I just returned from a 2 week trip to Mexico which consisted of: My wedding w/ 90 friends & family on 11/19/11, Honeymoon, Birthday & Thanksgiving...needless to say November was a very busy month. I will be focusing this article on my destination wedding experience at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar but feel free to ask questions about any of the above events as I am happy to talk about those too!
To start off I want to say that picking the location for me was the hardest part of planning my wedding so if you are in that stage, I promise...it gets better.
I would highly recommend 2 things which really made this whole process much easier for me:
1) Pick a resort with an onsite wedding coordinator
2) Get a travel agent who can help you with suggestions on locations, book yours and your guests travel itineraries, be our on call contact for anything travel related (you will be glad you have this when your guests start asking 101 questions about traveling).
Ok so let me break it down for you...
The Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar was a HUGE hit across the board. This was the time of our lives and so we hear - the time of some of our guests lives. It was Chicago meets NY. Most of our guests are in their early 30's / late 20's. My husband is from the Midwest and I am from NY. As most of you know the personalities from these two locations can't be more different. It must be the magic of this place but by the end of the trip it seemed like there were friendships made that could go the distance. Everyone got together like they've know eachother for years and partied like it was their own special day. I felt like it wasn't only our marriage but a marriage between our groups of friends & family. It was the best gift they could have given us.
I have a feeling this hotel was made for us in regards to the vibe & energy - I have my travel agent to thank for this because she recommended it to us. Again, don't go into this blindly...get yourself an experienced travel agent to help you pick the right place. So anways, if you like to have a good time and want your wedding to be a blast...fun and full of energy - this place is for you. They obviously have the beach, they have a number of different pools, a spa, a nightclub, swim-up bars (which were a huge hit), and gotta love the all inclusive part. The food is very good considering.
The room rates are extremely affordable. And since most of my guests were coming from Chicago & NY there were daily direct flights that we also very affordable to Cancun... which is about 25 mins away - very easy!
Once you decide on a hotel at the Iberstar location (since they have 5 hotels on their Playa del Carmen property) they will assign you to a wedding coordinator. We choose the Del Mar because it was the most affordable and they had the largest reception space for our 90 personal guest list. After a few wedding coordintors came and went we ended up working with Luciana at the Del Mar. All I can say is you will be very pleased! She has her SH*& together. Sorry to curse but its just the only way to convey this. I know the feeling of being a nervous bride and she can be a little slower on the response time than you'd probably prefer but trust me shes not overlooking a single email. She may not get back to you right away but when you do hear from her she will have your answer. Also - the day of, she was 100% by my side. Having her there to help me with the many arrangements made was the only reason our wedding came out the way it did. I could NOT imagine doing a destination wedding any other way. You need an onsite wedding planner. Otherwise...good luck because you will need it. Its way too hard to do this without someones eyes and ears and knowhow at your location.
Luciana set up EVERYTHING for us except the DJ and photographer...which, as you know, is a lot considering how much goes into planning a wedding. Our flowers were AMAZING let me add. I hadn't seen them until my wedding day so I was just crossing my fingers that she conveyed my image to her vendor and yes, just like everything else...she nailed it!
As for our DJ - we choose DJ DOREMIXX based on reviews that we found on this website. They were awesome. The owner of the company met us a few days before the wedding to go over all the details and names of our wedding party. Can't say enough about them either!
Our photograper was a local woman who did our engagement pictures. We flew her down and put her up in the hotel. As long as your photograper stays at the hotel you won't be changed an "outside" vendor fee. Otherwise I believe its 100 dollars if you don't use their photographer.
Our Beach Wedding: Nov. 19th 2011
Our ceremony was located on the beach and thankfully the weather cooperated. To be more discriptive... It POURED up until the time of our ceremony and as we lined up to go down to the beach the rain stopped. It was magical to say the least. Our officiant looked and spoke like she was a Mexican movie star. It was a beautiful and touching ceremony - even some of the groomsmen cried. Following the ceremony we had our toast and greeted our guests.
We had our cocktail hour on the beach as well and that started as soon as the photographer finished our post-wedding pics. I choose to start my ceremony at 4 so we could get some colorful shots...very proud of my timeline and will be even more proud when the professional pictures come through It was a blast and we hired a performance by Tamboras De Agua (fire dancers & drummers)! What a way to kick things off.
Our reception was held at the pavillion by the beach and the food from the Don Alfredo restaurant was served. This is an open air space that usually serves a buffet daily but they cleared it out and decorated the space for my formal event. It was a total transformation! All the decorations that we brought, including the hanging lanterns, were put together by the hotel staff. The party was one for the books. The dance floor was hot all night with our favorite tunes. We ate, drank, danced and had the time of our lives.
We can't say enough about our experience with the Iberostar. It exceed our wildness dreams and didn't put us in the poor house either. We will be back there one day and have already discussed renewing our vows on our 10 year anniversary.