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Riu Palace, Cabo Wedding Review November 15

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Recently returned from my wedding at the Riu Palace in Cabo San Lucas on November 15 and it was THE MOST amazing time of my life! I want to re-live it every day. I will never forget how much of an amazing wedding we had.


Travel Agent: We went with Liberty Travel as our travel agent. Our wedding guests booked through a link that the agency provided and I was able to download a report to see who signed up (this was perfect because I provided it to the hotel to prove that at least 80% of the guests stayed at the hotel, per the contract). It also helped me with RSVPs. No need to follow up on missing response cards if they booked their room ;). Liberty Travel also arranged for everyone's ride to and from the airport which worked out great. The only snag with this one was that there are TONs of agents at the airport trying to pick up the arriving tourists and some tried posing as our car service. However, since we were one of the first people to show up in Cabo, I texted our guests to warn them about this and remind them to verify who they are taking a ride with.


Hotel: The rooms were amazing! We had an Ocean Front Junior Suite which was fine for us because we didn't spend a ton of time in the room. Also, it was centrally located to everything. The hotel is HUGE so getting from one place to the next was a workout! Good for me so I could fit into my dress, but not so great for my grandma. However, she had a wheelchair so she had assistance getting around. I definitely recommend any elderly guests bringing or renting a wheelchair to get around the hotel. Also, don't drink or brush your teeth with the tap water. A few people got sick (bring Pepto and any sort of meds you can think of, just in case) and my in-law (who is a doctor) believes that caused it. Also, be sure to secure your restaurant reservations so you don't have the buffet every day for dinner. We really enjoyed the food.

We gave the front desk welcome bags to hand out and it worked out great. Our friends and family said the bags were placed in their rooms. The only sucky part is that it costed us $3 per bag for them to give them out. 


Hair Salon on site: My bridesmaids and I got our hair done at the salon on site and they did a fantastic job! My appointment was at noon (ceremony at 4). I showed my stylist a picture of the style I wanted from my phone and she got right to work on it. She nailed it, and pretty quickly too. She didn't even have to stare at the photo for long. My mom and my sister said the same thing, and they have pretty high standards. The salon can take on 3 hair appointments at any given hour so book your hair appointments as soon as you can, which I believe is 3 months prior to the wedding. You'll have to pay 50% of the bill up front to hold the appointments. I did my own makeup so I can't speak for the makeup artists on site.


Florist: We went with Baja Flowers (provided by the Riu) and they did an excellent job! I sent photos to Alina of the bouquets and centerpieces I wanted and she said no problem! She nailed it. The only thing I noticed is that the boutonnieres were a little heavy. They seemed to be weighing down the groomsmen's jackets. Not a huge deal though :)


Photographer: We went with the hotel photographer and she was on time and did not waste any moment directing us on the poses and variations of photos. I can't wait to see the photos! 


DJ: We went with the hotel DJ and he did a great job!! Everyone was dancing the entire time. I looked around at one point and everyone was on the dance floor. We asked to meet with him beforehand and he had my list and asked me what songs I definitely did't want to hear. He also asked me if it was OK to take requests from others. He played all the correct songs for our introductions and first dance. A lot of our friends said he did a great job with the music.


Wedding coordinator: We had Ana Maria and she is the sweetest person ever!! As we got closer to the wedding date, she was more and more responsive to our emails and I could see that she puts care and emotion into her job. She offered up lots of ideas and suggestions for us without us even asking. We met with her a few days before the wedding to confirm our details and choices. We did a cake tasting (yum!) as well. She had all our information organized. I also gave her our toasting flutes, cake servers, welcome bags, wedding favors, table number and name cards and it was all there at our reception. No exceptions!!! We loved her so much, we brought her on the dance floor at one point :). We also made sure to thank her by getting her a gift certificate to Hacienda Cocina y Cantina (great spot for dinner!).

Btw, I've seen some people mention in their reviews that they wished there was a rehearsal. For us, we found that it wasn't necessary. Ana told us exactly what time she would bring us the flowers, and pick us up for the ceremony and she was on time. Then she was right there directing each of us when to start our walk to the aisle. Every step of the way, she directed us so there was no confusion at all of what to do.


Ceremony: We were initially going to have the ceremony at the San Jose Gazebo, however, the grass was a little torn up from the hurricane. There were some bald spots and construction going on right out of the gazebo, so we opted to move it to a beach ceremony on the quiet side of the hotel. We made this change just a few days before the wedding! The beach ceremony was gorgeous! The only odd part was that some hotel guests overlooked the ceremony from the infinity pool but it didn't matter to me once the ceremony music started :). It was also fun when they cheered at clapped at the end. The view from the beach ceremony was absolutely stunning. A few days prior, there were some cruise ships that blocked the view of the rock formation, but they were gone on the day of the wedding. It was so breathtakingly beautiful. Our ceremony was at 4pm which was perfect. The temperature was so comfortable and we had enough sun light to take photos afterward before the sun set. We used the hotel Reverend Marco and he was great! Very sweet and gave a lovely ceremony. He provided us with a few different ceremony script options and said we could mix and match or customize how ever we wanted. He was also on time.


Violinist: We went with the hotel violinist (Wioletta?) for the ceremony music and it was sooo perfect. She played the exact songs I asked and I received a TON of compliments on how it set the mood for the ceremony. I walked down the aisle to A Thousand Years and there were no dry eyes in the crowd. She didn't miss a beat.


Reception: We chose Baja Norte for our reception and it was stunning! Like I mentioned earlier, everything I gave Ana for the reception was right there and ready when we showed up. The food presentation was very nice! They had our names carved into watermelons which was a nice surprise ha! There were hotel staff who took great care of us. They carried my food plate to our table and always kept our drinks filled. 


Fire Dancers: We decided to add an extra touch and hired 3 fire dancers for 20 minutes. Our wedding guests were definitely surprised and loved it! They made a few minor mistakes but overall, it was a great show! We watched them perform on the beach from the balcony at Baja Norte (for safety). 


Overall, I had the most amazing time of my life. Everything was just beautiful and it completely exceeded my expectations. During our first dance, my husband was like "I cannot believe this is our wedding. It is SO amazing!" Our family members and friends were stunned as well and I have received sooo many compliments on it. We had a blast! Now everyone is talking about how we should all go back for our first anniversary hahah. 


Let me know if you have any questions!!! I definitely recommend having your wedding at the Riu Palace in Cabo and if you can, request Ana for your coordinator. I can't speak for the other coordinators, but she was the perfect person for us :).


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@@MelissaH113 Congratulations on your wedding and thank you for your review and detailed information.  We have decided on Riu Palace for our June 2016 wedding after so much research and debating.  After hearing your amazing and positive experience, I am very excited to start the planning process. 


Did you reserve a room block with your TA and if so how did you determine how many rooms to reserve?  Also did you have contact with Reverend Marco (via email or phone) prior to you going out to Cabo?


Thanks again for your help!

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@@AmorDeMiVida Congrats! 

With the travel agent, I estimated the amount of rooms we would need and they held them with the hotel. About a month prior to the wedding, the travel agent would release any unused rooms to the general public so you don't get charged for them. But by the agent's initial deposit date, we needed to have at least ten rooms booked to keep our group room rate. The travel agent will explain everything to you. Also, keep in mind this was with Liberty Travel. Not sure who you are planning to use. They could use a different method.


I had contact with the Revernd prior to Cabo and it was via email. He asked us to confirm the details of the wedding and provided us with 6 or so different options for the ceremony script which he said could be customized if we wanted. He need to know about 2 weeks prior what our decision on the script was so you get lots of time.


Happy Planning!

Edited by MelissaH113

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Thank you! When you receive your pictures, can you share and let us know if they met your expectations? I'm debating between the onsite photog and Gilda Badillo. Thanks!

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Hey! Thank you sooo much for your awesome review! I am getting married at the Riu Santa Fe on July 20, 2015! If you don't mind I have some questions for you!


Dress- did you have your dress shipped or did you bring it as a carry-on? Did you send your dress out to be steamed? I saw that there is not a steaming service on site and I am a little nervous about sending it out somewhere. I do have a handheld steamer that I was going to bring but am not sure how that will work.


Welcome bags- did you have the option of having them hand them out upon guest arrival or was the only option to have them place the bags in your guests' rooms? Is there a $3 charge per bag regardless?


Hair Appt- I will need my hair done along with my 7 bridesmaids. My wedding ceremony is at 5PM. Do you think you chose a good time to have yours done? I'm trying to figure out timing for all 8 of us without having anyone sitting around too long! Is there a standard cost for the hair appt or does it depend on what you have done?


Photographer- did you go with the 3 or 5 hour photo session? Are you happy with the one you chose? Did they take pictures while you were getting ready or did they not begin until the ceremony started? Did you have the videographer as well?


DJ- did you just make a list of your own songs or did you actually have them all available on your Ipod? I wasn't sure if they have a lot of the songs that a typical DJ in the US would have or if I should have all the songs downloaded and with me


Favors- if you don't mind me asking... what did you do for favors? I'm trying to think of something light that I can pack in my suitcase. We are having 80-90 guests so I am having trouble!


Thank you sooo much and I look forward to hearing back from you!!



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(Disclaimer: I got married at the Riu Palace, so I cannot guarantee my responses apply to Santa Fe)

I carried my dress onto the flight and since the flight didn't have any closets (I asked), I laid it out in the overhead storage. I also gave my dress to Ana (the coordinator) during our meeting and she sent it out to be steamed. No issues at all! It was perfect when I got it back the day before the wedding :).


For welcome bags, I specifically requested them to be handed out during check in, but they did the room thing instead. However, I did see a few days where the front desk was absolute madness and since it's out in the open, it's probably better that they delivered it to the rooms. The charge is $3 no matter which way.


The salon at the Palace is only able to accommodate 3 hair styles at a time and they reserve an hour for each appointment. We had 7 people getting their hair styles and our ceremony was at 4pm. The first 3 appointments for us were at noon, then 3 more at 1pm, and 1 appointment at 2pm. This timing worked out great for us! The last appointment at 2 was for the flower girl, though, so its not like she had to do her makeup afterward. If the Santa Fe salon has the same amount of stylists, you may want to have everyone start their appointments around 10 or 11. Some bridesmaids said their hair didn't take long so tell everyone to get to their appointments early and maybe they will be done faster. There are standards costs and the salon can give you a price list. The cost may vary depending on hair length.


For the photographer, we went with a 5 hour package and I almost wish we did an extra hour but that's ok because we had lots of friends with great cameras. The photographer took great photos as well. We love them. Our ceremony was at 4 and she arrived at the groom's room at 3 to take 15 minutes of his "getting ready" photos. Then she came to our room around 3:20 to take photos of us getting ready. We did not get videography done. The photographer was only there for about an hour of the reception.


The DJ is on Spotify and I had put together my list of songs on there. So then I "shared" the list with him on Spotify. He has pretty much every song that's popular for wedding receptions right now. They do hundreds and hundreds of weddings so when I met with him, I could tell he knew what kind of music we like. He even made a comment "I see you like Calvin Harris" haha. And EVERYONE was on the dance floor so it wasn't an issue.


For favors, we went with mason jars: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/1/188356-yorkshire-17-5-ounce-chalkboard-mason-jar-glasses-set-of-4.html

It was a bit of pain to bring over. However, my husband went to visit right after the hurricane and we used that opportunity for him to bring them for the wedding coordinator to keep in her office for a month. If I were to do it all over, I probably would've chose something smaller and lighter, but people loved them. Whatever you do end up choosing, be sure to bring a copy of the receipt in case customs agents ask for it. They asked my husband and gave him a hard time, but eventually let him through with them.


Hope this helps! Let me know if you think of anything else :)

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I was married at the Riu the same week as MelissaH113 - Gazebo, Baja Norte, ipod w/ sound system (we had a friend make an awesome playlist), in house photographer etc. 


My feedback:


Gazebo was amazing, super private, really nice photos and excellent ceremony. I was in touch with Reverend Marco prior to the wedding. My husband and I didn't want to write our own vows but we did want some choice in what would be said. He sent over about 7 different ceremonies that we could choose from, cut and paste or make additions to. We ended up with a really nice ceremony and I am super happy with how it turned out. He was fantastic. 


I went outside the resort for hair and makeup and I could not have been happier. I saw Alma, http://www.cabomakeup.com/ shewas super great over email and honestly did an amazing job. It was myself, 4 bridesmaids, and my SIL that all got hair and makeup done. My wedding was scheduled at 2pm so we got started early at 930~. We finished with good time to get back to resort and get ready for the ceremony. All of my girls loved their hair and makeup, no melting in heat as she uses a combination of standard foundation etc. and airbrush to finish. I also had a low back dress and she airbrushed the tanline on my back away! She had two other people with her, one strictly for hair and another that did both hair and makeup. They were a well oiled machine. I cannot say enough and I had my makeup done professionally for two other weddings this year and this was by far the top. I decided to meet her at her studio outside of the resort as the Riu charges $300 for every outside contractor that you bring in. Our cabs to and from only cost $30USD total.  


We booked photography and videography last minute for 1 hour each. My husband is a videographer so I was reluctant at first but he was happy to have the footage. I thought the photography was OK but nothing amazing. They definitely know how to organize big groups and maximize time which was great. 


We also brought bags for all our guests but did not pay to have them placed in the rooms. We decided instead to meet all of our guests as they arrived (most of them came in big groups from certain cities which made it easier). We met them in the lobby, gave them their bags, gave them our run down on where to go etc. It worked fine and the resort had no issue. I opted to use the welcome bags as the favor for the wedding.


My husband brought glow sticks down which ended up being an amazing hit after the reception when we went to the club (we ended the night at Pacha which is up the stairs from Baja Norte). People literally went crazy for them, even people I didn't expect (old aunts etc.). I was a little disappointed at the end of the night as Baja Norte has strict rules about noise and they shut our party off promptly at 11pm which was right when everyone was getting going.


Everyone really enjoyed our food at dinner - no complaints there. Cake was good too.  


You're wedding will be great! Let me know if you have other questions. 

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When you met with the W/C and had the cake tasting, did they have a lot of different options?



Congratulations and thank you for your review.  It's good to know that Pacha is very close to Baja Norte.  I already know all of my guests will want to keep dancing/partying past 11.  Did you bring your own sound system or was it rented from Riu?  If so, what was the cost?  I'm still debating between hiring the onsite DJ or bringing my own music (fiance is a DJ and can mix all of our songs).

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In the spreadsheet the coordinator gives you with all the choices, it has all the cake and filling flavors. So we picked a few combos we wanted to try and told the coordinator prior to going to Cabo. Then during our meeting, we sampled just those flavors we requested. We ended up having each tier be a different flavor cause we liked all the flavors we tried!

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@@MelissaH113 thanks for all the great info!! As far as the DJ, did you do the traditional bridal party songs as each member of the bridal party entered or did you skip that? Also, did you do the traditional first dance, father/daughter dance etc... Thanks!!


@@thebestjacquie thanks for sharing your info as well! I was thinking about getting glow sticks too! Do you remember where you purchased yours from? As far as the welcome bags... how many guests did you have? We are having 80-90 guests. So far we have 30 rooms booked. I was planning on just doing a welcome bag for each room (30-40 total). I asked the wedding coordinator and she said that they can only be handed out at check in and it will cost $5 per bag. I like what you did since I can basically do the same thing and save $200 handing them out on my own. A lot of our guests are coming in groups as well. Was it difficult to have them all together... did you have a table or suitcase or something you brought down to check-in with you to carry them all? Thanks!!

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