date. Any venue in the US wants you to sign your life away and put a deposit down yesterday. In addition, almost a month has passed and we were anxious to get out save the dates, as well as travel/booking information to our guests (we only had 5 months until the wedding!).

    After waiting another week we received the contract on 4/26 (after many phone calls to Grace and emails to Sergio. we waited almost a month for a contract. We couldn’t believe that they were open for business and booking weddings without having contracts in place. This was 1 month wasted for wedding planning. This held up all other planning-travel arrangements, getting save the dates out, and setting up other vendors.

    We found many problems with the group reservation/room block contract and Grace was unwilling to make any alterations to the contract (not sure if she didn’t have the authority or just didn’t know what to do- she seemed surprised that we wanted to negotiate).

    At the time of our reservation the contract rates and conditions were as follows:
    -“Wedding” Room rates: $290/nt 1br, $440/nt 2br, $600/nt 3br, $1000/nt 3br penthouse.
    -Rental Minimum of 15 rooms for 2 nights or charged chapel rental fee of $1000 and no upgrade to penthouse for wedding couple for wedding night.
    -Conditions- If fall below min room reservations, GUESTS will be charged regular rack rate ($350/nt 1br, $550/nt 2br)

    We were estimating only 30-35 guests and probably wouldn’t meet the minimum. We did not want our guests to be charged a higher fee at check in if we had flaky RSVP’s. In addition, we were not interested in the upgrade for the wedding night (we didn’t want to move room for 1 night and then back again). We asked them to waive the concessions in lieu of lower room rate (see room rate) and different penalty for not meeting the min room (charge us a %age fee as other resorts do). We pointed out that the “wedding” rate was not the best rate as we found many packages with a room rate of $199/nt. They would not budge on any conditions.

    Room rate
    Travel Zoo as well as CAR on their website, was offering a package deal consisting of 3 nights w/Thursday arrival including $75 restaurant voucher, airport transfers and tax for $599/nt with 2 additional nights added for $199/nt. In the end, all but 2 couples booked the package deal directly with PMR. We also booked the package deal for 5 nights and added 2 nights at the rack rate (which was also less than the “wedding rate”!)

    Grace kept saying how busy they were that weekend and they couldn’t accommodate a lower rate. In addition she told me that my guests couldn’t use the package deal to stay at the hotel if they were attending our wedding. Whatever, I have no control over how my guests book their travel. In fact, my sister-in law found the package deal in the first place before we even got the accommodations contract from Grace.

    In the end, we never signed the accommodations contract. We paid the chapel rental fee and our guests booked as I described.

    oPMR- Reservations department- Quoc- Grade: A+
    As stated, we booked a weekend package directly through PMR with Quoc. He was great in booking the rooms for us. We booked the 5 night package for $199/nt and added on 2 more nights at the rack rate (still lower than the “wedding rate”).

    oCAR Onsite Wedding Coordinators: Overall Grade: C
    Sergio Morales-Wedding Planner. Grade: F
    I am so glad I took time to write this. Had it been a week after the wedding, this review of Sergio would be much harsher (time does wonders).

    From the very beginning Sergio was difficult to work with. Emails were either unanswered or replied to after several weeks. We didn’t meet Sergio at our site visit or even at the wedding. We finally met him the last day when we were settling up the bill (more on that later). There were many errors on our bill and rather than try to take care of us (you know-the customer is always right or even good customer service), he stood there laughing and shaking his head as though we were crazy to accuse them of making a mistake. He even walked out on my husband mid-sentence. Not cool.

    He handed it off to Vanessa and left.

    I know we are used to a different level of professionalism and customer service in the US, but this was as bad as it gets anywhere. I would not recommend working with Sergio based on all of our experiences as well as what we heard from others in the wedding industry in Cabo. Our opinion was not isolated. It’s too bad he is driving away business at CAR- it’s a lovely venue and has much potential-with better management.

    Vanessa Basurto-Assistant Wedding Planner. Grade: A-
    Thank goodness for Vanessa or our wedding experience with CAR would have been a disaster. She pretty much dealt with the day to day wedding co-ordination and was present on the day of the wedding. She made sure everything went smoothly and most of our requests were

    We noticed that the soft drink and water tab was excessively high. No one from the welcome reception to the wedding reception and there was a huge discrepancy. They didn’t believe us and said we couldn’t compare one night to the other (same group of people, should be the same in our eyes).

    As it turned out- we were overcharged for many items on the catering bill. We made it clear to our WC and Vanessa on all communications prior to the wedding and at the pre-wedding meeting that we did not want the waiters to pass wine at the table. Wine was to be served upon request only (to save on costs). This was not a problem and they were going to charge us per/glass vs. per bottle. Sure enough at the reception the waiters were passing wine around the table ALL NIGHT. I pointed this out to my WC, she was supposed to stop them, but she didn’t (more on that later).

    Vanessa brought us our bill on Monday and reviewed some items with me. When I noticed the wine charges, we ended up with a huge bill for the wine. I explained to Vanessa that this was their mistake (due to the waiters passing the wine vs. on request) and asked that they convert the per/glass charge to a bottle charge. She was going to get approval from Sergio. Turns out in the end, the adjusted the charges. GREAT.

    Here’s where it gets bad.

    We asked for tap water to be served vs. bottled water (on request only). We were told, no problem. The water is safe to drink and we didn’t want to pay $5/bottle for free water. At the wedding they were serving-bottled water! When I pointed this out to Vanessa she said that we were told that they only serve bottled water at weddings. That’s their policy. Great policy for them to make more $. They serve tap water in the restaurant to restaurant guests. We were never told of that policy and were even told we could have tap water. We ended up with a $600 water bill.

    Next problem, we noticed that they charged us for 30 soft drinks. We just couldn’t believe it. The night before we only had about 10. She said that the waiters don’t make mistakes and that the bill is correct. We insisted on checking with the wait staff. Again they looked at us like we were crazy. I know it seems crazy, but when you are handed an enormous bill, you better believe we are going to check it with a fine tooth comb. After about an hour she gets the order slips from the reception.

    We literally went through each one, slip by slip counting waters and sodas and guess what They totally over charged us for the soft drinks by half! Close to $150. Our estimations from the night before were totally on.

    In addition, the waiters used tick marks for ever water order. But what does that mean? Every bottle they finish or every time they fill the glass? They were filling glasses from a large bottle around the table. We were charged for something like 50 big bottles of water (which came out to 3 small bottles of water per guest-I know it was hot, but come on! They all didn’t drink 1 ½ liters of water and all the booze). I think they ticked off every time they filled a glass and charged us for a bottle of water.

    In the end, they only reversed the soda charges and did nothing about the water charges. I know it may seem insignificant, but we weren’t trying to give them a hard time. We just didn’t want to be taken advantage of and I still feel that we were.

    I honestly hope that CAR has fine tuned their policies and practices so other couples do not have the same trouble we did. Going through order slips and counting drinks and arguing with Sergio was not the way I wanted to leave my wedding. Definitely left a really bad taste in my mouth.

    Also, just learn from us, really look at that bill and don’t be afraid to dispute any errors. I am so glad we did.

    Downgraded score because of excessive charges, irrational policies and poor
    customer service

    •Reception at Javier’s- A+
    oFood- Grade A+
    The food was absolutely delicious. I had a combo plate of pork tenderloin, lobster enchiladas and sea bass (all 3 menu choices). Each one was better than the other. The pork is outstanding! The food was served hot. No convention chicken here!

    oService- The wait staff was wonderful. Attentive to our needs. Meal service was a bit slow, but all food served was hot so I didn’t mind.

    oD©cor- the reception is help on the outdoor patio. They set up a long table with chivari chairs. The dance floor was set to the side of the table near the fire pit. They did a great job folding the napkins with our menu and place cards. Only complaint- the DJ equipment was set up on the upper level of the patio which made it difficult for our cousin to get up there to change the music when needed (would have been better if the computer could have been set up closer to the table).

    •Cake- Jennifer Hatton of Cabo Dessert Diva
    Flash Intro Page

    Grade: C for service
    A for taste/appearance
    We were forced to use Jennifer Hatton of Cabo Dessert Dive by CAR. She is their contracted cake baker. I would have liked to have more flexibility since the price was $9/slice!

    The Good- the cake was super yummy!

    The Bad- we had a really hard time working with Jennifer Hatton. We came up with a design for the cake only to be told we couldn’t have fondant in the heat. No problem, since from her pictures, it looked like her fondant work wasn’t that great anyway. The problem was, we gave her a picture for inspiration and she replied “we can’t do that, what other designs do you have?” WTF? She’s the cake baker, how about telling us what you CAN do

    I was so irritated with wedding planning at this point I let FI take this one. This dragged on for 3 weeks with no other suggestions from the cake baker. Our WC told us to pick a design or go without cake since they wouldn’t be able to design on for us.

    We ended up with a 2 tier, round, butter cream cake lined with ribbon I provided. It was very simple (we had our minds set on a fun “Ace of Cakes” cake) but not worth the cost or the hassle.

    Baja Weddings: Grade B+
    Overall: Overall we were happy with Jenny and Baja weddings. They are a big company and crank out a lot of weddings, so I didn't feel like we got a lot of personal attention. We paid $1500 for Jenny's services (we had about 40 guests).

    Jenny Davis (our WC): Grade A-
    Jenny is nice and easy to work with. She's on top of details and gets down to business. She's prompt to return calls/emails.

    A few things though-since they are so big, it really does feel like they are cranking out your wedding. Jenny had her check list and boy was she going to get things crossed off on time- not so bad, but bad when you really need to judge the flow of an event.

    oExample- We were supposed to have the father/daughter dance at 8pm then immediately following inviting all the guests to dance. The table just got served the meals (a bit slow service, but no biggie). I just got my meal. At exactly 8pm, she came up to me and said, ok it's time for your dance. No, no- we just got our food, I'll let you know when the timing is right.

    I think someone who can judge the flow of the event would have been able to alter the timeline and wait until it was appropriate to dance. Had I said yes-I would not have eaten (nor most of my guests) or no one would dance, they would go back to their cold meals.

    Also the company has a few policies we didn't agree with:
    oOnly recommending local photographers. I get it, they want to support local vendors. But they go so far as to warn you against brining a photographer and scare you (saying that your film can be seized at the boarder by customs-we didn't have a problem).

    oWearing really bright flashy clothing. I think they feel they are blending in with the guests, but really, they stuck out (our photographer pointed this out to us the next day-sure enough looking through the proofs- she stands out rather than blending into the background)

    Price Negotiation:
    oThey really don't get the best rates with vendors. I didn't have a big problem with this- I was happy to have them use their vendors as I didn't have the time to do the research- the extra money was worth the piece of mind.
    oTable reservations at a club-she quoted us a rate of 1 bottle per 5 people. We went on our own and only had to buy 1 bottle (we had 20 people). Glad we didn't have her reserve the table.

    Lack of attention to our details (not her checklist):
    oWe asked for wine to be on request only vs. passed wine. We made this clear to Jenny and the banquet manager and it was even in our contract. Sure enough, they were passing wine during dinner. Jenny should have taken the initiative to stop this. I had to point it out to her. She said she would take care of it, but she didn't. The waiters served wine all night. This cost us a lot of money.

    Overall, though, she was easy to work with during the planning process. Lacked some follow-through in the day of.

    Bottom Line:
    She's great if you just want someone to help recommend vendors and coordinate your vendors and make sure you are on time with your timeline. However, if you are looking for someone to hold your hand a bit and stand up more for your interests, then they might not be for you.

    Suzanne Morel- Grade A
    Hair and Make up Trail: Grade A

    Hair Trial
    My hair trial was wonderful. The girls-Paola and Adriana took their time trying styles. My hair was above my shoulder in length and I wanted a sleek, elegant up-do. Suzanne and the girls said it was impossible. They tried to push (guide?) me into a more casual, messy up-do-which I wasn’t happy with at all-at least not for my wedding. However, after playing around with my hair, they styled it in a big beautiful bun. It was exactly what I wanted.

    Suzanne came out several times to supervise and add her expert input. We changed the hair style for my rehearsal dinner into a fun and very “Hollywood” up-do. The style stayed all night long. I was very happy with the service and results. The girls and Suzanne were very accommodating and really cared about how my hair turned out.

    Make-up Trail
    The make-up application when very smoothly. All the colors were very natural but I felt beautiful. I didn’t feel overly made up. In fact I wish I paid more attention so I could use some of the tricks on my own. We played around with the lipstick color (the one I brought was too dark for wedding day). Suzanne again supervised and gave the girls direction.

    Wedding Day Hair and Make up: A-
    On the day of the wedding the girls were wonderful, professional and accommodating. They were a few minutes late but Suzanne called ahead to warn us which was very thoughtful. They started hair on my mother and she decided to have her make-up done so they took it in stride to do her make up. My mother looked beautiful. They then took my maid of honor for hair and make up and then did make-up on my other maid of honor.
    My hair and make up started 2 pm. We had a finish time of 4pm which was plenty of time to get my hair and make up done. I know it was a long day for her, but I felt that Adrianna was rushing my hair (she may have been tired). The first time they showed me my hair, she was able to recreate the bun but all of the bobby pins were visible and it didn’t look very polished, smooth or elegant.

    Even though she did it less than 24 hours ago, we kept showing her the picture but still is wasn’t quite right. The front was not smooth either. She took her time to fix the bun to hide the bobby pins and smoothed out the front. My hair held up fairly well through the night. The bottom of the bun started to come out when I was dancing.

    When it came time for the make up, I feel like she really rushed and didn’t take her time. We finished well before 4pm so I felt like she could have slowed down a bit. When I saw the result, the eyes and lips were not as good as the trial. Again we showed her the pictures but it just didn’t match up. We worked a little bit on the lip color but I was a little disappointed in that I felt my make up looked much better at the trial. Overall, the make up was great, I just think that it was so good on Friday that the comparison didn’t measure up and I felt she really rushed

    Overall they did a wonderful job, were very professional and worked very hard to get all of our hair and make up completed on time. I am very happy with the results and will recommend Suzanne Morel to other brides in Cabo. If you can, maybe go to the salon on the day of the wedding for Suzanne to supervise. It’s not as convenient but you know that you will get her seal of approval before walking out the door.

    Cabo Flowers- A-
    We booked Cabo Flowers through Baja Weddings. I am sure I could have shopped around for better prices, but I was happy to use a reliable vendor from our WC. Overall, they did a great job with the florals. The alter decorations were nicer than I thought-I was very pleased. The green spider mum/button mum’s were very bright. The centerpieces were much larger than I expected and were beautiful.

    I was disappointed with my bouquet. The handle was very thin and not wrapped very well (same as the bridesmaids) and the flower color was very dull. I expected a much thicker stem/wrapping. I should have been more specific (though I gave a picture). I definitely spent more on florals than I wanted to, but I really wanted green orchids for my bouquet and the alter decorations (which I am glad we did).

    Here’s what we ordered:
    •1 Bridal Bouquet- Green Cymbidium Orchids wrapped in brown ribbon- $200
    •2 bridesmaids bouquets- green spider mums w/green button mums wrapped in brown ribbon- $70/each (repurposed into 2 more table centerpieces- rented 2 round tall vases w/ribbon for $16)
    •Groom’s boutonniere- Mini Green Cymbidium wrapped in chocolate ribbon $40
    •Guys boutonni¨res- Green button mum with white dendrobium orchid $17/each
    •2 mom’s corsages- green button mums w/small white dendrobium orchids-$25/each
    •2 table centerpieces- green spider mums w/green button mums in a square vase lined w/ribbon I provided surrounded by 3 votive candles- $80/each
    •2 Alter arrangements- 2 white wood pedestal boxes with wide glass cylinder to hold 2-3 pillar candles with greenery at base of cylinder $120/each
    •4 Pew decorations- White box with river rocks and glass cylinder with pillar candle - $27/each
    •Set up/delivery fee- $150
    Total: $1313

    I downgraded the score because of my bouquet, the bouquet ties and the charges. I know flowers are expensive in Cabo but even our rentals were very expensive- $8 for a votive or glass vase

    Music A++
    iPod w/rented DJ equipment- Grade A+
    Forget the DJ ladies. Rent DJ equipment and use your iPod or computer. We saved so much money with this and were able to have the music we wanted. Our WC set up the rental for only $400 including set up and break down. Be sure to have a trusty friend of groomsman man the equipment (just to cue up the 1st dance and special dance songs). Set your play lists and go!

    Los Mosquitos Mexican Trio Grade A+
    We hired Los Mosquitos through Baja Weddings. We hired them for 2 hours, to play the wedding ceremony and the cocktail hour. They were able to play all 3 of our requested processional/recessional songs. From what I remember (it went by so fast and we missed the cocktail hour), they sounded wonderful. Our guests really enjoyed the music at cocktail hour. Price: $350/hour

    •Table linens- were provided by CAR at no cost (chocolate brown)
    •Napkins- Baja Wedding’s rented green napkins for us at $2/napkin from their vendor
    •Chairs- This is a super sore point for us. We originally wanted the chairs currently in use on the Javier’s patio (see picture). We loved the look and d©cor of CAR and didn’t want to have the typical wedding table (hate covered chairs). They would not let us use the chairs after begging, pleading and offering to pay a rental fee. I don’t get it.

    We ended up renting chivari chairs from CAR (you can only use their vendor and they only offer folding wooden chairs $6/chair, covered chairs $8/chair or chivari chairs $11/chair) and charge $2/chair set up fee! We hated all options but went with the brown chivari chairs (it was the best looking option). See picture.

    Rick Collins Photography A++
    Vancouver wedding photographer Rick Collins. Wedding and portrait photography in Vancouver, Victoria, British Columbia and worldwide.

    Hire this photographer!!!! Stop your search now. I say it again- HIRE RICK COLLINS! WE LOVE RICK! There is not enough room in this review to tell you how lucky and happy we were to find Rick. We hired Rick to travel to Cabo for our destination wedding to shoot our welcome reception, wedding day and a post nup shoot the day after the wedding. Rick is familiar with Cabo and has shot many weddings in the area.

    Not only is he an amazing photographer but he is an awesome person. We had a blast hanging out with him the day after our wedding for our post nup shoot. We even had him as our guest at dinner with the family that night. Rick went above and beyond trying to capture our wedding weekend and did it well in the heat (it was over 90 degrees and humid all weekend).

    Welcome Reception
    We hired Rick to shoot our family on Friday night for our welcome reception at the resort bar. He even showed up early to shot our rehearsal- which I am so glad he did as there were many unexpected emotional moments he captured. At the last minute he decided he would shoot the family in town at the welcome dinner. We were happy to have him as our guest at dinner and he pulled us away to get some amazing shots in the restaurant. We have only seen one but can’t wait to see the rest.

    Wedding Day
    Rick showed up to my room around noon to get some pre-wedding shots of the shoes, the rings, the dress and the girls getting ready. He popped in and out all afternoon taking great shots. I kept hearing from my family that he was all over the place at the reception and ceremony trying to get everything in and he did it all a way that we didn’t even notice him. He was like a fly on the wall. Rick took the traditional family portraits after the ceremony and then we got some fun shots with the bridal party and then us alone on the beach. Rick stayed until the last minute of the reception and got shots of us getting into the party bus for the after party. He went above and beyond the day of the wedding, was unobtrusive and fun to work with.

    Post-nup shoot
    This is when the fun really began. Looking at Rick’s work, I knew I wanted him to shoot us the day after the wedding around Cabo. I think I was more excited for this shoot than the wedding! He had some awesome ideas for shots in an auto wrecker lot as well as us just walking around old town San Jose. The shoot was scheduled from about 4-6pm. It was another HOT day in Cabo (over 90 degrees). We were all dying and wilting in the heat but Rick just kept shooting away and coming up with more places to take us to shoot. We ended up going to 3 locations then back to the resort for the last light of sunset on the beach. It was almost 8pm at this point. He would have gone on longer had we not pooped out. It was always "whatever you guys want". Again, above and beyond.

    Rick posted pictures on his blog throughout the weekend of our wedding. Every night we went to his site to see what was up there! We received an online gallery of photos about 4 weeks after the wedding with ~300 shots. Our photo disk was sent about 6 weeks after the wedding with about 1700 retouched shots. This came around Thanksgiving-just in time for the holidays (DIY photo book gifts!). Rick is currently making our photo album (1/09).

    Finished product
    We loved our photos. No, really, we LOVE or photos. Rick has a great eye for framing a shot. He really captured the mood and emotion of the weekend. We were very impressed with his work. Our post-nup shoot are some of the best photos I’ve ever seen. Totally magazine editorial style. We were blown away.

    A few disappointments-
    - I asked Rick to get shots of the “details”- the table, the centerpieces, the flowers before anyone sat down. We never got that (we have some with people at the table).
    - I would have liked a few more traditional bridal portraits. I have great shots of me in the dress before the wedding, but they are cut off at the shin- nothing of me in the entire dress. Also no head shots of me or my husband. I’ve been able to crop some shots to achieve this look. Also, the portraits of me and hubby are lacking.

    I think I would have stressed this more in our pre-wedding meeting (dunno- gave him a short check list), but what can you do now right?

    Bottom Line:
    Hire Rick. You will not be disappointed. Seriously.

    Here’s his website:
    Vancouver wedding photographer Rick Collins. Wedding and portrait photography in Vancouver, Victoria, British Columbia and worldwide.

    Check the destination wedding galleries- Tara+Eric- that’s us!

    •Taxis- Grade A for travel to San Jose/CAR. Grade B travel to CSL due to cost
    Easiest and cheapest way to get from CAR to the town/restaurants in San Jose. They are easy to find everywhere and reasonably priced fares from CAR to San Jose (about 1 ½ miles) for about $7 each way. The hotel bell staff had 5 van taxis waiting for us to take us to our rehearsal dinner. Just agree on the price before setting off.

    In San Jose- there is a taxi stand on the main street in San Jose or your restaurant can arrange for taxis to pick up your group.

    •Private Transportation: Grade A
    We used transportation provided by Baja Weddings. They had a party bus and large van for our group of 20. They arrived on time and stayed near the destination ready for us to go whenever we wanted. Sorry I do not have the name of the company but they were very reliable. Costs: $150/round trip each van (was less than taking the taxis round trip to Cabo San Lucas from CAR ~$40 each way).

    Mango Productions: Grade A
    We hired Mango Productions to film our ceremony and speeches only. This was a last minute add on for us. We only wanted the raw footage. Jerome came out to meet us the day before the wedding to look at the space and go over the logistics. The camera men came on time and set up as we discussed and stayed until the speeches. Jerome delivered the tapes to us the following Monday.

    We have converted the tapes to DVD’s and so far all looks good (still sifting through the footage).

    The Good- negotiated a good price for the service. Showed up on time. Stayed for contracted service.

    The not-so-good:
    Jerome stated that he would provide 2 wireless mics- one for my husband and one for the officiant. Though the camera men showed up early to set up, they did not provide a mic until moments before my husband and the officiant were to walk down the aisle. In addition, it was not a wireless mic but a big traditional mic. Both my husband and the officiant had no idea what to do with it, and it was a mad scramble before the processional for them to stash it in the alter arrangements.

    Pre-ceremony footage-
    Jerome also said that the guys would come to the room before the wedding to get pre-ceremony shots. They didn’t. There is about 30 minutes of dead space film (just staring at the wall).

    Seeing that they were there so early, this could have been figured out sooner. Also, the mics were not what was promised. The jury is still out on the sound quality for the ceremony (haven’t gotten to that part of the film yet).

    At CAR :
    Flor de Noche
    •Swim up bar and table service. Serves lunch and dinner. Food and drinks are good but pricey

    •Great selection of menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner food is outstanding! Very pricey but the service and quality of the food match the price. Killer margaritas. Awesome ceviche.

    San Jose del Cabo:
    Tequila Restaurant
    Our welcome dinner was held at Tequila. They accommodated our group of 36 in the back patio of the restaurant. We negotiated a 2 course meal with 2 drinks, tax and tip for a set fee. All 3 menu options were delicious!

    We also ate here prior to our trip. The food is delicious but pricey as with all restaurants around Cabo. Entrees ranged from $20-$40. Great patio area.

    La Panga
    La panga antigua restaurant & bar, San Jose del Cabo, Los Cabos, Mexico
    La Panga is similar to Tequila (high end restaurant). The food is delicious. The menu is seafood based. Very pricey $20-40/entr©e. Good wine list. Great outdoor patio.

    Tropicana Inn
    Tropicana Inn
    We ate lunch on the front patio of Tropicana. They serve traditional Mexican food. Lunch meals were $10-20/entr©e. Great Margaritas. Attentive, but slow service.

    El Comal de la Buena Comida Mexicana
    Blvd. Mijares 1357 Col Centro, San Jose del Cabo in the courtyard of Plaza la Casa de Don Rodrigo, Downtown.
    Restaurante El Comal - Los Cabos
    El Comal de la Buena Comida Mexicana - San Jose del Cabo, Los Cabos, Mexico

    Cute restaurant in a courtyard between 2 buildings. Set off from the main street. You feel like you are entering a secret garden. They serve traditional Mexican food. Excellent and attentive waiters/service. Great Pomegranate Margaritas. We had lunch and dinner here. Lunch $10-20/entr©e. Dinner $20-40/entr©e. Not as high quality of food as Tequila or La Panga. Go here for lunch vs. dinner.

    Blvd. Mijares s/n Int. Plaza los Misiones
    Habaneros Restaurant - Creative Mexican Fusion in San Jose del Cabo

    Cute family owned small restaurant in a strip center on the way to San Jose. Food is decent and moderately priced. Great service. Seems like a local favorite. Dinner $15-20/entr©e. Stick to beer or wine- the margaritas aren’t the best.

    Cabo San Lucas

    French Rivera
    French Riviera Restaurant - Los Cabos Baja California Sur, Mexico.
    This restaurant was a FIND! The best restaurant we’ve found in Cabo. It’s a true treasure. Located at Club 96 on the Pamilla property- this restaurant is open to the public. The tables are set on a bluff over the beach looking out to the sea. We went at sunset and it was perfect! It is slow season in Sept, and we were literally the only people in the restaurant. We had 3 waiters serving us! Even if it wasn’t slow, we had the impression that the restaurant provides outstanding service.

    Our meal was fantastic and the chef sent out a special appetizer and dessert- his compliments. The menu does not have prices. You know what they say, if you have to ask the price, you probably can’t afford it. Well we were a bit worried about that- turns out when the bill came, it was the least expensive up-scale dinner we had the whole week! The entrees were $20-30. Far less than La Panga, Tequila or Javier’s and way better. We are so glad we found the restaurant. We will be back!

    #2 Sloan

    • Sr. Member
    • 1,279 posts

      Posted 16 January 2009 - 10:25 PM

      Great, great photog! Love those shoes of yours too! Hot! Congrats!

      #3 Erika J

      Erika J

        VIP Member

      • VIP Member
      • 8,569 posts

        Posted 18 January 2009 - 12:53 AM

        Everything looked amazing in the photos!!

        #4 Alanna San Diego

        Alanna San Diego
        • Newbie
        • 23 posts

          Posted 18 January 2009 - 02:17 PM

          WOW...what a great review! It's extremely helpful for those of us getting married at CAR. Now I have some ideas of what to look out for. Thanks, Tara!

          #5 Jess

          • Sr. Member
          • 4,455 posts

            Posted 18 January 2009 - 03:12 PM

            Great review - thank you! There is not much on Cabo Azul so it is definitely appreciated :)

            #6 dinogomez.com

            • Sr. Member
            • 5,705 posts

              Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:49 PM

              Great review and congratulations!!!

              #7 Glamourina

              • Jr. Member
              • 198 posts

                Posted 20 January 2009 - 10:30 PM

                Wow, what an awesome and honest review! I'm sure it will be really helpful for Cabo Azul brides in the future! I'm a Dreams Cabo bride and I learnt a lot too! I found out in your review that the Trio you used (Los Mosquitos) charges $350 an hour at Cabo Azul but $500 an hour at Dreams... hmm have to have a chat about that with my WC!

                #8 Jteam

                • Newbie
                • 74 posts

                  Posted 21 January 2009 - 04:36 AM

                  Thanks so much for the review, i'm considering Dreams and was also looking into Cabo Azul. You've put so much detail into your review, I'm sure everyone really appreciates the time you dedicated to helping others. :)

                  #9 Kim

                  • Newbie
                  • 7 posts

                    Posted 21 January 2009 - 02:50 PM

                    THANK YOU so much for your review! There is not much on Cabo Azul on the forum yet. I am getting married at Cabo Azul this summer and am running into the EXACT same issues. We ended up hiring an outside wedding planner too! I have a few questions for you: For the welcome reception what did you do? Taco Bar? Cocktails? We want to have a welcome party on Friday night and would love some ideas. Florist: Did you have the option to bring in any florist? We are being told that we have to work with Rene from Cabo Party Planners - no exceptions. Thanks so much!

                    #10 RebelBride2008

                    • Newbie
                    • 32 posts

                      Posted 22 January 2009 - 02:25 PM

                      You are all very welcome! This is why I took so long to post the review. I really wanted other brides to learn more about CAR, since it's so new. Plus, I would have loved to have this info while I was planning. Would have been a great stress relive. I guess I was one of the ginea pigs :)

                      Kim- At the time CAR said we could bring any vendor except one photographer. I think Sergio set me up with Rene, but I ended up not working with him (he told me I could get calla lillies in Sept but I was told that you can absolutely NOT get them in Sept- so I didn't trust him. He's a friend of Sergio). I used Cabo Flowers through my WC. That is thier preferred vendor. If it's a CAR policy then you might be out of luck. See if you can get your WC to use another florist.

                      For our welcome reception- we just had drinks and snacks for an hour and ordered some nachos, ceviche and chips/salsa from the Flor de Noche menu. We were going to dinner afterwards so actually no one really ate the food.

                      Hope that helps!

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