Thank goodness my husband came across this forum! My husband discovered Malisa Evans of Destination Scout (hereby referred to as â€œMalisaâ€ or â€œWCâ€) http://www.destinationscout.com/on this forum and also on Trip Advisor. She posted detailed accounts of her many scouting trips to Mexico and her Hotel Milamores Tulum wedding. We reached out to her after we returned from our own May 2009 Tulum scouting trip. She offered her WC services. We could not resist after reading her various reviews and seeing her fairytale wedding photos. See the pictures of her wedding here http://www.dreamtime....lisa-and-todd/ and youâ€™ll see what I mean.
The Bride can be Indecisive
Inherent in wedding planning is a need to continue to make decisions to keep the process moving forward. A word about me - I am indecisive by nature. I tend to agree and then change my mind. I do this often. Malisa handled my indecisiveness with patience and a good attitude.
Why We Chose Malisa
Before signing with Malisa, I should mention we had been in preliminary discussions with two other WCs â€“ both serve Riviera Maya. We had even met one of them in person on our May 2009 Tulum scouting trip. Wedding coordination is a competitive business in Riviera Maya. We knew we needed someone who would listen and respect our ideas and not try to talk us into their PLAN. With Malisa, our dream was her dream. Wedding coordinators often have preferred vendors and are either not flexible or may not work well with non-preferred vendors. This was not the case with Malisa. By the time we executed a contract with her we had already agreed and signed with a DJ and a photographer. Malisa reviewed the executed vendor contracts and discussed them in detail with us. This illustrates her flexibility with vendors. We suggest brides and grooms-to be to HIRE THEIR WEDDING COORDINATOR PRIOR TO HIRING YOUR OTHER REQUIRED VENDORS. Wedding coordinators can match your expectations to a suitable vendor. For example, we really wished we had gone Malisaâ€™s route and hired our photographer Wedding Photographer- Playa del Carmen & Riviera Maya - Pierre Visual Studio - Home - Wedding Photographer for the 5 days our 40+ family and friends stayed with us and also for the day of and TTD. Additionally, Malisa, being well-versed in photography, would have given us some insight into questions to ask your photographer â€“ for example, which equipment achieves brilliant photo-journalist shots.
The Wedding Planning
Beginning in May 2009, the wedding planning went something like this. Weekly, we met on the phone to review each wedding detail. Malisa prepared a wedding budget (discussed below) and utilized a wedding powerpoint planning tool. The tool contained all vendor contracted terms and conditions (including prices and contact information), wedding inspiration photos (flower, lounge seating and lighting design, cake choices), detailed floor plans of Hotel Milamores, tasks completed and a â€œto doâ€ list. My husband and I compiled our wedding inspiration library from ideas we found in Pacific Weddings Magazine Hawaii Wedding Planning | Maui Fiji Oahu Destination Weddings California, Martha Stewartâ€™s Wedding website and several event designers including David Beahm David Beahm and Yvonne Design Yvonne Design | Wedding & Event D©cor | Hawaii Floral Design . If you have heard of these designers, you will notice I have very extravagant taste. For example, I insisted on tall, cascading floral arrangements and up-lighting for the reception. One of the florists I interviewed but did not use advised me that tall arrangements would not stand up to Tulumâ€™s wind. I heard the same from the wedding coordinator of one of the resorts I interviewed. As our reception was half indoors and half outdoors, and the wind was not substantial that day, the tall arrangements did not pose a problem.
Each week we discussed each task in detail. All of our choices â€“ floral design, lighting, hair and makeup, welcome dinner and wedding reception menu, caterers, Blue Tulum day passes for bridal party beauty day (day-of wedding), etc. were included in the planning tool. She also included an itinerary of the wedding week and timelines for the guest excursion, welcome dinner and wedding day. Having this tool allowed us to track our progress and identified the tasks in need of our attention. Having this information readily available allowed my husband and I to plan our finances and gave us piece of mind that no detail was left out.
Malisa also sent our guests a survey to gauge their transportation needs and excursion interests.
Negotiation and Decision Making
We chose Hotel Milamores (â€œMilamoresâ€) in Tulum to hold our welcome dinner and wedding. Milamores hosted our 40+ guest list. We utilized Malisa to negotiate the room rates and meal prices. As Malisa has a good working relationship with Milamoresâ€™ management, we were pleased with the negotiated prices.
In addition to negotiating with Milamores, Malisa contracted directly with a lounge furniture rental company, a hairstylist, our makeup artist and Blue Tulum (day-of beauty). She executed contracts and negotiated prices on our behalf. She also managed communications with our DJ for additional services, primarily the up-lighting for the walls and palm trees.
The decision of where to hold the ceremony and reception was presented by Malisa as follows: She acquired detailed floor plans of both Hotel Milamores villas. She inserted the room names, numbers and descriptions. She then presented several options by inserting the events into the floor plans. I really wanted to incorporate the amazing shell room in the second villa. She made it happen and sat my husband and me under the glowing shell lamps for the reception dinner.
With a background in Finance, Malisa applies a high level of detail over your budget. I have been an accountant for 12 years and even I was happy to have someone else keep track of our wedding costs. My husband and I planned to spend a substantial amount on our wedding. Our initial estimates were kept on a rolling budget spreadsheet. It become clear, 6 months into our planning, we had to reduce our spending. Malisa suggested cost reductions and helped ease our mind and budget. Our second estimate was also tracked on this spreadsheet along with amounts paid to date and amounts pending.
Organized, Solution-Minded and 100% Effort
Early into our planning, we were faced with the issue the Hotel does not have a credit card machine to process deposits for the wedding and for our guestsâ€™ accommodations. Malisa pointed out that by using Paypal we would incur transaction fees. The amount of transaction fees would be quite high as we paid a substantial deposit on Milamores 6 months in advance. Malisa offered a solution â€“ she set up an account at a bank where she would generate invoices to us and our guests. We and our guests would pay the invoices via our bank accounts (similar to your bankâ€™s â€œbill payâ€) and she would wire the money to Milamores and our other vendors. This method avoided any transaction fees and Milamores and other our vendors were paid on time. Additionally, my husband and I did not have to spend our pre-wedding days withdrawing large amounts at the Tulum ATM machines. Malisa handled all wedding deposits and final payments.
It was our desire to learn Salsa for our wedding. Malisa arranged for us to have a lesson with Rommel. He was kind enough not to make fun of us so we invited him to put on a show for our guests the night of the welcome dinner. We were happy to have had the lesson.
Malisa and her assistant arrived at Milamores the day before our guests arrived. I cannot express in words the excitement we felt when we met them in person. We had a few celebration cocktails and many smiles. We shared good conversation and a gourmet meal that evening at Hechizo. We had a lot of laughs that night. On the days that followed, Malisa and her assistant coordinated the wedding rehearsal with our shaman (Charlie & Maria) and went over the final menus for the welcome dinner and wedding dinner with our chef.
The day before the wedding (Friday) we (Malisa, my husband and I) planned a guest excursion to the Coba ruins and one of the Coba cenotes. Malisa and her assistant gathered our guests (it is hard to pull people away from Milamoresâ€™ amazing beach) and greeted each guest at the Coba entrance with their entry ticket and tour guide. Additionally, she organized us into two groups â€“ one group who wished to ride bicycles to the ruins and the other who preferred the Mayan limo alternative. Everyone had an equally good time cooling off at one of Cobaâ€™s cenotes.
Malisaâ€™s assistant brought his camera along to capture the moments leading up to the wedding day. Her assistant even escorted a small group of our guests to the Tulum ruins in assist them and photograph them.
Our DJ Ivan Gomez of DJ Doremixx was scheduled to arrive at noon on the day of the wedding. I was a bit concerned in general about him as I was aware he did not respond to Malisa's or my husband's planning emails in a timely manner. For example, I wanted up lighting on one of the walls of the villa and also on the palm trees. In August 2009 they exchanged several emails and the DJ said he could provide the led lights. He did not give her a quote. Also, he could not meet me and my husband during our second scouting trip in November 2009 as understandably he had weddings scheduled. Malisa sent him a reminder email in January 2010. He responded with the pricing. My husband sent him an email asking him to provide the most efficient way to transfer to him our playlist. He never responded to my husband. Ivan did however reply to Malisa's email regarding some additional details for the led lights about 2 weeks before our wedding. On the day of wedding my husband was onsite to transfer the music to the DJ. I was offsite at Blue Tulum with my bridal party. Malisa checked us into Blue Tulum for our day of beauty and returned to Hotel Milamores to coordinate. I am happy our day of beauty ran over schedule as if we were on time, Ivan would have been setting up while our guests enjoyed the cocktail hour. Sloppy. Ivan set up his equipment but neglected to hide his wires. It took away from the clean atmosphere. Malisa asked her assistant to disguise the various wires so none of our guests would trip on them. It was a great idea as some of our guests decided to have a cartwheel competition during the reception.
In my full review of Ivan I discussed how Ivan had to substitute his music for ours. My husband and Malisa met with Ivan when he arrived late to our reception. Malisa communicated the availability of the generator and her and my husband told Ivan our walk out song. Our playlist was on our ipod Ivan indicated the iPod was producing feedback so he could not use it. My husband then tried to give him access to our playlist but iTunes said the computer was authoelrized but it not play the music. Malisa suggested Ivan use our laptop. He did. Another solution provided by Malisa. Thanks!
So much of the day of coordination happened behind the scenes. The only real issue was the DJ and thankfully I was not aware of it as Malisa and my husband dealt with it. I was offsite at Blue Tulum. Some of Malisa's notable day of contributions include:
Prepared wedding day timeline signage for our guests. The bridal party ran late but the guests were kept informed by Malisa and her assistant by simply updating the timeline.
â€¢Ensured all guests knew their role in the ceremony and engaged them to create a human bridge.
â€¢Engaged a guest to help my mother walk to the ceremony site.
â€¢Delivered refreshments to us during our photo shoot
â€¢Assembled a team to bustle my dress
â€¢Transported me and my maid of honor from Blue Tulum to Milamores
â€¢Carried my beauty essentials and shoes to the reception site
â€¢Added fresh flowers to our wedding cake
â€¢Transformed our wedding suite with glasses for a champagne toast, candles and fresh flowers from our reception
Malisa is an extraordinary wedding coordinator. She is professional, organized and solution-oriented. Malisa is not going to talk you into HER plan. It is your wedding day and your dream is her dream. May you find your perfect WC for your perfect wedding.
THANK YOU MALISA!
The Happy Couple (The Washburns)
Perfect WC - My Review of Destination Scout
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