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Just Married REVIEW - GRAN CARIBE & LE MERIDIEN - w/pics

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#1 simba1234

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  • 179 posts

    Posted 03 May 2010 - 12:42 PM

    I just returned from the most amazing wedding & honeymoon I could have ever imagined!! I couldn't have done it without this forum and all the great ideas on here. I received so many compliments on my wedding and every single person came up to me and said it was the best wedding they'd ever been to. That comment came even from my very picky friend who has been to at least 20 destination weddings and hundreds of traditional weddings. A lot of ppl have even asked if we can get married again:)

    There's so much planning that goes into any wedding but especially a DW and the process can be such a roller coaster ride but trust me that it will ALL BE WORTH IT IN THE END!! There is nothing that can compare to a DW. And if I can leave everyone with one piece of advice it is...don't sweat the small stuff! Don't worrry about the people who don't make it to the wedding because when you're there you'll be having so much fun with the people who make it that you won't think about anyone else at all. We invited 60 people and 50 people made it. I was so stressed about those 10 who weren't going but the second I landed in Cancun I forgot all about them. We had a blast with the people that went because those are the people who are closest to us and they made it a week to remember.

    So without further a do, here's my wedding review:)

    My wedding was a little different from what most people do. I didn't want our guests to stay in the same resort where we were having the ceremony & reception. I wanted them to experience different things and see different scenery. So, all my guests stayed at the Gran Melia Cancun with a group rate but I had the ceremony & rehearsal dinner at the Gran Caribe Real and my reception at Le Meridien. It was a little bit of a gamble to have events in different places but it's one of the things that made the wedding so unique and my guests LOVED moving from one place to the next and seeing totally different backdrops.

    I gave them an A and not an A++++ because of the stress they caused me in the planning process. I only had my rehearsal dinner and ceremony at the Gran Caribe Real. Some of you may have seen my previous post about my rude and unhelpful coordinator. She was really horrible to work with at first. She said no to everything and I had to battle with her. The customer service at Gran Caribe was really lacking during the planning process. But I have to say they came through in a BIG way at the end. I had a different coordinator that handled the wedding day and rehearsal dinner logistics. She was way more accomodating and I LOVED the way everything turned out.

    Rehearsal dinner - Gran Caribe Real BEACH
    I was blown away by the way everything turned out at the rehearsal dinner. I asked to have it right on the beach at sunset. I wanted one long table with tiki torches all around it. They did such a beautiful job with the decor....they set up four long tables connecting in the form of a square and had flowing fabric, tiki torches and large vases as decoration. They greeted all the guests with some really delicious cocktails and had ambient music playing in the background. The sun was setting when we got there and that view of the turquoise blue ocean, white sand, flowing fabric and tiki torches really blew everyone away. Dinner was really good and the service was fantastic - everytime we turned there was a waiter asking if we needed anything. Then they let us connect our ipod to the sound system and everyone just started dancing the night away:)

    We had fire dancers perform as a suprise to all our guests and again we were blown away. They did such an amazing job. I would recommned anyone do this. All our guests loved it and thought it was such a unique touch.

    We went to do a quick rehearsal in the chapel the night before and were greeted by a bunch of construction workers and a complete disaster in the chapel. I was tempted to freak out but decided to keep my cool. The coordinator told me that they were expanding the chapel and putting up new beams and columns but assured me everything would be cleaned out the day of the wedding. I honestly think that they shouldn't have even been there the night before...it could have caused me unnecessary stress had I not made the consious effort to stay positive. That incident the night before is another reason they didn't get a a++++ from me.

    All that being said, the day of the ceremony the chapel looked GORGEOUS! I don't have any professional pics yet but I'll post them as soon as I get them. Below are some pics with a regular camera and they don't do the chapel justice. It was completely transformed from the night before.

    When I went for my site visit I made a big stink about the walk into the chapel but my new wedding coordinator pulled some strings and got me a room where I could exit right onto the chapel. I only got the room for about 30 mins and it was a huge favor on her part because they're not supposed to do that. I had to be really nice to get it and I think she also felt bad because of the whole construction incident. It made for a great long walk down the "aisle" to the chapel.

    I wish I could give them an even higher rating:) The wedding coordinator at Le Meridien (Patricia Luyando) was a DREAM to work with from day one! She made sure that every single one of my wants was taken care of and she really helped create the wedding of my dreams. I can't rave enough about them. The service, the food, the decoration, EVERYTHING was perfect. I had the reception at the small round gazebo overlooking the ocean and it was stunning! Patricia was so organized and a week before the wedding she sent me a huge file that outlined every single detail of the wedding with pictures and everything. We went over it to make sure that everything was covered. The day of the wedding I saw that file come to life because not one detail was overlooked. The best part is that they made me feel so at ease throughout the entire process - I never once felt stressed about the reception. I knew it would be just as I wanted.

    Photographer - MORGAN LYNN PHOTOGRAPHY - A+++++
    Photography and music were the two most important things for me. I fell in love with Morgan's work when I saw her blog and website. She's an award winning wedding photojournalist and I really love her style. I just got married two weeks ago so I obviously haven't seen my pics yet BUT I still give her a great review because she was working her butt off at the wedding. Everywhere I turned she was on the floor, on top of something or doing some type of acrobatic to get the perfect shot. Her second photographer was her husband and they were both so incredibly friendly and a real pleasure to work with. I felt so comfortable with them and that was also really important for me. They went above and beyond the hours that we discussed in the contract. They even took pictures at the rehearsal dinner which wasn't even part of the deal. We went for a trash the dress two days after the wedding and I know those pics will look beautiful. I can't wait to see the pics and share them here.

    MUSIC/DJ -Producciones del Mundo Maya A+

    Music was probably my top priority right after photography. My family/friends love to party and I wanted to make sure they had the time of their lives. I didn't know if should really trust a DJ in MX with our music because they might not know our style. So, my hubby and I put together a playlist with every single song that we wanted them to play at the reception. We asked them to stick to that list and play nothing else. They could mix it any way they wanted though. They did just that and the music was the highlight of the wedding. As soon as the first song came on EVERYONE hit the dance floor and stayed there for the next 5 hours. There was not one time that the dance floor was empty. I've never been to a wedding where everyone danced like that. The DJ handed out props like balloons, light up maracas, light up head bands, etc... and it made it even more fun. They did a great job mixing the music and sticking to our playlist. Even our photographer said it was an amazing dance party:)


    At check-in we gave everyone a tote bag with beach towels, small tequilla bottles, and a brochure with the itinerary. Everyone loved it especially the tote bags... ppl used them all week.

    At the wedding we gave away flip flops and cigars. The flip flops were brought out in a basket right as the party was getting started and everyone RAN...those flip flops were a HUGE hit! I paid 2.50 each at Old navy and it was well worth it. All the girls were still wearing them the rest of the week.

    The cigars were brought out later in the night and the guys went nuts! I know we have some really great pics of all the men smoking together with dark shades on:) It was a lot of fun.

    We also set up a tequilla bar at the wedding. It was set up on a table with a sarape (typical colorful mexican cloth) and we had different types of fancy tequillas, salt, lime and chile. We got monogrammed shot glasses that said "Cancun, Mexico" on them. We put each shot glass in white boxes tied with ribbon and placed one for each person on the tables. After dinner my hubby went to the tequilla bar with a mic and told everyone we were going to toast using the shot glasses on each table. Everyone took a shot -even the ppl who don't drink! Right after the shot, we had the dj play a really popular song that EVERYONE in our families loves, and sure enough that got the party started because everyone hit the dance floor.

    Guest Resort- GRAN MELIA - A+++
    This resort is truly amazing! I've travelled and stayed in really nice hotels but I have to say this resort is top notch. I got a group rate of $105 per room for the european plan and $200 per room for all inclusive. Everyone loved it...it is really huge which was good because we didn't have to feel like we were on top of each other all the time. It has 4 HUGE beautiful pools, 5 restaurants and the rooms are just gorgeous. They gave me a free upgrade to a one bedroom suite, a bottle of champagne, 20% discount for ALL guests to the spa and a bunch of other amenities.

    The best part was the WELCOME COCKTAILS. As part of my group reservation, they gave us a one hour cocktail reception for free. They gave us a coordinator who planned all the logistics. They let us use a beautiful space in the hotel which they set up with cocktail tables, hors d'ouvers and open bar for an hour. This was a great way to break the ice so everyone could get to know each other. By the end of the hour everyone was one big happy family:) I really would recommend to everyone that they have a welcome reception of some sorts. It made the rest of the week so much fun because everyone felt comfortable and knew each other. It was great that I didn't even have to pay for it:)

    I can't rave enough about Gran Melia...we all want to go back there.

    TRANSPORTATION- Cancun Transfers -- A++

    These guys were great, on-time, courteous, affordable and clean. I got a bus to transport everyone from the hotel to the ceremony, then to the reception and back to the hotel. Out of the 8 transportation companies I check, they gave me the best price by far. Our guests even turned the bus into a party bus at the end of the night and the driver was a great sport...he even lowered the lights and played music lol.

    I also got our limos and they were in great condition- they were clean and fully stocked with champagne, drinks, ice, etc...

    I know this was long but I always wanted details and reviews when I was planning and I couldn't have done it without this forum so I'm paying it forward:) I hope this helps some of you.

    These are not the best pictures but it's all I have right now.. Some of my guests took fantastic pictures which I'll post as soon as I get them.

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    This pic was after the ceremony and they had alredy taken some of the decorations down....
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    Here's another angle of the chapel:
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    From a distance...
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    I'm still waiting for good pics of my reception. These first 2 pics are not from my wedding day but this is what the gazebo looks like:
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    Here are a few pics from my reception:

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    #2 Cindy*

    • Sr. Member
    • 2,655 posts

      Posted 03 May 2010 - 12:44 PM

      Thanks for the review. Everything looks beautiful. So glad you had an amazing wedding. Congratulations!!

      #3 damaris

      • Jr. Member
      • 462 posts

        Posted 03 May 2010 - 01:05 PM

        Everything looked so pretty. especially you in your dress. I love your cake, its similar to what im doing


        #4 Fancy That

        Fancy That
        • Newbie
        • 40 posts

          Posted 03 May 2010 - 01:09 PM

          Congrats on the wedding!

          I really love it when Brides come back here and do a review/report to help others w/ planning.

          We are getting married in the Cancun/Playa Del Carmen area on Oct. 4, 2010...and we've been to The Royal Cancun and next door at Gran Caribe 2 years ago. We LOVED The Royal. But the Gran Caribe has THE BEST CHAPEL for a ceremony! :)

          We haven't decided to do Cancun or try The Royal Playa Del Carmen......my question to you:

          - How did you and your guests deal with walking in the sand, on the beach, with shoes? Did you have to take shoes off?

          As vain as it sounds, I really want to be able to wear high heels, or high platform/wedge shoes.....but I love the look of a true BEACH ceremony. The downside is everyone has to be barefoot though.

          My other choice is the Gazebo - which isn't as nice for photos during the ceremony (but we'd go down to the beach for nice after-ceremony pics)

          You looked STUNNING! Loved how everything turned out...and thanks again for the report. We want to see the pro pics too!

          Oh - last question - you decided not to use the Resort Photographer? Not good enough quality of photos? What made you decide to pay so much more money for an outside vendor?
          Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
          San Francisco Bay Area~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          #5 simba1234

          • Jr. Member
          • 179 posts

            Posted 03 May 2010 - 01:51 PM

            Fancy That -

            Thanks for the compliments:) My wedding wasn't on the sand at all. The ceremony was inside the catholic chapel but it's all glass so the entire time you are facing the ocean and it was a really breathtaking view. It was the next best thing to actually being on the sand:) I wanted a beach view but also wanted a catholic ceremony (not to mention I also wanted heels lol).

            I did have my rehearsal dinner on the beach/sand and it was also stunningly beautiful. I told my guests to wear comfy shoes so they all wore shoes they could easily take off. No one had a problem with it. They all took off their shoes and danced all night.

            As for the photographer I wanted to go with the very best photographer I could afford. This was actually a really big portion of my budget. Photography was my number one priority because when it's all said and done the pictures are all you really keep. Photography is the way we will be able to look back in 10, 20 or 30 years and capture the memories. I never even considered a resort photographer. It really just depends how important it is to you. Photography & Music were really, really important so I didn't want to take any chances with either one.

            #6 KimmyD

            • Jr. Member
            • 351 posts

              Posted 03 May 2010 - 01:51 PM

              Wow - everything looked so beautiful, thanks for sharing.
              28 Booked + Bride & Groom
              78 Room Nights!

              #7 katrina305

              • Newbie
              • 91 posts

                Posted 03 May 2010 - 01:53 PM

                simba1234, what a beautiful wedding!!

                I am also interesed in having fire dancers. Can you tell me where you rented them from and how expensive they were?

                #8 simba1234

                • Jr. Member
                • 179 posts

                  Posted 03 May 2010 - 04:14 PM

                  Originally Posted by katrina305
                  simba1234, what a beautiful wedding!!

                  I am also interesed in having fire dancers. Can you tell me where you rented them from and how expensive they were?
                  I paid $600 for a 30 minute show and at first I hesitated at the cost but it was worth every single penny! It was something that my guests absolutely loved and raved about. It was something so unique and different that they weren't expecting. The resort (Gran Caribe Real) arranged it for me so I'm not really sure what company they used but I can try to find out.

                  #9 lalanyc

                  • Jr. Member
                  • 363 posts

                    Posted 03 May 2010 - 04:26 PM

                    Congratulations!!!!!!! I'm so happy everything went well for you. I absolutely LOVED Le Meridien and Patricia (whom I met on a site visit)!!! I am not at all surprised you had such a great experience with her. Please post pics once they are available! :)

                    #10 PetitRouge

                    • Jr. Member
                    • 174 posts

                      Posted 03 May 2010 - 05:05 PM

                      Congratulations! Your pics are beautiful, i love le Meridien as a resort. I am so happy that you had such wonderful things to say about the Melia :) I am getting married there next month!

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