It has been over a week since we've been back, but I finally have the time to post my wedding review! I know a few of you are leaving in the next few days, so wanted to post before you leave We were at the Now Jade from April 1 - 8 and our wedding was April 5. Let me start by saying DON'T WORRY, we cannot say enough great things about Pilar. She is amazing at what she does, and as soon as we met with her the morning after arrival, I had no worries, she totally relieved me, I felt like she was on top of everything, had all the documentation all organized, and she is a total sweetheart. Please people that have weddings over 6 months down the road, be patient and know that she is dealing with wedding(s) that day, meeting with couples getting married in the upcoming days, plus trying to answer emails and everything. She doesn't even get a day off for 4 months straight! Anyways, that's my rant, hopefully you had a destination wedding partly so you wouldn't have to worry so much about all the details, and even if you do want all those things they are taken care of, and if not beforehand, she can deal with all of it when you get to the resort. I am kind of a "details" type of person and want things done a certain way, and everything was great and perfect.
To start, regarding booking the trip to begin with, we worked with Flight Centre (we're in Vancouver, BC, Canada). They were able to "hold" a group block for us for 3 months, giving guests that time to put a deposit of $200 per person. We only had to deposit that amount ourselves to keep the "group block". The total all-inclusive rate (flights, transfers, resort, everything) ranged from $1500 - $1750 depending on departure city. We had guests coming from across Canada - Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver) - the East coast rates were cheaper, and 2 of the flights were April 2 - 9 rather than April 1 - 8. I was relatively happy with the service from Flight Centre, there were some issues with the booking website they set-up for us, but all in all it was convenient to have everyone book the same trip, and we knew our numbers by end of November. We had 36 friends and family for the week. We were booked through Air Transat and they offered us $400 credit for every 15 people booked. Note regarding Air Transat, the extra charge for luggage weight is $10 per extra kilogram (over 25 kg), and on the way back from Mexico it's more (I forget, but between $12 - $16 per extra kg). Probably ok for most brides because you're bringing down stuff for the wedding and leaving there, but I bought some heavy stuff (ceramic bowl, etc) so somehow managed to fill up that extra suitcase for the way home.. oh shopping If you have friends on your flight that pack light, get them to check extra suitcases for you to save the extra charge. Also there's an overhead bin on Air Transat flights that's specifically for wedding dresses (it has a little image on the bin marking it!) so you can lay it out there (and once you're at the resort they'll steam it for you anyways).
I brought down chair sashes & table runners, table cards (note: they don't have stands for table cards at the resort), guest favours (mini maracas that doubled as escort cards & "shake this for the kiss"), a few other decor items for the reception (menus, Signature Cocktail menus), welcome bags (canvas tote bags from Dollar Giant - only $2 each and everyone used them!). In the welcome bags: Welcome brochure (see pic below, feel free to steal ideas because I did!), Ray-ban style sunglasses, Ring Pops, and "Mexico Wedding Survival Kits" which had band-aids, lip balm, aloe vera, hand sanitizer, Tums, Tylenol, and Tic-Tacs.
Check in was great for us, we were upgraded to a Quiet Pool/Ocean view on the Preferred side, no one bugged us about the timeshare stuff, they brought us straight to our room, which was beautiful! Definitely nicest all-inclusive room Iâ€™ve stayed in, loved the shower/bathroom area, balcony was nice, and A/C was blasting and cold the whole time. If you open the patio door, the A/C automatically turns off, which is a great feature, but the room will immediately start getting damp and humid. There were a few issues with our guests checking in, mainly inconsistencies, like one of my friends was quoted double the price that everyone else was quoted for the same upgrade (when they all checked in the same time and part of the same group booking), so I wasnâ€™t impressed with that, they didnâ€™t treat her well. But Iâ€™m used to the Front Desk people at Mexico all-inclusives being the most difficult to deal with out of all the employees.. they gave a bottle of tequila to some rooms and not others, which was supposedly a gift from Air Transat, but the resort failed to move the gift to the new room if the guest switched rooms or upgraded, which should automatically be done in my opinion. And I gave my welcome bags to the Front Desk for everyone checking in the day after us, and somehow they lost one of the bags! Pilar managed to track it down after searching room to room and found it in the wrong room. I would suggest just give the welcome bags to Pilar directly instead of the Concierge or Front Desk. Other general hotel comments â€“ the service was great (better than the Barcelo we stayed at last year), food was good, restaurants were good, and never had a problem finding a shady area near pool or on the beach, even with a group of us. If thereâ€™s just a towel on a chair, itâ€™s free for the taking! One note, I felt sick (stomach issues) at least half of the week (luckily not on the wedding day, and I have to say I had it the day we got there, so also due to â€œnervesâ€), and about half our guests had stomach issues at least one day. Even throwing up & fever. I canâ€™t necessarily blame this on the resort, but I havenâ€™t seen this severity at any other resorts weâ€™ve stayed at, and sometimes we noticed the pool bar drinks had a weird taste, like that almost sewage-y smell like the water from the tap, so I canâ€™t prove anything, but I think sometimes they take short-cuts and maybe use the wrong ice, or clean the plastic cups with tap water or something. It definitely didnâ€™t ruin the vacation, and hey it meant I couldnâ€™t eat that much so I didnâ€™t gain the usual 5 all-inclusive resort pounds I would recommend taking Dukoral before your trip to try to avoid any bad stomach illness.
Now onto the wedding events â€“ we had a Welcome Dinner the first night everyone was there, and since they had their Buffet Mexican Carnival set up that night, Pilar was able to reserve a section for our group at no charge. I was expecting us to all sit at the same table, but instead they had reserved about 4 separate round tables, which was a bit of a bummer because I thought Iâ€™d be able to talk to everyone which I couldnâ€™t do because everyone was too far apart. It was still nice to have everyone in the same area though, because thatâ€™s impossible for the rest of the nights with dinners at the restaurants.
We had the rehearsal at lunchtime the day before the wedding, which went smoothly, Pilar helped to keep it going and organized, and she was able to book us a large table at Las Olas/Castaways for lunch, and the service there was great, they gave us special cocktails and Mexican appetizers when we arrived, and we gave out our Wedding Party gifts.
Wedding Day! I booked my hair & make-up through the Spa, and since the spa had a fire the week before, they set everything up in a few of the Penthouse suites. I actually preferred this, was private and more intimate, and beautiful views from those rooms! I had Angel, and would highly recommend asking for him! Heâ€™s great, well-trained and speaks English really well. I brought some of my own make-up, which he used, and he did a great job at replicating what I wanted with my hair. I wanted my hair to be a little more of a â€œloose side up-doâ€, and it was a little more tight and hairspray-shellacked than I wanted, but I realized it had to be that way or else it wouldâ€™ve all fallen out with the wind. There was seriously about 70 bobby pins in my hair, and I donâ€™t even have long hair.. haha (â€œpain for beautyâ€ I told myself). Ask for Angel though, heâ€™s the best.
Pilar came up during my makeup/hair appointment with samples of the bouquets â€“ my bouquet and a boutenniere. I was glad she came ahead of time, because I made a couple little changes, like they added a few things to the boutennieres that I didnâ€™t want â€“ extra greens and babyâ€™s breath (uggh) and I wanted really simple and clean. I had all white calla lilies and brought down a whole bunch of peacock feathers which they added to all the flowers. I also brought my own ribbon, because they didnâ€™t have the colours I wanted. I was really happy with the flowers, how they added them to the sides of the ceremony chairs, and the reception centerpieces. Hereâ€™s a few pics:
Ceremony â€“ we got married at 5pm (well 5:20ish because we were late at the Pergola, which was decorated beautifully. I didnâ€™t notice until I saw the video after, I was in dreamy-land happy bride mode at that point, I couldnâ€™t even hear the music, I had to ask if they played the right â€œwalking the aisleâ€ song. We had a bunch of songs on our iPod, which my hubby Matt just handed over to Pilar shortly before the ceremony and showed the playlists. We had one with a bunch of â€œchillâ€ type songs for when people were being seated, one â€œwalking the aisleâ€ song (same for the bridesmaids and me/dad walk), then the â€œwalking the aisle just marriedâ€ song. This was taken care of perfectly. I would highly recommend the Pergola because itâ€™s the most private area you can get (no guys in Speedos in the background.. haha) and since youâ€™re elevated you canâ€™t see anyone on the beach. Plus I got to wear my heels!
Also since we opted out of the resort photographer, we got a great deal on using the videographer just for the ceremony and some group pics (only $200). He was great, I didnâ€™t think Iâ€™d be into the video due to cheesiness factor, but actually we were very impressed with the video (is it just not cheesy because itâ€™s you in the video? Dunno..) Anways, he either wrote down or remembered the specific songs of our ceremony, and dubbed them over in our video. This was â€œCancun Wedding Videoâ€ (Mike Cantarell) through the resort. Since we had a â€œSymbolicâ€ ceremony, our friend married us, which I thought was great because you donâ€™t have to sit through everything in Spanish then English, and it was totally customized the way we wanted it. They provide a microphone so everyone can hear you.
After the ceremony, we got some group shots on the grassy garden area, then the wedding party headed out for more pics. We had a solid hour or so before the sun set, so we got a good mix of light and sunset shots. Would recommend that timing, because if itâ€™s too bright everyone will be squinting, and I felt sorry for those guys I saw at other early-mid afternoon weddings sweating their a$$es off in suits I had scoped out the area down the beach with the abandoned houses, and thatâ€™s where we did most of our pics, and I would highly recommend that spot, I will post a few pics and you can see for yourself how amazing those spots turned out (if youâ€™re into that kind of thing). During this time, the Cocktail Hour was going on at the Blue Beach Bar/The Mix which I think is the best spot for a Cocktail Hour, right on the beach and more private. We hired the Guitar Soloist ($300) and supposedly there were 2 guys instead of one, I missed all of this and all the food, but I didnâ€™t hear any complaints. We had booked the Now to Eternity package, so it included food for 25, and we did add the extra people for the hors dâ€™oeuvres because Iâ€™d heard from someone else there wasnâ€™t enough food. Iâ€™m glad we did that as obviously the food was all taken quickly since no one saved any for the starving bride!! J Oh well.. We also we brought our own photographer from Canada, he travels to Mexico a lot to do destination weddings, AMAZING photographer, Dean Sanderson (based in Toronto). The pics will speak for themselves, so Iâ€™ve attached a few through this review, and will try to post more later when I get the disk.
By the time we were finished with pics, Pilar was organizing everyone to head to Las Olas/Castaways, where we had our reception. This was a great location, because it was covered but you still felt like it was outdoors because it was open-air. It was quite breezy in there, so keep in mind for any d©cor that could fly away. We had one long rectangular table for the Wedding Party set-up along the far side, with 4 round tables all in front of us. Then in the middle area, the DJ was set-up with the dance floor and bar across from that. Great set-up, didnâ€™t feel too big or too small for our group. We had some items set-up on a Welcome Table at the entrance, and we gave the DJ a list of events for the evening, so he announced the Wedding party and any other events (bouquet/garter toss, etc). No extra charge for the bar service, and only had to pay one hour for the DJ (for 3 hours service), maybe because we opted out of a few other items in the package. Didnâ€™t know til I saw the contract and it was cheaper than I thought.
The dinner was the best food of the week, most people thought. We had an option of 2 entrees, the mahi mahi or the beef filet, and werenâ€™t charged extra, we just had to pay for the extra meals above 25 ppl. Everyone liked the main, the salad was a hit (blue fin tuna sashimi salad â€“ some had never tried tuna before and enjoyed it) and the mushroom soup was delicious. We opted out of the cake (I am anti-cake, and instead they let us choose 2 desserts, and just alternated from seat to seat). Donâ€™t think they quite figured out the alternating desserts, because one table would have all chocolate dessert, and another mostly cr¨me brulee, but oh well. They were both good (passion fruit cr¨me brulee was the better dessert).
DJ â€“ We used DJ Doremixx (Ivan Gomez) and I would highly recommend him. Gave him a playlist, and he was familiar with all the songs and would download them if he didnâ€™t already have them. Met with him briefly a few days before the wedding and he had our stuff on file and was organized. They handed out these long white balloons, and I know it may sound a bit cheesy, but they were a hit! Especially on a few shots of tequila, people were waving those things around, and tied a few together for an impromptu â€œlimboâ€ competition..
We also booked the Fire Show during our reception. We planned this last-minute with Pilar, because we werenâ€™t going to do it if the Fire Show happened at the hotel one of the nights before our wedding, but since it was a few days later and no one wouldâ€™ve seen it yet, we booked, and it was awesome! We wanted to do something a little different and special, and this totally worked. Everyone was mesmerized, there were probably about 10 â€“ 12 different fire dancers/drummers so excellent value for what we got. It was supposedly 15-20 minutes but they must have gone for at least a half hour. Since they were so good, it was fine, but we ended up having to extend our reception an extra hour because we hadnâ€™t gotten much dancing time in yet. So they let us extend bar service and the DJ until midnight (for a cost obviously), but didnâ€™t regret that, and glad they were able to accommodate last minute. Pilar was still around and checking on us at that point, which was close to 11pm. All in all, it was a perfect magical day and I would not have changed a thing! After the reception ended (and my mum and bridesmaids decided to jump into the pool and almost get escorted out by security.. haha) we went over to the Blue Beach bar for more drinking/dancing.
Day after the wedding, we arranged ahead of time to have our breakfast (included in package) sent to our room. This was much needed, as we were heading out with our photographer to do a â€œTrash the Dressâ€ at a cenote. We went with a van full of our friends to Dos Ojos, where they snorkeled around all afternoon while we did our photoshoot. Amazing pics so far, and more to comeâ€¦ Highly recommended, didnâ€™t ruin the dress at all, it was already grimey from the sand and floor, and dried fine. Plus really what are you going to do with that dress? May as well have some amazing photos..
Okay, I know this may have been a bit long-winded so if you held up through it all congrats! I just know that all this info should help some of you, as I have found some of the info on this forum invaluable. Please let me know if you have any questions at all, Iâ€™d be happy to help.
Good luck to all of you in the planning stages, seriously donâ€™t stress yourself out too much, itâ€™s not worth it and when the day comes you wonâ€™t care anymore! Easier said than done, I know, but as much as you hear it, it is true. Now I just wish I could repeat that week.. over and over.. J
From the New Mrs. Caroline Holman!