Throughout our experience as wedding photographers in the Mayan Riviera we have had the privilege of visiting many of the beautiful resorts in the area. We have collected tons of useful knowledge to share with destination brides all around the globe.
Although we are the photographers, having spent many hours with couples on their wedding day, we could also be considered destination wedding "consultants". We are often asked, "Which is the best resort you have been to?", "What should I look for in a resort to get the most beautiful images". These are great questions and we would like to address them in hopes to provide some valuable, impartial advice for planning your perfect wedding.
One of the most important things we'd like to stress about a resort is SIZE. Resorts in the Cancun/Mayan Riviera area range from about 60 rooms to 1000.
~ On one hand, the smaller resorts offer close proximity to all resort amenities.
This can have a positive impact on the schedule of your wedding day. Smaller resort means the SPA will probably be within walking distance to your room. No time spent waiting for transportation. Your time is important as you prepare for the big day!! In addition to the preparations, the planned wedding activities (ceremony, cocktails, reception & dance) are also likely within walking distance from each other. This is a big bonus for you and your guests, especially if you have older family attending your wedding. Grandma and Grandpa are sure to appreciate a resort where they can get around on their own.
Aside from the wedding day, the smaller resorts are group friendly in the sense that you will find family and friends wherever you go on the resort. Consider that your guests may be coming from all over the world. You will be able to maximize your time together with friends & family that you cannot otherwise see very often.
We have also found they are able to accommodate your needs quicker and easier. There are fewer hotel guests and weddings for the staff to deal with, which from our experience, means they are more available when you need them.
~ On the other hand, larger Resorts offer more space and selection.
Some brides decide to go with mega resorts to give everyone countless options when it comes to restaurants, beaches, etc. The resort premises has plenty to offer. Regardless of your guests varying preferences, they are sure to find something that works for them.
And the obvious, space. If you decide on some alone time with your fianc©/newlywed, there is plenty of space for you two to "get away", enjoy the view, sand in your toes and just relax.
With regards to the wedding, since these resorts are usually 3 to 5 interconnected resorts, you will likely have more options when it comes to selecting a wedding site and reception restaurant.
Location of the resort compared to major tourist towns can be something to consider. There are many great places to visit along the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Most of your guests will have different preferences about if or how far they'll venture off the resort but the location of your resort can definitely affect their decision.
~ Some resorts are situated directly within Mexican towns or cities.
These resorts offer the best of both worlds. Your resort is still a secret hideaway; private, secure, comfortable, nice beaches, pools, & good food but just steps away you will be able to experience the more authentic Mexican life and tourist attractions. For example, here in Playa Del Carmen or Playacar you can walk to the famous 5th Avenue. There you'll find shops, restaurants, dance bars, the ferry to Cozumel, and much more!!
Cancun is mainly for party crowds. You will find tons of night clubs, extravagant restaurants and malls. If your group is ready to party and spend lots of money, Cancun is probably the place for you. .
Smaller communities like Puerto Morelos and Puerto Aventuras offer some of these attractions but at a much smaller scale. They have a much quieter, more relaxed atmosphere that tends to shut down much earlier than Cancun or Playa Del Carmen.
In general, resorts located in Cancun, Playa Del Carmen/Playacar, Puerto Morelos, Puerto Aventuras or Tulum are smaller than the ones in "rural" areas.
~ Your other option is something completely secluded from the outside world.
The stretch of popular destination resorts, from Cancun to Tulum, is only about 150kms (90 miles). Where ever you choose to stay there is still ample opportunity to see the sights and experience the area. There is always a tour bus, hotel shuttle, taxi or rental car to help you find your way.
Aesthetics of the resort can be important for the wedding day photos.
~ The more color, interesting architecture & mature vegetation the better for your images.
After the ceremony, we will take the bride and groom around the resort for some newlywed images. A couple key elements that we will look for in order to create fantastic shots are color, interesting light, and architecture. The more of this we can find around the resort, the better!!
Consider as well that the ocean is a great backdrop! Although the resort aesthetics can offer some colorful and unique images, it will not make or break the quality of the shots. After all, we are professionals and we are trained to find beauty where it may not be obvious at first glance.
External vendor policies & fees.
~ Very important... Some resorts in the Mayan Riviera absolutely do not allow external photographers on the resort premises.
Each resort has different rules regarding wedding photographers. Most resorts in the Mayan Riviera have implemented a special rate that they charge to allow photographers to enter the resort. This fee can range from $100 to $500 USD. It is commonly referred to as a â€˜Day Passâ€™ or â€˜External Service Provider Feeâ€™. Please check with your wedding coordinator to find out what their requirements are for outside photographers.
Some resorts in the area do not allow any outside photographers. Resorts with these strict policies have sometimes allowed us if we are booked into their hotel for the night. Please confirm this with your wedding coordinator, as you will be responsible for ensuring the photorapher(s) and assistant(s) have proper permission to be on the premises to shoot your wedding.
* There are some resorts that absolutely will not allow external vendors to access the resort.
* Our package prices do not include the cost for us to enter your resort. This is an added expense that is out of our control.
A list of the resorts we've attended and their External Photographer Policies can be found by Clicking Here.
Adults only vs. kid friendly.
~ The minimum age for adult only is usually around 16-18.
"Adult only" hotels have a much quieter, relaxing atmosphere than the ones where kids are allowed. The quality of rooms, restaurants and service are a "cut above" the rest. They are tailored to adults who want to enjoy the beauty and calmness of their surroundings without distractions.
Of course if you have a flower girl or ring bearer joining you the choice is obvious. These resorts usually have two pools: one with games and music for the younger crowd as well as another, more secluded, adults only pool so everyone can enjoy the vacation in their own way.
What locations are available for your ceremony and reception?
~ Privacy is usually a big concern among brides, whether they are being married in their home town or travelling to a tropical destination.
The Mexico destination couple may envision their wedding on a remote section of beach sharing their vows with only each other, their guests, and Mother Nature. If this sounds like you, you will need to be very careful when choosing a resort.
Although some resorts can offer exactly what you are looking for, others just can't offer as much privacy. For example, hotels that are found within Playa Del Carmen are sharing the beach with many other resorts, as well as the locals (like us!). These beaches get very busy and beach weddings tend to attract a lot of uninvited guests. Such resorts may offer a garden gazebo or more private location away from the busy beach.
Sand is also a consideration. If you imagine yourself barefoot as you approach your soon to be husband, then sand is the perfect choice. High heals... not so conducive to sand.
Sun or shade? Gazebos offer shade for you and your guests. That Mexican sun can get pretty hot but it's probably part of the reason you chose to get married here! Don't worry, even when the ceremony location is in full sun the wedding coordinator will keep your guests in the shade until the ceremony is ready to begin.
~ Is it important for you to have a private area available for your reception and dance?
Not all wedding packages offer a private location for your party afterwards. Be sure to inquire about the available options, capacity of each, and whether or not there will be extra fees associated to booking them.
What time do you want your ceremony & reception? Will those times be available for you?
~ There can be multiple weddings per day at the resort you choose.
If other brides have booked prior to you, they will have first pick of the time and location of their events. Some resorts have organized their packages in a way that the schedule for each wedding will flow nicely and not have too much "wasted" time between the ceremony and reception. The earlier your day begins the more filler you will need to keep your guests entertained. Even a perfect schedule for the day, will have you worn out by the end of it. If possible, make sure your times are solidified at the time of your booking.
In the end, whichever resort you choose, the important thing to remember is that you are marrying your best friend and your family has travelled from far and beyond to witness this important milestone between the two of you. Have fun, be yourself, and the rest will fall into place!
I am putting together our reviews of each wedding site we have attended and look forward to sharing that information with you here as soon as possible. Please check back shortly to hear what we thought.