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lalanyc

Lala's Ceiba del Mar Wedding Week

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I am so thankful for all the information I obtained from BDW that I am excited to finally provide my own review and recommendations. I hope it's helpful to future brides. Also, I understand there are separate review forums for vendors/hotels, so I will repeat certain reviews in those sections.

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

CdM A+++++!!!!!!!

 

OVERALL REVIEW

 

Of all places we scouted in the Riviera Maya, we knew immediately that Ceiba was “the one.† Words canâ€t describe how well the hotel treated us and our guests!!  They well exceeded our expectations at practically every turn.  In particular, Diana was A-MAZING!!!  She is an incredibly smart, organized and great person overall, and it was a pleasure to work with her throughout the year.  Once we arrived, we coordinated w/ Javier and Miguel who were also exceedingly nice and professional.  It was wonderful working with ALL the staff and it was b/c of them that our event was so special.

 

To be clear, getting to this point was A LOT of work (unless, of course, you pay someone else to do it for you)!!  As others may have mentioned, you need to be prepared to invest time in contractual details in order to get the best pricing and options with management.  In addition, this is not your typical all-inclusive hotel.  Unlike many hotels which provide packages and/or pre-selected vendors, everything at CdM is a la carte.  The coordinators will provide a list of preferred vendors for flowers, décor, music, etc. but you have the option of looking for other vendors (which is not necessarily the best route, btw!).   Thank goodness for BDW!!!  Perhaps things may have played out differently had we hired a third-party coordinator, but despite the work, it was so worth it in the end.  We love CdM and plan to go back for many years!

 

BEFORE THE WEDDING

 

Room Rates: We negotiated directly with the hotel on room rates and locked in 2 rates (AI and European) for all room types since we were confident we would take at least 50 rooms.  We had to place a hefty deposit to secure the rates.  Of course, AI was by far the best deal, HOWEVER, some guests simply didnâ€t want to have to pay the extra $$ - either b/c they traveled alone or b/c they preferred to explore nearby restaurants.  Whatever the case, we wanted to give them that option which is partly why we chose Ceiba.  Many switched plans at the last minute.  Others who stayed for many days chose a combo of AI and European which was especially nice if they planned full day excursions.   If you would like more specifics, PM me.

 

Off Site Options:  Another big reason we chose Ceiba was the proximity of private homes and condos.  We had many families w/ kids that simply couldnâ€t afford to stay at Ceiba.  In particular, we had families stay at Villa Karina, Casa South Breeze and Costa Blanca Condos. These accommodations were perfect!!!  Clean, nice, close to Ceiba and (relatively) cheap!  See the attached form for information on all the houses/condos we investigated, including a map :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY - BONFIRE

 

Bonfire on the beach in front of the pool bar – AWESOME. Even though we threw this together at the last minute, Ceiba executed perfectly.  Weather was chilly w/ the ocean breeze but people had their shawls/sweaters so it was tolerable. 

 

Music:  We contracted a band on short notice and it was a great addition (unfortunately I donâ€t have their name but they were so fun).  I would highly recommend having music though you will definitely need speakers since the waves will drown out acoustic sound.

 

Food/Drink:  We paid $400 for a bonfire w/ marshmallows, asked the staff to put out beer and wine (no waiter service – self serve only).  The set up worked well since this was meant to be an informal event.  People loved toasting marshmallows!

 

©cor:  The staff arranged tiki torches and beach lounge chairs around the bonfire area and that is all that was necessary.  Any additional décor would have been hard to notice since it was so dark.

 

OOT Bags: http://www.discountmugs.com/nc/tote-bags/1663/the-regatta-tote-bag.htm

I left welcome bags at the front desk every morning based on guests' arrival dates. Wow, people LOOOVED their bags!!  I particularly liked these b/c they had a zipper and an inside pocket.  Aside from Mexican candy and chips, we included hair elastic bands, simple toys for the kids and GUEST PICTURE BOOK which people went crazy over.  If you have the time and energy, Iâ€d highly recommend the effort.

tote bag.jpg

 

 

THURSDAY – WELCOME DRINKS

 

We hosted welcome drinks around the smaller pool.  I originally wanted to host the event on the pier but was happy we stuck to the pool - the pier can be unpredictably windy at night and with so many people of all ages, this location was ideal, esp b/c the beach chairs provided seating options.

 

Music: We contracted an acoustic guitarist for 2 hrs for about $150.  He was quite good (unfortunately, I donâ€t have contact/name) however, acoustic music was not the best option as the music was too soft for my taste.  Wish I had paid extra for a sound system or contracted more musicians to add more energy to the event.

 

Food/Drink:  We specifically started the event around 8 PM so people would have time for dinner, however, we ordered tacos at the last minute (specifically, the “trompo de pastorâ€) for guests who arrived on late flights.  HOLY&*%$!  Everyone ate the tacos, including guests who had just finished 3 course dinners!!!  Waiters also walked around w/ a signature drink and there was an open bar.

 

©cor:  Lounge chairs were placed along far edges of the pavement and high tables were also placed closer to the pool.  I gave Diana tea candle light covers and paper star lanterns for added decor.  The staff did an awesome job putting them up.  They knew exactly what to do and it was great not to have to worry about it.

 

 

 

FRIDAY – REHEARSAL DINNER

 

We hosted our rehearsal dinner in Arrecifes restaurant.  I wanted this event to be more informal and by the ocean, so all tables were arranged on the outside perimeter of the restaurant for the breeze.

 

Music:  We had mariachi for the first 2 hours of the event (see WEDDING DAY for more details – they were great) and then we switched to karaoke.  Before the switch, we had a slide show on a huge projector screen inside the restaurant.  DJ Mannia set up the audio/video and they did a good job.  People went CRAAZY for karaoke, btw!!  Again, we threw this in at the last minute and I later learned guests actually PAID to extend the karaoke hours after my FI and I went to bed (around midnight)!!!!!

 

Food/Drink: The staff set up bbq stations along the outer perimeter of the outside terrace.  Food included chicken, ribs steak, corn, salad, salsa, etc. and it was delicious!!  We also ordered an ice cream stand which guests enjoyed.  We had two bars – one inside the restaurant and one outside at the opposite end of the restaurant.  To save $$ toward the end of the night, we asked the staff to make pitchers of mixed drinks and guests gulped down every drop.

 

©cor:  Didnâ€t do much w/ regard to décor and in retrospect, Iâ€m not sure that any added small details would have made a big difference (we were trying to keep it casual).  We had about two dozen candles in mason jars from the edge of the thatched roof.  I do wish we had arranged more seating inside the restaurant for karaoke singers looking to take a break (inside was relatively open/empty).

 

SATURDAY – WEDDING DAY

 

PRE-WEDDING

 

Hair/Makeup:  Lorena Hijuelos, Makeup Art [Grade: B-/C+], http://www.makeupart.com.mx/

Iâ€m a bit torn on this one. Lorena was on time and professional but I simply did not love my makeup and I HATED my hair.  Everyone told me it looked good, but bridezillas know what they want! ;)  Lorena did my makeup and she had her own hair people (whose names I didnâ€t get).  We had done a trial during an earlier site visit which I did not like.  So… I did additional trials back at home to get clear photos of what I wanted.  It still didnâ€t come out that way on the wedding day!!!  In retrospect, I wish I had 1) done additional trials w/ Lorena until we had achieved the exact look I wanted, 2) tried another Mexico vendor or 3) done my makeup and hair myself!!  To be fair, it did not look horrible but I had an image in my head and I simply did not feel as good as I wanted to.  Perhaps Iâ€m extra picky, but what can I do? :/

 

Mani/Pedi:  Ceiba [Grade: C].  Blehhh…. Bad idea.  Ceibaâ€s spa may have great masseuses but their nail people are not good.  My “mani/pedi†was really just a change of polish, and even then, it was not well done.  Nobody saw my feet but I wish I had enlisted a talented family member the night before to get this done.  I honestly forgot and had to get it done in my room the morning of the wedding! 

 

Transportation (Airport and Wedding Day):  Your Cancun DMC [Grade: A++], Alejandra (Alex) Orozco, Dir. of Sales; alex.orozco@yourcancundmc.com. 

FANTASTIC!  Great customer service and attention to detail.  This service was not the cheapest but after hearing horror stories re: shady companies, I am so happy we went w/ Your Cancun.  Our guests were completely satisfied with the quality of the service, as drivers were timely, courteous and professional.   Also, dealing with Alex was great – she gave us regular updates on our guests†arrival/departure times and was always in such a happy mood.   In addition, we rented buses and a van from Your Cancun for the day of the wedding (as we had to transport guests to the church).  They were on time, the buses were in good shape, and they included free water bottles for our guests.   Here are the rates they charged for airport transportation:

  • One-way: $55.00 US (1 - 3 people) per vehicle
  • One-way: $60.00 US (4 - 8 people) per vehicle
  • Round trip: $100.00 US (1 - 3 people) per vehicle
  • Round trip: $110.00 US (4 - 8 people) per vehicle

 

WEDDING

 

Ceremony:  Catholic mass at Iglesia de San Jose in downtown Puerto Morelos.  Father Mario Gonzalez, mgonzalez@arcol.org.

Wow, we were SO LUCKY to find Padre Mario. He is one of the nicest people we had the honor of interacting with for the wedding.  He speaks English fluently and was able to conduct our mass in English and Spanish in less than 60 minutes!  Remarkable as far Catholic masses go ;)  Iglesia de San Jose is a small church w/ an open garden next to the pews.  We first married legally in the US to avoid the added burden of translating docs, getting blood tests, etc. that comes w/ getting legally hitched in Mexico.

 

 

church1.jpg  church2.jpg

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A few additional thoughts:

 

  • I was having cold sweats in the weeks before when I realized I hadnâ€t planned much décor for the non-wedding events.  In retrospect, the staff did such an amazing job (and Ceiba is so naturally beautiful) that the small touches I added were not worth so much stress!

 

  •  I cannot stress enough how much people love tacos.

 

  • While I didnâ€t go into the ocean much, some people noted there are rocky sections.  I wish I had alerted avid swimmers to bring water shoes.

 

 

 

wow, that's a LOOONG review, oops..! hope you find something in there that's useful!!

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Ack, ok final FINAL thoughts.

 

  • Forgot to mention that the wedding was in November 2010 and we had a little under 160 guests!

 

  • I also posted my list of "wish I had..." on the separate thread, but of particular note:
  1. I would have gotten a tequila donkey if I could do it over.
  2. I wish I had taken pictures of and thanked the staff on the wedding day
  3. I wish I had ignored my FI's objections and warned guests to bring bug spray and anti-itch cream

 

I have a few more but I thought CdM brides might appreciate these the most! :)

http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/forum/thread/6691/what-i-would-and-wouldn-t-do-again/610#post_1572806

 

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Lala~

 

Thank you sooooo much!!!!!!  It sounds like you had an incredible week!!!  I leave one week from tomorrow, and get married in less than two... so the crunch time is on! :)  Your review/summary is sooo helpful and giving me last minute ideas! 

 

Congrats again!

 

 

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Great review Lala!!  I love the honest feedback you provided on each of the vendors as well as an overview of the events you had throughout the week.

 

Brenners -have you made a decision yet?

 

 

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Hi Lala!!   Thank you so much for your thorough review!! I canâ€t tell you how much relief it gives me to hear that everything went great and Ceiba treated you and all your guests well!!   Congrats again on you marriage and planning a successful wedding (I had no idea how hard it would be to plan…eeek!). I have a few follow up questions I was hoping you donâ€t mind answering.  My wedding at Ceiba is coming up-- 6 more weeks  J

 

1)      Do you have more pictures that you would be willing to share? I would love to see more of the décor from the other nights, etc

2)      I love the idea of the bonfire!    Were you able to just plug your ipods into the speakers after the band stopped? 

3)      Another question on music—does Ceiba generally play music during the day?   Since you had such a large group, I was wondering if they would let you play your own music or request?

4)      OOT Bags—did you include a list of “things to do†for your guests. I know Ceiba already gives some info, so wasnâ€t sure how much to include.   I definitely want to do the books—where did you make them or was it all DIY?

5)      Welcome Drinks—we were planning to do this at the sushi lounge so that we donâ€t really have to pay for anything (our guest are almost all AI)  .. do you think around the pool is better?  Did they make you pay to set up tables?   What was your signature drink---I canâ€t decide on one for the wedding but donâ€t want to do margaritas because we are doing that for the rehearsal.

6)      I LOVE the idea of Kareokee—so did DJ Mannia arrange that all for you?   Do you mind if I ask how much it was?  We are using them for our wedding to, so we might want to do this after the rehearsal or welcome.

7)      Wedding—did you use LED candles? I canâ€t tell from the pics. I really want to use real ones but heard that they will just blow out.

8)      Food- did you have any apps passed out during the cocktail? If so, any recommendations

9)      Did you plan any excursions. I havenâ€t and am starting to feel bad. Should I be?

10)   Did you ship anything (the welcome bags, etc)> I have heard they can get lost of stuck at customs, but canâ€t imagine having to cart all this stuff with me on the plane!

 

Thanks again for taking the time to write your review!

Tracy

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Hey KP!  No, we haven't decided yet but some info that I got from Ceiba helps make the pricing less than we originally thought.  Also, with Lala's review, it helps with the decision that less is more with decorations - something Diana said to us as well when we did our site visit. 

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Hi Tracy,

 

Happy to help!

 

  1. Unfortunately I did a TERRIBLE job of taking pictures throughout the week so I am totally dependent on other people's pics.  I found a few and will keep adding as I come across more.

 

REHEARSAL DINNER

setting up

rehearsal dinner.jpg

 

karaoke

rehearsal2.jpg

 

one of bbq stations

rehearsal3.jpg

 

BONFIRE (looks small here but it was surrounded by tiki torches so lighting was sufficient)

bonfire.jpg

 

COCKTAIL HOUR

Trio walking from sushi lounge to terrace

cocktail1.jpg

 

view of sushi lounge during cocktail hour

cocktail2.jpg

 

2.  Re: bonfire, we had to cut the music around 11 PM to not disturb sleeping guests (including our own!).  I dont believe Ceiba has a portable speaker system but I think it would be a great idea to set one up (either rent or pack some speakers) to play an ipod if a band/live music is not feasible.  They can provide extension cords for power.

 

3. Yes, Ceiba does play music during the day. It's a funny/cheesy mix of mexican/acoustic.  Since we practically took over the resort, Ceiba technically did allow us to play our own music during the day but honestly, it's not worth the added stress of preparing a play list for the entire resort!!  Most people hang out near the pool bar or on the beach (no music is audible there), and at the pool bar, the bartenders tend to play fun/contemporary music.  They probably have the ability to play ipods too so your guests can plug their own.  I have to admit, now that we're no longer there, I miss the Ceiba music!!  haha. 

 

4. OOT bags - we included some general recommendations but people were pretty clear on what they wanted to do beforehand.  Some knew they wanted to lounge on the beach the entire time, while others were determined to fit in adventure tours, etc., and yet others only cared to venture into Puerto Morelos and nothing more.  Don't fret too much over this - point people in the right direction and let them handle the rest.  You'll find people will change their mind quite a bit so it's not worth stressing over their plans.  

 

We did make the face books / meet the guests books ourselves and it was a crazy amount of time.  My FI was in charge of this though, so he fretted over the formatting, etc.  One side note - it was really expensive to print the pages in color!! (even in Mexico!).  So after all the work, we printed in black and white due to the cost!  They were also a lot of work to assemble.  If you can figure out a quick & dirty way to get it done, go for it, but def dont kill yourself making it perfect.  It's a cute and fun addition to the OOT bags but guests get over it in about 2 minutes... lol.

 

That reminds me, we did include pashminas and the women LOVED THEM!!  Many hit me up for more colors! 

 

5. We only chose the pool b/c we had already planned to have our cocktail hour on the sushi lounge (which i totally forgot to discuss in my review btw!). They are both equally nice though.  Ceiba set up about 6 tall tables for free and that was sufficient.  Finally, I dont remember our cocktail drinks! We just sat w/ the head bartender once we arrived and he made us several concoctions from which we chose a few for our different signature drinks :)

 

6. Yes, Mannia handled it all.  Let me check the contract and get back to you on price.

 

7. We used real candles and asked the florist to wrap them in wax paper to prevent them from flickering out.  It worked!

 

8. Yes, a bunch!! However, we weren't there so I dont even remember what was served!!  Dont fret over selecting them beforehand.  Once you arrive, ask to sample your favorites and decide then.

 

9. No, it was just too many people!!  Not sure how big your group is, but after a certain size, it's like herding cats.  Besides, ppl want to have their days to do what they please so let them figure it out.  You'll be so busy wrapping up last minute details that you really dont need the added stress.  If someone else wants to volunteer however, let them!

 

10.  We bought extra suitcases/duffel bags and while it was a little hectic getting them through, it wasnt so bad in the end.  I heard it's possible to ship via DSL or UPS (not sure) and I THINK it's not so expensive.  If I'd known this was an option, I would have definitely tried to finish more projects at home first!!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by tracy.clements View Post

Hi Lala!!   Thank you so much for your thorough review!! I canâ€t tell you how much relief it gives me to hear that everything went great and Ceiba treated you and all your guests well!!   Congrats again on you marriage and planning a successful wedding (I had no idea how hard it would be to plan…eeek!). I have a few follow up questions I was hoping you donâ€t mind answering.  My wedding at Ceiba is coming up-- 6 more weeks  J

 

1)      Do you have more pictures that you would be willing to share? I would love to see more of the décor from the other nights, etc

2)      I love the idea of the bonfire!    Were you able to just plug your ipods into the speakers after the band stopped? 

3)      Another question on music—does Ceiba generally play music during the day?   Since you had such a large group, I was wondering if they would let you play your own music or request?

4)      OOT Bags—did you include a list of “things to do†for your guests. I know Ceiba already gives some info, so wasnâ€t sure how much to include.   I definitely want to do the books—where did you make them or was it all DIY?

5)      Welcome Drinks—we were planning to do this at the sushi lounge so that we donâ€t really have to pay for anything (our guest are almost all AI)  .. do you think around the pool is better?  Did they make you pay to set up tables?   What was your signature drink---I canâ€t decide on one for the wedding but donâ€t want to do margaritas because we are doing that for the rehearsal.

6)      I LOVE the idea of Kareokee—so did DJ Mannia arrange that all for you?   Do you mind if I ask how much it was?  We are using them for our wedding to, so we might want to do this after the rehearsal or welcome.

7)      Wedding—did you use LED candles? I canâ€t tell from the pics. I really want to use real ones but heard that they will just blow out.

8)      Food- did you have any apps passed out during the cocktail? If so, any recommendations

9)      Did you plan any excursions. I havenâ€t and am starting to feel bad. Should I be?

10)   Did you ship anything (the welcome bags, etc)> I have heard they can get lost of stuck at customs, but canâ€t imagine having to cart all this stuff with me on the plane!

 

Thanks again for taking the time to write your review!

Tracy



 

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