My wedding was at Riu Palace Riviera Maya on January 28. I am so glad I chose to have the wedding here.
Travel Agent: A++
We used DestinationWeddings.com and am SO thankful we did. Our travel agent was named Debbie Ryan and even though she's in Boston and I'm in Texas, she was amazing. She coordinated everything, my guests all loved her cuz she's quick with responses and very knowledgeable and not to mention hilarious. She tracked down Nancy for things when I couldn't get ahold of her and basically did all the dirty work that I would've been annoyed with having to do. No, she didn't save us any money but then again she didnt cost any extra either. She locked in the price of the rooms so it didnt go up later when guests finally reserved. They also didn't have to pay everything up front like they would've with another agent we talked to. I can't say enough about how helpful Debbie was throughout the 6 month process of planning. Call her if you're overwhelmed!
This resort is breathtaking. From the lobby to the courtyard to the BEAUTIFUL beach, I felt like I was in a luxury palace the whole time. There are people working on the yard, pool, beach, ect at all times of the day to keep up with the flawless appearance. The people who work at the resort are just as amazing, they work hard and they are friendly. I wish I had brushed up on my spanish though because there were occassional employees who couldn't speak ANY english.
You MUST make reservations for the nice restaurants at least a day in advance. The day we arrived we just made one for every day we were there and I'm glad we did. Agave (Mexican) and Krystal (Fusion) were my favorite. But Don Manolo's (the buffet) is really good too so if you don't have a reservation its really no big deal. You dont always want to do a nice sit down meal. And guys can wear nice jeans to the nice restaurants... I wasn't sure until we got there but as long as they're not shorts, any pants will fly.
I know you've probably seen pics of the rooms, and they are just like they look in the pictures. High ceilings, beautiful big balconies. There is the unlimited access liquor dispenser and beer, and of course you can order more beer/mimosas/ect bc room service is free!! Anyway the only problem with the room is the sheets are often damp. The best way to deal with this is to turn the AC up when you leave the room so the humidity doesn't have a chance to seep in. Other than that, loved the rooms. We got an upgrade like we were supposed to, but it was the same room just a better view. Right out to the courtyard, which I loved. We actually forked out some extra money on our last night to get the jacuzzi suite which was AMAZING. But in the end, it wouldn't have been necessary to get that room the whole stay since we were never in the room til the last days. Also, we asked the front desk to distribute our gift bags to our guests and they did so with no problem. No charge, they acted like they do it everyday.
Welcome Dinner: A
They set up our welcome dinner for free at Don Manolo's the day before the wedding, just like they do for pretty much anyone. It was very nice. They had us separated from the rest of the restaurant and it felt like we had our own servers. Not much else to say, it went well and I'd recommend it!
I can't tell you how nervous I was about the hair. I never like my hair when it gets done. But I read on this site that if you have a picture it turns out well. I brought one picture, the hairdresser looked at it for a few seconds, and proceeded to make me look EXACTLY like the model in the picture! It was great. I had thought I needed to do the hair trial but it would have just been a waste of $50 or whatever it costs. I can't remember her name bc it was long, but it started with an A. Would TOTALLY recommend her to anyone.
The ceremony was gorgeous. The very best part was the minister. We actually got legally married in the US, so it was a symbolic ceremony, but our minister treated it as though it was our actual day of marraige (Which is how we will celebrate it). His name was Patrick and if you can request him I would! He didn't even know us but said the most beautiful words and made us both cry, along with everyone in the bridal party! We gave Nancy our ipod with songs picked out for the processional, sand ceremony (We added that to our ceremony), and the end of the ceremony. They actually bring down these huge speakers and the whole thing becomes a very big scene for everyone who is at the pool. But I didn't mind at all. It felt like just a big wedding. Its pretty private but there will be people watching for sure. Also we did a rehearsal the night before, but we had 6 bridesmaids and 5 groomsmen so it seemed good that we went over it a little. It only takes like 20 mins to have a rehearsal so I'd recommend it. Also I did bring turqoise chair sashes and Nancy just had me drop off anything like that at the front desk and she had it all set up for us. It was beautiful.
I wish I was better at remembering names, but we used the Kalypso photography and had a female photographer. I didn't meet her until I was walking to the gazebo in my wedding dress and she met me in the courtyard. She was very nice, but things were very difficult when it came to understanding her directions for poses. The candid pics from the ceremony turned out well but when we went down to the beach for pics she would tell us things without moving the camera from her face and half the people were doing what she said and half didn't hear it. Somehow though, the pics turned out great. We ended up ordering 36 pics in an album and got all the negatives on a CD for $600. We only had her for an hour bc they were so expensive and we had a lot of people with us with nice cameras. I have more than enough pics though so I'm overall satisfied with the whole thing.
Cocktail Hour: A
We had cocktail hour at the lobby bar from 5:30 to 7. In the past people said they had to pay extra for appetizers, but Nancy gave us appetizers for free and acted like that's how its always been... it was great. I mean it was really just a time for people to sit and chat in between the ceremony and reception. I guess we could have done some dancing if we had brought music, but me and Tyler just wanted to relax and socialize a bit. And since we had paid for the private reception, the restaurant let us come early to dinner since they were shut down anyway. But, if you want to know the difference between the lobby bar and lyrico bar for cocktail hour, I would DEFINETLY recommend lobby bar. I just think its nicer. I guess if you want to sit outside the lyrico bar would be good for that, but I didn't like how dark the lyrico bar was so I wouldn't have wanted to sit inside there.
Everything went really well at the reception. We chose the private dinner at Chili's steakhouse. The food was wonderful. Everyone raved about it. We paid $300 to have a slideshow and then paid $1200 for the DJ. These purchases were well worth it in the end to us. I can't tell you how great the DJ was. He played great song followed by even better song all night. he has almost all the hits, except we did have our ipod which he used to play our favorite texas country and school fight songs. I can't say enough about him. I would recommend it, unless you have a wedding party that isn't really interested in dancing. But we never left the dance floor for 3 hours. It was from 7-11 and it seemed like the perfect amount of time. We did not pay extra to have liquor, and I forgot all about it anyway. Until later, when people ordered liquor, they gave it to us anyway! I would say dont waste your money! You get wine and beer for free anyway.
I had the bouquet included in the package and it turned out great. I had sent Nancy a picture of fuschia roses and they replicated it very well. The flowers on the gazebo were pretty too, and I just dont think its necessary to get any extra but they do have pretty flowers.
SEND NANCY A PICTURE!!! She said the baker loves to do different cakes so I just sent a swirly aqua and white pattern cake and they did exactly what I sent. It was delicious too. We had the Royal package, which only included cake for 15 people. Well we had 40 people, but to order more cake was $300. Guess what, I'm so happy I didnt pay that. There was plenty of cake for those who wanted it and we had extra left over! It was really delicious too.
Other advice: Definetly get your guests some cute cups for the pool. We got 22 oz cups and EVERYONE used them. The cups you get at the pool are only like 8 ounces.
We also had them steam my dress and Tyler's linen suit, but it was like $32. They picked it up one day and dropped it off the next. So you don't really have to worry if your dress gets wrinkled on the plane!
Basically, everything went perfectly, even better than I thought it would. I would recommend reading a lot on this site about what to expect and you will be able to relax and enjoy your time. They Plan everything for you! So have fun with planning and relax! I'm jealous of those of you who get to do this soon, I wish I was still there!
Let me know if you have questions!