Also posted on the Grand Sirenis thread
We got married at the Grand Sirenis on 2015/01/21 and I am now done my review. It was a perfect day and I feel so blessed to have nothing but good things to say about our experience. I have added some photos to give you an idea of our day and some of the locations, extras, etc.
On page 36 of this planning thread you will find more wedding pictures and a link to our Facebook page if you wish to see all of them. Posting them is a lot of work, so I did the best I could
I used Christine Smith from Summit Travel in Elkford, BC. One of few that would actually return our phone calls! She was recommended from a friend. She was a wealth of information and if she didn’t know, she would find out quickly. She was very good at helping us find resorts in our price point and even recommended the resort we ultimately chose. Her communication was very quick. She was a huge advocate for us when Air Canada cancelled our Sunday flight and she made sure we got the Saturday one. She handled all the bookings and communication with our guests beautifully. She had pre-travel and resort info for them, she sent lots of reminders on deadlines, what travel info was needed, when and how to check in with airline, etc. She even sent a follow up email after we got back from Mexico.
Air Canada Vacations
Even though they cancelled their flight and we had to change to the Saturday, I am happy we used them. We got a great group rate for all our guests and even honored it for our guests that went over the 30 people/15 rooms guaranteed. We got a free upgrade to 1st Class for the bride and groom and this was AWESOME! I almost declined it, but so glad I didn’t. With this we also got 4 bags at 70 lbs each, priority check in and boarding, free food and booze, etc. No one offered to hang my dress as I got on the plane so I started stuffing it up in the overhead bin. Another passenger was like ‘no no you hang it in here’ and took my dress for me and hung it in their closet. He’s a frequent flyer apparently and he knew what to do (Thank you to him!) We also got every 17th person booked for free (minus taxes) so in the end we had an approx. $2000 credit from Air Canada Vacations on our bill. Hindsite, I am super glad our flight got changed to Saturday and all worked out well. Our flights all departed on time, no complaints. (ok maybe Toronto guests can complain, theirs was delayed leaving Mexico).
In the end we only needed 3 suitcases for wedding décor, favors, and OOT items. We also had 3 suitcases for our family of 4 and everyone had carryon bags stuffed full. I pre-made my tumbler/oh shit kits and wrapped each one individually in bubble wrap. They took one large suitcase and then 5 ish extras went into our suitcases. We had a lot of little items that we packed into small Rubbermaid type bins that we then packed into our suitcase. Made it easier to ensure they were safe. All frames were bubble wrapped and packed between clothes. Only issues with our packing – flower girl pail got bent. I could bend it back into shape but some paint chipped off. I made sure my daughter had it facing good side out. Also my wedding dress hanger got bent out of shape. We did the best we could to fix it.
Travelling with dress
Even though I got it hang it on the plane it wasn’t a full sized closet. The bottom half was all bunched up and pretty bad upon arrival. I was hoping that the humidity would do the trick but it didn’t. Thankfully I had a friend bring her travel steamer and once we figured out how to use it (you actually touch the dress with it) we used it quite quickly for my dress, flower girl, and all 3 bridesmaid’s dresses.
Leaving Calgary – almost a fail!
We had loaded up the truck and were ready to leave. Shawn had brought down all the luggage and I thought we were good to go. Jumped in the truck then yelled out ‘where is my dress?!?’ haha wonder how long it would have taken me to notice I had forgotten it! Phew!
Haha, couldn’t help but mention the chaos of the Cancun airport. Now this wasn’t my first time in this airport but WOW, every single airplane in the world must have landed at the same time. We didn’t even get a gate, we had to get off on the tarmac and take a shuttle bus to the terminal. There was easily 1000 people in there. I have never travelled with kids before so when we had to sign those immigration forms I didn’t sign for them (in Canada you don’t sign for a minor). When we finally got up to the immigration officer she was yelling at me that my paperwork wasn’t complete and to get to the back of the line. I was like ‘no, may I use your pen?’ and she completely ignored me and continued yelling to get to the back of the line. I was like ‘Shawn find an **** pen’ (mine died on the plane) and then I just quickly signed them and she let us through. OMG that was stressful. Once we got our baggage it was like a very massive herd of cows trying to get through this single person gate to get to security. It was a mess and thankfully I didn’t lose my kids in the chaos. We had 11 bags and 2 kids -- I was strung out! When we got up to the xray machine the security guy was questioning my vitamin bottle I had shoved in the top of my suitcase. I just explained it was for my whole family and he was ok! Thank god we GOT THE GREEN LIGHT!!! Once we got thru the madness of the ‘can I take you bags?’ ‘do you need a taxi?’ section of the airport everything went smoothly. Our group almost filled the transfer bus to our resort and we were on our way.
Check in probably would have been ok if we would have just taken what was given to us. As you can appreciate with all those people with you, you want to be close to certain people. They were fully booked and it was tricky swapping rooms, etc. as some needed 2 beds or a king and it was confusing. I was pretty worn out after the airport and this check in didn’t help. We ended up in Block 12 on the second floor. I was trying to get them to move us to Block 18 as I heard it was closer to the pool but they couldn’t move us until the next day and I wasn’t cool with that. I threw out the bride card a couple times at check in and that got me nowhere LOL!! At the end of the day I am glad I stuck with Block 12 as it was soooo much better – close to lobby, pool, entertainment area, etc. All our guests were between blocks 11-17 unless they chose to upgrade to the ocean view rooms and then they were on the opposite side of the resort (Mayan Beach). What was nice is that every time I left my room I ran into people! TIPS: We had 3 couples upgrade to ocean view and no one paid the same price. Seems like each person made their own price! Also, since wifi and the in-room safe aren’t free, get this settled at check-in, makes it easier than walking back to the lobby when you realize you need a safe! Also check your bills before you pay – we had more than one wifi charge. I think because so many people had the same last name, but they were easy to clear it up once I explained the circumstance.
I really have no major complaints about the rooms. They were large and spacious. We had 2 double beds and a sitting area with hide-a-way bed, lounge chair and a chair/desk. The beds weren’t a pillow top by any means but they didn’t hurt my back! The rooms were always cleaned timely and the mini fridge stocked. I asked them to leave extra water and we had no issues with them fulfilling this request. What may be odd is that it is a very open concept. You can see thru from the living area into the washroom. The toilet is behind frosted glass but it’s like a saloon style swinging door so not much privacy. Thankfully in our room there was frosted glass between the living area and the washroom but you could still see thru the sides. Lots of the king bed rooms didn’t have this glass at all, would have been awkward for singles sharing a room. There was a shower stall with jets going down the wall and a large soaker tub.
Resort (my stay)
I truly loved the resort, but I can’t give it an A+ because for a 5* I truly believe that the wifi and in-room safe should have been free. The resort is large but well laid out, if you knew where you were going there was ample short cuts to make it faster. The grounds were beautiful and well taken care of. There was lots of things to do – 3+ pools, beach, lazy river, coffee bar, ice cream bar, LOTS of extra activities at the pool, archery, tennis, bike tours, eco walk, dolphins, spa, nightly shows, disco, etc. TIPS: lots of uneven stones/tiles on the walkways that had either sunken down or rose up. You need to watch your footing sometimes. Also they had marble at the pool washrooms and it was like a skating rink, so beware! While it’s beautiful and modern, it can be a hazard.
The reason I meant the above was for my stay was because my dad got hurt and it really ruined their trip. He tripped on an uneven stone/tile on day 2 and broke a rib and a finger and required stitches. I am not going to get into all the dramatics of it, but they wouldn’t even give him a free wheelchair! The staff on site did they best they could do, with what they had, while trying to stay out of trouble. Seems like they went out of their way (got him a shuttle to his room thru a private phone number, etc.) but the higher ups wouldn’t do anything! My dad is currently negotiating with them on how they plan to make this up to him. Thankfully he was able to walk me down the aisle, but barely.
Service was off the charts from the people on the grounds. The servers came around frequently and we never had to wait for a drink. They did this all with a smile on their face. First time I have had service that great at a resort. They didn’t awkwardly stand around for tips, which was nice, but sometimes made it hard to tip them. I have a feeling they probably aren’t allowed to wait for tips, as sometimes I had to shove the money in their hands. Sometimes though I almost felt they were scared into the good service. The shuttle was running ‘late’ for the spa (she told us 2 mins, took 15) and when we inquired again she radioed him and when he showed up he was very defensive and worried he was going to be written up. Over a shuttle trip? Wow! They also pushed ‘satisfaction surveys’ on you. I mean I get for the spa, but for tequila volleyball? Just seemed odd, but that aside service was top notch.
Drinks had ample booze in them and the selection of drinks available was large. They had no problems filling up any size of bubba type mug. I think you could only get drinks until 2am, but you could get beer 24/7. It was Corona on tap which was awesome! I never got tired of the beer and pina coladas.
I never had any issues with the food. Sure it could get redundant, but I eat the same things all the time at home so I liked the predictability. There was always somewhere to eat 24/7. There was the main lobby buffet, then by the pools in the day they had an a’la carte that was used as a buffet. At the beach they had a beach BBQ which was great. I didn’t think the A’la Cartes were fantastic – that said, we didn’t get to eat at the good ones. Some of them are very popular (Brazilian, Japanese, Mediterranean) and since we tried to book in groups we couldn’t secure spots in these places. The people who did get to go, loved them. I ate at the Steak House which was essentially the buffet as a salad bar then you picked your entree. The main course was great, but you could have served all courses IMO. So I felt that was a bit tacky. There was one A’la Carte that you had to pay for but we had it included as a honeymoon gift in our wedding package – it was the French restaurant. It was awesome and what I think all A’la Cartes should be from past travels. It’s a shame you had to pay for it.
You could get room service until 11pm. This was for the basics, but you could pay for some fancier things. We used it once.
As a wedding gift from Shawn’s cousin, we got the private lobster dinner on the beach Thursday night. Unsure of this cost as it was a gift. You are seated at a table for 2 and served right on the beach by candle light. The service was great, food delicious and they also had a live singer. The server we had also served our wedding so we had some good laughs.
All we did for excursions was the dolphins but that is on site at the resort. What was somewhat frustrating is that Air Canada Vacations offered the highest package for the cheapest price but I heard after the fact that was only a ‘first day deal’ so some people were a bit upset. I wanted to do this Friday and on Wednesday AM before the wedding I made Shawn go and book it. He went right to the dolphin’s desk (not Air Canada’s desk) and he scored us the top package for the cheapest price. We got the full meal deal – ride on them, kiss them, etc. We were in the water for about 1 hour. TIP: it seems that everyone who did the dolphins paid a different price for the package AND for the pictures after. It was $33 USD for one picture so we opted to get all 118 on disc for $134 USD. After the fact I found out our friends got all the pics on disc, 2 printed pictures, and 2 printed mugs for $125 USD. Again, another case of it depends who you speak too! For all 4 of us and the pictures on disc we paid $600 after currency exchange. Barf, haha, but once in a lifetime for the kids.
Most people just spoke amongst themselves to find people who wanted to go on excursions. Lots did Chitzenitza, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, deep sea fishing, and catamaran trips. I had really wanted to do Coco Bongos but never got my act together!
Every night they had a show in the large entertainment theatre at 9:30pm. I didn’t attend every night, but saw most of Michael Jackson, Rock of Ages, Mayan ritual, crowd interaction one (Miss Sirenis 2015) and the Lion King. They were all really good. The area was large so you could always get a lot of seats together. We decided that the shows killed us though. We were always raring to go and then we would get soooo tired watching them – probably because it’s dark and hot! There was also a bar there with waitresses which was nice.
In the Tequila Lobby Bar they also did things on random nights. Salsa dancing & other various dancing, Mexican night, etc. They also brought vendors in 2 times during the week to buy their trinkets which I really appreciated as I didn’t want to venture off the resort much and it allowed my kids to pick out some souvenirs.
I have been to numerous resorts and this has to be the first one that people actually used the Disco. Since we had the kids we would alternate nights we would go. I went Monday night with the girls and got into some fun shenanigans. We also went shortly after our wedding. By the end of the week we were pretty exhausted lol. There was always 20-50 people in there and the music was awesome.
Meeting up with guests
The first day was a bit of a mess, numerous people had to do rounds around the resort but we finally all found each other at the beach. From then on we started to arrange things and came to realize who liked what (pool vs beach, etc.) After day 1 things went well. I always ran into someone when I left the room and it was really nice to be there with so many people. People made their groups which worked well. The only thing that kind of sucked is that you rarely ran into the people who upgraded to ocean view rooms – they had their own pool, etc. but that was ok – sure I would have liked to see them more but we did run into them occasionally. One person was kind of a party pooper (won’t get into details) but – I think – it worked itself out and it didn’t ruin our trip whatsoever. Maybe I just blocked it out LOL!
What was somewhat funny, well to me anyways, is that we knew some people’s rooms and not others. You would ask someone their room number and think you remembered it, but I honestly called soooo many of the wrong rooms it was kind of funny. It was like you won the lottery when you actually had one of your friends on the phone. I knew I should have made that handout for people to record eachother’s room numbers.
Travelling with kids / Kid’s Club
My kids have never been on an airplane before and all that went fairly smoothly. They sat in economy with my friend but we could see them as they were the first row behind First Class. They were champs thru it all. I am very thankful I brought them sand toys and snorkelling sets. They spent every day in the water for hours. They weren’t strong swimmers but they can swim fairly well now!
Our resort had a kid’s club but we never used it. Our friends had their son and they played well together. Since we had so many people with us, including a lot of aunts/uncles, everyone had their eyes on all the kids and it wasn’t an issue. The kid’s pool area at the Kid’s Club seemed kind of weak but since we never used it I can’t comment forsure. I know they did activities with the kids as there was a kid’s show each night before the nightly show. If I was to travel with my kids alone, I would ensure it had a strong kid’s club (water park, more activities, etc.) so we could have a break LOL. My kid’s had a blast without it and we have no complaints in that regard.
Welcome Drinks/Meet and Great
First off, when we arrived to our rooms after check in I was STRESSED OUT!! I was almost to the point that I didn’t even want to bother bringing the tumblers as it seemed like so much work. My sister happened to find our room and had come see if we needed help. I burst into tears after the long day when I was telling her about all our hassles. Thankfully she helped me unwrap all the cups and get them in bags to bring to the welcome drinks.
I didn’t realize the lobby bar I picked would be soooo loud. This isn’t the resorts fault whatsoever. If you are looking to do this in a lobby bar and need to speak to a group of people, I recommend the bar on the Mayan Beach side but I am unsure of its name. We did ours on the Riviera Maya side and the lobby bar was called ‘Tequila’. Otherwise this was the lobby bar to hang out at. Everyone hung out here a lot and we used it as a general meeting place. Given it was super loud there was no way we could do introductions. I just went around and handed out the tumblers to everyone and thanked them for coming. I was impressed that everyone did come to the Welcome Drinks and I didn’t have to find people after the fact to hand out their tumblers.
We did a tumbler for everyone with an oh sh*t kit inside. These consisted of hand sanitizer, nail file, advil tube, pepto bismol, tums, emergen-c, mentos and bandaids. For the kids we got them M&Ms, gum, rockets, and mentos. Everyone was very appreciative and shocked with the gesture. People used the tumblers a lot and even the supplies – we had numerous people ask us if we had more items!
I had also printed the wedding day timelines, but ended up not handing those out. I could tell they would get left behind. I ended up handing them out to family and the bridal party at our rehearsal dinner.
We sent a pre-travel mailer out before we left with luggage tags. Almost everyone used the luggage tags and those who didn’t wish they had. It made spotting luggage so much easier and everyone was helping gather bags at the airport.
Hindsite: I would have done a beach bag for each room. I got my bridesmaid’s each one from La Vien Rose for $3.99 each. They were large enough to carry towels and such. People loved that they could spot us based on their bags. They got used every day. Worth the money, IMO.
Wedding Coordinator Meeting / Wedding Coordinator
First off, I realize how frustrating it can be when you are awaiting an email and it can take forever. Generally I always heard back in 2-3 days but there was times it took a week! They had a lot of staff turnover (people having babies, etc.) but honestly they do the best they can. When you are at the resort you always come first. I would walk into their office and they would just stop the email they were working on and wait on us hand and foot.
I had Aranza as my WC, she is fairly new but don’t underestimate her, she was awesome!
At our meeting we reviewed everything for the big day. We went thru flowers, cakes, extras, colors for the sashes, etc. She confirmed she knew all the songs we wanted (had to confirm one on utube to ensure they had the right version). We walked thru the timeline of the day, etc. We went thru the bill thoroughly before I had to pay it. She threw in a few extras for us – in the end I wanted the Chinese lanterns and we got those for free. Also, after the fact I noticed at the ceremony I also got an isle runner I didn’t pay for. This is when you give them all your items and she goes thru each one and listens to how you want them all set up. They also did us a favor and allowed us to have witnesses for our symbolic ceremony – she printed a revised ‘certificate’ and made sure the minister knew this was going to take place. TIP: the WC enters your bill into their billing system but you pay for it at the lobby. Before you pay ensure they have your deposit as a credit on your account. I almost paid for mine before I realized that my deposit wasn’t added as a credit. I quickly went back to the wedding office and this was rectified in under 5 minutes.
After our ceremony Shawn’s aunt who had been using his camera wanted to give it back to him but we wanted to go party. I found out the next day he left it with the WC and I felt a bit uneasy about this but it was in safe hands. Very trustworthy people. We also got a sweet gift from them – 1 mug said ‘Mr Right’ with a mustache and the other said ‘Mrs Always Right’ with lips. They had the resort info and a well wish on the back of the mugs. Was a nice gesture.
All the WC are very helpful and if you showed up in their office and your coordinator wasn’t available they were eager to help and always seemed to know what was going on with you.
This was not included in my package but I asked her if she could help us reserve an A’la Carte for our parents and bridal party. She said to keep it ‘hush hush’ but did it for us. We got booked into the Steakhouse for 19 people the evening before the wedding. We were at 2 long tables which made it hard to talk, so we ensured the bridal party was at one table and family/spouses at the other. We had dedicated servers and again the service was awesome. The WC was present to ensure all went smoothly. Again, the Steakhouse wasn’t phenomenal as I hated it was buffet-like for the appetizers, but the entree was delicious. We quickly went over the events of the next day and got opinions on how things should run from others, etc. This is where I handed out the timelines. At this point I knew we had no MC as he had lost his voice, so I discussed with my brother-in-law if he could step in. He agreed and we had some work to do that evening getting a timeline ready for him.
I decided to use the resort photographer ‘Adventure Photos’. At first I was happy with my decision but the more I got into the boards the more I realized that people knocked resort photographers. I then started to panic - what I ended up doing was looking thru all the work Adventure Photos sent and requested the name of the photographers who shot the weddings I loved. I then requested her to do our wedding. Her name is Perla Brambila and after the fact I found out she has her own photography company as well (Cielito Lindo Photography). My assumption is they are starting out/building their business and this is a stable job in the meantime. I can see why some resort photographers get a bad name, but some of them are talented photographers and can’t be all grouped the same. I met with her the evening before our wedding to set up times for the next day, talk about the types of shots I wanted, and pay the bill. I am sooo thankful she told me to ensure I had a list of all the shots I wanted taken, especially with family, and to give that list to someone who could ensure it happened. We had Perla for 8 hours and we started with getting ready shots of the men. Then she took photos of the women before we all headed to the ceremony. What I liked is that she was on time and she went straight to work – she is very creative. She was always there, but you never really knew she was. She was calm and patient and blended in. But when she needed to be heard she was dominant – ie, when everyone was snapping photos she made sure you knew she was the camera to focus on. She was always snapping photos of something or someone – we got numerous compliments about her from family & friends. She stayed with us until 8:30pm and caught the ceremony, group photos, cocktail hour, reception, dancing and cake cutting. I am so glad I had her booked for this long, as at first I was only going to do the ceremony! Looking back, it was soooo sunny and hot, and she did the best she could with the squinting. When the groups got smaller (bridal party, bride/groom) she moved us to better areas to battle the sun. My brother-in-law says it’s the price we pay for perfect weather. We had 1.5 hours for group, bridal party, and bride/groom photos. This was more than enough time, but I credit that a lot to my MC for ordering everyone around LOL. Otherwise group shots may have been a mess. After the wedding she would work on our photos at their office in the Tequila Lobby Bar. It was fun watching her edit and look thru them all. The photos were ready to view after 2 days as she doesn’t do a lot of editing. I do appreciate this as I am not a fan of the over-edited shots, but I wouldn’t have mind if she would have photo shopped the scratches off my dad’s leg! Our package included 200 photos -- It was too much to look threw them to cut out 85 pics, so I paid an extra $100 USD to have them all. We then picked 90 photos for our photobook, which we should receive within 4 weeks. So for 285 pictures on disc, a photobook, and 8 hours of her time we paid $2100 Canadian.
On Monday I decided to have a hair trial done. It’s not that I was worried about the work they would do, but more so how my hair would hold up in the humidity. The trial took about 1.5 hours. They don’t have a lot of English but they have a book to look thru and they also look at your photos if you bring some with you. I had Carmen and she was fantastic. I can’t believe the work they can do, but they definitely needed a lot of hairspray and bobby pins LOL! She was hesitant to take my tip but I made her J
On the wedding day Carmen did my hair and makeup. I may have liked how my bangs were tacked up at the trial better but I still looked fantastic. The spa does not use airbrushing but they use MAC makeup. She took about 1 hour on my hair and 1 hour on my face on the day of the wedding. I couldn’t see what she was doing with the makeup but when I turned around I was STUNNED! I looked gorgeous and was over the moon.
The girls decided to have their hair and makeup done as it was only about $35 more for the makeup. Isis did 2 of the girls and a 3rd lady (didn’t get her name) did my sister. All the hair was fantastic. My sister’s makeup didn’t match the other girls and wasn’t as dark, so we had my stylist Carmen fix it up and she did a great job. That would be my only recommendation – if you want your girls to look similar in their makeup, make sure the same artist does them all. They set your face with a spray; the makeup held up well until later in the evening when I was dancing and sweating like a mad man. Considering how hot it was, I am surprised it held up as long as it did. I don’t hesitate to recommend their spa at all. I can’t remember the exact price we paid as the exchange rate was better while we were in Mexico then when I did my original budget, but I paid approx. $125 for my hair trail, $150 for my wedding day hair and $85 for my makeup. I think the girls paid approx. $135 for hair and makeup.
They had wanted us to start at 11:00am, but I knew I wanted to be back in my room by 1:00pm or 1:30pm as I knew the photographer would come around 2:00pm. I knew this wouldn’t be enough time and I am glad I changed it myself when I went for my hair trial. They booked us in for 10:00am. At first I was thinking I screwed up as they blew thru the hair no problem. All 4 of us had our hair done by noon, but the makeup took a lot longer. After we were all done and had a small lunch in the spa restaurant we didn’t get back to the room until around 1:40pm. TIP: overestimate this time, you will be happy you have more time than less!
The spa was full service and they offered a variety of things – all types of massages, water circuits, reflexology, mani, pedi, coloring, cuts, etc. Shawn and I had a massage the day after our wedding and it was great. Even better? You can request their license numbers as they are RMT’s and once we got home I claimed it thru our benefits plan. Hindsite, it was just a massage, I think I would have preferred doing something in their water circuit as it was outside and beautiful surroundings. The spa is literally unreal and I highly recommend it. We had guests go numerous times.
All you can do is envision them in your mind – I never had a firm bouquet photo that I absolutely had to have but was thinking a mix of gerberas and roses. I had asked for them to put hints of turquoise into my ceremony flowers along with the fuchsia and orange gerbaras but at the last minute I asked her to add some turquoise to my bouquet as well. I was nervous as I had no idea how it would turn out, so I said only 3-4 turquoise roses. OMG is all I can say. STUNNING! When she showed up at around 1:45pm with our flowers I may have almost cried. I could never have imagined how beautiful they would be, and the ceremony flowers were just as beautiful. I was worried that the ‘free package’ bouquet may be too small, so I upgraded to the medium sized bouquet for an extra $42. I am super glad I did as I wouldn’t have wanted my bouquet any smaller than it was. My bridesmaid’s each had a 4 gerbaras bouquet and all the men, including my son and dad, had a gerbaras boutonniere. I was particular on colors and they got it perfect. (Shawn had fuchsia, everyone else got orange, etc). My bouquet and Shawn’s bout were included in our package. I paid approx. $18 per bout and $30 per bouquet. I ordered one extra so I had enough to cover as centerpieces at the reception.
The shuttle arrived to pick us up around 250pm? Haha ok I have no idea what time they showed up as I was in my own little world but we weren’t sitting around waiting for them. We had myself, 3 bridesmaids, my flower girl, and my dad in the shuttle. As we were driving past the lobby we realized that my step-mom and brother-in-law had yet to be picked up – they were late arriving to the lobby for pick up as my dad needed supervision after his fall. All was ok, we stopped and they quickly ushered another shuttle to take them. When we arrived at the palapa the WC made sure to get everyone into order in the ‘trees’ as I wanted my groomsmen to walk with my bridesmaids. She stood in the trees and told everyone when to walk out. I can remember my music starting and her saying ‘it’s your music, time to go’ I think she had to say it 2 or 3 times, I was just taking it all in and honestly, I was pretty nervous. I remember thanking my dad for not crying and he told me he wasn’t allowed as he didn’t cry at my sisters LOL As we hit the edge of the ‘trees’ I could see the ceremony set up and I stopped in awe, it was absolutely gorgeous. My fuchsia chair ribbons, the flowers, the isle runner (which I immediately noticed as an extra LOL) with all the beautiful petals all over it. OMG! At this point I couldn’t see Shawn yet. Thankfully my dad was moving slow, so it slowed me down. When I got up to Shawn I wasn’t exactly sure what I was to do, so Shawn and my dad shook hands and then I hugged my dad and he sat down. The Minister was so awesome and so calm. He asked me if I was nervous and asked me to take a moment to have a deep breath. Then I handed my flowers to my sister and it started. Honestly, it was SUPER fast and over easily within 15 mins. The only words I spoke were ‘I do’. I was so nervous I just focused on Shawn’s face and was soooo glad I couldn’t see anyone crying so I could keep it together (we did have a few criers in the crowd). After the fact I found out that Shawn was asked to stand facing the ocean. He didn’t get to turn around until I was at the top of the isle with my dad. The minister would step out of the way for necessary photos, he was a pro. He told Shawn he had been doing this for 15 years and could speak 5 languages. He was gone so quickly I never even got to say thank you. He was fantastic and sure made the experience what it was.
We had fans on the ceremony chairs. This is probably the only thing I have no idea if people liked or not! But at the end of the day we had only 2 left to pick up in the wedding office and I know I had supplied her with extras, so everyone must have taken them!
I am thankful that my bridesmaids’ spouse videotaped our wedding as I can remember the music starting but then I don’t recall hearing it. For all that time I spent choosing the perfect songs for us L I can’t wait to watch it. And in hindsite, I may have paid someone to tape the ceremony for this reason or definitely ensured that a guest would do it for us.
As I said before, it was very hot and sunny! Not sure if starting 30 mins later would have helped though and an hour later would have ruined the opportunity to get all the photos we wanted before the sun went down. It was also very windy!! Hair and dresses blowing everywhere LOL honestly though I am thankful for the wind or we would have died. I was little sweating down my legs ewwww.
Toast / Appetizers / Cocktail Hour
After the ceremony we all walked back up the isle and our WC was greeting us with a glass of champagne. At this point everyone hugged us and said congrats / we said thank you while their champagne was being served. Once we were ready our MC had a quick toast where everyone raised their glass. He then told them how group photos were going to go and started getting people in order. After all the group photos were done, the Mariachi band showed up for 45 mins and the people enjoyed appetizers with an open bar. I never had an appetizer but somehow Shawn did and said they were good. Everyone was loving the Mariachi and taking their photos with them. I don’t recall their music but I did get my picture with them. The cocktail hour/open bar had fantastic service as honestly I think a lot of people may have gotten tipsy/drunk here! Ha! My sister told me she received 5 drinks during this time. We had ordered 5 tables/20 chairs for the cocktail hour and I quickly realized they weren’t there. I think I realized this as my dad was hurt earlier in the week and there was no way he could stand for an hour. Shawn rushed over to ask the WC and she apologized and got my dad a chair very quickly. We were refunded this $100 which was appreciated. Otherwise I don’t think anyone noticed. Once our photos were done around 5:00pm we all gathered outside the palapa and everyone went in to be seated. TIP: have a list of your must have shots for the MC. Make sure they get everyone in order for all the shots so it goes smoothly/nothing is missed. We couldn’t have got all the photos we wanted done that quickly without him organizing it. One of the best decisions I made – on the photographer’s suggestion of course.
I hadn’t even planned for anything at the reception, I was going to fly by the seat of my pants. I am SOOO glad my fill in MC had another idea. He was awesome and made the reception what it was.
For our entrance I hadn’t planned a song but when one of my favorite songs started playing I smiled. It was ‘Bailando’ by Enrique Iglesias. When we walked in I was nervous (I’m shy!) but I took in all the beauty of the palapa and how everyone was already on their feet shaking their maracas.
Venue for reception
We had taken the free wedding package but upgraded our reception to the private palapa. This also gave us playa palapa for our ceremony which was also private. The palapa upgrade is only for 3 hours so we paid to have it an extra 3 hours. It went from 5:00pm-11:00pm. The cost to extend the reception was the cost of open bar per person, per hour. Well worth it!
We had chosen to do the buffet only because it was the cheapest. Honestly though, it was good and we had lots of compliments on it. It was an assortment of breads, salads, dips, veggies, carbs, and they had fish, chicken, and steak. It was all served at once and replenished as needed.
We never had to wait around for dinner to be ready, but we did our speeches first so I am not sure what would have happened otherwise.
As I said above we did our speeches right after we did our entrance. My dad did one, my sister (MOH), Shawn’s mom and his brother (best man). Those were planned, but Shawn’s dad also stood up for a speech as well. At first I didn’t really care if we did them or not, but I recommend you do. We laughed, we cried, and there was a lot of fun memories that the people brought up.
After dinner the MC had people go around and introduce themselves and say something. I swear it turned into an AA meeting but we were in hysterics. Thankfully Shawn said a nice thank you before it was my turn. I said a few jokes (made references to inside jokes we had created during the week) and then I said a quick thank you and said ‘Shawn said it well’ I was so nervous and I was going to cry!
After the introductions we did our first dance. I don’t remember a lot of it. We were introduced and walked out as our music started. We were bring jokesters and pretended to dance like we were at a grade 8 school dance, but then we took it seriously. It went quicker than I had imagined and you are in your own little world. After that we did our parental dances together. Half way thru Shawn switched out – his brother danced with his mom and he danced with his step mom. Then the party started!!!
You have no worries about using their resort DJ!! He was awesome. During dinner he played lovey music but our WC came up to us and asked us at dinner what type of music we liked. I am a Top 40’s girl, but since I had been to the Disco I knew I liked what they played there. So I told her to play the music from the disco with a touch of country. He was a rock star. The dance floor was full the entire night. Lots of them were fun ones (Macarena, line dancing, YMCA, etc.) He fed off of the crowd which was nice. He also took requests. Only at my wedding will you hear ‘Porn Star Dancing’ with some ‘Blame it on the Rain’ ahhhh I love my guests! Even the WC and some of the servers came out to dance with us – they taught us some Mexican line dancing. LOL Have you ever heard ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ in Spanish?
It was hard to count but I believe for the 45 of us we had 7 actual servers and a man in charge. I had put the glow sticks out on the bar along with my ‘open bar, shenanigans will be caught on tape’ type sign and honestly no one saw them because the servers were that good!!! We always had a drink in our hand or one on the way. I can’t say enough about how awesome they were. I have one picture of us doing shots off one of their chests, OMG! And I wonder why he was laughing at us the next evening when he served us at the private lobster beach dinner heheh!! TIP: (or funny story) Maybe don’t put the glow sticks on the bar! One of our friends came up to the head table to chat and I was like ‘What are you doing with a glow stick in your drink?’ hahah they thought they were straws! We quickly told them what they were and the WC handed one out to everyone.
I had told my MC I would like to do the cake cutting at 8:00pm as the photographer left at 8:30pm. The timing was perfect but I was sweaty by then as we had partied hard after dinner. We had a basic vanilla cake and honestly it was AWESOME!! I love cake and I went back later on for seconds/thirds/maybe fourths haha. We had a lot of compliments on it. We just cut the cake but didn’t feed it to eachother. The servers made sure everyone got a piece. There was maybe 1 piece left over at the end of the night so not much left to sneak out with me!
As I have said many times since, I stressed way too much about this. I don’t even remember seeing my décor until I saw it in the pictures. It’s beautiful but don’t lose sleep J She didn’t set it out exactly as I had envisioned but it doesn’t matter as I didn’t see it anyways LOL!! The guestbook table was worth everything! I loved having the postcards and reading them the next day. You will find people don’t sign it or forget, so have your MC announce it numerous times. I think ours did 2-3x and we still people who didn’t sign (ie my family – I sent them some in the mail haha!) What I truly love is that my WC, Aranza, signed a postcard.
The maracas were a huge hit and people used them all night long. I highly recommend these.
Everyone loved the glow sticks – we made them into bracelets, necklaces and headbands J
TIP: if you plan to buy a banner for your head table and you are getting married outside and/or in a palapa don’t cheap out and get the cardstock one like I did. It was blowing all over and rarely said ‘best day ever’ Most of the time it said ‘best day ev’ LOL Maybe get the one done out of chipboard that will weigh it down and into place.
I mentioned earlier that I decided to go for the Chinese lighted lanterns and she threw them in for free, but I would have paid the $100 for 10. They were beautiful and added to the environment. If this is something you are debating on, I think they are worth the splurge.
We had no fees to set up any of our décor or favors.
I left everything in Mexico except my cake topper, photos of us, treasure chest box, leftover fans (2) and maracas (5-6).
End time with photographer
I knew she was set to leave at 8:30pm as did my MC. About 15 mins before she left (after cake cutting) he announced that we would be at the entry way for people to take pictures with us. GREAT IDEA and I recommend you do this. We have some fantastic pictures with our guests. I tipped her when I viewed my photos on the Friday.
End of Reception
At the end of the night the shuttle/golf cart was ready to take everyone back to their rooms. We just walked next door to the disco. You don’t have to worry about anything, they take everything back to the wedding office for you.
TIP: It says that the shuttle/golf cart rental is for 5 hours so we asked to rent it for 10 hours but she assured us it would be with us all day and it was. We paid $85 and had it from 2:00pm until 11:00pm. So don’t let that ‘5 hours’ fool you.
I had meant to talk to the WC earlier in the day about tips and didn’t have a chance until dinner. I wanted to ensure I could tip them as a group, etc. With that said, I didn’t tip anyone the night of the wedding. Aranza knew I would see her the next day with the tip money and she would let the workers know this. She had a list of everyone involved and assured me it would be split amongst them. Hindsite I think I would have preferred to have tipped them at the end of the reception but it all totally slipped my mind earlier in the day.
Just before we left the wedding and headed to the disco my girlfriend suggested we get the bathroom shot in the dress. This could have been cute if we weren’t sweaty, drunk messes hahah! Memories are all those photos will offer, no one will ever see them J I just remember Aranza being horrified at the suggestion, I think maybe she thought I would actually be going pee! LOL!!
By this point I think we had, had too much to drink! We walked in and everyone cheered. That is such a great feeling, isn’t it past brides? We had a dance or two and left with our main entourage LOL!
We headed to the 24 hour buffet as I was pretty vocal about wanting a hot dog! As we walked into the lobby bar that led up the stairs to the buffet we were greeted again with lots of cheering. We had a kiss for them! I will never forget the pizza served that night – one had peas on it, one had corn. Of course I tried both along with my hot dog! After that we left on the opposite side which led into the other lobby bar and again were greeted with cheers. We kissed again for them. I will never, ever forget that!
We headed right to the pool and jumped in! It was rather dark so the photos aren’t great, but I have a couple to show as proof. It was Shawn, myself, 2 bridesmaids, and my sister. We had two people who didn’t jump in. Apparently, as per the WC who laughed we did it, that we are lucky security didn’t catch us LOL! After that we headed, quietly (ya right), to my brother-in-law’s room to show him what we had done. We thought we snuck up but he said he could hear us a mile away. We were banging on his door and he was scolding us when he answered the door to be quiet, but immediately started laughing when he realized we were soaking wet.
Our ‘honeymoon’ Room
After that we went back to our room. Our friend came with us to get a picture of Shawn carrying me across the threshold. LOL ya right, me in a soaking wet wedding dress? I think not, but the pic is funny. They had filled up the soaker tub with bubble bath and flower petals. Unsure at what time this was done, but this was around 2:00am and it was still hot with bubbles. They had done some swan towel art on the bed and the whole room had flower petals. There was chocolate covered strawberries and champagne.
The next day they came around 9:00am with breakfast. We then went for our massage and walked around some and did things together we hadn’t had a chance (site see the resort, take pics, do the lazy river together, etc.) Then we went to the pool to spend the day with our friends and family.
Also in our wedding package we got the French A’la Carte restaurant for free. We did that Friday evening and it was delicious as I mentioned earlier.
We tipped the Wedding Coordinator, Photographer, servers/bartenders at the reception, and the hairstylists.
We also tipped randomly for drinks thru out the week, for our maid, and every time we ate.
TIMELINE (this is a general idea, some of it’s a blur)
9:00am – everyone had breakfast together (Shawn and I didn’t part until after breakfast)
10:00am-1:30pm hair/makeup appointments and quick lunch at the spa
1:30pm-2:00pm Men have getting ready photos, Bridesmaid’s get ready
2:10pm-2:40pm Kim getting ready photos, photos with bridesmaids and garden shots alone
2:40pm – 3:00pm Drive to ceremony location and organization of bridal party for entrance
3:00pm-3:30pm ceremony & toast (possibly shorter)
3:30pm-4:00pm group and family photos
4:00pm-5:00pm bride/groom shots – guests had cocktail hour with mariachi band
5:00-5:30pm? Entrance, housekeeping, speeches
5:30pm-6:30pm buffet dinner (probably shorter)
6:30-6:40pm people introduced themselves, thank you from bride/groom
6:40-7:00pm all dances (bride/groom, parent’s dances, etc.)
8:00pm-8:10pm cake cutting
8:10pm-8:30pm any photos people wanted with bride/groom before photographer left and PARTY
Our wedding day was 150% more than I could have ever imagined it to be. The little things that went wrong (table/chairs at cocktail hour) just weren’t enough to even put a damper on anything. Who cares the table décor wasn’t perfectly as I had envisioned. I am so glad I was able to let go and just go with the flow. The day goes soooo fast and most of it is a blur, but I know it was beautiful and all I could ever have dreamed of. We get so many compliments on how beautiful it was and how much fun everyone had!
I feel we scored on so many levels – the resort, the wedding department, the execution of the wedding day, the weather, the price, and how much fun everyone had together. This day (and week) is something I will never forget for as long as I live, and I know our guests feel the same way. I don’t regret any decision we made and I think all that we had planned was perfect for what we wanted. It’s hard to see it all coming together, but then it does and you are just in awe. I credit this board a lot for my lack of stress on the resort, wedding department, and execution of weddings. I felt I knew exactly what to expect due to the reviews I had read and it all came true!
Any regrets? No. I do wish I didn’t stress so much about the little details though.
Anything I would do different? No. I may have considered having my ceremony taped and a TTD solely to wear my dress down the lazy river but not having those didn’t ruin our experience whatsoever.
If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask!!
Edited by calgarybride2015, 07 February 2015 - 08:09 PM.