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Jo-Anne's Xcaret/The Royal Wedding Review 7.10.09

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Wedding Date: July 10, 2009

Wedding Ceremony: St. Francis of Assisi Chapel in Xcaret

Wedding Reception: The Royal in PDC

Number of guests: 57

Hotel Resort: Gran Porto Real and Hotel Aventura Mexicana

Wedding Slideshow:http://www.playaweddings.com/slideshows/jo-anne_jose/


Gran Porto Real- A


We stayed at the Gran Porto Real from July 6-11, along with a few of our guests. However, more than half of our guests opted not to do an all-inclusive and stayed at different hotels throughout 5th Avenue. That is one of the greatest things about PDC…it has everything for everyone and can accommodate different peopleâ€s budget and traveling style!


The GPR was an awesome hotel. This gets mixed reviews on Travel Advisor, but personally, we did not have one bad experience with the hotel. Check-in was easy. We had a junior suite ocean view room. The first night they gave us a room overlooking the pool. We asked to get transferred to a much quieter room by the pier. They were able to transfer us the next day. So…ladies…if you are not happy with your room, please ask to get transferred. They will transfer you as long as there is another room available.


Food was great! We tried both the Mexican and Italian restaurants and we thought the food was delicious! We had 17 of our guests staying at GPR and no one complained about the food. We always had the buffet for breakfast and lunch and the choices are plentiful. We honestly enjoyed the buffet. =)


I only have two complaints with GPR. The first one is the beach. To be honest, the beach is not that great at GPR. I love, love, love Kool Beach Club and always went there to enjoy the beach. I also suggested it to all of our guests that stayed at GPR and many of them much preferred going to Kool Beach Club to swim in the ocean rather than staying at the hotel. The other complaint was that they gave me such a hard time for taking off my wristband. The night after the wedding reception, I requested for another wristband and I had to put it in writing as to why I took it off and sign it. It was seriously an annoying process writing down that I took off my wristband because I just had my wedding and did not want it in pictures.


Overall, the hotel was wonderful and we enjoyed our stay.

Aventura Mexicana A++


A lot of my family stayed at AM and everyone had a great experience. The management was awesome and gave me a free deluxe king room for my wedding day so that I could get ready with my family. We stayed here from July 12-15. Since a lot of my guests stayed here, they gave me a great deal for my 3-nights stay at their hotel. We transferred to this hotel because we wanted to enjoy the rest of PDC. We are both not big on all-inclusive hotels and would much prefer boutique hotels and have the chance to enjoy the local food scene. We only chose to stay at GPR because it was a great hotel to suggest to our guests, especially the ones with kids. So, it was so great to transfer to AM after spending quite some time at GPR. AM is wonderful…prices are decent, lovely staff, very clean, close to 5th Ave., quiet location and close to Kool and Mamitas Beach Club. If you ever consider staying at a boutique hotel in Playa, definitely try AM. Loved it!


Rehearsal Dinner- La Parilla Mexican Grill B-


We hosted a rehearsal/welcome dinner for our entire guests on Thursday, 7/9. We chose La Parilla based on their food reviews and atmosphere. We were looking for a fun, laid-back restaurant on 5th Ave. Food was great! Atmosphere and location was perfect for enjoying 5th Ave. Live mariachi band was a lot of fun. They have a mariachi band every night starting at 8 pm. They were excellent! They even sang a song for us that we danced to. Our guests enjoyed them so much and gave them a nice tip. Iâ€m giving them a B- due to their service. While they werenâ€t slow, they just were not as attentive. Some of my guests came in at different times and I always felt like I had to tell the waiters that someone just came in so can you please go up to them and ask them what they want for dinner. I felt like I had to cater to the staff and keep my eye out for all my guests to ensure that they had everything they needed. Also, we had four guests that couldnâ€t make it that night since their flights were delayed. I had a set meal for everyone and half of it was already paid and the other half at the end of the evening. Since the four guests didnâ€t show up, I requested if I could please put the amount that I paid for those meals towards the drinks. I personally thought it wasnâ€t going to be a huge deal. Unfortunately, they wouldnâ€t let me do that. I still had to pay in full for the four guests that didnâ€t show up. I decided to let it go and email their management, whom I had met with a few days before. I asked if they could please refund me those four meals. They didnâ€t allow it and said itâ€s in the contract. Umm…I did not sign any contract. Anyhow, they just offered to give me 15% off on my next meal there. I emailed back that I wasnâ€t too pleased with that considering I just spent $1,300+ at your restaurant and no contract was signed or even shown to me. They never responded back. Itâ€s unfortunate. The management was really great to work with prior to this. I was in contact with them 6 months before the event and they always responded in a timely manner. However, in the end, when there was a problem, they just simply ignored it. If you ever decide to host an event here…ask for the contract!

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Wedding Coordinator- Laura Mucel Cameras from Cancun Wedding Consultant A


website: Cancun Weddings, Cancun Wedding Consultant offers Wedding Planning Services in Cancun, Riviera Maya


I decided to hire a wedding coordinator mainly to assist me with planning the Catholic ceremony. After extensive research in the beginning trying to find the right coordinator for me, I found Laura. Laura was sweet and we connected from the start. She had exactly the information I needed for priests in the PDC area. FYI- you have to contact the priest yourself and set the schedule for your wedding. The priest needs to hear from you directly and not the coordinator. However, the coordinator can plan the wedding rehearsal for you. But, itâ€s important that you have direct contact with the priest.


Laura coordinated Xcaret, transportation for my guests for the ceremony and flowers for the church and the wedding entourage. We honestly have hundreds of emails between us from the last year. She was always prompt with replying to emails and always made sure that I was making the right decision. She was not only my coordinator…she became a friend and truly wanted the best for my wedding. I was really comfortable with Laura and she was always understandable with my budget, which was extremely important to me. Execution during the wedding day was perfect. The bus and the luxury van arrived on time. Ice-cold bottled water for my guests was perfect and much appreciated by everyone. The church was stunning!!! It was absolutely beautiful. My only complaint is the flowers for the entourage. They look great in pictures, but in actuality, they did not look as fresh as I wanted them to be. I wasnâ€t “wowed†by my flowers. Nonetheless, they looked flawless in the pictures. Overall, I have no regrets hiring Laura at all. A lot of my guests raved about how organized it was, which means she did an awesome job.

Wedding Ceremony- St. Francis of Assisi Chapel in Xcaret A++++++++++++++++


I love, love, love this chapel! It was my absolute favorite part of planning the wedding. It was the first and most important decision I made for the wedding. The chapel exudes simplicity and elegance. I could not have imagined having the ceremony anywhere else. Itâ€s in a beautiful location of Xcaret overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It was just simply stunning decorated with white flowers by the altar and flower petals on the aisle. During the ceremony, I found myself taking the time to really take everything in and was in complete awe of the simple and rustic beauty of it. The Xcaret staff was excellent! They were on top of everything….music and timing was perfect…they gave guidance to our guests and entourage…they were great! Also, the ceremony was at 3:30 pm and everyone, including myself, feared the heat during that time. But, due to the location of the chapel, we had a very comfortable breeze during the ceremony. I had fans for the guests, but they werenâ€t needed.


Overall, if you are looking to do a Catholic ceremony, I highly, highly suggest the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel.


FYI- I know they require all the documents needed for the Catholic ceremony to be mailed at least 2 months before the wedding. I just brought mine down with me to Mexico and it was no problem at all. But, ask permission from the priest who will be officiating your ceremony.


Reception- The Royal A+++++++++++++++++++++


Everything with The Royal was amazing. I have no complaints about anything. I chose The Royal because my main priorities for the reception were good food and a beautiful location. I got both with The Royal. Food for the cocktail hour and reception was soooooooo delicious. We had guests that kept telling us how great the food was. We did the buffet since we wanted to keep the atmosphere casual. That was a great decision for a beach reception.


Location was awesome…we were right by the pier since that was the best beach location considering the number of guests that we had. The table set-up was beautiful…all-white. I loved how simple it was. I did not even add any centerpieces and it still looked elegant. I did just add a pair of maracas for each seat. That was our giveaway and it was the best giveaway ever! The maracas added a beautiful splash of color to the all-white table setting and it looked fantastic.


The coordinators were so nice and sweet. I had two coordinators…Denise (who works from the The Royal Cancun location but assisted me for my wedding and went to PDC) and Karen. They were both sooooo good. I never once worried about the reception since I knew it was well taken care of. Honestly, planning the reception was completely stress-free. I highly recommend The Royal.

Photographer- Rachel Perry Schrank from Playa Weddings B+


website: Playa Weddings - Video and Photography in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya


Finding the right photographer was the hardest decision during this process mainly because of the budget. I found Rachel through this forum and I liked her style, thought her pictures were solid and she was affordable for us. On the day of the wedding, we hit a rough patch in the beginning. We went to Xcaret an hour before the ceremony with our entourage to take some pictures around the park. Unfortunately, she was 40 minutes late. Iâ€m not quite sure what happened…from what I was told…she was at the other entrance gate of Xcaret and not at the gate for the church entrance. She had been in touch with my wedding coordinator and Iâ€m not quite sure who dropped the ball on this one. However, I do know that Xcaret is completely organized and that if she was at the other gate, all she had to do was introduce herself and let them know that sheâ€s photographing our wedding and they would let her in. The staff at Xcaret had walkie-talkies and the staff from the other gate was in touch with the other staff at the other gate and we did not hear that she was at the park until half an hour later. I completely do not like telling this part of the story, but I had to since itâ€s the truth. And, I didnâ€t get a chance to take advantage of that extra time to take some pictures around the gorgeous Xcaret Park. Surprisingly, I kept myself calm, cool and collected during this time.


Nonetheless, Rachel and crew gladly made up for it. They stayed longer at the reception. She truly took the time to take a lot of pictures. She was all over the place taking photos of everything and everyone and never did stop to take a break. A lot of my guests told me that she was very good and that she was on top of everything. I really like Rachel…she has a nice, positive energy and I have to say her pictures are beautiful. She did an excellent job capturing the candid moments of the day and I love that kind of photography. I love all the detail shots that she took because as a bride, you truly do take the time to work on those little details. I am happy with the pictures and would recommend her to future brides.

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DJ- Mannia Cancun A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!! Great sound system, amazing lighting, wonderful MC and incredible music! I wrote a review for them under the vendor section of this forum. All I have to say is they made the reception!!! Literally, every single person was dancing…even non-dancers were dancing! The reception was a complete blast and we had guests telling us all night and throughout the days after the wedding how awesome they were. They were amazing and worth every penny! Seriously, if you want an unforgettable wedding reception, then hire Mannia!!! Love them!



Hairstyist- Doranna B


website: Doranna Hair Stylist - Freelance Italian Hair Stylist - Playa del Carmen - Riviera Maya - Cancun - Tulum


Doranna did a great job on my hair, but it did not look exactly like the picture I showed her. I wanted my hair to have that loose, wavy, sexy beachy look..haha…but, that didnâ€t really happen. I wasnâ€t too impressed with my hair, but I wasnâ€t disappointed with it either. I felt indifferent. I have to say that it did last all night, throughout the wind and humidity. She did style my momâ€s hair and one of my BM. Their hair turned out great! My mom looked beautiful. Sheâ€s honestly really good and passionate at what she does, but, I just wasnâ€t excited about my own end result. My hair still looked fantastic, but it just wasnâ€t the look I was going for.


Make-Up Artist- Olivia A++


Olivia works with Doranna. They team up for weddings. Olivia was super sweet and truly great at what she does. Absolutely loved my make-up! She also did my momâ€s make-up and my mom looked so good. Itâ€s hard to find a good make-up artist when you have a destination wedding. I highly, highly, highly recommend Olivia. She was excellent and did my make-up exactly like the picture I showed her. I was so happy with the outcome and extremely glad that I found her.



Last thoughts: Having a destination wedding was a perfect decision. To have your closest family and friends around was more than enough and to have it at the beautiful Riviera Maya was just icing on the cake. We truly loved our wedding so much. All I wish is that I could do it all over again. I still think about our wedding all the time. It was honestly a little sad when it was all over. It was such an unforgettable time in our lives and I believe that all of our guests felt the same way. It was some of the best days of our lives spending a week with our loved ones and having a wedding with beautiful memories that will last with us for a lifetime. To all future brides, my only advice is to enjoy the moment and have fun with the planning process because it will definitely be missed.

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your pictures are beautiful! What a great review! I am sure that other future brides will appreciate it!

You looked so happy on your big day! Congratulations!!

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Thanks for such an awsome review and all the good pointers. Your pics were great and everything just looked wonderful.

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