Just wanted to post a brief review… I know I received a ton of advice from RNtoBe and sophieamanda when planning so I feel as though I should pay it forward.
I was married just last week at the Riu Palace in Cabo and our week there was easily the best week of my life. The wedding day went so smoothly and everything pretty much exceeded my expectations. I work a lot, so I focused on a few details that were important to me and let the resort do their magic. My guests had a fabulous time and I really have no negative comments regarding my wedding day.
Wedding planner: Our wedding planner was Jatziri (Jazz). She was amazing. From the moment we met her I felt calm and cool about the wedding because she totally has it together. She was a little slow in responding via email but I think thats just because there are weddings everyday there and she is busy! We met with her on our second day in Cabo and worked out all of the details. She definitely knows what she is doing. She collected everything I had brought for decor, etc. and then took some notes about the ceremony and reception. I met with her one other day briefly to deliver decorations, otherwise she did not require a ton of direction, which I really appreciated. We tipped her $50 on the day we first met and then $150 for all of her help after the reception. I think they don't make that much $ so she appreciated that. She upgraded our room after the first meeting to an oceanfront room right off the lobby, which was very convenient for getting ready, touching up makeup and bustling my dress after the ceremony and before the reception.
Rehearsal: we used our semi-private dinner for rehearsal dinner at the steakhouse. The food and service were fabulous. We had our own little rehearsal (organized by me and a friend that was recently married) on the beach but the wedding coordinator does not supervise this. I basically just decided who was walking with who and in what order so everyone could figure it out once before the real thing. Then we headed up to the steakhouse for dinner. We invited all of our guests (not just the wedding party) to the rehearsal dinner, which I think they appreciated so that we could all spend time together.
Wedding day: My bridesmaids and I along with my mom, stepmom, and flower girl went to Suzanne Morel's salon, about 10 minutes cab ride from the resort. I heard such great reviews about her services I couldn't resist. They did a fantastic job with my hair and makeup, and I paid for all the others to get their hair done. The bridesmaids loved that, they didn't have to worry about doing their hair and loved getting pampered. Plus, everyone looked so good. The stylists there made sure everyone left completely happy and satisfied with their hair. And I loved my hair/makeup! I've only seen pictures from my family so far but I am already thrilled. I did have a trial with them as well on my rehearsal dinner day and they re-styled my hair and changed my makeup before I left so it would be different than my wedding style.
My bridesmaids and I got ready in my room, the boys met all of our other guests in the piano bar, then all the guests headed down to the beach together prior to the ceremony.
Ceremony: On the beach. Jazz instructed everyone when and where to walk, etc so it went so smoothly.
Our reverend was Marco Archiega and I cannot say enough positive things about him. His communication with us prior to the ceremony was so great, he helped us customize our own ceremony and let us write our own vows. He was funny and sweet and made all of our guests both laugh and come close to tears. Very memorable ceremony. We did the symbolic ceremony (because my fiancé insisted on having our legal marriage be in the US for estate purposes in the future) but we still signed a certificate at the end of the ceremony right before the toast.
Champagne toast follows the ceremony and I had asked my mom to make a toast ahead of time so that someone was prepared and I didn't have to do it myself. I also had a toast playlist so there was still good music playing while people mingled.
For the ceremony, I had Alina with Emporio Arte set up a huppah with flowing sheer white fabric. It was much better than the riu arch, which needs a new paint job or update. I think we paid $450 for her to setup the arch. We had all of our ceremony music on its own playlist on my iPod and Jazz directed the sound guy as we went. She directed our whole wedding party as well.
Flowers: I worked with Alina at Emporio Arte. I sent her inspirational bouquet pictures for my bouquet (and my bridesmaids, who had mini-versions). I didn't want to pay extra for orchids or anything in the pictures that I sent so she basically improvised to make the bouquet colors and texture look similar to what I want. The bouquets and centerpieces I ordered were all so much better than I had even dreamed of. I was so sad to leave my bouquet behind! The bridesmaid bouquets were $65 each and the centerpieces $85 each.
Photography: We hired Ana and Jerome. I loved them, love their portfolio/blog, and was thrilled with how attentive they were during the entire day. I can't wait to see our pictures already! They came starting at getting ready prior to the reception, we took a few first look photos, and then they stayed halfway through our reception/dancing. We also hired them for a video as none of our grandparents were able to make it to Cabo for the wedding. Photos were the one thing I was not willing to compromise on (along with real flowers) and so although somewhat expensive, I think its worth it. Plus, they were really easy and pleasant to work with.
Reception: Our reception was at Baja Norte, which has a $600 fee but then open bar is included. We also paid per person for plated dinner. It was the perfect venue, it really is the best place for a reception at the Riu Palace and my photographer even agreed. They brought out propane heaters as well, without any request, as it was a little cool at night with the ocean breeze. The food, again, was fabulous. No complaints from our guests, who are somewhat picky. We told Jazz when people wanted to do speeches (between courses of the meal), and this worked out well. We brought our own table runners and lanterns for the tables, along with a cake topper and cake server set. Again, I paid Alina at Emporio Arte for centerpieces, and then also rented vases for the bridesmaid bouquets. We ordered a 2 layer cake and Jazz had a 3 layer cake there for us with the topper that I had brought (from BHLDN.com, check it out ladies if you have not already!). We hired the DJ with lighting package and he did a great job. I had a wedding reception and dancing playlist which he played some of and then added some of his own as well. I was not super picky about what he played as long as people were enjoying themselves and my laid back mood totally paid off because he did a fantastic job. At one point he even let my cousin wear the headphones and play DJ for awhile, he was a total hit and people danced the entire time after dinner. Reception outdoors can go until 11pm, then stops because of noise.
Following the reception most of the bridal party and some guests returned to the piano bar upstairs for drinks and hanging out, some guests headed out to the clubs as well. The staff and some of our guests brought flowers and the decorations we wanted to keep up to our room for us.
All in all, it worked out so well. A little bit of pre-planning and thinking about what details were important to me really paid off in the end. I wouldn't change anything about what we did with our wedding or reception. If any of you have questions please message me and let me know. The advice I received from previous brides was invaluable and I would be happy to return the favor to help with someone else's amazing day