I realize itâ€™s crazy that I am writing this review so soon after the wedding, but I really canâ€™t seem to stop thinking about the whole wedding weekend so I am writing this with the hopes that it will be therapeutic and help me enjoy my honeymoon already! (Yes, please call professional help, I am clearly crazy!!!!)
Where to begin? Overall, the wedding was AMAZING and I wouldnâ€™t change a thing. It exceeded my high expectations, and I think my 55 guests had a great time. I heard many comments along the lines of, â€œThis was the most fun Iâ€™ve ever had at a wedding!â€ I still feel like I am on a huge adrenaline rush from everything, and Iâ€™ve been waking up at 6 AM just excited thinking about it.
Iâ€™ve tried to be as detailed as possible in my assessment, but I apologize for the ridiculous length! My only worry about this review is that my head was in the (blissful bride) clouds on my wedding day and I might not have ever known about any problems or issues that came up. However, Iâ€™ve been as honest as I can, knowing whatever I know.
Venue: Cabo Surf Hotel â€“ A+
I will try to break it up into different parts of the hotel.
The Cabo Surf was the perfect place for our wedding. It is small, private, laid back, really nice (but not snooty), cozy and intimate, and just perfect. Itâ€™s so fun to watch the surfers even if you donâ€™t surf (we donâ€™t!). The infinity pool is small but gorgeous. The food is delicious. The rooms are a good size and the beds are comfy. The views are spectacular because you are so close to the water (compared to the corridor, for example).
The staff was A+. Armando was my primary contact, and he did everything he said he would for the price he promised with no problems. He was very hands-off and let me and my coordinator do as we pleased with the set up. I have no idea if my coordinator had any issues during set up but if she did, I didnâ€™t know about it. Most of the time during the days we were working with Jesus and he was also great. Anything I asked, Armando and Jesus did with a smile. The restaurant staff was also great. Everyone from the gate security guys to the maid to the on-site construction workers were super friendly and easy-going.
Toward the end of the reception I tried to go around to the hotel/restaurant staff and personally thank them because they had worked so hard. Two of the guy waiters ended up joining our drunken selves on the dance floor â€“ it was hilarious. They were all just so nice.
All weekend, people loved the food, especially breakfast (though it isnâ€™t cheap). For the wedding dinner we had a Mexican buffet with chile rellenos, tamales, chicken mole, taco bar with fish/shrimp/chicken, rice/beans and guacamole and 3 kinds of salsa and chips for $40/pp. The food was spectacular! People were raving about every single dish, even the rice and beans for goodness sakes. We did 4 hours of the domestic open bar ($42/pp) and it was just right for us. Overall, our party drank A LOT, so I am glad we went for the open bar. The margaritas were fresh and so strong. The hotel is really good about making 4 hours open bar cover the whole night (4:00-10:30pm in our case). Everyone gets a welcome drink for free when they arrive, and they also did not charge us for the champagne toast. The bar was â€œclosedâ€ during dinner and they just served wine.
Every single menu item/wine choice was exactly as I ordered. Also, the buffet service was so nice because after you fill your plate, staff will bring it to your table for you, which was a nice little touch.
Oh, one other thing: cake. I thought it was fine, but I put zero effort into caring about the cake. It was what we ordered, but if you truly care about cake, you might want to do a tasting, or give them a picture, or hire an outside person. I just really have no strong feeling on the Cabo Surf cake, other than we cut it and ate it! It wasnâ€™t that memorable for me.
Day-Of Coordinator: Lisa Galvan, Fiestas Los Cabos â€“ A++++
I hired Lisa for my day-of coordination once I had done 90% of the planning myself. Hiring her was probably the single best decision I made except for maybe the venue choice. Lisa was exactly what I needed, and she went above and beyond more than once.
Leading up to the wedding day, we emailed several times and she reviewed my wedding timeline and I was able to bounce some ideas off of her. Considering I was only paying for â€œday-ofâ€ services, I considered this to be her first above and beyond moment.
She came to my rehearsal on Friday and we did a walk-thru and then she ran the whole rehearsal. It was relaxed and easy. She asked all the right questions, mostly about little details I had never considered.
She showed up around 2pm on the day of my wedding while I was off getting my hair done and started working. I never had to think about a single thing on the wedding afternoon, because Lisa took care of it! She took care of setup, centerpieces, people-moving, making sure vendors came and set upâ€¦.I donâ€™t even know half of what she did because I was oblivious to it all. But every single thing I asked for was there, and on time.
Aside from running around working her butt off, Lisa also brought an assistant, which I didnâ€™t even know was included! Her assistant Kelly was super sweet and nice, although I canâ€™t really tell you what she did because I was off getting ready and not paying attention.
I had a very detailed timeline of the wedding day scripted out, and Lisa kept everything exactly to schedule without it ever seeming rigid or stressful. She has an amazing ability to pop in to ask the right questions but not burden you with any problems. I truly have no idea if there were any problems! The whole night ran on time and she didnâ€™t miss a beat. My friends even came up to me and said that Lisa would pick up all their stuff they had left behind (like sunglasses and drinks) and magically return it to them in a nice neat pile and they had no idea how she knew whose sunglasses were whose but she would return them to the right person. She truly was able to juggle the â€œbig pictureâ€ of my wedding day along with every little detail you could imagine. I cannot speak highly enough about Lisa. HIRE HER! (if she still even offers day-of coordination?)
Classical Guitar: David Flores â€“ A
Okay, so we all remember how I wondered throughout my 9 months of planning if David would actually show upâ€¦Well, not only did he show up, but people loved him! Before the wedding I was so sketched out because he didnâ€™t have a contract to sign, he didnâ€™t require a deposit, and he cancelled a meeting during my planning trip at the last minute. Plus, his English isnâ€™t very good (not his fault, my Spanish is worse), so our emails were really confusing. I had asked him to come to the rehearsal and he said it would be $250/hr to PRACTICE and I got mad and said forget about it, just show up to my wedding. Well, he came, he played great music, and everyone loved him. I just wish I had heard more, but of course I was either getting ready, saying vows, or taking pictures during the two hours we hired him. Price: $250/hr for a total of $500. Overall, I would recommend, but stay on top of him (he must have thought I was insane with all my email nagging).
Hair/Makeup: HiveSpa â€“ C
This grade is a little confusing. If I were just grading based on the end result of how my hair/makeup looked, Iâ€™d probably give an A- or so. However, they did something that really pissed me off and it could have turned out worse.
I booked an appointment online for hair/makeup with the owner of the spa, Bambi. I chose Bambi because she is pretty well known and Lisa Galvan said she was fabulous. I had done a trial at Senza that was kinda so-so and I was willing to splurge and spend the money on Bambi if she was really as amazing as everyone said. When I booked the appointment (online thru a woman named Eliza) I requested Bambi herself. They assured me I would get Bambi. I signed a contract and made sure Bambiâ€™s name was written in there. I paid 50% of the bill months ago when I signed the contract, and 50% the week before the wedding, including 18% gratuity. One week before the wedding, I confirmed the appointment WITH BAMBI and was told everything was set.
So when I showed up at Hive Spa at exactly 1pm on Saturday, imagine my surprise when they said that Bambi wasnâ€™t in Cabo that weekend and Dani was doing my hair! And Dani thought she was going to my hotel to do it! Well, I never paid for her to come to my hotel, but even if she was planning on going to my hotel room, she would have been late since she was just there sitting in the lobby when I showed up for the appointment! So weird, and it totally threw me off.
I told them that I didnâ€™t mean any offense to Dani but that I had confirmed with Eliza that my appointment was with Bambi and that I had already paid for it. They said they didnâ€™t even know who Eliza was! Anyway, at this point I figure I have no other choice but have Dani do my hair/makeup because I was getting married in 3 hours. I really did not cause a fuss at the salon because I did not want to get stressed out.
Dani was actually super sweet and Lisa later told me that Dani was Bambiâ€™s â€œupdo prot©g©â€ or whatever, so in the end I was probably in good hands. She did exactly what I asked for with my hair.
For makeup, again I was happy with the end result, but I donâ€™t think Dani (or anyone at the salon) has any real training and I probably would have been in just as good of hands with one of my friends who is really good at makeup. Dani used MAC makeup, and the brushes were kinda dirty and the mascara was old. Just not impressive, especially for the price, which, did I mention I HAD ALREADY PAID FOR INCLUDING 18% TIP!!!!!!!!
Iâ€™m glad I liked the end result or I would be much more pissed now. I do plan to write/call/email HiveSpa and tell them I am upset about the Bambi thing but Iâ€™m not sure the best way to approach it. I just think that it was too expensive to be treated like that. I am wondering how Natasha is feeling about the whole situation, since her appointment was right before mine (I didnâ€™t get to see her though). Overall, I cannot recommend them, unless you just go for hair, and if you are okay with not getting Bambi.
Photographer: Bradley Fraser â€“ A+++
Bradley was amazing. Before my wedding, he was great to correspond with. He really paid attention to what I wanted and needed, and to all the details. He showed up early to my rehearsal to scout everything out. He worked his butt off for the three hours I hired him for my wedding day. Mostly, we just had fun taking pictures with him. He is energetic, journalistic, has great ideas for posing and creating fun photos, smart, artistic, and detail-oriented. He took every picture on my â€œmust-takeâ€ list and then some. He was up for whatever I suggested and he added his own vision in too.
He sent a few photos to me 36 hours after the wedding and is scheduled to deliver all of them 72 hrs after the wedding. I will post them for you to see, but I think I am going to LOVE them. I would recommend him in a split second without hesitation. (Also, I got him before his rates jumped up, so I got lucky. I donâ€™t know what he is charging these daysâ€¦)
DJ: Antares Guerena â€“ A
I had low-ish expectation for Antares, because I heard he wasnâ€™t good about playing the right songs and not playing the â€œdonâ€™t playâ€ songs. He was good but not great about email communication before the wedding but it didnâ€™t really hinder us. Andrew and I made a few CDs for him to play from, and he mixed in some of his own. The end result was a fabulous party where the dance floor was always packed. He played 98% fast/dance songs and basically no â€œslow songs,â€ which we were fine with (perhaps because I was crazy drunk and reliving my college days?) My friends kept trying to request songs but I think that he was only taking requests from me ? My friends picked up on this quickly and kept dragging me to make their requests on their behalf. We were a huge group of drunk gringos with little to no dancing skills, so I am sure he was totally laughing at us on the inside, but oh well, he played great music. I would recommend him to other brides and was totally happy with his services.
Flowers: purchased in â€œbunchesâ€ from the Flower Cart Cabo â€“ A+
One of my best girlfriends worked in a flower shop in college and offered to do my flowers for the wedding. So I bought flowers from the Flower Cart basically like they came from the wholesaler â€“ in â€œbunchesâ€ and not arranged. I did not technically buy them wholesale since the Flower Cart resold them to me, but this is basically the deal. I got a really good price on them (according to my florist friend) and the flowers were STUNNING. Huge, high quality, gorgeous. I mostly ordered stargazer lilies and then some alstromeria (which look like mini-lillies) and a bunch of greens. They were all gorgeous and my friend made the prettiest bouquets. We even had a bunch leftover and I have decorated our honeymoon condo with little vases of lilies all over the place, which is a real treat. We feel like we have a piece of the wedding here with us. The best part is that I paid around $250 total for everything, which made 5 bouquets, 5 bouts, 2 corsages, and 7 centerpieces.
Videographer: Baja Video Productions â€“ A+
I only decided at the last minute to get video, and to stay in budget I just got the raw footage. Now that I have the tapes I have to import them into my iMovie and put it all together (my project for the next 6 months). I hired Baja Video Productions because I saw them on the BDW boards and they gave me the rock-bottom rate of $50/hr. Other quotes came in many many times higher.
Before my wedding, I corresponded with Marci, who is Video Zorra on the boards and the wife half of the husband/wife team. Marci is FABULOUS! She is prompt, professional, detail-oriented, and did I mention really pretty too? She came to my rehearsal and took notes on everything.
The night of the wedding Enrique, her husband, did 4 hours of video for me. There were only a few times I even noticed him in the room, but I know he was there getting everything on camera. He worked his butt off too. They are both just truly nice people and I was glad I hired them. (I did hear a few complaints that they were blocking the view of the ceremony at times, but I kinda think that is the nature of these things, and I was in bridal la-la land and totally didnâ€™t notice a thing!)
The only thing I canâ€™t comment on yet is the quality of the product because I havenâ€™t watched it! Marci keeps telling me that I might go crazy trying to edit the video myself and she would be happy to do it, but for now I am going to be stubborn and cheap and try to learn to do it myself ? Wish me luck! Overall, I would totally recommend this duo!
Officiant: Chris Johnson â€“ B
I donâ€™t have much to say about Chris. He was fabulous at pre-wedding correspondence and was willing to read whatever ceremony we wrote. However, in the end he did not show up to the rehearsal even though I really thought we had confirmed it (turns out he had another wedding on Friday night he was doing). But on the wedding day, he was there to do the ceremony, which is all we really needed. I didnâ€™t talk to him either before or after, so I really have no idea when he came or when he left! He did tell Lisa that he felt comfortable â€œprojectingâ€ his voice loudly and that he didnâ€™t need a mic, but I actually thought he wasnâ€™t very loud and I have suspicions that people in the back definitely couldnâ€™t hear him (but nobody wanted to tell me because they didnâ€™t want to upset the bride! ?). Overall, I just feel okay about him. Nothing drastically wrong, nothing remarkably good. I guess he served his purpose and I have no real complaints, but I donâ€™t feel especially warm about him either. At least he only charged me $150. Iâ€™ve heard he charged other brides in the past few months a lot more!
Welcome Dinner: La Panga Antigua â€“ A+
My husbandâ€™s parents hosted a welcome dinner for everyone on Friday night, and it was a HUGE HIT. Granted, it was also expensive! However, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Jacobo at La Panga was awesome to work with, super detail-oriented, and came through with everything he promised. We had an hour-long cocktail hour with passed apps in their new patio and then a plated sit-down dinner in their dining room with a salad, entr©e (steak/shrimp) and dessert. I wasnâ€™t there when my father-in-law settled the bill, so I have no idea how that went. But the food was AMAZING and the service was top notch. I think our guests were amazed at what a nice dinner it was. I really have to thank my in-laws for going WAY above and beyond on price and quality, but I think everyone was just extremely happy. Go eat there â€“ you wonâ€™t regret it!!
Group Activity: Canopy Costa Azul â€“ A+
Andrew and I wanted to host a fun activity so our guests could do something a little different and also get to know each other before the wedding. This â€œzip lineâ€ tour was PERFECT! We negotiated a group rate of $55pp ($20-$35 discount depending on where you get your price quoted). We paid $25 for each guest, who had to chip in $30 for themselves, which seemed like a good balance since we didnâ€™t have THAT much money and 25 people signed up to go!
Despite what seemed like an unpromising start (we piled in rental cars and drove ourselves up the riverbed (note: NOT AN ACTUAL ROAD) for several miles), once we got there it was awesome. It was fun but not too scary and we all felt really safe the whole time. Even people who are afraid or heights had a great time. We also had about 5 people just come and watch (price: free!) and they had fun too. It was a series of nine â€œzipsâ€ over the canyon, each one better than the next. The four guides were all so nice, so energetic, and so helpful. They were calling me â€œla noviaâ€ all day and giving me lots of extra special bridal attention, which was fun. My guests absolutely loved this activity and I am so glad we did it.
Airport Transportation: cabosanlucastours.net â€“ D
Iâ€™d say about half of my guests had no problem with the airport shuttle. The other half was a HUGE CLUSTERFUCK. Nobody there to pick them up, dropping them off at the wrong place, double charging, etc etc etc. Some truly crazy stories that resulted in hitchhiking, bartering, and other probably not-so-safe endeavors all in an effort to just get from the airport to the damn hotel. I have no idea what a better solution is other than renting a car. I really wish I had a better idea on this one. In the meantime, do not send your poor, innocent guests to the above website, no matter how reputable it looks! JUST RENT A CAR!
A couple of other thoughts:
1. Because we had lots of guests on a budget who couldnâ€™t afford to stay at the Cabo Surf, we got really creative with lodging. Using www.vrbo.com and other such sites, our guests rented condos and villas all over San Jose for as low as $35/night/person. This was great because it meant that people who otherwise couldnâ€™t afford to come could join us! The downside is that there was a lot of shuttling around and I wish more of them had rented cars. Cabs are crazy in Cabo, and you really cannot walk to the Cabo Surf without putting your life on the line. If you are getting married there and want to know more about specific condos or villas or just how this whole thing worked, please PM me, as I feel like I learned A LOT about this over the weekend and have some ideas. However, it might be unique to our group, just because we had so many people on a budget that we had to get creative.
2. For any vendor you are thinking of hiring, NEGOTIATE EVERYTHING AND GET IT IN WRITING BEFORE YOU SIGN A CONTRACT. Then, KEEP A PAPER TRAIL OF EVERYTHING. This saved my butt (and my wallet) many times.
3. Did I mention that I loved the Cabo Surf Hotel? And Lisa Galvan? And Bradley Fraser? Yes, I did, and I would highly recommend them all. Overall, I think my guests were happy, and Andrew and I were happy, and we all had a better weekend that we could have ever imagined. I never got stressed out, and I did as little â€œworkâ€ as I possibly could in Cabo. I didnâ€™t do welcome bags, favors, spa treatments, a guestbook, a seating chartâ€¦..any of that stuff. And I have no regrets about it. I loved being able to spend time with my guests just sitting in the pool or playing in the surf.
If you have any extra questions, just let me know. I hope this helps all you girls out! Now I am just jealous that you still get to have a wedding and mine is overâ€¦â€¦..foreverâ€¦..
But now I am really going to just STOP thinking about it and go enjoy my honeymoon/husband!