I worked with Pilar for my wedding- and she is amazing. I printed photos of the flowers I liked, pictures of my hair, and special requests for the decoration. I also used the wedding planning form she provides to detail the ceremony, dinner, number of guests, cake etc. She went over this form with me during our first meeting. One thing a bride told me which I found to be true - Pilar plans hundreds of weddings each year. Sometimes 2 a day. If your wedding is a year away, don't bug her. She's in meetings and on site at weddings almost 12 hours a day. She's working on upcoming weddings and doesn't have time to answer silly questions a year in advance. For this reason, I kept a running email in my draft folder and once I had multiple questions, I sent it to her all at once. She told me that she really appreciated this.
About 1 month before I left for Mexico, I set up my initial meeting, our welcome dinner and the rehersal times with Pilar. When I arrived at the resort, we met and went over the wedding planning form. During this meeting, I provided Pilar with the ceremony programs, dinner menus, place cards and table numbers. I brought these things with me and it was super easy for her to lay them out as requested. I also had welcome bags which I assembled myself and handed to guests as they arrived.
Pilar answered all of our questions during the meeting, and also had the DJ join us for the last half. The DJ Pilar works with is wonderful! He doubled as our MC and did a fantastic job. I provided him with a playlist for dinner, the first dances and the party music. He followed that perfectly and supplmented with requests throughout the night. I highly recommend using him.
The day before our wedding we had the rehersal. The rehersal can be as casual or as formal as you'd like. We kepts ours very casual, it lasted around 20 minutes. We had our ceremony at La Pergola and it was great! Later that night, we had a welcome dinner at the buffet. Pilar reserved a special section for no extra charge for our 55 guests. This was really nice as I believe there are big charges if you rent space at a restaurant. One thing to note - the buffet moves outdoors on Wednesday and Saturday nights. We didn't know this, and since our welcome dinner was on a Saturday, we were quite surprised. It was very loud, there was some crazy performance going on and we had a hard time welcoming and chatting with our guests. If this bothers you, I'd recommend choosing a different night for a buffet welcome dinner - or maybe a brunch.
On the day of the wedding.... it poured. All day. Pilar assured me that we would make it work. She had the ceremony set up inside (which was still beautiful). Then, by the grace of God, the sun came out 10 minutes before it was scheduled to begin. Pilar and her team had everything outside and we still started on time The minister the Jade provides is great! She's really funny and followed our program exactly as we had chosen. We had a harp playing and it was gorgeous. I've heard from other brides that music on the iPod just doesn't sound that great (if it's outdoors) and I'd have to agree. Having the live instrument was well worth the cost.
The flowers were amazing. The florist did exactly as we asked and everyone loved them! I was also SO happy with my hair. I worked at a salon throughout college so I had high expectations. Angel is a godsend. If you plan to get an updo, or any style, SEE HIM! He's very talented and is so sweet. (I also had a manicure by Angela the day before and it was great!)
For photos, we used Pilar's contact Mike and a private photographer, Octavio Montes. Mike was absolutely wonderful and I'd highly recommend him. Octavio was also great! Depending on how extensive you want your photos (and how much you want to spend) I'd recommend using Mike. If you want tons to choose from and don't mind paying more, Octavio's very talented and easy to work with (google him).
We held a cocktail party in between the ceremony and reception, and to be blunt, this was a HUGE waste of money. They say they make it private... well it was but only about half of the people were there. I'd recommend saving your money and just tell people you're having a cocktail party at a bar of your choosing. The bars are NEVER crowded and they'd get the same service whether it was private or not. Also, the hor derves they served was not good and they forgot our signature cocktail. Totally not worth the extra cost.
The reception was my favorite part. We had it in the bamboo room and it was magnificant. The food was outstanding and it looked gorgeous. The cake was great too! One thing to note is that they serve dinner realllllly slow, which ate into our 3 hour reception time. Be sure to tell Pilar you want dinner to be served during a set time only, or plan to spend the majority of the reception eating/waiting for the next course. Microphones for speeches are provided and the room gets done up with bright lights for the dancing. It was amazing.
That's all for the wedding portion - Sorry if it's too long!!
As far as the resort, I have a few comments:
Overall, Now Jade is spectacular. The food is great, drinks are good and there's always something to do. We loved the pools, the beach, the staff - all great! However there are two things I'd watch out for:
1. The front desk/check in staff. We had 4 or 5 of our guests almost not allowed in because "they didn't have a reservation for them". They also called our best man at 11pm one night telling him he owed $170 for the night because he didn't have a reservation. All of our guests had paid upfront and thank goodnness had their confirmation tickets with them. MAKE SURE THEY BRING THESE and don't back down if the front desk argues with you.Also have your travel agent's number handy so that you can call should this happen. It was extremely frustrating.
2. Beware of spa charges. For those of you heading down soon, the spa has some promotion of gift cards to the spa. We had several people get $50 haircuts or manicures hoping to use these gift cards and then were told upon check out they were only for massage and they owed money for the services. It's false advertising and we had a few upset guests. Be sure to go over this very carefully with the spa, and settle your bill upfront - also keep your reciepts! My mother in law was charged twice for a massage and they fought her on it.
I hope this is helpful. If you guys have ANY questions, please email me! I'm more than happy to help! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goold luck and congrats!!!