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JamieIrene's Planning Thread Tying The Knot On The Beaches of Cancun, Mexico July 28th 2012

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OH MY GOODNESS!  I have no idea where time has gone…All I know is that it is moving faster than ever now! 


I will continue to update as my date QUICKLY approaches, and obviously after I return home from paradise…That is if I can be dragged home from paradise!


So I guess the best place to begin is at the beginning!


How We Meet:


It all began what now seems like ages ago at a Hollister & Co. at South Hills Village Mall near Pittsburgh, Pa.  Joe was working there as a sales associate which they refer to as "models", and I had just been recently hired there.  In fact, Joe was the one that recruited me to work there.  Although when you ask him the story he says he doesn't remember recruiting me, but deep down I know he just wouldn't admit it!  


After working together for a while Joe and I became really great friends.  We got along so well and had a lot in common.  However, at the time (I was about 16 and he was 18) I had a boyfriend and he had a girl friend, so we were nothing more than great friends.  A little ways into our friendship Joe in listed to join the Army Reserves, and he was being sent away to boot camp.  I was really sad to see such a good friend go, but when he was away we kept in touch and he wrote me now and then.  


After his time at boot camp was over Joe returned home to Pittsburgh, Pa.  I was at that point attending college at West Virginia University.  We also at the time were both single.  I came home to Pittsburgh on break and Joe and I decided to get together since we had not seen each other in such a long time.  


I decided I wanted to take Joe out for his first sushi experience!  He was nervous about the sushi, but glad we were going to be seeing each other.  While at the restaurant they brought our sushi out to us in the shape of a heart.  We both laughed, but I guess they saw something in us that we did not yet see.


I had to return to school for the rest of the year and we remained in touch and good friends.  In fact we started to see more and more of each other.  Joe would come and visit me at WVU, and we would have a blast together!  


After my sophomore year at WVU I returned home for summer break.  Joe and I decided to go out on a date together, and we were inseparable!  A few weeks later we were boyfriend and girlfriend!  


We dated for many years, and then.......


The Engagement:


Joe and I had a trip to Mexico planned for my birthday.  I was expecting to get engaged there.   I mean talk about a perfect opportunity for him to pop the question!  However,  Joe sat me down the night before we left and said to me, "Jamie we have plenty of time to get engaged.  I am not going to propose to you in Mexico and I do not want it to ruin our trip and you be sad and disappointed."  


I reluctantly understood, and figured hey we are going to be in Mexico for my birthday I will not let this ruin our trip we have plenty of time!  So, we headed off to Mexico!  Joe seem more nervous than usual from the second we left I could tell something was just not right!  We went through security and he was white as a ghost!  I was worried, but he assured me everything was fine he just had a stomach ache and he was ready to he there already.  


As soon as we arrived in Mexico Joe seemed 100% better we checked in and enjoyed a wonderful first day in paradise!  Then, the next day we spent the entire day at the pool and set up dinner reservations at Maria Margarita one of the restaurants inside of our hotel the Riu Caribe.  After dinner we were going to go see the show the hotel was putting on in the theatre that night they were doing Chicago and I did not want to miss it!  However, Joe insisted that he HAD to change his shirt before we went over here.  I was annoyed because I wanted to get a good seat for the show, but I had to use the restroom so I agreed to go up to the room real quick first.


Once in our room I walked out of the bathroom and Joe was standing outside on our balcony.  I joined him out there and he put his arm around me kissed my forehead and said, "Jamie I could not see myself spending the rest of my life with anyone, but you."  As if that wasn't clue enough that he was going to propose!  I was completely clueless!  In fact he then got down on one knee and I yelled, "are you okay?!"  because I thought he had fallen down!  He laughed at me said, "Yes, Jamie I am fine."  reached into his pocket, and pulled out the most beautiful ring, and finally asked, "Jamie, will you marry me?"  I was so excited I burst into tears!!  and said, " OF COURSE!"  We then spent the rest of our time in paradise as a newly engaged couple.  It was a truly magical trip. 


Here are a few pictures from our trip!


Dinner right before Joe Propose:



Us at cenote de chichen itza:



Us at amazing chichen itza:



I could post pictures all day of that trip, but I better continue on my my thread so much more to cover!

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Engagement Pictures:


So…I am all about DIY as you will learn through this planning thread, and I just refused to pay someone to take our engagement pictures.  So my fiancé and I saved a few hundred dollars and did them ourselves, and it was so fun!  I promise all you brides out there not wanting to spend that extra money on engagement pictures here is place you can save!  All you need is a $15.00 tripod (we bought ours at walmart), and a little imagination!  Here are a few of our favorite DIY engagement pictures!  And if you ladies have any questions about DIY engagement pictures please do not hesitate to ask!












And just when we thought things could not get any better....

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We Won a Free Engagement Shoot in New York, by Gonzalo Nunez!:


Where do I even begin?! I saw the contest posted here on BDW.com and I sat down and began writing my love story. I never thought in a million years I would be writing the story that would win us a dream engagement shoot in NYC with Gonzalo Nunez! Gonzalo is absolutely AMAZING! My Fiance and I meet with Gonzalo in New York City for our engagement photo shoot in the beginning of October. ( I know my review is late, but better late than never!) He is awesome, and it was worth every single second of our 8 hour trip from Pittsburgh, Pa to NYC to meet with Gonzalo! Before we left for the big apple Gonzalo and I exchanged numerous emails. He is very prompt at returning emails which for me is very important. Never once did I wait over 24 hours to hear from him. It was good to know that if I had a question I would have an answer with in 24 hours (although it was always much faster). Through those emails we discussed what ideas my fiance and I had for our engagement photo shoot, and it is unbelievable to see what Gonzalo created from our simple ideas! He is definitely the best! We meet Gonzalo on the half way point of the Brooklyn Bridge and began our photo shoot there. He made being in front of the camera very easy. We felt so comfortable even though there were tons of people all around us! It is crazy to look at our pictures because he captured the most beautiful pictures that makes it seems like it was just my fiance and me in the middle of NYC. Mean while there were thousands of people all around! It was rainy and cloudy weather for our entire weekend in NYC. A photo shoot nightmare? or so you would think, but actually it was amazing! The pictures Gonzalo created in the weather conditions we had are absolutely breath taking and I have no clue how he does it! There is not one picture that he sent to us that we do not LOVE. I honestly can not say enough wonderful things about him! He was able to take a brick wall and turn it into a beautiful background of an amazing picture! He defintely knows what he is doing and he is very very good at it! I am very picky when it comes to pictures (especially things that involve my wedding) and Gonzalo more than exceeded my expectations. He is just wonderful! My fiance and I feel truly honored that we had the opportunity to work with Gonzalo! (especially in NYC) If you have an questions or would like more information about my experience with Gonzalo please feel free to contact me! I have all the confidence that you will be more than thrilled with Gonzalo's work!


And now I will let the pictures speak for themselves! Here are a few of our Favorites!













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Okay…just a few more I promise!  I just love them all I could not choose just a few!










And I could keep posting, but I'll move on! 

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The Decision To Have A Destination Wedding:


So after looking at a few venues here is Pittsburgh, Pa, and realizing how much more we could get for our money if we had a destination wedding the choice became obvious.  We would return to the Hotel Riu Caribe with out family and friends for a week long wedding celebration!  We immediately booked on wedding on July 28th 2012 at the hotel Riu Caribe, and I ordered save the dates!


Our Postcard Save The Dates:


I was so excited about sending out our save the dates to family and friends to let them know it was time to start saving!  I sent our save the dates over a year in advance, and I think that my friends and family were thankful they had so long to save!  I found a wonderful seller on etsy who did an absolutely beautiful job on them!  She was extremely friendly, had awesome communication, overall I had a wonderful experience with her! 


Here is the link to her shop:



And here are the pictures of my save the dates!






I love them!  


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Thanks acireta!


And now for a turn of events….


To Travel Agent, or not to travel Agent:


My fiancé and I had already done all of the wedding booking with a riu wedding specialist so I did not need a travel agent to help me with any sort of wedding booking. But it still seemed many brides used them just for travel purposed. To be honest from the start I was extremely skeptical about using a travel agent. I mean how to they get paid if you are not paying them? But, as any curious BDW bride will do I began search through these forums to try and find out more! I kept reading wonderful stories about how travel agents made brides weddings flawless, and simple. (sounded good to me!)


So, I proceeded to contact beach bum vacations. We were soon contacted by a very nice travel agent eager to help us book our trip to Mexico! She sent me some paper work which we filled out and emailed back to her, and then she contacted us again asking when a good time was for both of us to sit down and have a conference call with her to go over a quote and booking our trip. So, we set up a date. She called us that day an hour earlier than she had originally said she was going to…No big deal except we were out picking up dinner and did not want to have an important call like this while driving. So she agreed to call us back in an hour. When she called back she was extremely had to understand over the phone. She was speaking way to quickly, and it seemed like she was trying to cut corners when we would ask her certain questions. She was very pushy about doing group blocking which we had told her several times we were NOT interested in doing. So finally it got to the point where my fiancé let the room out of frustration, and I asked her to please send us a break down of everything we went over on the phone, so that we could go over it, and make an informed decision. Well the information never came, just the OUTRAGEOUSLY over priced quote. Not to mention a quote that the Riu company themselves said they could not yet give us because it was far to in advance!


So…I continued questioning travel agents here on BDW.com, and then I came in contact with Wendy Hicks! From the get to she was a complete 360 from the agent we worked with from beach bum vacations! She sent me pictures of different wedding setups at our resort we had selected, she had great communication, and she was very honest.


Now here is where Wendy really came in handy….


My Destination Wedding Nightmare:


I am all about getting the best deal possible for our flight and week long stay in Mexico, and Wendy assured me that any price I saw online at any time she could either price match or possibly do better! So every single day I would get on my favorite travel sites, and check pricing… About a little less than a year in advance is when all of the rates became available for me to stock…and stock I did. Then around the 8th month mark the prices started to become more of what we were expecting to pay. One day I was on expedia.com going through all of the steps that you normally would to book your trip so that I could send Wendy all of the pricing information to see what she could do… Now there are three Riu Hotels in Cancun. The Riu Caribe where our wedding was booked at, the Riu Cancun, and the Riu Palace Las Americanas. When I would go to select our hotel the Riu Caribe where we has ALREADY BOOKED our wedding at it kept telling me NO Availabilities!  


That is when I began to panic!  I immediately contacted every single person involved with my wedding planning is any way shape or form!  First I emailed my wedding coordinator at the riu caribe.  She only took 3 days to email me back which for her was good the time before that when I emailed her it look a few weeks!  She informed me that everything was fine, and that the hotel was just doing some soft renovations that included things like bedding towels, etc.  To try back in a month or two and if I am still having troubles to contact her again, and we can go from there. Waiting two more months like she said would have gotten me to the 6 month mark for my wedding, which in my opinion was completely unacceptable.  So then I tired calling the Riu 800 number, and I told the man on the phone the trouble I was having.  He was no help he told me to wait or to contact my wedding coordinator!  So then, in a panic I contacted Wendy.  She told me that she had heard that the hotel was under going some soft renovations, but nothing major, but that she would try and get to the bottom of it!  A day or two later I received an email from Wendy informing me that my hotel was in fact closing down during the time my wedding was scheduled, and we would have to find me a new venue!  I brooke into tears!  HOW HAD NO ONE TOLD ME THIS!  


My own wedding coordinator was completely unaware of this.  So, I contacted her again informing her of the information I had discovered.  I also, email the general wedding information planning contact email, and called The Riu hotel!


1.   General email reply from the riu weddings:


The told me that there was an error in there system, and that I could go ahead and proceed with booking my wedding at the Riu Caribe on July 28th, 2012 at 6:00pm.  Umm....That is when my wedding is and it is already book at a hotel that is going to be closed for renovations!  So, they proved to be useless.


2.  Email reply from my wedding coordinator:




3.  My phone call to the Riu reservations number:


So, by the time I had called them I had pretty much had it!  I wanted answers, and I wanted them NOW!  This is a wedding we are talking about not some spring break trip!  I explained to the main on the phone who had terrible english my situation.  He was not understanding.  So, I then proceeded to speak in spanish to try and make communication easier... Which did help a little.  I told him that my hotel was closing and I could not book my room reservation for a week stay.  He did not believe me, so I said then I would LOVE if you could book my trip for my right now he asked the date I would be arriving, and leaving.  I gave him all of my information, and his voice changed instantly, and he asked if I could please hold.  I said sure.  After being on hold for 30 min.  he came back on the phone explained to me that I was in fact correct and the hotel was closed for when my wedding was book.   He then asked if I could give him all of my wedding reservation information, which I gladly sent over.  He said he was sorry and that someone would be contacting me very soon! 




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The next morning my phone rang, and the area code was so strange I knew right away that Mexico was calling!  I answered and a women on the line explained her position the the Riu company, and that there had been a terrible mistake.  They had accidently booked my wedding at the Riu Caribe when it will be closed down completed for full renovations!  (Tell me something I did not already know).  She informed me that she was terribly sorry, and that she would be glad to set up my wedding reservation at one of the other two Riu hotels.  She informed me that there was a wedding at the Riu Palace Las Americans on my planned wedding day at the same exact time I scheduled my wedding for... So obviously I had no choice, but to choose the other hotel.  The Riu Cancun.  Same compensation, my wedding package would cost the same as it was at the other hotel (WOW) and she said that she was going to upgrade my fiance and I to a suite with ocean view, and a hot tub on the balcony! (okay I actually kinda like the sound of that)  I also told her that I did not want to pay any of my vendor fees to make up for the money I had lost from things I had already had made like my over $300.00 Save the dates.  She said for tax reasons she could not give them to me for free, but she could give them to me for half off.  So, my fiance and I agreed, and she sent me over my new wedding contract.  When I go my new wedding contract I noticed that the detail about the suite with ocean view and hot tube was missing... HMMM... So I emailed her right away letting her know what the contract was not correct, and that I wanted it corrected because I wanted EVERYTHING in writing just so no one could pull any fast ones on us!  I did not hear from here for a week!  I had to add international calling to my cell phone because I was trying to call Mexico to find out what the heck was going on!


The next week I received a phone call again from Mexico!  (FUN!)  She informed me that there had been another mistake, and there was no rooms at the Riu Cancun with both ocean view and hot tub, and that for my troubles they were now going to offer my a photography package to compensate me for yet another mistake.  Well, that would have been great, had I already not booked a photographer, and gave them a non-refundable deposit.  So, I told her that that would not work and explained the that I already had a photographer hired.  She then offered me and my fiance a second massage! (ARE YOU KIDDING ME WE ALREADY GET ONE THAT IS INCLUDED IN OUR WEDDING PACKAGE).  I told her that it was not going to work, and I needed to discuss what we wanted with my fiance.  She told me to just email her what we wanted, and she would let me know what she could do.  


So my fiance and I discussed what we wanted.  We were planning on renting out the night club inside of our new hotel called La Pacha privately for our guests with a DJ and Bar tender for dancing after dinner.  I emailed her letting her know that this is what we wanted, and a few days later we got confirmation that they were going to give it to us! (YAY!).  She since has sent me over a new wedding contract, with all correct information.  


So Now I can announce our NEW wedding location!



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oh Jamie, I am stressing out for you over the fiasco of the resort. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this!!!! I hope everything works out with the alternative. phew. 


your DIY engagement photos are gorgeous! 


and whoa - wow. wow! the NYC ones? leave me speechless. I'm feeling like that would be a great gift for my FI (who is from NYC..left it to join me here in TX). thank you so much for your review and for sharing the photos!!! 


can't wait to hear more of your planning. good luck!!! 

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