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paraisobeachbride2009's MASSIVE Iberostar Paraiso Beach Wedding Review with Pics!!!


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#1 ~*Kathy*~

~*Kathy*~
  • Sr. Member
  • 5,649 posts

    Posted 11 March 2009 - 01:58 AM

    Before I get started I just want to say thank you to SunBride. I've borrowed her review template and it has really helped me to collect my thoughts for this review. Thanks again!!

    PART 1:

    TRAVEL 7.5/10
    We left Edmonton on an Air Transat direct flight to Cancun at 6:35 p.m. on Feb 16/09. DH and I were supposed to be in the economy class; however, due to the flight being overbooked, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they upgraded us to first class. Neither of us has ever flown first class before so it was a real treat. We were offered strawberry champagne (which I had and it was delicious). During the flight we were given supper which was also fantastic. The supper included a starter Greek salad and a bun; the supper itself was penne noodles in marinara sauce. All of the food was terrific and the extra leg room was so nice especially since DH is 6’1”. Unfortunately, Air Transat does not have closets that brides can put their wedding gowns to hang in but the stewardess was very lovely and laid it gently in the overhead bin in aisle 7.
    The flight itself was very good. My only complaint, and this is not Transat’s fault, is that there were five or six rowdy 50-year-olds in first class who were completely drunk and obnoxious. They were so rude to the stewards/stewardesses and so loud that even if you wanted to read/listen to music/sleep during the flight, there was no way you could. They were laughing, screaming, and singing at the top of their lungs. The airline staff did their best to quiet them down and stopped serving them alcohol, but that kind of backfired because then they started to complain loudly about how they were on vacation and should have all the “damn” alcohol they wanted. They even told the stewardess that they were going to get her fired! It was so embarrassing.
    The flight actually landed in Cancun ahead of schedule at 12 a.m. We made it through customs without a problem and got the green light, so no luggage inspection, which was nice lol. We hopped the Transat bus to the resort. It was about a 45 minute bus ride from the airport to the Iberostar with only one stop at a resort prior to the Iberostar.

    CHECK-IN
    We got to Iberostar Paraiso Beach at 3 a.m. and the place looked deserted lol. Most of the lights were shut off which had us worried but the check in staff was there ready to assist us. Check in was quick and easy. Afterward, they took a few minutes to show us a map of the resort and where some of the places that we could eat at 3 a.m. were as some of us were hungry, so I really appreciated them doing this for us especially at 3 in the morning. Most of our families took a golf cart ride to their rooms with their luggage. I will say that DH and I (as well as some of his family members) were a bit disappointed that they didn’t try to keep our group in the same proximity on the resort or in the same building. My MIL and FIL were in building 35 as well as DH’s oldest brother, his wife, and their two kids. My mom, step-dad and little sister were in building 41. DH’s other brother and his friend were in building 40 as was my older sister. DH and I were in building 31. So essentially, we were spread out across the entire resort, which made getting together a bit of a challenge. I was very unhappy about this but as the resort was at maximum capacity; I opted not to bring this up with management. When we checked in, the gentleman told us we were “upgraded” to building 31. The morning after check-in, some of our guests were a little put off (and I don’t blame them) that their rooms were supposed to have king sized beds and they ended up in rooms with two double beds instead, DH’s parents for instance had this problem, so did mine for that matter. My parents opted to just deal with it for the week (since they were only staying for one week anyway), DH’s parents went to reception and requested a room with a king sized bed (their request was met and they were moved to room 3545 three days later).

    PART 2: RESORT

    APPEARANCE 9/10
    The Iberostar Paraiso Beach & Del Mar are absolutely gorgeous! You can tell they really take pride in the landscaping of their resorts. Everywhere you go, you see staff doing their best to keep this place beautiful, and it shows! The buildings are beautifully painted a multitude of colors from yellow and orange to reds and blues. There are so many beautiful flowers here too and they smell amazing! It’s not uncommon to walk around the resort and see a variety of wildlife from swans, peacocks, flamingos to cats and “coatis”. The resort is HUGE so be prepared to do a lot of walking. I personally didn’t mind it, but I read a lot of TA reviews where people complained about the size of the resort. With a resort as lush and beautiful as this, walking was a pleasure for the DH and me. There is a trolley that runs through the resort but its timing is extremely unpredictable. It’s supposed to come by every 15 minutes but it’s really more random than that.

    ROOMS 8/10
    While we were checking-in we were informed that we were “upgraded” to room 3101. Upon arrival to our room, we were greeted with a bottle of red wine and a basket of fruit. This room is considered a “Jr. Suite” at Iberostar Paraiso Beach. The only difference DH and I noticed between the standard rooms and the jr. suites on the resort is that the jr. suites are about 2-3 feet longer and have nicer TVs in them, which to us was pointless since you don’t usually stay at an all-inclusive just to watch tv lol. The rooms were very clean upon our arrival. Our room was equipped with a 60” shower with detachable showerhead and some of our guests had similar showers while others in standard rooms had shower/bath combos. When we first got to our room at 4 a.m. we noticed that our mini-fridge was not stocked with water so we had nothing to brush our teeth with the following morning. I don’t know if they just forgot or what. Apparently the maids don’t stock the fridges at the resort, other staff do. It’s kind of odd if you ask me but one evening around 6 p.m., one of the resort staff knocked on our door and told us he was there to stock the fridge for the day. For the entire two weeks that we were there, getting water and how much water we got in our fridge was a crap shoot. Some days they’d give us six bottles, other days we wouldn’t get any…so that was pretty frustrating. During our first week at the resort, the maids took my face towels (which I had hanging to dry on the towel rack, apparently they’re not supposed to take them if they’re hanging…according to the resort’s brochure they leave in the bathroom for you to read) and they never replaced them the entire week! I had to ask my mom for one of hers as I had none. Some of our other guests mentioned to us that they had the same issue. I even brought this up with reception staff and they said that they would get us some but it never happened. During the second week of our stay, we had fresh face towels each day. I don’t know if they were backlogged with laundry or what during the first week. It was strange. The beds are typical Mexico standard…really hard! Lol. I’m sure that not all beds in Mexico resorts are hard but all the ones I’ve stayed at are. Either way, the beds aren’t as bad as the pillows, these pillows are very flat. I tried sleeping with two pillows to see if it would help but then my neck was too high up and it was just as uncomfortable. My mom, who likes firm mattresses, said she loved the beds - to each their own I guess.

    LOCATION 10/10
    We chose Riviera Maya as our wedding location because we’ve been here before and we know how amazing it is and most of our guests have been here and knew what to expect, which made us comfortable since we were pretty sure they’d be happy having this place to holiday in. The weather in RM during February is usually pretty reliable with a very small amount of precipitation. During our stay it was usually at least +26 C – +30 C (not sure what this is in F, I’d say around mid 80s) which is plenty hot for me. I usually hid under a palapa during the day is it was so hot. There were a few rainy days while we were there, one of them being Feb 20/09…there was supposed to be a wedding on the beach that day so I felt bad for that bride. Our wedding day was hot and sunny for which I was thankful!

    BEACH & POOLS 9/10
    The Iberostar’s beach is fantastic! There’s lots of smooth, white sand and great, warm water for swimming. It was a red flag there the entire two weeks of our stay but many people (including us) went in to the ocean to body surf, it was a ton of fun though I probably swallowed ten litres of salt water lol. There weren’t a lot of rocks or coral where people were swimming that I noticed. DH of course found the one rock possible and scraped his toe on it. I didn’t have a problem and never got a scrape. The beach isn’t as crowded as the pool. People play the towel game at the pool as early as 6 a.m., so there were a few days where we went to the beach to have a chair because it was impossible to get one at the pool. The Iberostar staff work very hard to keep their beaches clean. Throughout the day you will see staff picking up cups and garbage and every night they re-arrange the chairs on the entire beach (which is no small task considering the size). There are some gentlemen on the beach that will go around and offer to sell you sunglasses, silver, cigars, etc. They don’t really pester you too much, so it didn’t bother me. At the pool, the Starfriends work very hard to get people involved and have fun with them. They will razz (in polite way of course) you a bit to do stuff with them but if you aren’t up for it they will leave alone if you tell them you aren’t interested. I hope you get used to the song “Hey Baby (ooh ahh)” by DJ Otzi, they play it about five billion times a day at the resort, and it’s actually quite hilarious. It gets stuck in your head (and everyone else’s) and it’s not uncommon to hear other resort-goers singing it somewhere! They played it by the pool every day around 12:25 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. it was helpful to me because I didn’t bring a watch so I always knew when it was lunch time at least lol. Be careful when you’re sitting on some of the lounger chairs by the pool as many of them are broken and when you are sitting up and leaning on the back of the chair, some of them will collapse on you (and take you by surprise).

    #2 ~*Kathy*~

    ~*Kathy*~
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      Posted 11 March 2009 - 02:02 AM

      FOOD/RESTAURANTS 8/10
      The food at the resort is typical all-inclusive fare which was just fine for me and our guests. The buffet offered enough variety to keep everyone satisfied. The thing about Iberostar Paraiso Beach/Del Mar that is tricky as far as food is concerned is the timing. Basically, you’re on a food schedule. You can generally get food whenever you want; as long as you know where and at what time all of the different buffets are open. It’s a small inconvenience but once you know when and where everything is, it is pretty easy to get food. Allow me to give you an example of what I mean: the main buffet located just off of the Paraiso Beach lobby, La Plaza is open for breakfast every day from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. then it closes until 1:00 p.m. when it serves lunch from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. then it closes again until 6:30 p.m. and re-opens for supper at 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for supper. Our room, 3101 is right by the pool and beach and we never got up early enough for breakfast at La Plaza. Luckily for us El Puerto is a buffet during the day (and steakhouse a la carte by night) and it served breakfast from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and closes down and re-opens at 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for lunch. There is a buffet at the beach although I was never sure what its hours were and preferred the selection at the El Puerto buffet anyway. The buffet just off of the Del Mar lobby, La Marcado runs the same hours as La Plaza except for that it is open all night from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. for late night snacks, if you’re anything like DH and I, you will love this. We went to La Marcado every night for late night nachos, burgers and pizza. If you go there during these hours, make sure to befriend Faustino, he’s a really nice kid and a great waiter. We always made sure to tip Faustino really well, he works very hard. By the end of the two weeks, he told DH and me that we were his family, it was really sweet. Just want to let you guys know that they do label the food at the buffets, however, we found that sometimes things were improperly labeled or there would be labels for some things and not others which is sort of annoying but not a huge issue as most of the food is pretty straight-forward other than the night my DH tricked me in to eating cow tongue (yes, you read that right! Lol) but that wasn’t due to improper labeling, just him being a little punk haha. There were also a few nights at the buffet where a gentleman working for the resort would go around and make balloon animals and balloon hats for kids during supper, I thought this was a nice little treat and it was a hit with my 1 ½ and 3 year old nephews.

      EL PUERTO (STEAKHOUSE)
      We had our wedding reception dinner at El Puerto and the food was really good. Everyone was given an onion cactus to start (it’s a cactus-shaped fried onion thing, its awesome!) and then we ordered off of the menu. Some people had steak, others had chicken or salmon. I ordered the tenderloin medium-well done. When I got my steak, it was cooked medium. I didn’t send it back because it wasn’t a huge deal but later I found out that my mom ordered the tenderloin medium and she got it medium-well. They had mixed up our orders. Like I said, not a huge deal and it was still very good. Dinner was also served with corn on the cob and a baked potato which were also very tasty.

      HASHIRU (JAPANESE)
      We dined at Hashiru for my MIL’s 50th birthday. It is located just off of the Paraiso Beach lobby and it was awesome! We all had the tepanyakki meal where the chef cooks in front of you. This is extremely entertaining; the chef does all sorts of tricks while cooking your supper. They give you sushi to start (which I didn’t try since I’m not a sushi person) and tempura veggies which were so amazing, I loved them! The main meal is fried rice with beef, chicken, shrimp, zucchini, carrots, eggplant and mushrooms. I thought it was really good but my mom found it a bit salty, so just be aware. DH and I also tried sake which we didn’t care for but then again we had never had it before, maybe it’s an acquired taste lol.

      BRAZILIAN (sorry, I don’t remember the name of it)
      This a la carte is interesting. The appetizers are buffet style at this a la carte, so you can get them whenever you’re ready (fish, salads, etc) and then the waiters and waitresses serve you your meal by going around the table with skewers filled with different kinds of meats and ask you if you would like a slice of whatever they have on their skewers. It is a huge amount of food by the end of it. It wasn’t my favorite but it wasn’t horrible either. It wouldn’t be my first choice for an a la carte.

      MEXICAN (Forgot the name of this one too)
      I really enjoyed this a la carte. Again there are appetizers served buffet style (I really enjoyed the chimichangas and the mini tacos). I also had the tortilla soup to start which was delicious and a bit spicy. My main course was shishkebab tortilla tacos and they were terrific! I would definitely recommend this a la carte, the rest of my family enjoyed as well.

      BAR SERVICE 9/10
      The service at any of the bars at the Beach and Del Mar is fantastic. The bartenders are so friendly and willing to make you pretty much anything you ask for. That being said, some bartenders are definitely more skilled or have more experience than others on the resort. My FIL didn’t care for the way they made the drinks at the beach bar (watered down), however, he highly recommends Roberto at the activity pool swim-up bar to make you a delicious drink. My FIL was partial to Long Island Iced Teas and says that Roberto is the best. My favorite bartenders were in the Paraiso Beach lobby bar in the evenings. Alfredo and Eduardo are two of the nicest, funniest people we have ever met. Ask Alfredo for a shot of Purple Rain or tell him to surprise you…you could always ask him for an “Hasta La Vista” and tell him Kathy says hi lol. If you don’t know what to order, honestly, just ask them to make you something good and they will. DH was running out of new drinks to try (though he was mostly hooked on Tom Collins for most of our two week stay) and asked Alfredo to surprise him. DH said that Alfredo made something called a “Flamingo” and that it was really good…I never got around to trying it but I wanted to! I usually just tried whatever was on the menu until I ran out of things to try and then asked them to get creative. You must absolutely do Slammer shots with Alfredo and Eduardo; it is just way too much fun!

      HOUSEKEEPING 7/10
      I’m giving them a 7/10 but I think that’s being pretty generous. As I stated earlier in my review, we were not terribly satisfied with the inconsistency of the housekeeping’s decision on whether or not to give us face cloths during the first week or the consistency of how often (if at all) we got basic necessities in our refrigerator, such as water (at least to brush our teeth!!). I don’t understand what the problem was; we always tipped the maids well. I will say that we got cute towel art every day and it was appreciated although I would take water over towel art. The fact that other people in our group had the same problems concerns me that probably everyone staying at the resort had spotty housekeeping service.

      ENTERTAINMENT/THINGS TO DO 7.5/10

      The Iberostar Paraiso Beach & Del Mar are fantastic resorts, especially value-wise, however, I feel that entertainment is not their strong point. Don’t get me wrong, the Starfriends bust their butts all day and all night to entertain guests, but unfortunately, they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I personally don’t care for or go to resort “shows” but lots of people generally do. They had a different show at the theater (just halfway between the Beach side and the Del Mar side a short distance after La Plaza and La Marcado buffets) of the week with different themes. Some nights were Mayan heritage and others were things like Vegas Night or Miss Iberostar night. People seemed to enjoy the shows but most people at the shows weren’t our age (20s – 30s). They also put on a kids show before the regular show, so that’s nice too. Every other night, vendors from outside of the resort would come in and show off their wares. Jewelry, tile paintings, those awesome spray-paint paintings, vases, masks, sunglasses…things like that. DH and I found it difficult to entertain ourselves beyond 8 p.m. These resorts would really benefit from having an adult pool open late as the pools all shut down at 6 p.m. The Shopping Plaza boasts a decent amount of souvenir shops as well as the crepe/ice cream place (the crepes are awesome by the way, do not miss this!! Don’t worry, it’s free as it is part of the all-inclusive resort), the taco place, Star Burger (really good cheese burgers, don’t miss this one either!) as well as the Galaxy Disco (adult disco open from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.) and Underground Disco (teen disco) open from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. I believe. DH, his brother, and I went to Galaxy a few times during our stay…it is really cheesy! Lol It is Star Wars themed, complete with a life-sized storm trooper statue and the Millennium Falcon that actually goes around the ceiling of the disco on a little track. People (mostly in their 40s and 50s) would be there at night drinking and such but no one was really dancing (they played a lot of techno), so often the Starfriends actually get on the dance floor to encourage others to dance, complete with costumes and name tags…they kind of stand out like sore thumbs, maybe that’s the point, I’m not really sure. It was kind of sad that that’s what they have to do to get people interested. Some of the Starfriends at the disco were the same ones I had seen by the pool working all day, so they literally put in 12 hour days…it must be exhausting…I really felt for them. Personally, DH and I felt there really isn’t enough for people in their 20s and 30s to do at the resort in the evening which is a shame.

      #3 ~*Kathy*~

      ~*Kathy*~
      • Sr. Member
      • 5,649 posts

        Posted 11 March 2009 - 02:03 AM

        PART 3: EXCURSIONS

        COCO BONGO PLAYA DEL CARMEN
        So my BIL suckered DH and I in to going to Coco Bongo in Playa del Carmen with him. We really weren’t that interested in going but we figured if we don’t babysit him (and he’s older than us but that’s a whole other kettle of fish…lol) that he’ll end up hitting on some guy’s gf and get beat up. There are two people that work for Coco Bongo that walk around the Iberostar Paraiso Beach/Del Mar pool all day offering to sell wrist bands for an “all-inclusive” evening at Coco Bongo for $60 USD and then a bus picks you up at the Del Mar lobby and you drive in to PDC and they tell you what to do to get to Coco Bongo and when the bus will be heading back to the resort. So DH, me, BIL and DH’s friend all go to Coco Bongo and boy let me tell you how unprepared and improperly attired I was for this place! I thought that there would be places to sit (not knowing anything about Coco Bongo) and enjoy my drink etc…I decided to wear a jean skirt, a cute tank top, and 3 inch stiletto shoes. Huge mistake! Coco Bongo is a massive building in Playa del Carmen and it has a main floor and like…four floors winding around their main stage and everyone stands and watches the show. If there were any chairs, I wasn’t aware of them. My feet were killing me so I just gave up and took my shoes of and held on to them while I watched the show. This place was packed! We were all shoulder to shoulder like sardines! And forget about going to the bathroom, there was one bathroom on the side we were standing on and a massive line to use it with only two stalls in the entire thing and they had a staffer allowing to girls in at a time, and then two guys after as it wasn’t a gender specific washroom. The drinks (the ones that were free anyway…) were really tasty! I had an awesome pina colada and a really good strawberry daiquiri. So when they sell you these wrist bands, they claim that it is an “all-inclusive” night, but that is not so. It’s quite deceiving. There are girls that go around the entire building with bottles of Hypnotique or Tequila and really try hard to get you to do a shot. So you finally agree to do a shot and then they point to a sign around their necks saying “Shot $5 USD”…that is crazy! DH was sweet and got me two shots but seriously, that is way over priced. The show itself at Coco Bongo was/is fantastic! These people do great impersonations and do a great job of entertaining you with various pop-culture acts. Another cool thing is that every so often streamers, confetti and balloons are shot at the crowd (from where I’m not sure). It basically feels like an all-night New Years’ party, so that’s fun! They also do some really neat acrobatic performances that I really enjoyed. I guess if you don’t mind putting up with some annoyances, this place is really enjoyable. I won’t say one way or another that I recommend it because it’s really down to personal taste.

        NOHOCH/JUNGLE CROSSING (CENOTE)
        We booked this excursion via our Transat representative that visits the resort on certain days. I believe the name of the tour operator is Altournative. It cost $100 USD per person and was an all day trip. We left the resort at 7 a.m. in a shuttle van that took us to a remote area of Tulum (so this was about a 1.5 hour drive from the Iberostar…wish I would have known that when we booked it) to go snorkeling at a reef there. So you get all geared up with life jackets and snorkels and then you hop a two-person kayak to the reef. We saw some cool fish and a few sea turtles, it was really fun. DH’s aunt and uncle said they saw a sting-ray (I believe), so that was cool too. After you’re done snorkeling here, they give you some fruit and yogurt and then take you in one of those ATV buses to a piece of land that belongs to some Mayan folk that live there. It’s a small village actually and the Nohoch cenote is on their land. They drive the ATV bus over some huge bumps on a back road that is essentially old dried up coral. It was a really interesting and bumpy ride. They have Altournative people take pictures of you in the ATV bus that you can purchase after the excursion at their headquarters (I guess you could call it that) on the way to and from the cenote. Anyhoo, you get to this village and you head in to the Nohoch cenote (the tour guide told us that it is the second largest cenote in Mexico, so that’s pretty cool). The part of the cenote that they take you in has a really low “ceiling” (I don’t know what else to call it! Lol), so you really have to watch your head in here, this is definitely NOT for claustrophobic people. After you do a snorkeling tour in a tiny section of Nohoch, the tour guide takes you to another entrance (I didn’t do this part as I was just bushed and had caught a very awful cold that I still have…so I slept on a hammock while DH did this with his brother lol. Once we were done with both cenote tours, we were treated to lunch by the Mayan people who live in the village (this is included as well). It was fantastic by the way! They had a really tasty veggie soup and these chicken pocket things that were really good as well. The tour guide talks a bit about how the Mayans are being forced to give up their way of life…it’s really quite sad, so they do encourage you to tip, which we did. They also have hand-made souvenirs there for purchase as well.

        #4 ~*Kathy*~

        ~*Kathy*~
        • Sr. Member
        • 5,649 posts

          Posted 11 March 2009 - 02:06 AM

          PART 4: WEDDING DETAILS

          WEDDING OVERALL 9/10
          Overall, the wedding was exactly what I wanted: a short, sweet ceremony. We didn’t do anything fancy, we had traditional vows and a civil ceremony. The judge was so awesome; she was so funny and sweet. DH later told me that prior to my entrance, the judge had asked him how to pronounce my parents’ last name (it’s Ukrainian, so not the easiest of names to pronounce) so I felt like that was really thoughtful of her to be so mindful of such things. She really had a terrific sense of humor, I never thought I would laugh so much at my wedding but I did!

          WEDDING COORDINATOR (GABRIELA PALACIOS) 7/10
          Prior to my arrival at the Iberostar, I had only corresponded with Gabriela via email. Gabriela was always very good at getting back to my emails, usually within 24 – 48 hours after I sent them to her. I must have asked her a million questions and she was always very sweet and did her best to answer them fully and to the best of her knowledge. There were a few things as are as the legalities of documents and stuff that I wasn’t sure if she knew what I was talking about (language barrier), so my TA had her co-worker (who speaks Spanish fluently, thank goodness!) call Gabriela to verbally confirm my questions as well. I really appreciated my TA and her co-worker doing this for me! We met with Gabriela on Feb 17/09 to finalize our wedding details. This meeting took 30 minutes at the most, at which point we gave her our long-form birth certificates and had our witnesses come along too since she asked us to have them at the meeting as well. I do want to mention that I felt a little mislead by the Iberostar’s wedding package pdf document. In the document, the gazebo is decorated simply with beautiful white linens, etc (all very basic looking, nothing extravagant), however (and I guess I should have asked sooner, so duh on my part), pretty much everything has an added cost. She shows you a picture of the gazebo and says “if you want this, it’s this much; if you want that it’s this much”. DH and I almost felt as if we were cornered in to paying for all of these “extra” decorations because it would have been extremely plain if you didn’t get anything. DH and I decided to get two flower arrangements for the front columns of the gazebo and a flower arrangement on the arch by the altar (or whatever you call it for a DW lol, table I suppose). The arch in the pictures is decorated with what looks like a silk ivy vine…it would probably cost like $5 for it at a dollar store here in Canada. She didn’t ever tell us that it wasn’t part of the arch decoration, so when I saw that when I walked down the aisle, I was a bit surprised. I’m not sure what they do with the $3,600 CDN (or $2,700 USD) they charge for a civil ceremony there if it doesn’t even cover basic decorations. Oh well.

          COST 5/10
          Honestly….I’m sure there are FAR better wedding package deals in the Riviera Maya than what we paid. Like I said, $3,600 CDN for not a lot of stuff. In hindsight, I should have put more research in to this aspect. The Iberostar is still a fantastic place to get married, just make sure you are aware of all the extra costs. Ask lots of questions! I also just want to mention that the Iberostar sure is interested in getting your wedding money asap…as soon as we met with Gabriela on Feb 17/09 (technically our first day at the resort), we got a call from the Photoshop insisting that we must go there asap to pay our $300 outside photographer fee. I’m not sure why we can’t pay this the day of the wedding; I think it’s a bit ridiculous. That same evening, we also got a letter or statement from the resort outlining our fees and telling us to pay for the wedding at the front desk asap. Again, I don’t see why I should pay for the wedding before it even happened. What if the judge hadn’t shown up? What if there was a problem with the paperwork? It really made DH and I feel like they only really cared about getting our money.

          FLOWERS 7/10
          I emailed Gabriela a picture in November of how I wanted my bouquet to look and again about one week before we met with her in person. She assured me that it would look like the picture except that instead of yellow calla lilies, she would have them add more white calla lilies. The bouquet I got is pretty but it was NOT what I asked for or told what I was going to be getting. The bouquet they gave me had white lilies! I never asked for white lilies and they weren’t in my picture. My bouquet had maybe 3 or 4 yellow roses, 2-3 white calla lilies, and a few purple irises. We paid an extra $45 to have white calla lilies (which by the way, when I asked Gabriela in my initial emails about the bouquet if any of this would cost extra above the standard fee in the wedding package, she said no and I have the email to back that up) and there were hardly any there. I was very disappointed with this but the bouquet came about 20 minutes before the ceremony so it’s not like I had time to complain about it…and at that point, I just didn’t care anymore. Also, the additional decorations that we paid for, they were ok…they weren’t anything to write home about. I didn’t care for those humongous leaves on them but it wasn’t a big deal at the end of the day.

          MUSIC 8/10
          I didn’t bring my own music; I opted to use the resort’s music. Again, I could have been more organized I suppose. In our meeting with Gabriela, she confirmed with me that the music I would walk down the aisle to would be Pachebel’s Canon in D. She assured me that they would play some nice generic wedding music for the seating and for the certificate signing. This aspect wasn’t as important to me so I told her that was fine. So when it came time to walk down, well, just before I was given my cue…they were playing some song (I know it but I can’t remember for the life of me the title or who sings it) and its lyrics were something along the lines of being lonely or being alone. I was peeved; I felt like it was totally inappropriate for a wedding but shrugged it off. They did play Canon in D, thank goodness, for when I walked down and they played Ave Maria for when we signed the certificates (also fine). I can’t remember if or what they played when we walked out after the ceremony but if it was bad, I would have remembered lol.

          PHOTO (no rating yet)
          Sascha Gluck was our photographer and he was such a pleasure to work with and gave us great direction. He even gave DH pointers on how to put my wedding band on me during the ceremony so that the pics would turn out nice…and they did. I obviously should have been paying more attention during Sascha’s ring tutorial as I totally did it wrong and didn’t get a great shot of me putting DH’s ring on him lol. I haven’t rated him yet as I will be doing a separate review later when I get all of my pictures in from him. DH and I met with him two days prior to the wedding and we recognized each other from our pictures from the forum which I thought was hilarious and awesome! Honestly, he such a great person and his assistant Lars was really nice too. I can’t say enough good things about Sascha and how happy I am with our pictures so far.

          HAIR 9/10
          Well, after being nervous for nothing…I am/was really thrilled with how my hair turned out. I’d also like to say that I am so glad I decided to put it all up; I thought it looked really pretty. I made my hair appointment at El Spa for 12 p.m. which would give me plenty of time in case we needed to fix my hair for whatever reason before the ceremony. A lady named Amy did my hair. At first, it looked like she was doing the hairstyle too high up on my head for my taste, so my mom asked her to move it down a bit and she did…and thank goodness because I thought it was just right. In all, it took Amy about 45 to 60 minutes to complete my hair-do, which was surprisingly faster than I expected, so that was nice. After she was done, she used probably half a can of hairspray on it lol, so it wasn’t going anywhere. My mom and sisters also got their hair done at the spa. My mom wasn’t 100% happy with hers but that was only because SHE picked a style that she decided she didn’t like after it was already done lol oh well. Both of my sisters’ hair looked really cute.

          TIMING OF THE DAY 10/10

          We had the ceremony at 4 p.m. on Feb 19/09. It was extremely hot and my dress felt like it weight 10000 lbs but honestly, I still think it was a great time of day to have the ceremony and there was still plenty of light afterward for pictures on the beach. I do not regret having the ceremony at 4 p.m.

          CEREMONY 9/10
          So I’ve more or less gone over the ceremony in the rest of the review but I’d just like to say again that generally I am very happy with the ceremony. The only thing I would have done differently is have more decorations and have a different seating song. The judge was great. Our 3 year old nephew brought up my wedding band for when my DH needed it and I thought that was really cute. My DH unexpectedly dipped me when we kissed and I just thought that was hilarious. It is so him to do something like that and I am so glad that it was captured in our pictures. I would like to point out that when we were taking our pictures on the beach, Gabriela had the couple who was having a beach wedding the next day rehearsing their beach wedding literally 5 feet away from where Sascha was trying to take pictures of us. I really felt that it was inappropriate/rude of Gabriela to be doing this right where we were doing pictures. She didn’t even move until Sascha (thankfully!!!) politely asked her to do so. I am still irritated that she did this or allowed this. Couldn’t this have been done on a different part of the massive beach or another time in the day? I saw Gabriela for about two minutes before the ceremony. The rest of our wedding was handled by her lovely assistant (whose name escapes me right now, sorry). Her assistant even stayed at our dinner to make sure everything went well.

          DINNER 9/10
          As I mentioned earlier, we had our reception dinner at El Puerto (steakhouse a la carte). The food was really delicious and the waiters were great. It was not private but that was fine with me and no one else seemed to mind, everyone seemed to enjoy the dinner. Afterward, they set up the cake for us and we cut it. We didn’t smoosh it all over our faces but DH sure did TRY haha. We opted for a vanilla cake and it was ok. It wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t awful, it was just ok. It looked very pretty. Gabriela’s assistant asked DH and I if we wanted it to be boxed up or anything and we declined, she was very sweet and accommodating…I wasn’t expecting her to ask me about the cake, so that was a nice little surprise.

          ROOM (POST-CEREMONY)
          Gabriela’s assistant had all of the extra decorations brought back to our room and had the maid decorate the room with them. It looked lovely and lasted almost the rest of our stay at the resort. The maid also decorated the room with rose petals all over the floor, beautiful towel art on the bed and they left us a bottle of champagne and two champagne glasses as well. It was really sweet of them to do that as I was not expecting it. They also left us a bag with our marriage certificate and two t-shirts.

          CONCLUSION
          Although there were a few hiccups with the wedding, I don’t really have any regrets. I’m married to my best friend, the love of my life, and that’s all that really mattered to me anyway. We kept the wedding pretty basic and I think it worked out pretty well. A lot of you girls here do amazing things and lots of DIY stuff that looks fantastic, so kudos to all of you for working so hard. I just don’t have that in me but I envy you girls that do. If you choose to get married at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach or Del Mar, you will not be disappointed. The resort is absolutely gorgeous and they do a good job of weddings, just make sure that you ask a lot of questions and double check everything. Thank you again for all your help and support here girls, you have been an inspiration and a sounding board and everything in between when I’ve needed it. Your opinions are the ones I really cherish and even though I’ve never met any of you in “real life”, this place really does feel like family. Thanks again! I’d be happy to answer any questions you ladies might have about my review, wedding, or the resort.

          P.S. Here are some pics because we’re all picture addicted here, that’s just a fact! lol

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          #5 loanmao

          loanmao
          • Newbie
          • 87 posts

            Posted 11 March 2009 - 02:57 AM

            What a GREAT review ParaisoBeachBride!!!! This is helpful to ALL who are planning weddings in the Riviera Maya area. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed review!!

            #6 MarieSam

            MarieSam
            • VIP Member
            • 2,336 posts
              • LocationSouthern California

              Posted 11 March 2009 - 03:07 AM

              Although I know you had some hiccups, let me tell you, your pictures look absolutely fantastic!! And yes girl your hair was gorgeous Can't wait to see all your pics!!! Congrats Mrs

              #7 midnight24

              midnight24
              • Member
              • 754 posts

                Posted 11 March 2009 - 04:02 AM

                great review. thanks for taking the time to write so many details. when my time comes for planning our ceremony i will have to remember to ask more questions about what is included and extra costs.

                you looked beautiful...and most of all happy! congrats

                #8 ACDCDCAC

                ACDCDCAC
                • Moderators
                • 25,218 posts
                • Wedding Location:Santa Maria Bay Beach, Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico
                • LocationSeattle

                Posted 11 March 2009 - 08:08 AM

                FANTASTIC review, you did an amazing job!

                so glad just about everything turned out great! congrats!!

                #9 soccergurl3

                soccergurl3
                • Jr. Member
                • 232 posts

                  Posted 11 March 2009 - 10:26 AM

                  Wow you looked stunning! How did you do your makeup

                  #10 Ana

                  Ana

                    VIP Member

                  • VIP Member
                  • 8,047 posts
                  • Wedding Date:April 1, 2009
                  • Wedding Location:Dreams Cabo
                  • LocationToronto

                  Posted 11 March 2009 - 10:26 AM

                  great pics and review!! It looks like you had a great wedding! Congrats




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