I just got home last weekend from our wedding at the Now Amber. I haven't had a chance to do up a full on review but I certainly will shortly. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask!
I will try to summarize as much as I can for the time being and will let everyone know once I post a full review! We had our ceremony at the Gazebo, in my opinion that is the best location to have it. I saw others on the beach and it wasn't quite as intimate because the beach is so big. Also you do get a few people wandering in the background, at least the Gazebo is set up slightly from the beach so while we had a few people in the background of our photos I never felt like they were close enough to be watching us. Also to mention about the gazebo was most people get there by walking through the hotel lobby and then through the pool area, when we arrived we noticed there was a stone path that lead to beside the hotel, I asked if we could enter from there and Fatima said of course. Mind you the trek to get there is fabulous, you have to walk down the super steep driveyway at the hotels entrance and then walk along the side of the hotel (picture garbage bags and old See-Doos) so that part isnt very glamourous, but it meant you entered the ceremony from the side which is much more private, rather than walking beside the very busy pool to get there. It's worth taking a look at it when you get there because Fatima wasn't suggesting it as an option.
We had our reception on the La Vista Terrace, again this isn't an option that is disclosed but I heard about it on these forums and inquired and they said yes it's an option. Again in my opinion this is the best spot, but I am probably biased . I saw weddings on the pool deck and its so out in the open that it didn't seem very private. The beach was quite nice as well but a bit windy while we were there. The Terrace is nice because it is surrounded by trees and plants so you feel like your seperated from everywhere else. Although be warned, it is quite close to the lobby and you can in fact hear and see everything happening on the Terrace from the Lobby. But I didn't care! The food was awesome at the wedding, we had forgotten to request additional meals for our photographers but Fatima was able to whip up two more meals for us and didn't charge us which I really appreciated (This was a welcome suprise since I was starting to get the nickle and diming feeling by the time the wedding finally rolled around). After the reception ended we went to the music lounge to continue the party until 1:00 and then headed to bed.
Some tips/thoughts on the day:
We had not paid for the speakers for the ceremony, but I would highly recommend it. There actually ended up being speakers at the ceremony, I'm not sure why, perhaps just a mistake.... but I was glad they were there. The waves are quite noisy, we only had a group of 25 people but I think it was still necessary.
Make sure you understand what is included in your contract. I had been emailing Fatima and asking her when our music could go until and she kept telling me 11, however when we got there she kindly reminded me that our package only went until 10 but you COULD have music til 11 if you paid for it. So we compromised and cut the cocktail hour down to a half hour and had to fork out $250 to extend our reception for a half hour to get to 11:00. I was less than thrilled, so just make sure you know what you are getting.
All of my flowers turned out beautifully, as did my hair and makeup which I had done at the salon as part of my wedding package. Included in the package was a couples massage and to be honest, that alone made the upgraded package worthwhile. You get access to their hydrotheraphy pools for an hour and it was fantastic, super relaxing! Because of the package we selected I had access to the Bridal Suite for the afternoon. There was lots of room in there for my Bridesmaids to get ready and for us to get dressed, but be aware you can't leave anything in there to be picked up the next day, so make sure you arrange for someone to stop by 20 minutes before the wedding to take all your stuff up to a room.
We brought some of our own decorations and were told the reception area would be set up at 3:30 for us to put out our decorations. I had my dad setting the stuff up before the ceremony at 5:00, well needless to say at 4:30 the tables still weren't up... Not sure I have a solution for this problem, maybe just bank on having someone set your stuff up between the ceremony and the reception?
We paid for the bonfire on the beach, and in my opinion it was totally worth it. We had 25 people and we just paid for the base package which included food for 20, that was plenty for us we didn't bother paying the additional cost for the extra five people. They supplied marshmellows and melted chocolate and cookies. We brought down chocolate bars and graham crackers for people to make smores and it was awesome. You had your own waitstaff for two hours and they lay out bamboo mats around the chairs for you to walk on. We did it from 8-10 which was the latest we could have it, and in my opinion I wouldnt recommend having it any earlier. For the first half hour we were thinking we are nuts why did we do this, it is still so hot outside and we are sitting around a fire?! But once the sun went down it was much nicer. ALthough this of course will change during the year if the sun sets earlier you might want to start it earlier.
We paid for photography through PhotoShoots Vallarta, our photographer was Eva, she was awesome and we have lots of great photos. We used the in house photographers for the hour that was incluyded in our package to take some group/family photos.
I can't think of anything else to highlight, but if you have any questions let me know!
I will try to help out as best I can, I just got home from my wedding at the Now Amber. We did not pay for the dancefloor and had no problems. Our reception was on the La Vista Terrace not on the pool deck, but I don't think it would matter. We had the tables set up so that it made a very clear dancing area so that wasn't a problem. So I wouldn't worry about the dancefloor being an issue.
I had my ceremony at the gazebo, I wore wedge sandals so I didn't even think about the issue of your heels getting caught. I know my mother in law wore heels so it must have been okay. Looking back at my pictures now that you ask the wooden planks appear to be very close together so I don't think it would be an issue.
We brought some of our own decorations in for the reception. Table numbers, guest book, escort cards and some pictures. I had my dad set stuff up because I didn't even want to know how much they were going to charge to do that. We brought maracas and had them sitting on the chairs at the ceremony, I just had my husband do that part since they were at the ceremony location first. Not a big deal for us. We paid for the additional "gauzes" for the Gazebo, they look nice but if I could do things over again I would not pay for them. They were expensive and I didn't even notice them during the actual ceremony, infact they were constantly in our wedding parties faces haha!
Also for your previous post about the Bridal Suite, I do think it is only available for those getting their hair and makeup done at the hotel, but you could always email the spa and ask. They might allow you to rent it (for a fee of course!) if you aren't having your stuff done there. The woman I was talking to at the spa was Lisbeth, she was extremely helpful and always got back to me quickly firstname.lastname@example.org
If anyone is interested in photos just send me your email and I will send you some!
I have lots of photos from our recent wedding, if you want you can send me your email address and I would be more then happy to send you some! We have lots from our wedding photographer but some good ones from our personal camera that show the resort layout.