I know it can feel unfair and horrible that newer weddings are not getting some of the same things as previous weddings. I was able to use my musician for my cocktail hour. While why I don't see any reason about why this can't be done anymore, it wouldn't have been a make or break item for me. I would have used the musician for the ceremony instead, and I think this would have carried over into the cocktail hour. The ceremony is about 20 minutes long and I believe you get the soloist for 45.
Although the wedding is important, the resort that you decide on needs to be so much more than just about the wedding. Think about what type of experience you want for your guests pre and post wedding. I hope I can outline the pros I found about the Now Sapphire:
The food at the Now Sapphire is much better than your typical all inclusive. This includes the buffet, a la carte restaurants, and the food for the wedding. My parents have stayed at many all inclusives in the area, and the Now Sapphire is up in the top 3 for food, service and experience. A big highlight for my family was the Coco Cafe, a cute coffee shop where you can get espresso, cappuccino, lattes, and baked goods, sandwiches or desserts throughout the day. Many resorts I have been to don't offer this, and it is so great to just grab a coffee, muffin, cookie or sandwich with no problem.
The pools are great. You have a large busy pool for those that want a more lively experience, and a more quiet adults only pool for relaxation (my favorite. Jose Louis the bartender there is amazing!) Pool not your thing? The beach runs the entire length of the resort (except for the areas for weddings) with many chairs and areas of shade. A few of our guests love walking the beach, and they were able to walk for miles north or south of the resort with no issues.
The rooms are nice, clean, and beautiful. We upgraded to an ocean view and are so happy that we did. We watched the sun rise every morning (with coffee from Coco Cafe). It was amazing.
The resort is close to the airport compared to many resorts in the riviera maya. I've been to resorts where we had to take a bus for over an hour and a half. The NS is only about 20-25 minutes from the airport. It's also close to Puerto Morelos and Playa Del Carmen for your guests that want to experience life outside the resort (but this resort is great and they may not want to!).
I personally chose the Now Sapphire because the package included everything we needed and wanted for our wedding. To add on the cocktail hour at many other places we were looking at brought the price up significantly for us. I also fell in love with the Terrace when I saw photos of other weddings online - when I saw it I could finally envision myself getting married. It was the most telling thing for me. When I looked at other resorts the locations for the weddings could not compare. I also really liked the fact that I could have our ceremony and reception in the same place, and I thought the deck was just beautiful.
While I'm not saying that it is fair that newer brides aren't getting some of the same things that past brides have, I hope you will think about the other great reasons to hold your wedding at the Now. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask. This site was so helpful to me when deciding on a resort and in planning my wedding I hope I can help other brides too.