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MKJH Riviera Maya | Fiesta in the Palapa | Lots of pictures! : )

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I want to start by saying that the last 16 months have been the most fun, exciting, stressful, creative, exhausting yet invigorating months of my life...I'm sure most of you can relate! : )


Thank you all for the opportunity to vent, share and laugh here on BDW...I have truly been (and continue to be) inspired.


This is our story...


Janelle & Todd

Riviera Maya, Mexico





It was the first weekend of October, 2008 and I was helping a friend with her wedding. A couple of weeks prior she "planted a seed"...that maybe her cousin (Todd) and I might hit it off. He loved to travel, was a foodie, an avid reader...more of an intellectual than a jock (which suited me just fine). She and Todd weren't overly close (at the time)...there is a 13 year age difference between them...in fact, she wasn't sure if he was in a relationship or not at that point!


Anyway, it was my job to hang out at her house and wait for their guests to arrive from the church the night of the rehearsal dinner. The doorbell rings, this incredibly stunning man walks in, introduces himself as "Todd" and honestly, I saw stars. It was hard for me to make eye contact with him the whole night, I was so excited. We chatted a bit the next day at the wedding ceremony and reception...and I spent most of the next morning (gift opening) at the kitchen sink with his mother, washing dishes! 


Let's just say I took the bull by the horns...I was not prepared to let this one get away!!! I got his work e-mail address (the only one my cousin had) and spent an hour composing a four sentence e-mail that basically said he was the one person at the wedding that I wished I had been able to spend more time with. I hit "send" and waited...all of 15 minutes!!! He replied that he was, at that moment, sitting at his desk, trying to get the nerve to call up his cousin (my friend) for my contact info. The rest is history...I think we just always knew that we would be together forever. It is easy to be with him, to share a space and travel the world together...in my dreams I could not have imagined having a relationship with a man as honest, open and loving...there was no question we would be married.


But...we are both very private and practical and never really saw ourselves having a big wedding. Neither of us had been married before but he did have a teenage daughter from a previous relationship. We moved in together after about 18 months of dating and that's when our parents started saying things like "there's money set aside for a wedding" and "we just want to see you married!" So, on our second trip to the Riviera Maya in January, 2011 (@ Dreams Tulum), we decided what we wanted was a destination wedding...to ask friends and family (none of whom had been to Mexico before) to step outside of their comfort zone and travel with us back to the Riviera Maya for our "Fiesta in the Palapa"! 


Engagement Photo/Third Anniversary






I've never really been a big fan of rings, especially with my job in healthcare...and working in inner-city high risk homes I want to keep my jewelry to a minimum. I love full bezel diamonds, I wanted a band a bit wider than normal and after an exhaustive search, I found a photo of a Birks ring online that I loved. However, Birks no longer makes the ring, so we took the photo to a local goldsmith and he recreated it beautifully! Unfortunately, I still don't feel comfortable wearing it to work most days, so I'm looking for a really simple band of some sort. Todd also had his ring done by the same goldsmith.  










My great friend (Todd's cousin) hosted my bridal shower and planned the most creative Mexican-themed food and activities...it was a blast! Instead of a guest book, she had everyone sign a sombrero (that she told me later she picked up at Value Village and just glued some pretty flowers and trim on). She asked a local woman (originally from Mexico) who sells salsa and fresh tortillas at the farmer's market to do a tortilla-making demonstration for us. Then, we filled those delicious fresh tortillas and had homemade chicken tortilla lime soup, dressing everything up with the toppings provided. Our friend from the farmer's market who creates amazing cakes baked a fab Mexican vanilla cake and Mexican wedding cookies.
















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We selected a local travel agent as many of our guests were 55+ and we thought they would appreciate the opportunity to sit down and speak in person with someone. Our TA specializes in destination weddings and was never afraid to pick up the phone and call the resort/wedding office directly as questions or issues came up.


We hosted an open house the second Sunday in December so our guests could meet each other, mingle and ask questions. We had a DVD of photos playing from our first two trips to Mexico, with lots of pictures of the resort, surrounding towns, and the excursions we had been on. We distributed our wedding week survival bags, passport covers with information booklets inside and flip-flops.







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I won't go into a lot more in the way of details about our wedding week kits...if you'd like the information, here is the link to my thread:




But for a bargain shopper like me, they were so much fun to do and our guests are still talking about them! If you plan to do welcome/oot bags, start early and look for deals towards the end of the summer as warm weather items begin to go on clearance.


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The Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya was our home for two fabulous weeks this winter. It was quite nostalgic for us as that's where we spent our very first holiday in Mexico two years earlier. We (briefly!) considered somewhere other than Mexico for a DW, but decided the Riviera Maya would be best as we felt comfortable there and knew how to maneuver around. We thought the GSRM would have lots to offer those who just wanted to hang out at the resort for a week plus it was in a great location for those who wanted to get off the resort during the day to sightsee/do excursions. They have a kids club, lazy river, lots of restaurants, activities galore, a fabulous spa and lush jungle/flora all around the resort. My parents saw monkeys sitting in the trees across from their balcony! The GSRM also has two very large open lounge areas with lots of seating for bigger groups to visit at all times of the day or night.  


We purchased the presidential wedding package thru the resort which included this lovely suite for two weeks. Staying at the resort on our own for the week after the wedding was the BEST decision we made!  




















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My dress and hair flower were from a local bridal shop.  My dress was Jai style #9909...the interior of the dress was hemmed to floor length and the lace/tulle overlay was left alone as it was so beautiful.












My Ralph Lauren strappy silver heels were from DSW:




Nadri earrings from Nordstroms:




This handmade silk fan was a special purchase while on holidays in Barcelona last year. The hanger was from an Etsy seller (lilafrances):




Groom's Tommy Bahama linen shirt and pants were from The Bay and his handmade leather sandals were purchased while on holidays in Positano, Italy:






For a wedding gift, I bought him a Tommy Bahama watch:




His daughter (our ring-bearer) wore this bright pink dress from Barijay:




Our ring bowl, bouquet, bout and corsage charms were by an Etsy seller (palomasnest):






My niece (and flower girl) wore this pink dress from Winners (her basket was also purchased at Winners):




And her strappy little sandals were from Payless:











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Hey my daughter wore those exact same sandals as the flower girl at our wedding.


Everything looks wonderful - can't wait to read the rest and see more pictures!!!!


I love your "How we met story" Sometimes you do just have to take the bulls by the horn - if it's meant to be the bull won't drag his feet, LOL!

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These boxes of Godiva chocolates were used as favours for our rehearsal dinner. They were on clearance after Christmas at Home Outfitters for 80% off. They came in a second gold Christmas gift box which we simply removed and VOILA...no sign of Christmas and absolutely divine!




Our wedding ceremony was held out at the private beach area next to the palapa at the GSRM:






Before the wedding ceremony, a sinamay envelope containing a thank you card (Vistaprint) and wood fan (Michaels) was placed on each chair.





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I have to send a special "shout out" to my favourite Etsy seller, Lacey (woodandglass). She was so great to work with and created these amazing fused glass stir sticks which were served with cocktails while we were out taking photos. The bartender pre-mixed a large quantity, poured into glasses, added ice and guests stirred their hearts out!






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We created a Vistaprint banner and the WP at the resort did exactly what we hoped she would do with it!



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Our instant photo guest book was purchased off Etsy (thehandmadeboutique). The engraved plate we had done at the little kiosk outside of Sears. We didn't look at the finished book until we crawled into our own bed the night we returned home. It is one of my most prized possessions...I especially love the notes and drawings made by my niece and nephews!







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