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Ev's Moon Palace Beach Wedding Review 11-12-09

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Well, its time to start 2010 out right by crossing off one of my New Years Resolutions: writing you a review about my beautiful beach wedding at Moon Palace! First, I want to thank all of you Moon Palace brides who wrote such detailed reviews, especially those who had weddings on the beach! I can only hope that my review will be as helpful as the ones I have read!


Wedding Date: November 12, 2009

Wedding Ceremony Package: Free Symbolic Package

Wedding Date/Time: 4pm on the beach by the Tucan Gazebo

Number of Guests: 19 (21 including photographers)

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Rooms - AThe resort is enormous and has three different sides: Nizuc, Sunrise, and Moon Grand. You can take shuttles to the other lobbies, or walk along the sidewalk by the ocean (usually about 5 minutes to another side). We booked all rooms in the Nizuc side, at the suggestion of many of the brides on the forum. I am so happy we did this. The Nizuc side was a little less busy and there were always chairs by the pool. It is right in the middle of the resort so about a 5 minute walk to the other sections. We stayed in the Bambu building (as did all of our other guests) which overlooked the pool on one side and the ocean on the other.


Click the image to open in full size.


Click the image to open in full size.


We arrived 4 days before our guests and really loved the Moon Grand side that is still being built. Their rooms are larger and they have a bigger balcony, but absolutely no view. We still thought we wanted the bigger room for getting ready pictures, so we asked to be moved to the Moon Grand side, but there were no rooms available to move. SO GLAD WE DIDN’T! We talked to several other guests who actually moved OUT of Moon Grand because of a sewage smell in their rooms and said they couldn’t use the balcony without being eaten alive by mosquitos.

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Wedding Coordinator

Miami Coordinator: Janina Mendoza - A

Moon Palace On-Site wedding coordinator: Valeria Vera – A++


After signing my wedding contract, I was assigned to Janina Mendoza out of Miami in case I had any questions. I sent her several e-mails regarding outside photographers, ceremony details, etc. and she was very polite and helpful. The downside was that it did take about a week to get a response; however, they are quite busy with weddings so this was understandable. I started to get worried when I didnâ€t get an e-mail from Valeria 3 months before the wedding, so I e-mailed Janina and she had them contact me within a day or two.


Upon check-in at the hotel, we got a welcome letter with our appointment with Valeria.

At our meeting, she had all of the e-mails I had sent, and went over every single detail of our day. I have to admit, I came down pretty unprepared. She helped us to choose an awesome menu for the cocktail hour and reception, went over the schedule for the day, and helped us choose any extras we wanted. I gave her my sand ceremony items, cake cutting set, a seating chart, table favors, and the silk flowers for the cake and she got everything taken care of perfectly.


On the day of the wedding, she picked me up on time, got everyone in their seats for the ceremony, and periodically checked in during the reception to make sure everything was going well. She and her assistant did a fantastic job!


Wedding Package

We chose the Free Symbolic Package. I think that we got more for our money this way. It seemed like the wedding packages available for purchase had a ton of extra stuff we might not use (like multiple spa treatments) and we were told that no substitutions were allowed if we wanted different flowers, etc.


Here is what we added:

Harpist: $430

Beach Ceremony Decorations: We wanted blue and turquoise fabric over the huppa. They had a package for $290 for the 2 colors and 2 flower arrangements on the huppa. (the plain white beach setup was free)

Chair Sashes: 14 x $4 = $56 (these were transferred to the reception chairs after ceremony)

Rose Pedals: 2 bags x $35=$70 (one bag used for the aisle and the other to throw pedals at the end)

Horse and Carriage: $130

Table Runners for Reception (turquoise): 5 x $9 each = $45

Flower Arrangement for Reception Table: 4 x $25 each = $100

Wedding Cake: $210 for 3 tiers (the top layer was sugar free at no extra cost) and we brought our own flowers to top it.


We brought our own flowers and hired an outside photographer. I will review these services separately.

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The Salon - C

Before leaving for Mexico, I e-mailed the MP salon (as per the wedding coordinator’s instructions) and set up a hair appointment for myself, my mother and one of my bridesmaids. They set up the appointments without any issues, and sent me e-mail confirmations which I brought with me.


My hair and makeup appointment was with Doris. I brought pictures of the hairstyle I wanted and I would say she did a decent job re-creating the hairstyle from the pictures (however, I had to stop her a few times and politely request that she change a couple of things).


I did NOT bring my own makeup to the salon, however, and that was a HUGE MISTAKE! No one in the salon spoke fluent English, so I tried my best to convey what I wanted, using as much Spanish as I could remember... I told her I wanted “natural” and “romantic”. I also brought fake lashes and asked if she could put them on for me, as I had heard other girls had success with this. So, she turned me away from the mirror and went to work. Once the eyelashes got glued on I knew they didn’t feel right (I had trouble opening my eyes) and when she whipped me around, I had bright pink eyeshadow, bright pink lips, and my eyes looked like tiny little slits! AHH! At this point, I knew that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted so I paid, ran to the bathroom, wiped off as much lipstick as I could, then went back to my room and started balling my eyes out (which took care of those botched eyelashes!)


An hour later, I got a knock on the door. It was my mom and maid of honor. As soon as I opened the door and saw their faces, I knew they were pretty unhappy. They both HATED their hair. My mom asked for a French twist and got a beehive with curls on the top of her head, and my MOH got an 80s prom hairdo. We fixed their hair, and I started over and did my own makeup.


Moral of the story: Bring your own makeup, and bring lots of inspiration pictures, or do your own hair!

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The Ceremony

Our ceremony setup looked like this:

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.


Our ceremony was set to start at 4pm – therefore, we sent everyone to the ceremony location at 3:30. At 3:45, Valeria picked me and my dad up for the horse and carriage ride. They took us on a 5 minute ride through the resort, and everyone was waving and taking pictures of us. It was a special daughter and dad moment. They stopped the carriage around the corner (out of view from our guests) until the bridesmaids had walked down the aisle. Then we made our entrance. You can hear everyone gasp in our videos once they spotted the horse and carriage!





Originally we thought we’d just use the songs on a CD, but were worried about the songs not being long enough or having gaps in between the songs. So, at our meeting with Valeria, we decided to use the harpist. We had absolutely no idea what songs we wanted. We just knew we didn’t want it to all be classical, we wanted something our guests would recognize.


I was pleasantly surprised by the selection of music! The bridal party walked down to “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, and I walked down to “Canon in D”. He played songs through our sand ceremony and as we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife. The harp was a beautiful instrument for the beach, and no one had trouble hearing him. There were no awkward silences, no songs ending too early…. I’m definitely glad I chose live music.


Officiant and Vows

This was the area I was MOST worried about. I spent hours on the forum putting together our ceremony wording, but then started to worry that it wouldn’t sound right if the officiant wasn’t familiar with the words. So, at our meeting, we gave up all control and used their wording (they also have one for sand ceremonies).


Our officiant, Gino, did a fantastic job. He spoke with emotion, in very clear English, and the words were not very different from those I had picked out. He did the reading of the hands first, then the “Love is patient love is kind” reading, then our vows, ring ceremony, and sand ceremony. It was beautiful. I was surprised that for a symbolic wedding they also have a keepsake certificate that you sign before you kiss. This was cool – it made things look “official” although we had already been married in the U.S.!


Immediately after he pronounced us man and wife we had a champagne toast (which is included in the free package). Valeria’s assistant came by with a basket of rose pedals for each guest, and they were thrown at us as we walked back down the aisle. I was happy we did this, and can’t wait to see the pictures!


Click the image to open in full size.


Click the image to open in full size.

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Cocktail Hour

We got our cocktail hour free for booking 10+ rooms. Our cocktail hour was setup from 4:45-5:45. During this time we were also trying to get in all the group photos and photos of the wedding party, so we weren’t fully able to use it until about 5:15pm.


We picked the VIP hors d’oeurvres:

Grilled cactus leaf stuffed with crabmeat

Shrimp with pineapple

Chicken Shish kebab

Beef Medallions

Seafood Vol Au Vent


Everyone loved the food! The favorites were the cactus stuffed with crabmeat and the chicken shish kebab. (The medallions were a little too large to be finger food). We had our own bartender and high tables to eat and talk around.


Now, for the only negative in my review: THE MOSQUITOS. Oh my gosh, after the sun went down, the mosquitos came out in full force. Our cocktail hour was on the terrace overlooking the beach (not in the grass) and we were eaten alive. Some people had 5-6 mosquitos on them at the same time. My stepdad had to go back to the room and get bugspray. We sprayed everyone down, including the photographers and the bartender. It was awful.


Dinner – Caribbean Restaurant on Moon Grand side – A+We used our free dinner reservation instead of paying for a private function. Our reservation was at 6pm at the Caribeno restaurant on the Moon Grand side. It was a short walk from our ceremony location. Originally we had asked for the tables to be set-up on the terrace, but due to the mosquito problem they put us inside.


We had a T-shape table (bridal party at the end and everyone else at the long table) and added some centerpieces and turquoise table linens to make our table stand out. The place cards and favors were at the correct places and there was a separate small table for the cake.


Click the image to open in full size.


Valeria had us choose a set menu, and we tried to pick a variety to satisfy everyone (including those who don’t like seafood, since it is a seafood restaurant). Our menu was:


- Green Salad (with dressing)

- Shrimp Cocktail

- Fish Cevice

Main Course (choice of only 1)

- Fish Filet in Coconut Sauce

- Ribeye Steak

- Honey marinated grilled chicken


- Assorted ice cream (to be served with wedding cake)

- Crème brulee


About half of our party got the fish (which got rave reviews) and half got ribeye (get it medium rare or it will be overcooked). The way the main dish is presented to you is super fun (I’ll save it for a surprise in case you go there). They almost always have musicians roaming the restaurant. They had a Mexican quartet come and play us a romantic song, and we had an impromptu first dance! We had several speeches, and had no trouble hearing each other even though the restaurant was kind of busy. The service was phenomenal. When we look back, we are so glad we didn’t pay for a private reception. We had good service, great food, good lighting for pictures, and music throughout dinner and didn’t have to pay for it!

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Click the image to open in full size.


The Cake - B

Ah, the cake. We chose a 3 tier cake from the resort’s catalogue. The top tier was sugar free chocolate (no extra charge for this), middle tier was regular chocolate, and bottom was vanilla with fruit. I would definitely say chocolate is the way to go. It was delicious. Most people finished their cake! The only negative was that when they brought the cake out, it was leaning. It was still beautiful and tasted good, so I give it a B.


Click the image to open in full size.

I thought it was going to tip over!!! :)

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Flowers - A

We decided to bring our own flowers. We really wanted orchids and they were super expensive if bought in Mexico. We used Angel’s Accents and had a great experience with them. I got my flowers on time, and they looked just like the inspiration photos I had sent. I got my bridal bouquet, 2 bridesmaid bouquets, 6 boutonnieres, 2 corsages, 2 hair flowers and 3 stems of loose orchids (for the cake) for about $400. The flowers looked and smelled real – most of our guests didn’t realize that they were fake and tried to put them in the refrigerator after the wedding! I would definitely recommend Angel’s, they did a fantastic job.



Sascha Gluck – A+

I used Sascha Gluck for our pictures. It was the best decision I made regarding the wedding. I wish I could have packed him up in my suitcase and brought him home with me!! He is the most creative photographer I have ever met. He used a lot of cool techniques to take his pictures, and from the ones he showed us, I think they are going to be AMAZING!


I asked him to be there from 3-7pm to capture getting ready pictures, the ceremony, and part of the reception. He showed up at 2:30 with his assistant Lars (who everyone in the wedding had a crush on!) and started taking pictures right away. He uses a more journalistic style, so encourages you to just go about your business while he captures the special moments. He was great at directing us on how to pose and look at the camera (something I was worried about) and fit right into our family! We invited him to dinner and he stayed well past 7pm enjoying the food and snapping a few pictures.


TTD – The next morning we met up around 6:00 for a TTD session! We decided to just stay at Moon Palace for the photo shoot since we were supposed to go on a tour with our families that day. We went out to the pier and got some beautiful pictures as the sun came up. Then we hopped in the water and rolled around on the beach a little. It was so much fun!


If you have been thinking about booking Sascha, DO IT. It is rare to find an experienced photographer with such a creative mind and eye for detail. His prices are comparable to the hotel photographers and he was willing to create a personalized package for us that included TTD.


Note: To get around the outside vendor policy, we simply paid for 1 night’s stay at the hotel and told the WC that one of our guests would be taking the pictures. No issues at all! 


Once the slideshow is up and running I will post a link to my pro pics. Until then, below are a few of the teasers that we LOVE!


Resort Activities

The week of our wedding, we tried to take advantage of as much as we could at the resort. Looking back, we wished we would have arrived at the resort a few extra days before our guests so that we could just RELAX. Having a destination wedding isn’t quite the same as going on a relaxing vacation with your hubby. Once your guests arrive, the time will just FLY BY!


What we did:

-Day trip to Beach Palace - worth it if you want to lay on an awesome beach!

-BOGO Dolphin Swim at Wet’n’Wild – the dolphin experience was fun but Wet’n’Wild was NOT!

-Chichen Itza Tour -worth going to once, but our group collectively decided that the tour was WAY too long and we wish we had stayed at the resort and played in the pool! We left at 8AM and didn’t return until almost 8PM!!


We went to most of the nightly shows (the Michael Jackson show is by far the best) and did a little shopping with the vendors who come to the resort during the week. After 9PM, the swing bar on the Sunrise side was the place to be, and it is also the only outside bar open til 1AM. Tons of fun!


We didn’t have time to:

-Eat our complimentary breakfast in bed the day after the wedding because of our TTD session and the Chitchen Itza tour. It looked SOO good too!! 

-Attend the honeymooners cocktail party to meet other married couples

-Go to our private romantic honeymoon dinner


Overall, our wedding experience was absolutely wonderful! We would do it all over again in a heartbeat! Don’t worry, Moon Palace will take great care of you and your guests, even if you don’t hammer out the little details until you arrive at the resort. Hope you all have the wedding of your dreams, please let me know if I can answer any questions!



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