Secrets Maroma Beach Resort - Lynnea's Wedding Review- Feb 26, 2010
Posted 18 May 2010 - 05:59 PM
Just for reference, I was there with a total of 13 people, including me and the groom. Our wedding date was Feb 26, 2010, and we were there from Feb 21-March 5 (12 days).
Flight and Customs:
My husband and I traveled from Minneapolis to Cancun on American Airlines. I carried my dress on to the plane as well as a normal carry-on piece of luggage and had no issues with that at all and no extra charges. Each time I got onto the plane (we switched planes both directions), the flight attendants offered for me to put my dress in the 1st class closet.
The woman that sold me my dress recommended that I call the airline prior to flying, just to clear with them that it was okay to bring my dress on the flight. She said if someone says â€œNoâ€ to keep calling until you get a â€œyesâ€. I only had to call once and they were very agreeable about me bringing my dress along.
Once you arrive in Cancun, you will be ushered through Customs and will have to show them the paperwork you completed (most likely provided to you during your flight). They will stamp one of the forms and return the bottom/stamped half to you. I believe it is called a Tourist Card. Make sure you hang onto it. When you check-in on your way to fly home, you must have this with you, or you will be fined.
Shuttle to Resort:
My brother had been there the year before me, and told me that we should just take a Taxi, but after reading on various blogs about transportation from the Cancun airport, I decided to take a shuttle. We setup a shuttle with Cancunshuttle.com online. They had a deal that allowed us a private SUV for $60. (We had 4 people in our car, as my parents flew with us). Most private transportation is not worth the money unless you have at least 4 people with you. Even if you have 2 people, the price will still be $60-80. If there are just 2 of you, I would recommend a group shuttle, or if you want to spring for it, you can pay for a taxi.
After you walk through the â€œtime shareâ€ area, where there are tons of people trying to scam you into their time-share presentations (warning, they all wear matching white poloâ€™s and khaki pants, and will ask you where you are goingâ€¦keep walking. Say â€œno thank youâ€.) All taxis and shuttle services are OUTSIDE. If you have a shuttle, there will be a lot of companies holding their signs up. To find Cancun Shuttle, we had to walk past the main group of people holding signs in order to find them.
If you want to hop in a taxi, those are also located outside. We had a couple friends take taxis and the price ranged from $50 â€“ 70. Try and bargain! They tend to rip you off, especially because the cost to take a taxi from the resort back to the airport was only $30!!
There were about 3 other groups in front of us, waiting for a car from Cancun Shuttle, so the four of us had to wait about 15 minutes before it was our turn. Iâ€™ve never been to Cancun before, so I donâ€™t know if this is the best way to get to your resort, or if there are better options out there.
Upon arrival to the resort, we were greeted by the friendly secrets staff saying â€œWelcome Homeâ€. Included in our wedding package was â€œone room upgrade within our category â€“ depending upon availabilityâ€. We mentioned this when talking to the man checking us in, and he offered us two options. One was a room four buildings back from the beach, on the fourth floor. The other was a room 1 building back from the beach, in a preferred club building on the second floor. I was aware that the ceremony site was closer to the preferred club near bldg 27, so I took the offered room in bldg 26. If I wasnâ€™t getting married there, I probably would now pick the 4th floor room as it wouldâ€™ve had an ocean view. Even though we were closer to the beach location-wise, our second floor room didnâ€™t offer much of an ocean view.
Wedding Coordinator and First Meeting:
We arrived in our room and on the table near the door was a letter from Cecilia (I had also received an email earlier as well). It was a congratulatory letter, as well as welcoming us to Secrets. In the letter she told us that we would be meeting her on Tuesday morning at 10am (we arrived on a Sunday), and following our meeting would be our blood test (we had a legal ceremony).
We met Cecilia in the lobby bar, and she showed up about 10 minutes late (which I was honestly expecting as I know everything moves a bit slower in Mexico). She had a folder containing all of the notes from our previous conversations, and we walked through the items that had not yet been finalized. I also provided her with a schedule I had put together for the day of when I wanted the different events to occur, and specific tasks that I wanted to make sure were taken care of. We confirmed the bouquet for me, my maid of honor, best man and grooms boutonnieres. She also described the centerpieces. For the centerpieces, I really had no idea what to do, so she smartly suggested that they just match them to my bridal bouquet, which worked out fabulously! (I would suggest bringing copies of emails and any documentation you may have received from Cecilia just in case there are any questions or discrepancies on how much things cost. It seemed that over the course of my 9 months of planning, she would name different prices for things and would contradict previous price quotes). After the brief meeting in the lobby, she gave us a tour of the different ceremony and reception locations. I knew I wanted to have my ceremony on the beach, but wasnâ€™t sure about the Reception and cocktail hour. She told me that she just needed to know 2 days prior to the day of the ceremony for staffing purposes. So I called her the morning the day before our ceremony and told her what we decided. (Cocktails on the beach, dinner in the marble room next to the Ballroom).
Legalities â€“ Our blood test was scheduled for 11am. We were told they would meet us in our room. They finally showed up at 1145, which was quite annoying as it was beautiful outside, and we were antsy to get on the beach! The process was really quick (about 5 minutes) and everything was sanitary and clean. The hiccup with the whole process was that they asked us for $200 when they were done. I was not expecting to have to pay cash directly to the doctors, as I assumed this would all be including in the package cost (since it was listed in the contract). So, I had to take the cash from our vacation fun money (for excursions, tipping, etc.). There was actually a positive spin to it because the contract stated $300, and we only had to pay them $200. So just keep this in mind if youâ€™re doing a legal ceremony, and bring extra cash (us dollars). When it came to paying the full contract, Cecilia had this charge listed on the contract, but I told her we paid the doctors directly, and she took care of it. I was provided with a receipt from the doctors in case there was any question of payment, but Cecilia didnâ€™t ask for it.
In addition to the blood test, in order to have a legal ceremony, you must also have 4 witnesses. If your witnesses will not be there 4 days prior to the ceremony, you should send copies of their passports via email to Cecilia ahead of time. (I did this a week before we left for Mexico, and that was just fine). Once they arrive, Cecilia will also need copies of their Tourist Cards. Make sure you get these to her as soon as you can once your witnesses have arrived. I received a message that our Best Man hadnâ€™t given his to Cecilia the day of our wedding, so was scrambling to get a hold of him while I was getting my hair done. Not fun to deal with the day of!
Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:02 PM
Welcome Bags: We put together welcome bags for each couple joining us in Mexico. I purchased canvas â€œbeach bagsâ€ in various bright colors and personalized them with our logo, initials and wedding year. In each of the bags I put personalized insulated mugs, Sunscreen, bug spray, hand sanitizer, aloe, Tide laundry soap travel packet, fruit snacks, mixed nuts, gum, and a schedule including the time and location for a Welcome Dinner, as well as what time and where to be for the Ceremony. I thought the insulated mugs would be a huge hit, because when I went to an all-inclusive a couple years ago, it was great to keep our drinks cold. Most people didnâ€™t use them. The fruit snacks and mixed nuts were very popular however. It was kinda hard to get your hands on snack foods at the resort. Obviously there is no shortage of food, but sometimes you didnâ€™t want to order a full meal.
We packed all the welcome bags and goodies in one suitcase and my mom carried the receipt in case there were issues with customs. (They may think youâ€™re bringing it there to sell it). We didnâ€™t even get asked about it.
All of our guests were arriving on various days. We mightâ€™ve been able to leave all of the bags with the front desk staff together, but to be on the safe side, I decided to deliver the bags to the front desk each day we had someone arriving. We had to walk up there to get breakfast anyways, so it wasnâ€™t a huge deal to walk upstairs. All we did was stop at the reception desk and provided them with the guestâ€™s names. They actually looked up their room numbers for us when we did that, which was nice to have. They didnâ€™t charge us anything to do this and were happy to help. Having the reception desk provide something to your guests might be safer than having items delivered to their rooms ahead of time. Just in case any of your guests upgrade their rooms upon arrival. You donâ€™t want the wrong people getting your welcome package!
It wasnâ€™t in our budget to have a private welcome dinner, so we decided to reserve the Teppenyaki table at Himitsu (where they cook in front of you). The table seats 16 people, so it was perfect for our group of 13. This was the only place where they were willing to do reservations for our whole group. I asked Cecilia ahead of time, and she wasnâ€™t willing to help us set anything up at any of the other restaurants. The large table at Himitsu was fun, but I think I wouldâ€™ve liked a normal dinner table better, as it wasnâ€™t really conducive to talking to anyone that isnâ€™t sitting right next to you. My parents ended up at the far end of the table, and I kinda felt bad that they were so far away from me. Maybe I just needed to be more aggressive in insisting that they help us reserve a table, but who knows. Iâ€™m pretty sure we couldâ€™ve had a table provided in the World Caf© (which was the buffet restaurant), but I wasnâ€™t really excited to eat there.
Package changes/substitutions (hair/makeup, steaming/ironing)
After hearing another brideâ€™s experience with the hair and makeup at the spa for her wedding, I decided to pass on these services. We ended up putting the value of these items towards the speaker system for the ceremony and reception. I did my hair and makeup on my own, with the help of my MOH, and it worked out just great.
We also didnâ€™t use the steaming/ironing services, only because I was paranoid about them melting my dress. It was a little wrinkled from being in the travel bag, but no one noticed, and you canâ€™t tell in any pictures. We tried steaming it with the iron in the room, but I donâ€™t think it worked very well. The groomâ€™s suit actually traveled quite well, without any wrinkles. He also carried his suit onto the plane, and was allowed to hang it in the first class closet. (My parents carried their wedding clothes on the plane too)
We did other substitutions with the extra corsages/boutonnieres included in the package as well. We only needed 2 boutonnieres, so the extra cost went towards a bouquet for my maid of honor, which was $60. I was told the value of the boutonnieres/corsages was $10 a piece.
Ceremony: Friday, February 26th, 2010. (Ultimate Wedding Package)
We had our ceremony on the beach. We used the temporary structure that is wrapped in white tulle. They set it up on the South end of the property, at the end of all of the beach lounge chairs, in front of Building 27. It looked like they moved the chairs on the end away from the ceremony site. Included in the setup is the tulle wrapped around the structure, a small round table to hold the centerpiece, chairs with white chair covers, and I was also offered complimentary chair bows (either ivory or turquoise). I choose the ivory chair bows, and they looked really good and matched the color of my dress. The table is located directly under the tulle wrapped structure, is covered in white table linens and the ceremony centerpiece was placed there. I also had a friend setup the Sand Ceremony items on the table there as well.
We paid for a sound system during the ceremony, and the speaker was placed to the side of the ceremony setup. The quality of the sound system was very good, and was plenty loud! Iâ€™m very glad we paid for that because I donâ€™t think anyone would have heard us over the sound of the waves (it was a really windy day), and we hooked an iPod up to it for the processional and recessional music.
FYI on the iPod hookup: I brought every kind of cable I had at home, because I wasnâ€™t sure what they used to hook it up, and I didnâ€™t end up needing any of them. They had what they needed. I would, however, recommend bringing a power cable that you can use to plug your iPod into the wall. We used our iPod for the reception music as well, and it died at the end of the night (luckily it was only about 15 minutes short of our reception end time anyways).
Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:09 PM
Outside Vendors (photography): We hired an outside photographer for our wedding photos. We found Cecilia Dumas online and fell in love with her portfolio. Her pricing seemed reasonable compared to other local photographers in our price range. She is from Buenos Aires, but I think she lives in Cancun, and she speaks English really well!
Dumas arrived at 1:45pm and I had a friend greet her in the Lobby and ensure she was able to get in okay. Outside vendors are supposed to be charged a $90-100day pass fee (Cecilia at first quoted me $90, then changed it to $100 a couple months closer to our wedding). Dumas was escorted to my room by our friend, and she took a few solo shots of me getting ready. We then walked out to the beach where we had the big â€œrevealâ€ with me and the groom. After a few shots on the beach, we walked to a nearby abandoned hacienda for photos. I had heard about this from this forum, and we checked it out the day before the ceremony to see if we wanted to take photos there. Iâ€™m so glad we did, because most of my favorite photos were taken there. Itâ€™s quite an amazing space! In addition to photos prior to the ceremony, she also took ceremony shots, group photos after the ceremony, more photos of the groom and I around the resort, and then about 15 minutes of the cocktail hour. We had contracted her for 4 hours, and we paid extra for her digital negatives. Her package stated that it would include around 350 digital negatives, but we got 820!!! Cecilia Dumas did an amazing job!! I get soo many compliments on the photos she took. I would recommend her to anyone and everyone!
A few of my favs from Cecilia:
With the â€œUltimateâ€ Secrets wedding package, it included a photographer for 1.5 hours and 50 printed photos in an album. We asked the photographer that came with our package to come after Cecilia Dumas left. So he was there for cocktail hour, first dances, and cake cutting. Apparently the photographers all come from a company called "Juan Navarro". Our particular photographer's name was Alex. He was very nice, but to be honest, I felt like anyone could've captured the photos that he did if they had a nice camera. He did get some good ones of our guests and of me and my husband, but compared to Cecilia Dumas, there was quite a difference.
I do want to share with you what I consider the "scam" related to the digital negatives. So, we got the "Ultimate" wedding package from Secrets, which included the photographer, and 50 printed photos in an album (we did also get a DVD of those 50 photos). We met Alex in the lobby of Secrets about 3-4days after our wedding to get our photos from him. He handed us the album of 50 photos to look through. Then after we saw the album, he told us that there was an additional DVD containing all 250 photos, that he would charge us $250 for (this is not included in the wedding package). What was frustrating was that he strategically decided not to include some of the more important photo events from the evening in the 50 photos he printed (You don't get to pick which photos are printed, the photographer chooses).
We had photos from the cocktail hour, and photos of our First Dance, but he didn't include photos from the Father/Daughter Dance, the Mother/Son Dance, OR the Cake cutting. (Trust me, there were plenty of photos in the 50 that he selected that could've easily been traded for the more important events of the evening, it's all part of the "game"). So it's like they purposely set it up so that you feel like you need to spend the extra money on the full DVD.
We were able to bargain and ended up getting the DVD for less that half what he was asking for, but the whole experience was frustrating in that they set it up to practically require you to purchase the extra DVD in order to have photos of your entire event. I don't mean to be a big "Debbie Downer" on this, but just wanted to tell you what we went through... I am really glad that we got the digital negatives from Alex, because there are a bunch of good photos that we will be printing and adding to our wedding album, and he was the only one to capture the Cake Cutting and dances.
The videographer showed up to the ceremony site 30 minutes before it was scheduled to start. Our videographerâ€™s name was Jerry. The company name is (Cancun Wedding Video by Mike Cantarell, Cancun Wedding Videos | Mayan Riviera Wedding Videographer | Mike Cantarell) We didnâ€™t really talk to him much, except to introduce ourselves when he showed up. He just did his thing.
Before we arrived in Mexico, we burned a CD of 5 songs that he could use on the DVD. Two of the songs we selected were our processional and recessional and he made them fit into the video appropriately. I gave the CD to a friend to make sure that it got to the videographer and he was able to incorporate 4 of the songs into the video. My dad was really impressed with the equipment he was using, he noticed that it was the best HD Video Camera that Sony makes for personal use (Obviously it wasnâ€™t a huge cinematography camera).The video is a little less than 30 minutes long and captures our entire ceremony, and some fun shots of us taking pictures afterwards. We watched it recently with some of the friends that joined us on the trip and they were really impressed. It is amazing quality and Iâ€™m so happy to have that keepsake of our event. Weâ€™re having a reception back home for the rest of our family and friends so weâ€™ll definitely be playing it there for everyone to see.
continued... (yes, it's long) :-)
Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:18 PM
I used the flowers included in the wedding package, and only purchased an additional bouquet for my Maid of Honor. Cecilia sent me photos of the different bouquet options for me to choose from, and I ended up asking her to combine a few elements from a couple different bouquets on the list. I ended up with an all white bouquet with White Roses, Hydrangea and Lisianthus. It turned out beautifully! I loved it!
Cecilia delivered my flowers to my room at 1:30pm as I requested, to ensure that I had them in time for photos at 2pm. Also included in the package were 2 centerpieces; one for the Ceremony table and one for the Bride/Groom Reception table. Cecilia suggested matching these to the bridal bouquet, which I thought was a great idea, and they were beautiful. They were exactly the same, and I had her move the ceremony bouquet to the reception table after the ceremony.
The Groom, Best Man, and Maid of Honorâ€™s flowers were excellent as well. They made them exactly as I asked.
We decided to have a legal ceremony. I requested the script from Cecilia so that we could plan our additions to it. What is written for the judge is very basic and would probably only last about 5 minutes. However, if you do the legal ceremony, there is quite a bit of document signing that takes place during the ceremony. If I wouldâ€™ve known, I probably wouldâ€™ve added another song to play during this time. The Groom and I had to sign AND thumb print on 5 documents. Our 4 witnesses also had to come up during the ceremony and sign 5 pages as well. Probably took about 5-7 minutes total.
In addition to the standard legal ceremony text, we added on a Sand Ceremony and a reading. If anyone is interested in doing a Sand Ceremony, you can Google it and find tons of text on suggested things to say. I did that and combined a few different versions, and added some things to personalize to include my family and friends as well.
After the ceremony, I scheduled it to allow for 1 hour of photos with the whole group prior to beginning the cocktail hour. (Ceremony over at 4:30, cocktails started at 5:30). Group photos only took about 30 minutes, so Dumas suggested that the groom and I take some additional photos around the resort, since the lighting was so amazing right before sunset. We left to take photos and asked everyone to meet us back at the beach at 5:30 for cocktail hour.
We arrived at Cocktail Hour at 5:30pm. The Caribbean Trio (actually a quartet) was there waiting for us, and started playing as soon as we arrived. They were awesome!! I think if you select a different type of music like the Mexican Trio or something, youâ€™d get the same band; theyâ€™d just play different music and have different instruments.
They setup the cocktail hour next to the lifeguard stand and volleyball court right in the middle of the beach. It worked out great, and there was no one else around at that time, since the sun was going down, so it was quite private. The setup included 3 high top tables covered in white linens. Large Ivory colored Votive holders in the center of each table, tiki torches (which they couldnâ€™t light because it was too windy), and some other post lights that had the cords buried under the sand. There were also a few normal chairs (about 4) placed nearby in case anyone wanted to sit down.
I thought there wouldâ€™ve been a bar where everyone would go up and order a drink, but instead they had 3-4 servers come out with trays of various cocktails, margaritas, and beer. It worked out great, and no one was ever left empty-handed. We did have a few guests make drink requests that they werenâ€™t bringing out on the cocktail trays, and they were accommodated swiftly, so youâ€™re obviously not limited to what they bring out. Iâ€™m sure you could even ask them ahead of time to make a â€œspecialtyâ€ cocktail to bring out if you wanted.
We selected the Mexican tapas for the appetizers and it was a combination of veggies, chicken, fish, chips/salsa/guac, etc. Everything was very good and there was never a shortage of food. The service was amazing and very prompt, and I was impressed at the number of servers we had for our small group.
After the Caribbean Trio was finished, we headed up to the main building for the reception. I chose to have my reception in the Marble Room located next to the ballroom. It was plenty big for our small group, and was protected from the elements. I was originally going to have the reception outdoors by the gazebo, but after having spent a few evenings there, decided that it was too chilly to keep it outside. Iâ€™m glad I did it that way, because it was especially windy on our wedding day too. The marble room was decorated beautifully. They had two large heart shaped candelabras on one end of the room, they had the speaker setup for the dinner and dancing music (we used iPod for this too), We put two large rectangular tables together so that our group of 13 could all sit together, and that was decorated with white linens, the same ivory candleholders as by the cocktail hour, our two flower centerpieces, and white chair covers.
They had a table setup next to the candelabras with the wedding cake on it. (We didnâ€™t do any extra decorations besides what included in the package, and I donâ€™t regret that one bit. It wasnâ€™t needed, and it was nice not to have to haul decorations to Mexico)
Since our package photographer was only there for 1.5 hours, we did the cake cutting and first dances before sitting down for dinner. We selected the Tres Leche cake (which didnâ€™t taste like Tres Leche Iâ€™ve had before, but it was still delicious). The cake is very simple, with white fondant and small white flower on top. I couldâ€™ve cared less what the cake looked like, so if you want anything special, youâ€™ll have to upgrade.
For dinner we selected the Secrets Salad, Tortilla Soup, Grouper with Poblano Chilly Sauce & Veggies, and Chocolate/Coconut Bread Pudding for our meal. Everything was delicious! Our package came with the Gold Menu items, but I actually â€œdowngradedâ€ with the Tortilla Soup from the Silver menu, because I didnâ€™t like my other choices and wanted to keep the meal â€œMexicanâ€ in nature. The Tortilla Soup was a hit!! So delicious, as was everything else! They also included small printed menus on each of my guestâ€™s plates with what I had selected for dinner. That was a nice touch that I was surprised by.
People may say that the serving sizes are small, but after all of the food and drinks at the cocktail hour, and with the 4 course meal, most people couldnâ€™t finish what they were served. I promise your guests wonâ€™t go hungry for lack of food.
One thing to remember (which I didnâ€™t pay attention to on the contract), there are only 3 hours of service included for the reception. So, for us, our reception was from 6:30-9:30. If you wish to extend your reception to a later hour so that you can have more drinks and dancing, you have to pay an additional cost of $15.00 per person plus tax & gratuity for every additional hour. I was torn as to whether to extend our reception or not, because I thought 9:30 was an early ending to the party, but we decided it wasnâ€™t worth the money and that if we wanted to keep going we could go to the lobby bar and/or disco. Iâ€™m glad we kept it to only 3 hours, because by 9:30 my groom and I were exhausted and everyone wasnâ€™t as interested in dancing anymoreâ€¦
Overall, everything went very smoothly. I did have a list of things that I wanted to make sure Cecilia got done, but I'm not sure if she actually used it or not, but everything that I asked for was taken care of. I also had one of my guests assist with some of the ceremony stuff...making sure everything was setup correctly, etc, so I didn't have to deal with that at all. Cecilia Reyes (the wedding coordinator) was really nice and did a really good job with our wedding. I was honestly surprised at how easy everything was on our wedding day. It was very low stress and so beautiful. The staff and service were amazing and I would recommend this resort and this experience to everyone!
I hope all of this helps. I probably went into more detail than necessary, but reading other peopleâ€™s reviews really helped me in my planning, so Iâ€™m hoping this will help everyone else too. Feel free to post or message me with any questions, Iâ€™m happy to help.
Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:35 PM
Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:41 PM
Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:10 PM
What a beautiful wedding. I appreciate you going into the details that we all wonder about. I especially loved the fact that a lot of your decisions are ones that my son and future wife have also made. My future daughter-in-law is also not taking extra decorations with her to use. It is so great to see how everything just looked lovely the way the resort set it up. She is also looking for an alternative to paying extra for a rehearsal dinner and they are also having a legal ceremony. Your details were great to affirm that everything will be taken care of so well. You looked beautiful and I can't wait to see the resort in person. Thanks so much for this great review.
Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:23 AM
Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:45 AM
thanks for the awesome review! I have a question for you, did you receive your photos and video while you were there in Mexico? The reason I ask is because we are having our AHR 2 weeks after we return from our trip, and I want to share the video and photos with everyone. Thanks!
Posted 19 May 2010 - 02:55 PM
| Originally Posted by Boo |
Wow what a great review, thank you so much for taking the time to write it all, all these reviews are such great help for all of us brides that are still in planning stages! I must say we splurged on photography to get Elizabeth Medina but Cecilia's photos are just stunning! I must find that hacienda now, what a great great space!!! (would love to hear directions of how to get there - we will be there one day prior to and I am looking forward to running around and finding such quint spots, how marvelous!)
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