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Cait's Valentin Imperial Maya/Sascha Gluck/Blue Lens Caribe Review!

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#1 cait713

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  • 94 posts

    Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:55 AM

    I just returned from my wedding on Saturday, and I have to say, it's a bummer to be home-we had such a fantastic time!
    My husband, Dennis, and I got engaged at the Valentin last summer, and we absolutely fell in love with the hotel and setting. We found it very fitting to go back for our wedding, which was on July 10. We had a great group of 20 people, most of whom stayed from Thursday July 8-Tuesday July 13. My husband and I stayed from Wednesday July 7-Saturday July 17. It was truly an amazing experience.
    I have learned so much about planning a destination wedding from people on this forum, and reviews have helped me so much. I'm hoping that I can return the favor to new brides with my review :)

    Travel: B
    My husband and I traveled on JetBlue, which we love. We left from Boston, had a short layover in New York, and were in Cancun about 4 hours later. The flight and everything was fine, but when we went to get our bags, I had a mild panic attack when I realized that one of my bags was lost. This happened to be the bag that had all of the OOT bag contents in. I filled in the paperwork and everything but was really stressed out the first day. Luckily, it was delivered to my hotel the following day. Too late to have the OOT bags waiting in guests rooms, but we passed them out at our Welcome dinner and that worked fine. I know it's something we couldn't control, but I guess my point is that there's something to be said about direct flights!

    Resort: A
    Since we've already been to the Valentin, we weren't surprised with this. The grounds are beautiful, there's a great variety of restaurants, the bars, pool and beach are great. I could go on and on about details, but I'd put you to sleep :)

    Check In: B
    Check In itself wasn't so bad. I have to say, after reading reviews on TripAdvisor, and learning that just about every person had gotten a free room upgrade, I was a bit disappointed that nobody in our group got an upgrade. My fiance and I did pay the extra to have the same room we had as last year, and I'd say it was worth it for this trip, but we wouldn't do it again. They did put just about all of our guests in the same building, which turned out to be very convenient. As a side note for future Valentin brides, when you arrive, they will take your luggage and then you check in at the lobby. After you check in, you have to go back and meet up with your luggage and they will drive you to your room. Several guests either "forgot" about their luggage, or didn't know where it was taken and just walked to their room. The luggage was eventually delivered, but it was a bit of a stress for some. The Valentin doesn't really let you know about this process, so keep it in mind.

    Rooms: B
    I'd give the rooms an A in a heartbeat, but we had some issues with our room (#14206). The first few days we were there, we had no hot water. This wasn't really a big deal for us because after a hot day at the beach, all we wanted was a cold shower. We weren't able to use our jacuzzi those first few days, though. Eventually it was fixed, and all was fine. We also had a little bug problem. There were these little tiny ants in our room. It didn't really bother me until I found them around the sink and toothbrushes. We called twice to have the room sprayed-the first time I think they forgot, but after the second call, they did spray, and it made a dramatic difference. We had no problems after that. A couple of our guests staying in building 5 also didn't have hot water the first few days, but it was fixed for them.

    Welcome Dinner: A
    We had this on Friday at 6pm at the Mexican restaurant. The Valentin does not take reservations at restaurants, but the wedding coordinator was happy to make one for us, but it had to be early. She said that we would have to do two tables of ten, but when we got there, we just pushed the tables together and had one long table. This was a really fun dinner. The food was delicious-they brought out bunches of appetizers, and lots of chips, pico de gallo and guacamole (which is probably one of the most amazing things I've ever eaten in my life). The entrees were really good, too. We all did shots of tequila, then my family got a little crazy taking decorations off the wall and posing for pictures with them...it was a really fun time. They let Dennis and I take home the empty bottle of tequila, which was perfect (we collect bottles of alcohol from different places we've been). We had given the OOT bags to the wedding coordinator, and she had them waiting for us to pass out at the dinner. I couldn't be happier with this dinner.

    At the Welcome Dinner:
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    Wedding Coordinator: A+
    I've been in contact with Ariadna for just about a year. She has always been quick to return emails, very courteous and informative, and friendly. Dennis and I met with her the day we arrived, and she was amazing. She had the package we purchased on her desk and went over every single thing, asking when we'd like the breakfast in bed, when we'd like the photographer, etc. I thought I knew which cake I wanted, but she showed me new pictures and I like hers even better. She was extremely thorough with everything, brought us around to show us the locations for all our events, as well as "Plan B" in case it rained, she was just great. The day before our wedding, my mom and I dropped off all our stuff for the ceremony/reception. We had a LOT of stuff...chair bows, fans, programs, menus, place cards, lanterns, centerpieces, decorations for the tables, speakers...there was a lot. We thought we'd have to help set things up or at least prepare things. She did absolutely everything. I'm very much a Type A, very detail oriented, and I like to be in control and it was extremely difficult for me to hand over all these responsibilities to Ariadna. She did a phenomenal job-she set up everything exactly as I had pictured, and it was just perfect. She was there to guide us at the ceremony, and she stayed very late at our reception to make sure everything went smoothly. I cannot say enough good things about her. She is extremely busy, and plans about 3 or 4 weddings per week, but made me feel like I was her most important bride.
    As far as I know, Lupita is gone. Ariadna has been promoted to Head Wedding Coordinator, and now has an assistant, Ana. Ana is also really nice, and, while we didn't work with her, it was clear that she is learning a lot from Ariadna.

    Wedding Ceremony: A
    We had an absolutely beautiful day for our wedding. I was so worried it would rain, but it was perfect. I tried my best to relax during the day, but it was so difficult to! I spent the morning at the beach with my parents and bridesmaids. I got my hair and makeup done, then met back up with my parents and bridesmaids to get ready in my room. Our photographer, Sascha Gluck, met us there, and took pictures of us getting ready. We ordered champagne for room service, and they rushed it there within 15 minutes. Ariadna came by with our flowers, and there was a car to take us to the Ceremony.
    We got married on the beach, right between buildings 11 and 12. It was very private, and very beautiful. Ariadna was there to direct the music I brought, and sent us all down the aisle. The bridesmaids/groomsmen and Dennis and I ended up having to switch sides because the wind was blowing my veil in my face, and at the very beginning, the batteries in the microphone died and it took a minute to replace them, but it was fine. Dennis said he needed those things to take the edge off.
    The judge was funny, but some of the guests said they couldn't hear/understand her (she did have a very strong accent). The ceremony we brought was pretty long, and we don't remember exactly, but we think she skipped the last two paragraphs we had. Again, no big deal. It was perfect the way it was. Just an FYI for future brides doing the legal ceremony: the signing of the papers took a really long time. There are at least 4 pages that the bride, groom, and all 4 witnesses have to sign. We had our kiss, recessed out, had a champagne toast on the beach and took some group pictures. Everyone left to go to the cocktail hour, and we took more pictures with Sascha.

    The beach set up:
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    The kiss!
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    Group Pic:
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    Cocktail Hour: A-
    Dennis and I didn't make it to this because we were busy with pictures, but we heard it was great. The food was good (we chose hot canapes), open bar of course, there were tables and chairs set up...the only thing people complained of were bugs. It's funny-we had packed bug wipes into everyone's OOT bags, but on the day that we all needed them, nobody brought them! Oh well :)

    Cocktail hour at the Gazebo:
    Click the image to open in full size.

    #2 cait713

    • Newbie
    • 94 posts

      Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:56 AM

      Reception: A+
      Our reception was at the Lobster Pot, and lucky us, the restaurant happened to be closed that night, so it was very private. We got there a little late, everyone was already seated. Ariadna had set up the tables and decorations perfectly. I had given her the seating chart we planned, and everything was in order. The menu we chose was: mixed salad with tomato vinagrette, asparagus soup, surf and turf (steak and shrimp), and chocolate biscuit. Everything was absolutely delicious. They took their time between courses, which was good. Everyone says the bride and groom don't have time to eat at their reception, but we definitely did :) Our wedding package included a Mexican trio, which usually plays at the cocktail hour, but we had them play during dinner (Dennis really wanted to see them). We're so glad we did-they were phenomenal! Big hit with the older guests, they took everyone's requests and did a great job. We were sad to see them go. After they left, we put my ipod on-Ariadna had set up the speakers we brought, and it worked perfectly. After dinner, we cut the cake, which was delicious. It was way too much cake though, we could have easily done with just 1 layer. We had the tres leches (three milks) and it was really good. Dennis and I had our first dance, we did the father-daughter and mother-son dance, then everyone got their party on. We brought glow stick necklaces with us, which turned out to be a hit. Ariadna had originally told us we could stay until 11, but then the day of, she said 10:30. The servers let us stay until 11. After the reception, my mom took down some of the table decorations and packed them up. We left a lot of stuff there, though, and the staff at the Lobster Pot said they would clean everything up and we could pick it up the next day. We were getting eaten by bugs during dinner, and told Ariadna, and she returned quickly with bug spray for us-the bugs didn't bother us after that. At 11 we all made our way over to the Plaza for more dancing and drinking. It was the perfect night-couldn't have been better!

      Table Set Up:
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      "Kids" Table:
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      Mexican Trio:
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      First Dance:
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      Cake (bottom layer was fake):
      Click the image to open in full size.

      Hotel Wedding Services: A
      I had ordered calla lilies for my bouquet, bridesmaids bouquet, boutonnieres, and corsages. They were beautiful, but a few flowers were a little brown around the edges. The flowers at the ceremony were beautiful. The hotel steamed Dennis’s linen suit, and that came out great. I didn’t have my dress steamed because I was afraid of what it would do to the taffeta. My package included my hair and make up, which I was really scared about. It came out fantastic. I brought inspiration pictures for my hair, and she did a great job-it looked exactly like the picture. It took me two days to get all the hairspray out, but this is the price we pay for beauty  I was really nervous about my make up-I brought my own just in case I didn’t like what they did. I didn’t bring any pictures with me, and I told the make up artist that I wanted a more natural look. She didn’t exactly give me a natural look, but I loved what she did, and didn’t redo anything myself. It was a very long appointment, though. About an hour for make up, and an hour and a half for hair. Totally worth it!

      Best picture I could find of my hair:
      Click the image to open in full size.

      Wedding Photographer Sascha Gluck: A+
      I used to read reviews of photographers and wonder how people can rate their photographer without seeing any pictures yet. After working with Sascha, it became very clear. I cannot say enough good things about him, he is extremely professional, easy to work with, very artistic and creative, and good humored. I’m impatiently waiting the 4-6 weeks for our pictures and I’m on the edge of my seat-I just know that he did a fantastic job and can’t wait to see them! I’ll be posting these pictures when they come in.

      #3 cait713

      • Newbie
      • 94 posts

        Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:57 AM

        Trash the Dress Photographer Blue Lens Caribe: A+
        Our wedding package came with Blue Lens Caribe as photographers for our ceremony. Since we had already booked Sascha, we asked Ariadna if we could do a Trash the Dress a few days later with Blue Lens. (I loved my dress too much to trash it, so I wore a different one!) It worked out great, and we met with Mirko and Laura on Wednesday at 5:30. They were on time and ready to go. We had SO much fun doing this photo shoot. They were so energetic and fun to work with. We weren’t really sure how the pictures would come out, but when Dennis (the manager of Blue Lens, I think) showed them to us on Friday, we were stunned. The pictures were absolutely amazing, and we ended up purchasing the whole package-about 300 photos, 30 edited photos, and a DVD slideshow. They did a fantastic job editing and added some great effects. I would definitely recommend Blue Lens, we’re so happy with the pictures! Here are a few of our favorites:

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        Blue Lens also did the DVD of our ceremony (included in package). This is something that we probably wouldn't have thought to purchase if it wasn't included, and we're SO happy it was. It came out so nice. I've already watched it several times and love it. They edited it nicely with music from the ceremony, did little interviews with our parents and siblings...it was just beautiful. The day went by so fast and with such high emotions, it was difficult to take it all in. We're so happy we have a record of it.

        I think that’s about the end-sorry this has been super long! We are so happy with our wedding experience at the Valentin. The rest of our trip was fantastic, and we’re sad to be home. I may lurk around this forum from time to time, but if you have any questions about the Valentin, photographers, etc., I’m more than happy to help-the best way to get me is by email: cait713 @ aol.com
        Thanks for reading!

        #4 Mischaka

        • Member
        • 969 posts

          Posted 20 July 2010 - 10:59 AM

          Beautiful!! and that was a great idea to have the resort photog to do the TTD session!! I also love your colors!!!

          #5 wendyjd

          • Member
          • 968 posts

            Posted 20 July 2010 - 08:24 PM

            Congrats!! Everything looked beautiful.

            #6 ahollo02

            • Jr. Member
            • 296 posts

              Posted 22 July 2010 - 08:52 AM

              Great review!! Thank you!!

              #7 roo66

              • Sr. Member
              • 1,001 posts

                Posted 22 July 2010 - 09:12 AM

                Loving your photos very nice ttd.Can i ask where did you get the starfish placecards from?

                #8 Thomasjsgirl

                • Sr. Member
                • 1,098 posts

                  Posted 22 July 2010 - 09:23 AM

                  Great review, and smart choice to have the resort photographer shoot the TTD. May as well take advantage of what comes with the wedding package!
                  Lucy & Tom - Married 24.11.08
                  Wedding Review - Dreams PC:
                  Leftover Wedding Items FS:

                  #9 cait713

                  • Newbie
                  • 94 posts

                    Posted 22 July 2010 - 04:48 PM

                    Thanks, ladies!

                    Roo-I made the starfish place cards. Wrapped big plastic starfish with wire and seaglass, and printed out the names and glued the little paper starfish on. It was time consuming, and I probably wouldn't have done it if I had many more guests :)

                    #10 ValentinBrideJanet

                    • Newbie
                    • 9 posts

                      Posted 22 July 2010 - 05:07 PM

                      great review!! I was actually at the Valentin last week - I arrived on the 13th. I loved the property and booked it for May 2011. So happy to see your pics, we were planning on booking the Trio -- I loved the pic you posted of them.

                      Question - were your flowers included? I liked the ones you had, some of the suggestions Ariadna and Anita sent me I didn't like so much. Do your bridesmaids carry any flowers (happen to have a pic of those?)

                      thanks --- YOU LOOKED AMAZING!!

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