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Wedding Review: Grand Palladium, RM 6/5/09

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#1 hanna

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    Posted 17 June 2009 - 11:23 AM

    Hanna’s Planning Thread / Wedding Review

    Wow! We are married!!! Everything was more incredible than I could have imagined!!! Thank you to everyone on here for all of your support, ideas and advice. Truly couldn't have done it without all of you!!!!!!

    Here are some planning pics:
    planning pictures by hannaandjosh - Photobucket

    Here are our pro pics:
    Pro Pics pictures by hannaandjosh - Photobucket

    Engagement: We were engaged on Cinco de Mayo 2008, Cancun Mexico. Josh set up roses and candles up in our suite after a fabulous private romantic dinner on the beach. It was absolutely perfect and as much as I was hoping he would propose on that trip, I was still super surprised when he did it. He proposed with a beautiful aquamarine (my birthstone) and diamond ring, and told me he wanted me to pick out my official engagement ring. I loved this idea since I had exactly what I wanted in mind, and it was a fun process to chose a ring together.
    Resort: Wedding at the Grand Palladium White Sands, Riviera Maya, Mexico June 5, 2009.

    Flight: Airtran. We originally booked United.. but they added a layover to our direct flight, so we got a refund and rebooked on Airtran as they were the only airline to fly direct during all the swine flu mayhem.. They aren't the nicest airline - you have to pay for all your bags, $15 for 1st, $25 for 2nd, each way. And my FI is military and they didn't give any sort of waiver to him, even though most other airlines give him a break. Plus - we packed everything in to 2 suitcases and 2 large duffel bags, and they said one of the duffel bags were 1 inch to big.. come on.. so after arguing with the guys for a while.. really, 1 inch.. we grabbed a roll of tape and taped it down to make it smaller. I carried on my dress and a carryon bag with no problems. I asked at the counter if we can be put on the upgrade list for 1st class since it is our wedding, military, and flight wasnt full.. but they said no, only if you want to pay $99 pp/each way. So, forget it. I laid the dress flat in an overhead since they said there wasn't room in the closet.. right.. The staff was kind of rude on the plane.. but whatever, it was a direct flight and went by pretty fast. I will avoid Airtran at all costs for future flights though. Worth paying a little more for a more hospitable airline. We usually fly Delta and they are always really nice and accomodating. A nice touch is that my husband arranged for a limo to take us to the airport since it was an hour away. So sweet and romantic.. and really nice since we had a lot of stuff..

    Vistaprint: I love Vistaprint!! I used them for our STD replys and magnets, gifts - tshirts, pens, notepads, hats.... , window decal, labels, tentiative and final RSVP postcards OOT Bag tags, Bubba keg tags..

    Papersandmore: I used them for invite paper and printed the invites on my own. Did a ivory cardstock overlayed with vellum. Realized that Vellum is a little difficult to print on because some of the ink transfers to the printer and onto the next page - so finally learned you need to print a blank page on a regular piece of paper in between to clear out any excess ink.

    Bubba Kegs: O M G.. the best thing we brough for everyone were the bubbas!!! We bought 50 of them (25 pink, 25 blue) from fireflybuys.com for $6 each. Everyone loved them and they are soooo useful at an AI! It is so great because we got the 20oz size which was a perfect size. Great for the pool to keep your drink sanitary so pool water doesn't splash into it, and keeps your drink nice and cold.

    Transfers: We arrived on Friday, May 29th and used AGI Tours for our transfers. I highly recommend using them as I arranged transfers for all 36 of our guests in advance with Javier and everything was perfect. We were greeted with a sign that said “Hanna & Josh’s Wedding Party” and driven directly to our resort in a nice van with awesome a.c. We took a pit-stop at Walmart in Playa Del Carmen to pick up vases for the reception and some alcohol. The Playa Walmart has all the same type of stuff as your local Walmart does, so it was really convenient to also stock up on some extra toiletries and misc goods. We also used them to transfer to the Excellence for our honeymoon and back to the airport for departure. They always showed up on time, or early, for all our guests and provided excellent service in a nice vehicle.

    Rooms: We booked 20 rooms directly through the resort with Olga Ramos, the reservations manager for the resort. So, that was great news and the rooms were beautiful. Because we booked as a group directly with the hotel, we received a great rate of $86/person/night for double occupancy. We had to pay everything upfront at check-in, meaning we had to collect the $ from all our guests in advance. I didn’t mind because it meant our guests were able to get a lower rate – and if anyone wanted to, they could book their own room through a travel agent or online at the current advertised rates. We booked the Colonial section, however they closed Kantenah & Colonial when we arrived due to low occupancy with the swine flu, so we were all upgraded to White Sands Jr. Suites. White Sands section is still very centrally located and a quick walk to the Colonial Pool and beach area that was our favorite place. Me and FI paid extra and got an upgrade to a Suite. It was a fantastic room with a sitting area, huge bathroom and jetted tub, master bedroom and 2 large balconies with amazing ocean views. It was a perfect room and was very convenient to have the living area at the front of the room for visitors. The front desk tried to bill a few of our guests twice, as we already paid for everyone’s rooms at check-in, so that was a bit frustrating. There is a beautiful salt water pool area that is rocky with lots of waves. It is really pretty and a nice change of scenery. The style reminded us of Cabo San Lucas a little.

    Resort: The resort is beautiful. There are 4 main lobbies and I had an easy time getting around as I studied the resort map for months prior to our arrival. However, my mom had a difficult time remembering the different lobbies and got lost a couple of times. There are 8 different a la carte restaurants and multiple buffets. Bars are everywhere, there is a fun disco that opens at 11pm and beach bars that are open 24hrs – late night tacos were the best!  We really enjoyed the beauty of the resort as they built it to protect the natural surroundings. Very tropical with lots of plants, flowers, iguanas everywhere. The staff was great, Pedro the bellman was awesome!

    The Spa: omg, the Spa is incredible. The best part is that all of the amenities: steam room, Jacuzzi, pools… are free for resort guests. The massages were incredible also, and only $50 ($1/minute). I had Juana for a massage and it was one of the best massages I have ever had (and I worked for 2 years at a 5* Spa in California). We went there the morning of the wedding for massages and manicures, and just to relax with the girls. It was the perfect way to start off the day. Even for our guests that never got a treatment, loved going there to relax and pamper themselves without spending a dime.

    OOT Bags: I assembled the bags in our room and hand delivered them to our guests when they checked in. Because the resort was so large, we wanted to make sure and greet our guests upon their arrival. Most of our guests arrived Tues/Wed, so it wasn’t too bad, although did take a large chunk of our day. For a couple of FI’s friends, we just left their gift bags with the front desk and left a note to meet us at the Colonial Pool.

    Wedding Rehearsal: The resort doesn’t do a formal wedding rehearsal, but I thought it was important to do one anyway. I organized for everyone to meet at the site to run through the ceremony. Unfortunately our officiant and best man got lost and missed it, so I did it on my own. I wished I was a little bit more familiar with proper ceremony procedure & etiquette as my mom got a little upset when I didn’t instruct how the parents were to exit the ceremony once it was finished. Only to find out later from the officiant that the brides family should exit first, then grooms family. Oops… But – it was really helpful to have a rehearsal and would recommend it even if your wedding is small so everyone knows where to go and what to do.

    Wedding. We scheduled our wedding on the Kantenah beach at 5:00pm. We brought our own officiant with us – one of FI’s good friends that has performed a few other ceremonies for his friends. We ran a little behind getting ready as didn’t start hair until 2:30 for our 5pm ceremony, so I would recommend to brides to start getting ready far in advance because rushing at the end wasn’t fun. My bridesmaids realized after helping me get ready.. they still needed to get ready, and we ran about 15 minutes late. But it was ok, because then it gave all our guests ample time to arrive at the ceremony location. I feel like if we would have shown up exactly at 5pm, we would have been one of the first ones to arrive.. The sun was shining and it was a pretty warm day, so I wish our guests would have worn shorts cause it was just so hot.. We did pictures after the ceremony, starting with a group shot then into individual photos. I made a list of all the photos we wanted, but never gave it to my MOH to help me with it, but I think we got all the photos we wanted. We also brought a bottle of Don Julio and some wine for post ceremony drinks as the resort said it wasn’t enough time in between ceremony & reception to do a formal 1 hour cocktail reception – but everyone mostly just drank champagne and shots anyway, so it worked out pretty well. After that the shuttles came to take everyone to the White Sands lobby for cocktails and our 7pm reception at La Laguna. The reception was set up beautifully with white fabric draped on the ceiling. I brought blue table runners, place cards, guest book, vases and fans, and everything was set up perfectly to my directions. I made a little book of directions with photos for Rocio indicating how I wanted everything set up, and she did a fabulous job. We had white linens and white covered chairs. The only drawback was it was super hot because there was no breeze whatsoever. Also – because of the close proximity to the lagoon and no breeze, everyone got bit up a ton by mosquitoes. That was the first time all week that anyone even noticed mosquitoes, but it was definitely a huge problem that night.

    Music: We used an IPOD for all our music at the ceremony and reception. We gave Rocio the IPOD with instructions on playlists and what songs to play for the ceremony. Everything was perfect, played on time, correct songs, sound system was great. We were provided a mic for the ceremony, but didn’t use it as our voices carried enough. Plus – we didn’t want this big mic in all our pics. We put together about 30 minutes of relaxing music prior to the ceremony as people arrived. We all walked down the isle to Canon in D – the piano version downloaded from Itunes. We walked out to Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole - Over The Rainbow. We also had about 45 minutes of post ceremony music for cocktails and photos.
    For the reception, we started off with our first dance as we only had the photographer until 8pm. Did the foxtrot to I’m Yours, Jason Mraz. I completely forgot to bustle my dress… oops.. before the dance, but it was great. Then I bustled my dress and danced again to At Last, Etta James – just for fun since I was tripping over my dress the first time.
    We set up a song to dance with our parents after dessert, but completely forgot about it. I felt horrible and so my advise would be to type out a specific schedule with people, music, instructions… and give it to someone you trust that can help you ensure you don’t forget anything. I wish I would have as my bridesmaids were drinking and having a great time, and my maid of honor was under the weather. Towards the end of the evening one of our friends put their ipod on to play a song they liked, which really upset me as this wasn’t some dance party, it was our wedding reception. We specifically picked music that our friends and parents would enjoy. My mom was kind of upset about this later, but what can I do about it now. So – I guess this is where hiring some sort of a wedding planner for the day of to make sure stuff like this doesn’t happen so you can just relax and enjoy. One of my friends really stepped up to help me out to be there for me, and I really appreciated that. So – make sure you pick someone who you trust and who is organized and responsible to help you and make sure it all flows properly.

    Dinner: For dinner I picked different items from all the menus. We had:
    ~ Tortilla Soup: awesome.. the best tortilla soup ever
    ~ Portobello Spinach Salad: I liked it cause I love mushrooms. The spinach was more of a steamed spinach – so it didn’t seem like a traditional lettuce salad. Some of our guests didn’t like it since they don’t eat mushrooms..
    ~ Sirloin of Beef with mushroom sauce, and Salmon with Dill sauce. Served with steamed vegetables and baked potato. Since we had to chose only one entrée for everyone, tried to pick a surf/turf type one and hopefully something on the plate would appeal to everyone. The salmon was a little fishy for my tastes – although some of our guests loved it.. but the steak was great and everyone loved it.
    ~ Dessert: fried ice cream: how can you go wrong with fried ice cream, everyone loved it.

    Cake: We picked out our cake when we got down there and chose a 3-teir white frosting cake. I brought blue ribbon down to wrap around the base of each layer. The bottom layer was tres leches, middle was chocolate, and top was strawberry and cream. Everything tasted great.

    After the wedding we freshened up, changed and went to the resort disco for a little bit. It was a great wedding and it all just went by wayyyyyyyy to fast! So glad we did a destination wedding so we could really spend time with all our friends and family in a beautiful location. Everyone really loved it and we are looking forward to planning an annual reunion trip. Most of our guests had never been to an all inclusive, and for the price, were amazed at how incredible everything was. In the end, I think for our guests it was a good deal considering flights were reasonable, and room rates were only $86/person with our group block.

    Honeymoon: We stayed at the Grand Palladium for 11 days, then switched to the Excellence Riviera Cancun for the last 6 days. We were excited to have some alone time for the first time on the trip - family and friends arrived the same day as us to the GP resort.. The Excellence was exactly what we needed. Relaxing couples resort, beautiful swim up suite, food was incredible, drinks were great and strong.. after a few days we did start to miss all our friends reflecting on all the fun we had. After 16 days in Mexico we felt we were sort of ready to go home.. but not really. There is never enough time on vacation.. planning our reunion trip next year with all our friends!
    I am probably forgetting some stuff.. so let me know if you have any questions! 

    Click the image to open in full size.

    #2 ~*Kathy*~

    • Sr. Member
    • 5,649 posts

      Posted 17 June 2009 - 11:39 AM

      Thanks for the review! Sounds like you had an awesome time at the Grand Palladium. I was there 3 years ago for a wedding and it was awesome, especially the late night quesedillas at the 24 hr beach bar Your pics are beautiful and you looked gorgeous! Congrats on your big day!!

      #3 Soon To Be Mrs. Gomez

      Soon To Be Mrs. Gomez
      • Sr. Member
      • 1,326 posts

        Posted 17 June 2009 - 03:22 PM

        Thanks for sharing. congratulations and have fun being a newlywed.

        #4 jessla

        • Newbie
        • 14 posts

          Posted 20 June 2009 - 09:13 PM

          Thanks so much for the review! That was really helpful! And your pictures came out GORGEOUS!!! I saved a few as must takes!

          #5 jrf241

          • Newbie
          • 7 posts

            Posted 29 June 2009 - 03:46 PM

            Hanna, Your review and pictures are wonderful! I don't know if you remember me, but my fiance and I had dinner with you and your parents and some friends at the Japanese restaurant a day or two after your wedding. Well, we are going to go back to the GP to get married next summer. I was wondering a couple of things.. A) Who did your photography? It's wonderful! and B) How did you get Rocio or Erika to call you back or email back? Thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed the rest of your vacation!
            Melissa & Justin

            #6 ~*DiAnE*~

            • Sr. Member
            • 1,418 posts

              Posted 29 June 2009 - 03:48 PM

              Congrats MRS!! You look gorgeous!! Thanks for the review! :)

              #7 Amarillis

              • Sr. Member
              • 1,913 posts

                Posted 29 June 2009 - 03:55 PM

                Congrats Hanna!

                The monograms on the OOT bags look GREAT

                Congrats MRS!!! You looked absolutely stunning!

                #8 jetsbride

                • Member
                • 794 posts

                  Posted 29 June 2009 - 04:04 PM

                  Congratulations!!! You look amazing and sounds like you had an awesome time! Thanks for the review.

                  #9 shoyum

                  • Jr. Member
                  • 159 posts

                    Posted 06 August 2009 - 03:47 PM

                    Glad to hear everyone loved the Bubba Kegs! Im looking into getting them as well.

                    #10 GoCubs!

                    • Newbie
                    • 52 posts

                      Posted 06 August 2009 - 04:10 PM

                      OMG Hanna I'm so glad I found your review! I'm getting married at the GP in a couple of months and reading your review has gotten me all excited again! We too are doing a private reception at La Laguna so that's awesome to hear that it was set up so nicely. As far at the shuttles from the Kantenah beach to the White Sands lobby for cocktails - did you have to arrange that or did they just show up? I also love the idea of having some tequila at the ceremony site for toasts - although we are already planning to put bottles on each table at the reception so we may not want to go overboard :) I'm definitely bookmarking your review as a reference for these last 2 months of planning.

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