"Give me a minute, I'm good. Give me an hour, I'm great. Give me six months, I'm unbeatable." - Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith (A-Team 2010)
A-Team is one of my favourite movies. The movie resonates closely with my love for planning things and when an plan comes together. I wouldn't say I'm unbeatable, but I can say I'm relentless. I don't expect anyone will read this thread, rather it serves as my "memoir".
My wedding is going to happen exactly 8 months from now so I think it is about time that I start talking about it.
Concept: The Wedding
Ok, background: My fiance and I were both born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Vancouver, Canada when we were around 9. We went to summer camp together ( although we can't remember each other, our mutual friend swear we were both in the camp) that year. We went to the same high school and became a couple by Grade 12.
Marriage in my opinion is nothing more than a legal/religious documentation. Couples can get married and divorce faster than a meal (Britney Spears anyone?). What is more important should be how a couple can have a lasting and loving relationship for years onward. Anyways, I am not the one seeking out a wedding since a) Marriage is over-rated (see above) and it is waaaay too expensive for me and I rather put the money in travelling or in my home than blow it all in one day. People say to me, "Weddings doesn't have to be expensive." To which I say, yes, it doesn't have to be expensive if you have it in a park and invite close friends and family and then cook a home meal. However, this goes back to a) and I don't see a point of why we need further announcement to my close friends and family when we have been together for the PAST 10 YEARS (now 14). Then there are people who tells me that they get a lot of gifts from family and friends so their weddings weren't that expensive. Well, first of all, neither of us have a large family so we don't expect a large return. Second, planning a wedding with an expectation of a return is a terrible way to celebrate love, and even worse to budget.
All this changed when the love of my life, Arthur, really, really wants a wedding. I tried to reason with him ("Let's just take some wedding pictures and go for honeymoon!"). We debated, debated, and then debated some more. I finally cave and we reached a decision to have a destination wedding as long as we can combine travel and wedding at the same time I'm happy; and as long as Arthur's parents can make it to the wedding then Arthur is happy. We (more like I) started to gather information about where to have our wedding.
The Vision: The Destination
Arthur and I have never been to Mexico before. We badly wanted to visit the Carribean side of Mexico so we started looking at Cancun and Riviera Maya. We leaned towards Riviera Maya since we heard that Cancun is a party central and very busy. Riviera Maya is busy, but not as crazy as Cancun. So, where in Riviera Maya? We started walking in and talking to different travel agents. Things that we found out and started to consider:
1) Most (if not all) international flights arrive and depart at the Cancun airport. So the further south from Cancun, the longer the shuttle to the resort.
2) We want nightlife and activities nearby.
3) The resort's beach cannot be rocky.
4) We wanted direct flights for the group because we don't want the hassle of delayed flights.
5) The cheapest way to travel from Vancouver to Mexico's east coast is via package deals (try separating them and it will cost you an arm and leg). There are only 3 airlines that travel directly to Riviera Maya: Sunwing, Westjet and Air Transat.
6) We want a resort that we can stay in one and play in many.
7) Below $1,700 after all taxes and fees per person. We don't think anyone will be able to afford it past that amount.
8) Good reviews from BestDestinationWedding, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Oyster, etc.
Let me tell ya, #7 is pretty hard to achieve especially when you combine all 8 criteria and we are travelling from Vancouver!
I started getting worried since brides on the BestDestinationWedding website (most of the brides are from US) are reserving their wedding 1.5 to 2 years ahead! How do they do it when airlines don't have their tickets out yet?? Well, US brides can book the ceremony and reception prior to booking the flights. Further-worse, Vancouver brides (as opposed to Toronto) brides have even less airline options that are much pricier!
Getting pricing from travel agencies 1.5 to 2 years ahead are like pulling teeth! Makes it so hard to plan when and where to go! One agent told us to be patient and calm down and she will get us the pricing when she can.
The Decision: Riu Palace Riviera Maya
One of the independent travel agents suggested June or July or October or November, 2014 because those months were considered lower seasons. We asked the agent to provide us quotes for resorts around that time of the year. The prices were atronomical and it seemed like our wedding plans won't fly (pun intended) at all. Other travel agents tell us they can't get pricing for us until 11 months prior to the travel date so they can't give us quotes for November, 2014. I'm not super smart, but what I have is that I'm relentless. Time to put matters in my own hands.
Once we narrow down to 5 different resorts that are within our criteria, I emailed Sunwing for October or November. We know that Westjet is nice but cost more and AirTransat asks you to talk to their rather useless affiliated travel agents, so we directed most of our attention to Sunwing.
(Note 1: We - yes, we plan together - I am a firm believer that the man should be involved and as much as possible with everything in our relationship. A wedding is a union of TWO PEOPLE, not a fairy tale that one person insists on the other.
Note 2: Sunwing was the only airline out of the 3 that has package deals for the Riu chain)
We started emailing travel agents and Sunwing in the spring of 2013. You may think that's like two years to plan for a wedding, but like anything in life, planning MAKES THINGS RUN MORE SMOOTHLY. I love how people call for appointments last minute and thinks that the store will have a time for them either after work hours or during the weekends. We kept in touch with Sunwing and around fall, 2013 they said they are having a promotion on Riu Palace Riviera Maya and gave us a quote. We went back on our criteria list:
1) How far from Cancun? Not bad, 45 mins.
2) Nightlife and activities nearby? Playa del Carmen is 5 mins taxi ride away. Cozumel is a ferry ride away.
3) The resort's beach? No rocks
4) Direct flights? According to Sunwing, yes.
6) A resort that we can stay in one and play in many? Yes, 5 other resorts nearby.
7) Below $1,700 after all taxes and fees per person? Yes.
8) Good reviews from BestDestinationWedding, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Oyster, etc? Not the best, but pretty darn good for the price.
The other contender that we were looking at was Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe. That resort was looks prettier, but it costs more (It's like $400 per person more!), has a rocky beach, and there's not as many things to do around that area. At the end, we decided for the sake of our and other guests' wallet, we went with Riu Palace Riviera Maya (RPRM). We didn't go with Riu Palace Mexico (RPM) nearby because they recently renovated and has that hot purple and pink, with silver and black color scheme and we just don't think it will look pretty in our pictures. RPRM has one more bar and has that colonial feel to the decor which we hope we can capture in our pictures.
The Planning: I Love It When a Plan Comes Together!
I have to give tremendous amount of credit to the brides that contributed on the BestDestinationWedding.com's forum to make this wedding a reality. I don't think my wedding will be as awesome as I can make it without other brides' contribution.
Color scheme: This was a toughie. I don't like the cliched starfishes, seashells, aqua, hot pink or orange colors that I have seen in other destination weddings. Maybe it is because it is too girly and too fairytale-like? Anyways, I literally searched for pictures day in and day out of other options that catches my eye. It took me months before I finally narrow down something that matched my criteria.
Invitation: We wanted to make the invitation as small and cheap as possible because we find most Chinese people do not read invitation cards. We decided to have a plane ticket per guest as our invitation for the destination wedding and included most of the pricing and details on our website to reduce waste. We wanted to make the airline ticket as authentic as possible so we made our own airlines. We used black and white tickets because it resembles a real plane ticket and it is also one of our wedding colors. I downloaded the template from the forum, but made my own on Publisher. Why? Because Powerpoint is meant for making presentations and Publisher is meant for publishing documents! Our printer was not happy these days so we thought we may have to bite the bullet and go to a print shop to do this. Fortunately, our building manager has a print shop and he was super nice enough to print and cut our invites for free.
IMG_4436screened.jpg 47.92KB 21 downloads
IMG_4438screened.jpg 53.37KB 21 downloads
Website: We made our website and video at the same time as our invitation. Other married couple that we knew had other people make their wedding websites for them or pay for a service online to make it. I don't know anyone that can help me make one and I don't want to pay so I researched extensively to see if there's a WYSIWYG website maker. After some research I found that Wix should do the trick for a free and easy to make website. I conceptualize how I wanted the website to look like with Arthur and tell him to run along with the project. Every now and then I review how the website is doing, give him a few more pointers and tell him to run along again. At the end, he did a good job. As usual, I still have to spend time on editing the wording though.
If you want to see the video, you can check it out here.
Video: I had a concept of having some sort of intro to my website to make it have more pizzazz. Initially I was thinking of making a video with the whole song, but we don't think anyone really wants to watch it and we don't want to bore them so we decided to make just a 1 min clip. Filming took about 3 hours because we went back home to eat and watch some TV (so the filming was about 1 hour max). The dancing was just something I whipped up, but had to be super simple for Arthur to follow. I guess people really liked it because last time I checked there were 300 views. WHICH MEANS THEY SEE OUR WEBSITE, BUT JUST DIDN'T BOTHER TO READ THE DETAILS OR USE THE RSVP! See? What do I tell ya? Don't waste money on things that nobody cares about. They ended up emailing or calling you anyways.
That was the end of the beginning of our wedding planning. I'm almost done with our passport. Will post later.