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Leigh2011's Planning Thread - Long with Lots of Pics

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#1 leigh2011

  • Jr. Member
  • 277 posts

    Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:06 PM

    Planning Thread – Part 1


    After reading so many BDW planning threads when I first got engaged, I decided to create my planning thread as I went along.  Thus, my thread is really long and has way too much detail.  I apologize in advance, but I hope my thread can help future brides (I tried to include links to websites and prices for the items I bought).


    I found so many great ideas on this forum and had so many questions answered.  So, I would like to thank all of the brides for your ideas and advice.  I apologize that I have not kept track of the sources of my ideas, so if you see something of yours please let me know so I can give you credit.


    I would also like to say that my wedding is in Cancun in just over a week and I hope that Hurricane Rina allows all of my plans to happen.


    So here it goes:


    1.  Resort Choice

    Mexico – I chose Mexico because of flight prices from my location (Raleigh, NC).  I knew I needed to keep prices down for guests.


    Dreams – I was most impressed with the Dreams packages as the receptions were PRIVATE.  Also, their highest package price includes just about everything for up to 20 guests.  Not to mention, that when I did an Expedia search for a flight + 5 night stay for guests, the prices were less than $1000 per person based on double occupancy.  (a $1000 limit per person was a cutoff price during my search)


    I chose Dreams Cancun because of 1) the gazebo ceremony location seems more private compared to some other resorts and 2) resort location: shorter travel to/from airport for guests, great beaches, and close to nightlife. 


    1. Color selection

    I purchased two sample lots of napkins and chair sashes to help pick colors. 


    I selected a shade of light blue (the linen company calls it periwinkle) along with navy blue to be my colors.  Blue has always been my favorite color and I am not a flashy person, so this combination seemed classy and colorful enough to brighten up the white chair covers (ceremony/reception) and white table setting (reception).  Also, I was hoping that the navy blue would be a “standard” color, so I wouldn’t have to worry as much about matching shades perfectly.


    I ended up purchasing my napkins, chair sashes and table runners from:

    1 - Save the Date Pics.png



    My fianc© loved the passport invites, but realized how expensive it would be to order or even make them, so we settled on boarding pass invites.  These things were quite time consuming between cutting/notching the boarding pass pages and making the folders.  We bought card stock and printed everything ourselves…


    1. Blue card stock for the folders from papercompany.com, 100 for $54.00 + $9.55 S/H = $63.55
    2. White card stock from Michaels, approx. $8
    3. Vellum from Michaels, approx. $4
    4. Ribbon from crafta.com, approx. $8 + $3 S/H = $11
    5. envelopes from envelopemall.com, 100 for $17.50 + $9.27 S/H = $26.77
    6. purchased cutter, scoring board, corner punch, glue stick, and glue dots (Michaels and Archivers)

    TOTAL PRICE = approx. $114 for 60 Invitations (not including postage)

    Note that there is a lot of expensive blue card stock left over after the invitations that I used for other  paper projects.  (like programs, escort cards, OOT bag tags, maraca tags, etc.)

    2 - Invitation Pics.png



    1. Logos

    Below are 2 of the logos my fianc© designed for use on our wedding paper products.  Note that my fianc© is Chinese-American so one of them is centered over the Chinese symbol “double happiness” which is used for wedding celebrations.  Also note that I didn’t want to put our names on everything, so at times you will see only the double happiness symbol.

    3 - Logo 1 Pic.png

    to be continued...4 - Logo 2 Pic.png

    #2 leigh2011

    • Jr. Member
    • 277 posts

      Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:16 PM

      Planning Thread – Part 2

      Attire & Accessories


      1. The Rings

      a. Engagement Ring

      Below is a picture of my engagement ring taken during our engagement photo session.  I chose the ring at the jewelry store with my fianc©.  Because I don’t normally wear jewelry, I chose something very simple.

      1 - Engagement Ring Pic.png


      b. Wedding Bands

      My fianc© wanted a completely plain band – so his is just plain ol’ white gold.  We had “Forever, Courtney 11.05.11” engraved in his ring.

      2 - His Wedding Band Pic.png


      I had trouble finding a wedding band because I chose a low profile setting for my engagement ring.  At first I thought I would have to go with either a plain metal band or a contour band with stones – but eventually I found a channel-set band that works with my e-ring.  We had “Paul 11.05.11” engraved in my band.  The jewelry store said I could only have 13 characters L  I had originally wanted “Now and forever, Paul 11.05.11” engraved in the band but apparently that is too many characters…

      3 - My Two Rings Pic.png


      c. Legal Wedding Bands

      Because I didn’t want to exchange our real rings at our legal ceremony, but we wanted to have something to mark the occasion, we bought silver bands and had the Chinese symbol “double happiness” engraved on the inside.  I had mine sized to fit my right hand – so between the legal wedding and the Mexico wedding I have had my engagement ring on my left hand and my legal band on my right.


      1. The Dress

      I knew I wanted a mermaid style for the wedding dress – I was just keeping my fingers crossed that the style would look good on me.  I thought about a second dress for the TTD, but I thought the pictures would have a more authentic feel if I wore my wedding dress.


      Ceremony/Reception/TTD Dress  - I ended up ordering my dress July 11,2010 for my Nov 5, 2011 wedding – way too early, but I loved it and it was on sale for 15% off.  I knew I would kick myself if I paid full price for the same dress later.  The dress was given a sweetheart neckline during alterations.

      1. Allure 8705 from Bridal Mart in Burlington, NC (affiliated with ebridalsuperstore.com):

      Regular price was $618, sale price was $525, with tax = $566

      4 - Model in Wedding Dress.png


      1. Accessories


      a. The garter

      My fianc© and I went to rival universities and I just couldn’t bring myself to wear a garter for his school, so I found this rival garter online: $14.99 + $4.50 S/H, total of $19.49

      (I ordered one and they sent the second as a bonus).  Crazy coincidence – our two schools will actually be playing their annual football game on our wedding day!!!  We booked our wedding date way before the 2011 schedule was released, so this is complete coincidence.

      5 - Garters Pic.png


      b. Shoes

      I had a really tough time finding cute shoes that had a low enough heel.  My fianc© and I are the same height, so I limited myself to a 2.5” heel so I wouldn’t tower over him in the pictures.  I finally found these shoes on Zappos.com: Brand = Nina, Style = Culver, Color = Raspberry Satin, $79.95 + $6.20 tax + Free S/H, total of $86.15

      These shoes are brighter pink than they appear in this picture.

      6 - Wedding Shoes Pic.png


      c. Jewelry

      I bought my jewelry from a local store that does a lot of online business at 7 - Wedding Jewelry Pic.png


      d. Hair Flower

      I searched for my hair flower for some time and hated the idea of spending a lot of money, but in the end I wanted something that would look great in pictures so I bought my flower from swakdesigns on etsy for $30 + $3 S/H, total of $33.00.  I bought a fuschia flower to match my fuschia shoes.  I might have gone with a white/ivory flower if I had darker hair, but with my blonde hair I wanted something that would stand out.

      8 - Hair Flower Pic.png


      e. Bouquet Jewelry

      I signed up in the starfish passing thread to be JanineA’s final bride at the one year mark for her blue starfish.  Around the same time I heard through the forum of a sale at 9 - Bouquet Pendants.jpg


      g. Undergarments

      I ordered the following to wear under my dress the day of the wedding.  They should make my then husband smile as well as be a back-up something blue.  From Etsy seller Logomos, $10.00 + $4.00 S/H, total of $14.00 

      10 - Wedding Undies Pic.png


      h. Dress hanger

      I ordered a personalized dress hanger from etsy seller DawnsCraftStore that says “Mrs. Chang” where I paid $23 + $6.50 S/H, total of $29.50.


      1. Groom’s attire

      The groom will be wearing a white linen shirt and khaki linen pants with brown leather sandals. 

      11 - Grooms Attire Pic.png


      1. Bridal Party

      a. Bridesmaid Dress

      My sister is my only bridesmaid so she is actually my Matron of Honor.  I told her the dress should be navy blue and she should avoid a dress that would be short and flowy as it would invite a wardrobe malfunction at the windy gazebo.  Other than that it was her choice – so this is what she chose and I purchased:  David’s Bridal dress F13185 in Marine (looks navy in person)

      $149 + tax, total of $160.55

      12 - BM Dress Pic.png


      b. Groomsmen Attire/Father of the Bride

      The groomsmen as well as the father of the bride will be wearing light blue linen shirts with the linen pants and leather sandals.  We purchased the shirts and pants for the guys at a 4th of July sale at a Banana Republic Outlet.  I believe the total for each outfit was between $25 and $30.


      c. Flower Girls

      My fiance’s 3 nieces (who will be 12 months, 2 yrs, and 3yrs at the time of the wedding) will all be our flower girls/ring bearer.  Here are the dresses (casual cotton) we purchased for them from Baby Gap – approximately $30 each.  And to tie in the wedding colors, I ordered them light blue flowers on a white headband from etsy seller Alibugbowtique for $6.99 each. 

      13 - Flowergirl Attire Pics.png


      1. Wedding Photo Extra – Parasol

      I ordered a personalized parasol from etsy seller scrapsoflovebyjen for $28 + $7 S/H, total of $35.  I opted for putting my new last name on it as I only plan to use it during the TTD.

      14 - Parasol Pic.jpg


      1. Bridal Portrait

      Because I want the full wedding experience, I decided to have a bridal portrait session.  I will add more pictures to my signature after the wedding.  So here is everything together including the hair and makeup I hope to reproduce in Mexico.

      15 - Bridal Portrait Pic.jpg


      To be continued...

      #3 leigh2011

      • Jr. Member
      • 277 posts

        Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:22 PM

        Planning Thread – Part 3

        OOT Bags & Gifts


        1. OOT Bag items

        a. OOT bags and tag

        I found bags at the local Dollar Tree that will work for what I need.  I found a lighter and a navy blue.  The lighter blue doesn’t match my wedding colors, but you can’t be picky for $1 each with no shipping.  At $1 each, if guests leave them in Mexico or never use them again I won’t be upset.  I chose to attach a tag with ribbon instead of personalizing the bag.

        1 - Full OOT Bag.JPG


        b. Folders

        1. Thank You/Welcome Letter

        I found the wording for this letter elsewhere on this site and just created the file to go with my colors/logo.


        1. Itinerary

        I actually have 8 different versions of the itinerary (based on guest vs. family, excursion choice).  I also made an itinerary for myself and my fianc© because I am going to need to have all of the schedule commitments written down or I will forget....

        2 and 3 - Thank You and Itinerary.jpg


        1. Photo Share Cards

        From Vistaprint:  free 50 rack cards, paid $2.99 for color back + $2.99 for the better card = $5.98 + S/H, total ~$10


        1. Post card to the bride & groom (caricature of fianc© and I drawn at the state fair) – stamps to be purchased in Mexico

        From Vistaprint:  free 100 post cards, paid $3.74 to upload pic = $3.74 + S/H + tax, total = $11.15

        4 - Post Card Pics.png


        c. Room key holders

        ID badge holders from ebay:  lot of 50 for $5.00, S/H for $5.99, total of $10.99

        5 - IS&IH Bags.JPG


        e.  Sun Visors

        I found a great deal on ebay for navy blue visors.

        Navy Blue 100% Cotton Visors from ebay: lot of 24 for $27.99, S/H free, total of $27.99

        TOTAL PRICE:  $27.99 for 24 items


        f. Travel Mugs

        I found mugs that I liked from the Dollar Tree.  I couldn’t justify the extra expense of personalizing mugs from discountmugs.com. 

        Travel mugs in 3 different colors: $1.00 each

        TOTAL PRICE:  $29  for 27 items


        g. Pen and note pad

        Both of these items were from Vistaprint.  I would get one pen and one note pad each time I put in an order.  The pen says “Thank you for sharing our special day  Courtney & Paul”


        h. Koozies

        We ordered 200 personalized koozies from 7 - MOH Gift Pic.png


        c. Hair & Makeup

        I will pay for my MOH’s hair and makeup to be done by the stylist at the resort that will be doing my hair/makeup.  We will also plan on paying for the MOB and MOG to get all dolled up J


        d. Attire for the Groomsmen

        We bought the groomsmen their shirts and pants.


        e. Additional gifts for the Groomsmen

        My fianc© selected personalized money clips from an etsy seller.


        f. Gifts for the Parents

        We plan on giving our parents a canvas print of the wedding picture of their choice as well as photo books after the wedding.  So we essentially had to create IOU cards for them…

        8- Parents Gift Pic.png


        g. Gifts for the Flower Girls

        Because the flower girls are so young we aren’t going too overboard for them.... We ordered the following bracelets (to be personalized with their names) from etsy seller LittleDiddleBoutique for $30.50 each + S/H = $95.00 total.

        9 - Flowergirl Bracelet Pic.png


        to be continued

        #4 leigh2011

        • Jr. Member
        • 277 posts

          Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:33 PM

          Planning Thread – Part 4

          Ceremony & Reception


          1. The Ceremony in Mexico
          1. Time:  4:30pm

          We will be taking our photos mostly BEFORE the ceremony.  With the sun setting so early in November (5:10pm on my date), I didn’t want to have a ceremony early (so we could take pictures after the ceremony but before sunset) because then our guests would have to entertain themselves before the reception in the evening.  So I went with a ceremony just before sunset which means my fianc© and I will have to take pictures before the ceremony.  So I plan on a staged “first look” and then photos around the resort.  Since I am bringing a photographer from the US, I plan on doing a walkthrough of the resort the day before to pick all of the locations.


          1. Card for fianc©

          We decided to not give each other gifts (we have agreements for holidays and birthdays about not giving gifts and just paying for an experience – like a trip), but I said I did want to give each other cards.  Here is the picture of our dog that I turned into a folded card so I could write a message to him.  BTW – my fianc© is IN LOVE with his dog. 

          1 - Marry My Mommy Pic.png


          1. Location

          The Dreams Cancun gazebo overlooking the water.

          2 - Dreams Cancun Gazebo.png


          1. Flowers

          Here is the inspiration picture (from a file provided by the resort) that I am asking be used for my bouquet, my sister’s bouquet, the gazebo flowers, and the centerpieces.  We will see what I end up getting!!!  I think my color scheme of the two “neutral” blues should allow for bold/colorful flowers.

          3 - Centerpiece Inspiration Pic.png


          1. Programs w/ bubbles

          The programs were another DIY project made with leftover blue card stock (so glad we ordered the 100-pack, saved us A LOT of money) and navy blue ribbon from the invites.  I only needed to buy extra white card stock and vellum. 

          4 - Program Pic.JPG


          5 - Unstacked Program Pic.JPG

          6 - Bubbles with Tag Pic.jpg



          1. Music

          I determined I needed 5 songs to play during seating (to take up about 15 minutes), starting more upbeat and getting more serious:

          • “Marry You” by Bruno Mars
          • “The Way I am” by Ingrid Michaelson
          • “The Best is Yet to Come” by Michael Buble (fianc© is a HUGE Buble fan)
          • “Stay With You” by John Legend
          • “Memories of Us” by Keith Urban

          For the ceremony we chose:

          • Processional (mothers, flower girls, & MOH):  “Everything” by Michael Buble
          • Bride’s Entrance:  “Marry Me” by Train
          • Recessional:  “Everlasting Love” by Natalie Cole

          My fianc© is also in love with Michael Buble (fiance’s man crush), so there will be a lot of Buble played during the ceremony and the reception.


          1. Ceremony Verbiage

          I have to say that I pieced together our ceremony verbiage from the other brides on BDW (with input from my fianc© of course).  We are including two readings and a sand ceremony.  Attached is a word file with our ceremony:







          1. Sand Ceremony Set

          I wanted a sand ceremony container that I could display after the wedding, so I chose the engraved frame from:

          7 - Sand Ceremony Frame Pic.png


          1. Flower girl pails & ring bearer stuffed animal

          We are using metal pails with starfish tied on with ribbon for the flower girls and a stuffed animal that looks a bit like our dog for the ring bearer “pillow”. 

          8 - Flower Girl pail pic.jpg

          9 - Ring Barer Dog Pic.jpg


          1. The Cocktail Hour

          The best part about the cocktail hour is that because we will take most of the pictures before the ceremony, Paul & I will actually get to attend part of the cocktail hour – woohoo!

          1. Location

          At Dreams Cancun, the cocktail hour is set typically up on the terrace behind the wedding gazebo.


          1. Hors d’oeuvres

          I believe we will be served  4 hot and 4 cold appetizers:

          (hot) tempura shrimp satay, flower zucchini crepes, quiche Lorraine, and beef roll stuffed with vegetables

          (cold) salmon rose with egg and olives, melon pearls with prosciutto, shrimp timbale Caribbean style with avocado and cream cheese, and 3 cheese marble chess


          1. Music (Mexican Trio)

          Part of the package is a 45-minute set from a Mexican Trio.  I can’t wait to take pictures with these guys! 


          1. Guest Book

          I made the guest book on shutterfly using our engagement pictures.  I knew I would never open a traditional guest book with just lines and signatures after the wedding.  Also I didn’t want anyone to have to be in charge of a Polaroid guestbook.  So I settled on a photo book with space around the pictures to write messages.

          Shutterfly: $27.99 (it was on sale) + $1.60 for extra pages = $29.59 + $0 S/H (I had a coupon code) + tax, total = $31.87

          10 - Guest Book Pic.png


          1. The Reception
          1. Location / Food

          The reception should be located on the beach (fingers crossed for good weather).  The food will be a plated meal and as of now we are planning to have:

          Salad:  Organic Garden Salad with lime & honey vinaigrette dressing, gorgonzola cheese, nuts, and grapefruit

          Soup:  Lobster bisque with a cheese bruschetta

          Entr©e:  Steak, shrimp, and fish with gratin potatoes and steamed vegetables

          Dessert:  Chocolate Napolen and wedding cake

          10.5 - Menu Pic.jpg


          1.  Shoes Optional Sign

          I designed the following on Vistaprint and waited for a free lawn sign email:  Free + $2.99 for metal stand + $8.99 S/H (though less when combining with other items) = $12

          I also bought a beach mat (natural weave with light blue border) for $3 at Five Below, total of ~$15

          11 - Shoes Optional Sign.png


          1.  Cake & Cake Topper

          So the resort includes a cake in the package, but I know I will want to upgrade to a 2 or 3-tier cake.  All of the brides from Dreams Cancun say you don’t need a bigger cake as everyone fills up on the dessert included in the meal, but I really want a pretty cake! I have dreamed of a big cake so I am going to have it gosh darn it!  (this is what I have told my fianc© and he has learned not to ask) I am not sure what I will end up with yet (I will see what the wedding coordinator says they can do well), but here is the cake topper I had made…it is from ebay seller saller_mickey2008.  I paid a total of $149.25 including shipping.  (it was $10 extra for the dog)  I know that almost $150 is a lot for a cake topper, but it is a surprise for my fianc© since he will be sad the dog can’t be in Mexico.  Also, I plan on displaying the cake topper next to our sand ceremony frame after the wedding.

          12 - Cake Topper Pic.png


          1. Centerpieces and other table decorations

          I decided to take the easy (yet expensive) route on this one and just order my centerpieces through the resort.  I expect them to cost about $73 each.  This way I won’t have to worry about a design, or carrying extra luggage, or hoping they get set up properly.  I will take table runners (light blue to match the chair sashes) and loose starfish and shells from Oriental Trading Company to put around the vase of flowers.  Also on the table will be navy blue napkins to help give the table more color. 


          1. Escort  Cards/Table Numbers

          I decided to continue the Asian heritage theme by placing a small frame with a Chinese character on each table (with English translation) as the table numbers.  I chose the following characters: double happiness, family, love, and friends.  I wanted to tie the escort cards to a starfish but decided it wasn’t worth the effort/money so I just used glued on a starfish punch.

          13 - Table Number & Escort Card Pic.JPG


          1. Maracas

          My finace and I plan on heading to a nearby market area to pick up local maracas once we get to Cancun.  This is a bit risky as there is no guarantee we will find any.  We decided to not purchase them online ahead of time because we want them to be authentic favors from Mexico, as well as not having to worry about them being damaged in transit.  We made the following tags to tie to each maraca:

          14 - Maraca Tag Pic.JPG


          1. Music (special songs)

          Group Arrival:  “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang (as we will be at the cocktail hour and then walking to the reception with everyone, there is no need for the traditional introduction)

          First dance:  “Me and You” by Kenny Chesney

          Father/Daughter dance:  “I Loved her First”, by Heartland

          Mother/Son dance: “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion

          Cake Cutting:  “How Sweet It Is” by Michael Buble

          Bouquet / Garter:  “Kiss” by Prince


          1. DJ / dance floor

          The DJ is being provided through the resort and I plan on paying extra for the light-up dance floor.


          1. Favors

          The maracas will serve as one favor.  As my fianc© and I are huge dog lovers, we will also have  cards that say money has been donated in their name to the local SPCA.

          15 - Donation Card Pic.JPG


          To be continued...

          Attached Files

          #5 leigh2011

          • Jr. Member
          • 277 posts

            Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:35 PM

            Planning Thread – Part 5

            Mexico Vacation



            1. Arrivals

            My fianc© and I are arriving on Wednesday, 19 guests are arriving on Thursday, and the last 8 will be flying in on Friday.


            1. Night Out in Cancun (Thursday Night)

            We originally wanted to do a girls’ night and a guys’ night with the groups going out separately.  However, I think a lot of the couples are going to feel more comfortable leaving the resort together instead of separately, so we will do a combo night out.  In all honesty, it makes me feel better to know I can keep an eye on my fianc©....as he likes to drink on guys’ nights and I wouldn’t feel 100% certain that he wouldn’t end up in a Mexican prison (kinda joking, but not really).


            1. Rehearsal/Rehearsal Dinner (Friday)

            We have a quick rehearsal at the gazebo scheduled for 5:30pm and then a rehearsal dinner at 6:00pm one of the resort restaurants.  I decided to go ahead and pay ~$250 for a rehearsal dinner (even though we are at an all-inclusive) because I don’t want to have to stress about getting a table big enough and everyone having to wait too long.

            1 - Rehearsal Dress Pic.JPG


            1. Wedding Day (Saturday)

            My plan for the day (we will see how much this changes!):




            Breakfast with Mom, Sister, etc.



            Spa for Hair & Makeup – Bride, BM, MOB, MOG(only 2 stylists)



            Find a way to eat a snack!



            Photos (Getting Ready, First Look, Around Resort, Family)



            Return to Rooms to Freshen Up / Cool Off






            Pictures with Guests (sunset at 5:10pm)



            Cocktail Hour





            1. Excursion (Sunday)

            One thing I really wanted to do for our guests is to pay for an excursion for everyone.  Luckily we are having few enough guests attend the wedding (only B&G + 25 adults + 3 young kids) that we can afford to do something nice for everyone.  We had to plan this excursion for the day after the wedding before guests started heading home (some leave on Monday) – so the 7:30am pickup time might be a bit rough!  Our photographer will be joining us for this excursion, so even more pictures!


            We sent out an evite to get an idea of who would like to join us and who would rather stay and relax at the resort.  These were the tour options:

            • Travel to the ruins at Tulum, snorkeling in a cenote, followed by a lunch at a beach restaurant and snorkeling in a lagoon
            • Travel to the ruins at Tulum, exploring a cave (my parents wanted a non-water option), and then followed by a lunch at a beach restaurant.  (these guests will have the option of returning to the resort early or hanging out at the lagoon)


            Out of out 27 adult guests we had 7 choose to stay at the resort, 15 choose the Tulum/snorkeling option, and 5 choose the Tulum/cave option. The cost to my fianc© and I for either the Tulum/snorkeling or Tulum/cave option is $85/pp + cost of lunch.  So I am estimating $110 per person (to include excursion, lunch, drinks in the vans, and tour guide tip). 


            1. Tour Operator

            We selected www.edventruretours.com.mx because of the tour options as well as the great reviews on trip advisor. 

            1. Tour Description
            •  Option 1 (for the swimmers)
              • Since the Ruins of Tulum are so close to our location, there would be time for you to visit them as well for your day.  It takes about  1 1/2 hour to go
                through them, and then you can spend the rest of your day "Edventuring"!
              • We snorkel the underground river cenotes of Dos Ojos.  There we see the amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations in fresh, crystal clear turquoise waters.  It is in a cave setting, yet open on one side to the jungle all the way around!  Great if anyone is a little claustrophobic!  There is a little spider monkey there.  Fun to interact, and take some photos.
              • And then on to Yalku, a wonderful lagoon, to snorkel in an inlet from the ocean that forms a natural aquarium full of tropical fish!  This is also a beautiful sculpture garden, so you will enjoy your visit in and out of the water!
            • Option 2 (for the non-swimmers)
              • The Ruins of Tulum
              • Cave exploration at Aktunchen: One of the park activities is a spectacular cave of more than 5 million years old with a great variety of stalactites, stalagmites and columns.  This cave is more than 640 yards long, has magnificent vaults, discreet illumination and fixed ways for a comfortable walk, without risking the natural state of the grotto, inside the cave you will also be able to appreciate a beautiful crystal clear water cenote of 12 mts depth.  During this route you will have a specialized guide who will explain you how caverns are formed, as well as the use and relation that Mayan civilization had with caves.
              • http://www.aktunchen.com/CAVE_ing.htm
            1.  Price

            The per person price for either tour described above is $85 (including round trip transportation from our hotel in Cancun).


            1. Trash The Dress (Monday morning)

            I plan on starting this TTD session at sunrise and I also know it will be a fight to get my fianc© (then husband) up at that time of the morning for pictures.  I will win, but it will be painful.  I think I may be as excited for these photos as I am for the wedding day photos.


            1. Guest Departures

            Our guests will leave either Monday or Tuesday, so we hope to be able to have breakfast with everyone before they leave.


            1. B & G Departure

            We will be staying an extra couple of days and leaving on Thursday.  Depending on how exhausted we are, we may plan another excursion for Wednesday or we may just relax at the resort.  We shall see...


            to be continued....

            #6 leigh2011

            • Jr. Member
            • 277 posts

              Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:36 PM

              Planning Thread – Part 6

              Legal Wedding


              1. Legal Wedding

              Because of the complications of getting legally married in Mexico, my fianc© and I decided to get legally married before leaving North Carolina.  I had initially thought we would go to the courthouse, but my fianc© really wanted to have our dog there.  So that meant a weekend, outside, and hiring an officiant.  We ended up in a local park on a Sunday afternoon (just shy of 1 month before our Mexico wedding) at 4pm for the ceremony.  We invited our photographer to come out and take some pictures.  (see the icon for legal ceremony in my signature for more pictures)  After the ceremony, with only 10 guests (immediate family) attending, we took everyone out to our favorite restaurant for dinner.  Because I don’t have too much faith my wedding cake in Cancun will look very good, I ordered a single tiered wedding cake for dessert (bonus:  we got to use the engraved cake serving set my mother gave me) from the caterer that will be taking care of our At Home Party.


              1. Invitation

              Because we are just inviting immediate family, I got lazy and didn’t send an invitation.  All they got was a verbal invitation and an email the week of with directions.


              1. Location

              We selected a local county park that had a cute amphitheater area.  There were prettier places that we could have selected, but 1) we didn’t want to have to pay for a venue and 2) we didn’t want to have to drive very far due to logistics with the dog.


              1. Attire

              Most importantly, the dog (who is black and white) wore a black bow tie to which we attached our “legal” rings.  In order to coordinate with the dog, my fianc©/legal husband wore a white button down shirt under a black sweater and bought himself a black bowtie.  At first I had planned on wearing another white dress, but my FMIL asked me to try on her wedding dress – a red traditional Chinese dress.  Well let’s just say I could zip the dress but I couldn’t really walk (apparently she didn’t have hips at that time).  However, I really liked the look and loved the idea of bringing a bit of my fianc©â€™s culture into the whole wedding process.  So I found a dress online that I ordered with custom measurements:

              1 - Legal Pic 1.png


              2 - Legal Pic 2.png


              3 - Legal Pic 3.png



              1. Dinner

              After the ceremony, my fianc© and I dropped the dog back off at home and met our family members/guests at a local restaurant (Brio Tuscan Grille) for dinner.  Paul & I paid for the dinner.



              to be continued

              #7 leigh2011

              • Jr. Member
              • 277 posts

                Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:38 PM

                Planning Thread – Part 7



                1. At Home Party (AHP)

                My fianc© and I wanted to have a celebration for our friends back home that couldn’t make it to Mexico, but we didn’t want to have to pay for a second “Reception”.  So we decided to have more of a party.  We are having the party on a Friday night (much cheaper than Saturday) from 8pm-midnight so we avoid dinner time but also so everyone could stay out and party afterwards.  One problem I have is to balance making it “nice enough” without spending way much money for just a party.


                My then husband and I will return from Mexico late on the night of Thursday Nov.10 and our AHP will be Friday Nov 18th.  The AHP is so soon because I wanted people to still be excited for us and I wanted to get it in before the holiday season starts (our party will be the Friday before Thanksgiving).  Our photographer already knows we need some of our Mexico pictures back in time for the AHP.


                1. Invitation

                We used a standard postcard from Vistaprint as our invitation (postage is $0.29).  As this is a party instead of a reception, we didn’t feel the need to spend a lot of money on real invites.  On the cards we gave our website for more details and asked for an RSVP via email (we set up a new website and yahoo email account just for the party).  The graphic on the card was made by my fianc©.  He took a picture of our dog (who, by now, you should know is our baby) and added the DJ elements.  Unfortunately we know some of our invitees never got the postcards via the USPS, so we ended up having to send out an email to everyone as a backup.  We asked for RSVPs 11 days before we leave for Mexico.  That gives me 7 days to try and track down those that did not RSVP and then another few days to get the final amounts to the caterer.

                1 - AHP Invite Pic.png


                1. Location

                We are having the party at a local (smaller) reception hall.  With a $100 coupon from a local bridal show, we are renting the space for $700 + $125 (for ending late) = $825.  This hall charges ~$1600 more for a Saturday night over a Friday night.  The beauty of this place is that you are allowed to bring your own alcohol as long as you pay an insured bar tender.  The location also has a built in dance floor and has a screen on which we can project a slideshow.


                1. Attire

                I have no idea what my fianc© will plan on wearing, but after I have pushed particular outfits on him for the rest of the wedding events I will simply remind him that the photographer will be present and then let it go.


                I bought a new dress for myself for the party – I bought it for $99 + $9.95 S/H = $108.95 from ideeli.com.  When it first arrived I thought I was going to have to return it because the layers were so thin you could see what color underwear I was wearing.  Luckily a friend from work said she would add an extra layer of the lining material to the dress me and do the other little alterations for me as my wedding present – yeah!  At present I plan on wearing my hot pink shoes and using my hot pink hair flower from the wedding (assuming they are still in good shape).

                2 - AHP Dress Pic.jpg


                1. Cupcakes
                • I selected a local caterer/downtown caf© to make the cupcakes for me.  Their prices for cupcakes were WAY cheaper than the local cupcake specialty shops ($14.50 -$17.50/dozen compared to $36.00/dozen).  My cupcakes may be smaller than the specialty shop, but for ½ the price I will take it.  We selected 3 flavors:  red velvet with cream cheese icing, yellow cupcake with a pineapple filling, and chocolate cupcake with Oreo icing
                • Decoration:  after seeing what another BDW bride did at her AHR, I knew I wanted to make molded chocolate starfish to add to the top of the cupcakes.  I used the following supplies:
                • Mini-starfish chocolate mold from ebay seller kidscakesandpartysupplies:  I paid a total of $11.30 for 3 molds including S/H (each mold has 8 starfish)
                • Candy Melts from Michaels in Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and White Chocolate at $2.99/bag.  I plan on using 2 bags of melts from each flavor.
                • Cupcake Tower:  will be using the simple metal framed cupcake tower from the caterer


                1. Beer/Wine

                We bought the wine from Trader Joes (we took some time to find 2 whites and 2 reds that we liked and that were ~$5/bottle).  We will buy cases upon cases of beer from BJs a day or two before the party.  We are planning for 4-5 drinks per person, so there will likely be beer and wine for guests (or us!) to take home when the party is over.


                We bought plain white paper rings for the wine glasses and will be putting out Sharpies at the bar so guests can personalize their glass in order to tell them apart. 


                1. Food

                The same caterer is providing snacks to go with the alcohol.  Remember that the party starts at 8pm so we are expecting everyone to have already eaten dinner.  The snacks will include veggies, fruit, sliced meats (pepperoni, summer sausage, salami), chips & salsa, a Mexican dip, hot crab dip, and hot shrimp/meatballs/chicken drummettes in BBQ sauce.  We will be spending ~$450 on this food – no idea if we are ordering too much or too little (but oh well – it is a party)


                1. Table D©cor

                I purchased white table cloths from www.tableclothsfactory.com for less than I could rent them locally ($7.59-$11.69, based on size and shape).  I may reuse my light blue table runners if I feel like they look okay in the space (and if I get them back from the wedding coordinator in Mexico).  I thought about centerpieces, and I haven’t decided where to mentally draw the line about spending too much to make this party “nice” when no one else will care.  If I do centerpieces, here is my thought:  place 3 empty wine bottles in the center of each table with one or two flower stems (as you can’t fit more in those tiny holes) in each.  Simple, cheap, and appropriate to the alcoholic nature of the party....  I will likely try this the day of the party and see how it looks.  Game time decision!


                1. Favors

                We intentionally bought 200 koozies so we could have some for the OOT bags and have a ton left over for the party.  (we should have ~170 for the party)  I plan on putting them in a large metal tub (the kind you normally see beer or wine chilling in) at the bar so guests can just grab one for their beer bottle.


                1. DJ

                We booked our DJ for $450 for a four hour party.  When I told the DJ that we are just having a party and not a reception (so no announcements and no tuxedo needed) the price dropped from $750 to $450.  Don’t you hate how the word “wedding” makes everything so much more expensive?


                1. Photos

                Though I really wanted a photobooth, my fianc© didn’t want to spend the extra money (would have been at least $700).  I gave in on this because it is a post-wedding party instead of the actual reception.  Instead we will be paying for our photographer to take pictures for an hour or so for an extra $150 dollars.


                1. Slideshow

                We plan on doing a slideshow that includes cute baby pictures, embarrassing teenage pictures, engagement pictures, wedding pictures (legal and Mexico), and TTD pictures.  The key will be to keeping this from running on too long!


                • Wedding related items

                We ordered postcards from Vistaprint of our 2011 caricature from the state fair in lieu of a guest book.  The back of the postcard asks guests to write a message to the newlyweds.


                I also plan on setting out the photo books I made from my bridal portraits and our legal wedding ceremony on a table in case anyone wants to flip through them.



                 Okay – so I think that is finally it.  If you made it this far... thanks for reading.

                #8 JoanneIreland

                • Member
                • 860 posts

                  Posted 27 October 2011 - 05:27 AM

                  Courtney this is the best planning thread on here, thank u! Love everything.

                  You look amazing in your dress, look at how tiny your waist is. Totally jealous!

                  Thank you for all the details.

                  #9 J and G 2012

                  J and G 2012
                  • Jr. Member
                  • 423 posts

                    Posted 27 October 2011 - 06:16 AM

                    Wow! The detail is amazing!

                    I'm sure your wedding and AHP will be fabulous!


                    #10 Sharon99

                    • Sr. Member
                    • 1,301 posts

                      Posted 27 October 2011 - 06:28 AM

                      Wow! This is such a great & detailed planning thread. One of the bests for sure. Everything looks great!! Your dog is so cute too!

                      For your Itinerary, Welcome & Thank you letters would it be possible to post the files? I am not a diy-er...did you just print those out with normal paper & change the colors?

                      I was debating on paying for these but am thinking it seems easy enough but I have no clue! lol! 

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