We are back from our destination wedding at the Riu Palace and we are happily married. Off to England and Greece on Sunday for our honeymoon for 3 weeks, could not be more excited J I think it is important to either stay a few extra days in your destination after the wedding to relax or to plan another honeymoon, rather than considering your wedding week a honeymoon because it is not always that relaxing when you are preparing for your wedding day, entertaining and mingling with a large group of guests, and so on. I was drained by the end of it, especially since we did a TTD the day after the wedding and then had to leave the following day. I have no regrets though, it was the perfect destination and everything went very smoothly. I am going to take the time to write a long detailed review to help out all future brides as I have found this website to be a lifesaver!
Hotel â€“ Riu Palace Los Cabos
Package â€“ Royal
Number of Guests â€“ 36
Wedding Party â€“ 10 people (Bride & Groom, 4 BM, 4 GM)
Ceremony â€“ Symbolic
Ceremony Location â€“ Beach at 5:30
Officiant/Reverend â€“ Marco Arechiga
Reception Location â€“ Baja Norte at 7-11
Wedding Coordinator â€“ Jatziri (Jazz)
Hair & Makeup â€“ Suzanne Morel
Photographers â€“ Dennis Berti and Chio Garcia
Florist â€“ Alina Gomez (hotelâ€™s vendor)
I was getting stressed before heading to Mexico because the communication between the wedding coordinator was not always very clear and at times she took a while to get back to my questions. I am definitely the planning type so this scared me a bit. However I remember reading several other review where the brides said that once you get to the hotel you realize everything is under control by the WC. I am glad I kept this in mind to ease the stress because these brides could not have been more correct. Honestly, if you have specific detail questions you need to ask before the wedding, I recommend to search this website or message past brides or to call the WC directlyâ€¦ because you will not have a lot of luck getting quick answers via email, especially months before your wedding.
I have stayed at the Sante Fe before so I kind of knew what to expect. Beautiful grounds at the Palace, great front desk service, really have nothing but good things to say about the hotel itself. My husband went to Mexico with the boys 2 days earlier for a bachelor party, so I had the guys put together OOT bags and give to the front desk for our arrival. The front desk handed these bags out to each guest, and the next morning I picked up the leftovers. A few people didnâ€™t get their bags, and I think it is because they booked with a different TA. So I suggest to give the front desk a list of all of your guests names to ensure no one gets missed. My OTT bags were simple â€“ each contained a loofa, hand sanitizer, crystal light packets, Advil, a brochure that I made of the weekâ€™s events, and a little drink menu that I made for ideas (I would be glad to share/email these to anyone interested). The TA said she would try to get the hotel to get everyone in the same area of the hotel, but we were all quite split up. This didnâ€™t really matter, it is just important to make sure you have at least two rooms close together so that these can be your two getting ready rooms if you plan to have the photographers present for pictures during this time. Makes it much easier and efficient for them to go from room to room. We were in room 4056 and my parents were in 4053, so we used mine for the boys getting ready and my parents for the girls. We didnâ€™t get a honeymoon suite or anything, but the hotel upgraded us from ocean view to ocean front. I asked for a suite just for the wedding day but they said the hotel was full. One warning if you are getting ready with a group of people in the rooms: many of our guests, my room, and my parents room AC systems were not that strong. We sweated bullets getting ready in the room. My BMâ€™s were all fanning me while I got my dress on etc. On second thought, this would be my only complaint about the hotel. Even just when it was my husband and I in our room, it felt too hot although AC was on full blast.
Meeting with WC
I thought Jatziri and I were meeting Sunday but she was not there on Sunday. The front desk staff called her and rearranged to meet on Monday morning. I met with Jatziri with my husband and my Mom. She brought he two assistants with her. Jatziri went over the checklist with us, confirmed what we wanted, discussed the decorations for ceremony and reception (I gave her a checklist with pictures as well). I didnâ€™t have all of the decorations with me because some were in friendsâ€™ suitcases and we didnâ€™t think to grab them, so she just told me to bring it all before noon the following day. Jatziri is a pro, she has it completely under control and is willing to make any accommodations possible! She is very sweet as well and speaks excellent English. She even upgraded to a two tier cake from a 1 tier for not extra expense, and charged much less than I had expected for decoration fees. She also pulled out the proposal from Alina the florist to review and confirm, as I had been in discussion with Alina via email to discuss options. I decided to have Alina set up my arch/huppah/chuppah/whatever you want to call it, because I am not a fan of the Palaceâ€™s arch. This was very expensive but worth it, it is the first thing the guests see when they arrive at the ceremony location and wow does Alina ever do a fantastic job... Iâ€™ll get back to her though.
I met back up with Jatziri the next day to give her our suitcase of decorations, and she reviewed what needed to be done with each done. She also asked very specific questions that I hadnâ€™t even thought of. Girlâ€™s got this! She allowed me to give my iPod and computer to her the day of. She kept our favor boxed in her AC office because they were filled with candies and she agreed to not put them at the location until the last minute so they gummies wouldnâ€™t all melt and stick together.
The ladies and I went to Wal Mart the next day after meeting with Jazz to look for vases for centerpieces, which I planned to put sand in and shells that you can buy at the gift shop in the lobby. They had some vases for $13, and they were okay. I remembered reading from another bride that Alina rented her vases for $15 each. I decided not to buy these and instead rent them from her because she would have more choice and I wouldnâ€™t be keeping them anyways. We also got champagne from Wal Mart (not a lot of selection there though) because the Royal package only would serve champagne to 18 guests plus husband and I. Instead of paying $8 per person for champagne through resort, Jatziri agreed that I could provide my own champagne for these extra guests. We bought 6 bottles but only needed 4 in the end. The 2 got brought to our room before the ceremony, which was greatâ€¦ we needed it! I emailed Alina later this day and she agreed to rent the vases, they were exactly what I wanted. Only problem is you donâ€™t get them until a couple hours before the wedding, so I had some guests fill them with the sand and shells for me and deliver them back to Jatziri. The other shopping trip we did was to try to find fans in town because my MOH forgot the fans that I had given her to pack. I had been at a summer wedding in 32 degree weather the preview summer and knew how important these fans were. We found pretty fans at a store in the main mall downtown thank goodness. Everyone was using them, I highly recommend fans if you are doing the beach wedding! Jatziri placed my wedding ceremony cards on each seat at the ceremony and a fan on top.
Since we paid for the private dinner at the Baja Norte location, we were allowed to use the semi private dinner for our rehearsal dinner. Jatziri booked this for us. They seated us at a table in the middle of the restaurant but I was not having that . I told them this is supposed to be semi-private, and after the staff discussed for a moment they moves us to a table on the edge of the restaurant that was more private. Dinner was good! If you are planning to have your reception dinner here, I have no complaints! One guest said it was the best steak he had in Mexico ever. By the way, no rehearsal is actually provided. This surprised me... But it all worked out great in the end.
I went to Suzanne Morelâ€™s salon for hair and makeup. My Mom and Mother in Law also got their hair done. Suzanne was there which was nice as I had read that she was not always present during the appointments. She and I looked at pictures on my computers of inspiration for makeup and hair, and I showed her how my hairdresser had done my hair for a trial before I left to Mexico. She said that she thought my curls should be a bit looser than how my hairdresser had done them, and I explained that I wanted them to begin tight because I was afraid they would fall out. My hair doesnâ€™t hold curls well because it is very fine, so I also had extensions with my to curl and clip in. Suzanne explained everything I wanted to my stylist, and then she spoke with my mom and mother in law about ideas for their hair.
They curled my hair and pinned it all up first, then they did my makeup. My makeup was perfect, exactly what I wanted. They then did my Momâ€™s hair, which she was not in love with but she does not have a lot of options with having short hair that is too short for an up do. They just backcombed it a lot to give it volume and curled the ends slightly. It looked very nice at first. My mother in law got her hair curled and pinned up, it was beautiful. They then did my hair exactly as I wanted it, big and tight curls, poof at the top for volume, half up with a braid at the section taken up. Everyone was very happy as we left the salon. Now for the sad partâ€¦. As soon as we walked into the not-very-ACâ€™d hotel room, my hair slowly began to drop. I thought â€œIt canâ€™t possibly drop anymoreâ€ but it did. It became subtle beach waves by the end of the 1.5 hour getting ready time. I was pretty chocked. My momâ€™s also fell flat and she lost her volume. I do not know what kind of hairspray the salon used.. I thought it should have done a better job of keeping our hair in place though. Even my extensions, which is made up of real hair that usually holds very well, fell flat. If I could go back in time I definitely would have gotten makeup done but not my hair. Not because the didnâ€™t do a great job, but because of how it held up, not worth the money for that reason. It was however 35 degrees on this day and more humid than most days in Cabo! And the crappy AC in the hotel room didnâ€™t help. Below you can see a picture of my Canada hair trail, and after you can see a picture (screen shot from video not great quality) or my hair at the ceremony. You can't see the back but you can get a good idea of how different it is. When I left Suzanne Morel's salon it looked a lot like the first picture from my Canada hair trial
While the girls and I got ready in my Momâ€™s room, Jatziri showed up about an hour before the wedding with the bouquets and vases. I almost cried I was so happy with the bouquets. When you send Alina a picture of what you want, she will put it in the proposal spreadsheet and make it EXACTLY like in the picture. I had made 7 brooch flowers and asked her to put 3 in mind and 4 in the BMâ€™s bouquets. She made them fit in so nicely. The ribbon was tied so beautifully OMG I could go on and on. The boutonnieres were also very nice and matched the bouquets perfectly. I gave Jazz my computer and iPod and she told us she would be back to pick us up 5 minutes before the ceremony. Here is a picture my friend took of her bouquet.
Jazz kept the guests and the boys in the shade until about 5 minutes before coming to pick up us girls. The ceremony started about 15-20 minutes late (keep this in mind) as she picked us up right at 5:30, we got down there at about 5:40, and waited about 5 minutes before walking the isle for reasons I am not sure of (I think maybe the boys were in the wrong order or something along those lines).
They played my pre-processional playlist while guests waited, and then turned on the processional song as the BMâ€™s began to walk. It was a beautiful setup. I had organza chair ties in light pink, two white parasols opened and laid on the sand on either side of the sets of chairs, there were unexpected extra flower petals scattered down the sides of the aisle, and then the arch would was to beautiful! I bought my own faux capiz shells from shopwildthings.com, and Alina had made a curtain of these at the back of the arch, along with the sheath white curtain and flower arrangements at the front.
Marco was fantastic, I was really happy to hear that we had him as I had heard about him and seen videos from other bridesâ€™ ceremonies. He is so funny!! A huge bird-sized moth went after my BMâ€™s bouquets during the beginning of the ceremony, and he tied it in to the whole event making jokes and easing the poor girls as they freaked out. Canâ€™t wait to see those pictures! The ceremony was quick which was great because everyone was sweating bullets! I was pretty mean to the guys and had them wear pants, dress shirts with sleeves rolled up, vests, and shoes LOLâ€¦ They looked fabulous though J . The ceremony was perfect! Yes, we did have an audience of about 40 peopleâ€¦ pretty sure my Dad was inviting people to watch that he was having drinks with at the pool during the day. But it didnâ€™t bother me, if this would bother you I suggest you have your ceremony at the gazebo. The only thing this changed for us, is we decided not to use a mic for our vows because I was fine with family and friends hearing but not the other 40 guests we didnâ€™t eve know. They were very respectful, they cheered when appropriate but did not interrupt at all during the ceremony. It is an older crowd at the Palace vs. the Santa Fe.
Many of the guests, especially the men, went to change. Others had some beverages at the lobby bar. We took pictures around the hotel and then at the beach at about 7:30. At this time we saw all of our guests at the Baja Norte location having a drink and watching us from the balcony above. I decided not to do a couple shoot with my husband at that time because it was approaching 8:00, we were all thirsty and hungry, and I didnâ€™t want to make the guests wait too long for dinner. We had a TTD shoot the next day anyways so we decided to hold off and join our guests for dinner.
I am glad we chose the Baja norte location for the reason that it can be very easily personalized to your taste, whereas you are more restricted on colour options, etc. in the restaurants. I had Christmas string lights and Chinese lanterns setup along the palm trees, setup exactly how I had wanted it. It looked so awesome! We had the head table and 4 round table for the guests. Each table had a centerpiece with the sand/shells, pink gems scattered around, a pink table runner, and the pink chair ties. There were silver napkins on each table as well. At the head table we had two empty vases, which we put two BM bouquets in. They had also taken the floral arrangements from the arch and put these at the head table. The laid the other bouquets down at the head table. I will post pictures of the location when I get them!
I am also glad that we chose this location because your guests can eat at the restaurants all they want during the week, but this menu is private and can only be had at this, the beach, or the indoor banquet location. We chose the filet and the chicken cordon bleu, with the three-lettuce salad to start, asparagus cream soup, and chocolate cheesecake for desert. All guests get the same starters and desert. They get to choose between the two main courses but you must find this out a week before the wedding and tell Jazz what everyone wants. The chicken was absolutely fantastic, people did not stop raving about the soup! My only regret was that I did not think of finding out how people wanted their fillet. I donâ€™t even know if we would have been allowed to do this, but if not I would have asked the resort to cook everyoneâ€™s medium. They were well done. Still tasty, but not many people like their steaks well done! The salad was okay. Desert was awesome, not many people ate the cake at the end because they were so full from eating all their dinner and desert. The cake was awesome though! The service was great! They came around constantly to top off our champagne, wine, water. I am not sure if people ordered cocktails or not, but the champagne was great! The house wine at the resort is bad in my and many of my guests opinions, but a little word of advice â€“ ask for the Gato Negro, and most of the bars and restaurants will bring you this instead. My only complaint about this location is that at 10:00 PM, we could hear the music and noise from the entertainment show. We just turned up our music and it wasnâ€™t too bar, but it would have been much nicer without.
I created a dinner playlist, and then playlists for each of the dances and specific moments (bouquet toss, garter toss, etc), as well as a party playlist grouped by genres. A friend acted as our DJ by controlling the playlist. It worked out great, glad we didnâ€™t pay for a DJ. We also paid for the screen and projector to have a slideshow. Make sure if you have a Mac you plan to run it off, let them know ahead of time. They had to scramble last minute to get a cord to plug the mac to the system, as they only had a PC cord. I think one of the staff had to call a friend or something. The DJ and MC helped deal with this and work it out while we did pictures.
The reception ended too soon, it was 11:00 PM before we knew it! I asked for 3-4 more songs and the staff let me, so we ended up staying until about 11:15 PM. My family and I took a bunch of the important decorations and technology back to our rooms and I collected it from everyone the next day. Make sure you do this! YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for getting your decorations. Iâ€™ll get back to thisâ€¦ Anyways when we got to our room to change, because the party wasnâ€™t really over (we told everyone who wanted to keep going to meet at the club in the resort), there were flower petals scattered all over the bed J it was a nice touch.
The next day, Jazz wasnâ€™t there. They told me to come back the following day and I could pick up my suitcase, chair ties, table runners, etcâ€¦ I was hanging out at the pool and noticed the lights and lanterns were still up, half of the lanterns having blown away. I asked a staff member to please take them down, and about an hour later they took them down and brought them to me. Jazz still wasnâ€™t there the next day, so I explained to the staff what I needed and they got everything for me. I forgot about a couple of things but oh well. They are going to be mailing out the marriage certificate to me. I wish I had gotten to thank Jazz in person though for the fantastic job she and her staff did!
Dennis Berti and Chio Garcia plus a trainee who wanted experience shooting a wedding.
Fantastic!! They are wonderful photographers! I wonâ€™t get pictures back fro a few weeks, but they made the photography fun even though we were sweating like crazy, they made the wedding party laugh and at ease. They are very honest in telling you if they donâ€™t like how you are posing, how your hand is positioned, etc. I found this very helpful. Not many of the pictures were posing anyways as they have a very photojournalistic style of shooting. We did a TTD shoot the next day, they picked us up, brought us to the desert and to a quiet swimmable beach. They even brought beer to help loosen us up and have a an even better time J We had so much fun! Husband and I literally went all the way in the ocean. This was at the end of the shoot though thank goodness because I didnâ€™t feel very pretty or like taking many more pictures after. We did a lot of fun pictures in the desert and on these cliffs before going in the ocean. So pumped for these photos! I will share the link when I get it. They even let my friend (one of my BM's) come along for the TTD shoot as she is trying to get her new photography business up and running.
I think thatâ€™s all? Sorry for writing the longest review you have probably ever read! None of the review I read before could have been long enough - they were all so helpful. Hopefully I didnâ€™t bore you too much and helped you in your planning. If you have any questions feel free to message me on here. I will be away most of August but will still try to reply as much as I can. Good luck and happy planning. Donâ€™t forget to enjoy the day and take it all in, as everyone else warned me â€“ It goes by so fast. I took a few moments to just relax and take it all in and I am so glad I did!