Excellence Riviera Cancun Wedding Review! (very long!)
Posted 01 November 2009 - 12:53 AM
Check in: The resort is gorgeous!!! We pulled up in the shuttle and the bell boy took our bags off our hands. We went to the lobby to check in, where we were greeted with glasses of champagne and a cool wet cloth. We were all so excited to finally be in Mexico for the wedding so it was a really nice way to start off our stay! Most of us arrived around noon, but the rooms aren’t ready until 4. They gave us a buzzer thing (like when you are waiting for a table at a restaurant) and we went off to one of the outdoor restaurants for some lunch and margaritas while we waited! When our room was ready, we were escorted to our rooms. All of the staff is so polite, courteous, and more than willing to do whatever they can for you. We did tip the wait staff, bartenders, housekeeping. Just a few dollars here and there, but it is greatly appreciated by them. The housekeeper never did take the money we left for her so we ended up having to chase her down when we saw her to give it to her and say thank you.
Room: We had a pool view swim up room. We didn’t care too much about our room so we didn’t splurge on that aspect of the trip. The room was very clean with a king sized bed. There is a nice, big walk in shower that is separate from the toilet. The door to the toilet is not a full-sized like you have in your bathroom at home. There is a jacuzzi tub in the hotel room itself. Out the back of our room, we had a patio with another jacuzzi tub outside. Beyond that was a grassy area with a hammock and two beach chairs, and the edge of a pool is right there. It was kind of nice to be able to hang out by the pool privately by our room when we needed some time away from the group. The room was cleaned daily by housekeeping, the minibar was restocked (with sodas, beer, and snacks) and before bedtime (anywhere between 7p-9p), someone from housekeeping came for the turndown service. There is a small hair dryer in the room that isn’t that great. I brought my own, but blew a fuse multiple times using it, haha! The fuse box is in the closet in the room so I would just fix it myself. I finally figured out that it was fine as long as I turned off most of the lights and the TV when I was using the hair dryer.
Resort: All of our guests (26 of us) loved the resort! It’s all-inclusive which was great. It’s so nice to be able to eat however much you want, when you want, and have drinks brought to you on the beach, at the pool, at dinner, etc. The food and drinks at the resort were great for an all-inclusive resort. We tried all the restaurants, but the breakfast and lunch buffets were by far our favorite. Tons of options and good food. The few all inclusive wines weren’t all that great, but they have an extensive list of wines that you can purchase if you would like. Room service is included, too. There weren’t many options for room service, but it’s nice to be able to eat a meal in your room or late night. The night entertainment at the theater was OK, nothing great. We actually had a blast a few nights in the club at the resort. It’s small and kind of cheesy, but a ton of fun after a few drinks with everyone! One of our favorite things to do during the day was play beach volleyball!
Welcome Dinner: We had our welcome dinner at Agave since Nayeli said it was the only restaurant that would allow a private dinner. Our wedding was Saturday but Agave is closed on Fridays so we had the welcome dinner on Thursday. It turned out to be a good thing because some of us were feeling a little hung over Friday morning . Anyway, the welcome dinner was in a private room at Agave. We were all seated at one very large table, but we had lots of space so it could probably fit an even bigger group. We did have to pick a set menu though in order to have the private dinner. We picked the fajitas, enchiladas, and the aztec soup that were pretty good. They also served chips and salsa, some appetizer, and margaritas! After dinner, the wait staff brought out sombreros, a fake mustache, and some fake rifles. It made for some good laughs and silly pictures. A mariachi band also came in and played for us which we did not plan, but was so much fun!
Wedding: The day we arrived, we met with Nayeli at 4pm for about 20 minutes to go over which options we wanted for the wedding. She is such a sweetheart! We had the gold package. We chose our options and she took it from there. We couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out... it was beautiful! We chose the pink chair ribbons (which are included). We chose pink stargazer lilies and orchids which were beautiful. I LOVED our flowers. She said they would steam/ press (I can’t remember if she specified) our dress or suits before the wedding, but we didn’t need it so I can’t comment on that, but it is available. We had an outside photographer and did not need the resort photographer, so Nayeli let us use the credit towards the daypasses for our photographer and DJ which we thought was really nice. We had to choose one meal for all of our guests. Nayeli said we could choose two different meal options, but we had to tell her right then who wanted what and we had no idea. We chose the chicken stuffed with goat cheese, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes as the main dish since we figured chicken was the safest bet. We also had the ceasar salad, the potato, leek, and corn soup, some cinnamon thing for dessert, and mango sorbet in between courses. We did have one guests who can not eat dairy and they asked her during the reception about a different meal option and soup that she could eat.
Spa: The day we arrived, I made appointments for my hair, nails, and make up for the wedding. The hair and make up is included and I paid extra for the mani/pedi. Most of the female guests got their nails done at the spa. Laura did my hair, nails, and make-up and I was SO happy with how it came out! I had many compliments from my guests as well. I brought her a picture of what I was thinking for my hair (low bun) and make up (natural looking) and she was able to do it. I did spend about 4 hours in the spa the day of the wedding to get everything done (11a-3p). An 80 minute couples massage is included in the gold wedding package. We scheduled ours for Monday morning after the wedding and they were the best massages!!!
Ceremony: Our ceremony (symbolic) was on the beach at 5pm. It was very hot while we were in Mexico but there was a nice breeze at that time on the beach. The set up is at the very end of the beach at the resort. It is near some beach chairs on one side of the set up, but it really wasn’t a big deal (to us at least). There weren’t many (if any) people laying in the chairs at that time. A few people gathered to watch, but that’s to be expected I suppose and they were far enough away that they weren’t intrusive. The chair ribbons were included by the way. There is a sand colored runner on the aisle so you aren’t walking in the sand, but it would probably be hard to walk in heels because it’s still soft. There were conch shells and big starfish lining the aisle which was a nice touch. The ceremony table had a nice round vase full of the flowers that matched our theme. The officiant spoke some very nice words. They also had us do a sand ceremony that we never talked about, but we had actually really wanted to do so it worked out great! They tied a little ribbon around the sand bottle and gave it to us to take home before we checked out. We had also signed a pretend marriage certificate thing during the ceremony which was greay because not many people knew we had actually gotten legally married at home before we left and that our Mexican wedding wasn't the real deal
Cocktail hour: The guests went to the foyer for cocktail hour while we took pictures with the photographer. I didn’t get to try any of the appetizers but was told they were great. There was a bar set up in the foyer. We had the mariachi band play which everyone loved, too. It was very fun and festive! The one downside was that the breeze didn’t make it into the foyer so we were melting (it was 95+ degrees)! That could be a good thing though if you want to have lit candles.
Reception: The reception in the foyer was perfect! There were 3 round tables with pink chair ribbons and centerpieces that matched our flower theme (all included in the package, we didn’t pay any extra). Each table had 8-9 people. There was a little menu at each place setting listing the dinner menu that we chose and it had our names and wedding date on them! There was a separate corner of the room where the bar was set up, the DJ was set up in another corner, and there was a nice space open for the “dance floor”. The food was great, although I didn’t get a chance to try to sorbet and dessert. The head waiter came to DH and I and told us to make sure we let him know if there is anything we need throughout the night. The entire wait staff (3 or 4 waiters I think, plus the bartender) were wonderful. One thing that maybe could have been done differently was at the end of the night we noticed there were glasses of champagne at the table. I think they must have served the champagne with the cake? We didn’t really notice that there wasn’t champagne so it didn’t matter, but it would have been nice if the champagne was there for the toasts that were made at the beginning of dinner.
Cake: The cake was SO good! We did two square tiers, one of chocolate and one of vanilla. It was so dense and moist.... delicious! The cake was white with lillies and orchids on top. The two tiers were more than enough for 26 people. We took a huge amount back to the room with us (actually they delivered it to the room), but it didn’t fit in the mini bar fridge and it attracted ants so we had to toss it : (.
DJ: We had DJ Jerry Dronx and Sergio Cantu from Mannia DJ our wedding. They were awesome! We had a wide range of ages (20s-70s) and everyone was up and dancing and having a great time. I wrote a review in the vendor section of the Riviera Maya section if anyone is interested.
Photographer: We had Sol Tamargo from Del Sol Photography at our wedding! She is so sweet, fun, and creative (and cute!) and we are so excited and anxious to get our pictures! It was pricey but photos were very important to us so we budgeting for this. We chose her after reading all the great reviews here and I have no doubt that we will be posting yet another great review once we get our pictures!
Videographer: We didn’t care to have the resort videographer but Nayeli said we really couldn’t use that as a credit towards anything else so we just decided to keep it. During the ceremony, we were kind of annoyed because the videographer was right up there with the officiant, blocking our guests’ views. We figured we’d watch the video once and end up chucking it, but we actually really liked the video! It’s nothing spectacular but the quality was decent, they used our wedding songs for the background music, and they really did capture the moments of our ceremony. There was also footage of everyone right after the ceremony laughing and talking and having a great time. We are glad we have it!
Ok, I think I covered just about everything I could possibly think of, haha! Feel free to ask any questions and I will post some pictures of the set up when I get a chance!
Posted 01 November 2009 - 01:05 AM
reception in foyer
mariachi band playing during cocktail hour
Posted 01 November 2009 - 12:16 PM
With the ceremony at 5pm, did you have enough day light for pictures after the ceremony?
Thank you so much for posting a review.
Posted 01 November 2009 - 01:19 PM
I hadn't heard from ERC for about 6 months (I didn't contact them either), then about 1 month before the wedding, I received an email from Nayeli saying that Veronica would be out for a couple months due to health reasons and that she would be the one coordinating my wedding and that she had all my info and emails from Veronica. For a quick moment I panicked a little, but Nayeli was great and I'm so glad that we had her. She was quick to respond to my emails and answered ALL my questions in the same email. It was hard to get responses and answers out of Veronica. However, I was in contact with Nayeli for the month before my wedding, so maybe Veronica would have been better with contact at that point as well? Our travel agent, TA Jennifer here at BDW, was telling me how the wedding coordinators get hundreds of emails from prospective brides everyday but they have to focus on the weddings that are happening at the resort now (they are very busy!). Just thought I'd throw that out there in case Veronica does come back and is the WC for your weddings.
For the chair ribbons, I thought I was going to have to pay extra for them as well since Veronica had told us that, but they didn't charge for them. I'm not sure if that's new or if we just didn't get charged? When we got our final bill when we were checking out of the hotel, I didn't really understand the statement but we were charged a lot less for the wedding than what we were expecting to pay so we didn't ask and just went with it! The only thing we got charged extra for was 4 day passes for 4 guests staying off-site.
Veronica had also told us in an email that everything was "non-exchangeable and non-refundable", but when we sat with Nayeli the day we got there to pick out our options, she was the one that said that because we had an outside photographer, we could use the resort photographer credit towards the photographer's day pass and the DJ's day pass (so two day passes). We didn't ask about it, she just offered. Since she brought that up, we asked if we could use a credit for the videographer towards something else, but she said no so we kept the videographer.
At 5pm, the sun was setting and had completely set by the time the ceremony was finished, but it still wasn't dark out yet and there was a nice breeze. So we did get pictures in the daylight, just not bright hot sun. When everyone was at cocktail hour and DH and I were having pictures with Del Sol on the beach, it got darker out but had really cool purple clouds so I'm excited to see them! If you really want bright sunlight for your pictures, you might want to opt for an earlier ceremony time, but it's very hot and bright out during the day. I know we would have been sweating and squinting. Something else to note, Mexico had daylight savings time and the time set back an hour the night of our wedding. That must be why they offer the ceremony time at 4pm from October to April instead of 5pm. (We have gone 4 time changes in 2 weeks because Mexico is an hour behind us, they had daylight savings time while we were there, then we were an hour ahead of Mexico when we came home, and now we just had daylight savings here in the US! haha)
One thing I forgot to mention in my review is that the electricity went out for a few minutes at a time a few times during the trip. It happened once when I was in the shower and was standing there in the dark haha, and it happened a few times while I was at the spa getting ready for the wedding! It was only out for a few minutes and didn't affect us at all, other than the music going off, but it did reset the clocks so I freaked out when I went back to my room at first and saw the time until I remembered the power had gone out.
Posted 01 November 2009 - 01:29 PM
Travel Agent: We used TA Jennifer here at BDW! She was wonderful! She had done a site visit at ERC last year and had lots of info and pics to share which she posted in a thread in the Riviera Maya forum. She is great with email contact and gave us very fair prices with taxes and transfers. She even let us know that we were eligible for a price reduction when the whole swine flu hype happened back in May. Some of our guests booked through her as well and commented that she was very nice to work with, both by email and phone. About a month before the wedding, Nayeli informed me that we had a reservation glitch at the resort. Of course I freaked out and sent Jennifer a frantic email. She called me right away, was very calm and told me to take a deep breath, and she set everything straight with the resort ASAP.
We will definitely be using her again when we need a travel agent in the future!
Posted 01 November 2009 - 02:54 PM
Posted 01 November 2009 - 09:21 PM
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