Dear fellow brides!
What an adventure it has been to plan my destination wedding in Playa del Carmen Mexico this past year. Like many people on this forum, I was a “silent” member for almost 12 months… reading and reading the gazillions of reviews available. I based many of my decisions and choices on what other lovely brides have shared (and you’ll see by my reviews that I am sooo happy with the outcome!) I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone who has shared their experiences in the past and I feel like it’s my turn to give back now. So here it is… a review of all the vendors I used for my 2015 wedding. I apologize in advance… it’ll likely be super long.
Location: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Number of guests: 80 people
Ceremony Venue: St-Francis of Assisi Chapel, Xcaret
Reception Venue: La Isla, Xcaret
Wedding Planner: Erica Bressan – Weddings in Playa
Flowers and Decorations – Sandra – Cherry Blossoms
Priest: Father Hubert Reiner
Photographers: Chesira and Bernardo & team – Quetzal Photography
Videographer: Jorge & team – Cinematik Weddings
DJ – Diego Alvarado – EvolutionMix Audiovisuales
Hair & Makeup: Alex and Zoe & team – Styling Trio
Venue: XCARET (review on location, food and Xcaret coordinators)
I really wanted to have an off-resort venue. After considering many beach clubs, I went forward with Xcaret because of the many super positive reviews and beautiful pictures I could find online. And let me tell you, this place is MAGICAL!! It’ll make any wedding beautiful. The grounds are superb and our guests were really impressed by the beauty and originality of the eco-park. We got married in the St-Francis of Assisi Chapel which is open-aired and sits at the top of a hill surrounded by the sea. The ceremony was a 5pm, just as the sun was setting (wow factor!). In terms of decorations, I simply added petals down the aisle… and Xcaret set up some beautiful candles along the benches and large candles at the front. I was also surprised on the wedding day by some beautiful draping that they added in the chapel (all included in the rental price). We also had a classical guitarist play during our ceremony. The entire set up was absolutely beautiful. Following our ceremony, we then had our guests walk through the park to the Isla restaurant where we had a cocktail hour and our wedding reception. The Xcaret coordinators recommended we hire some conch blowers to entertain our guests during this walk and it was seriously worth the cost!! The conch blowers are there for about 20min, but they added so much value and a real exotic feel to the wedding. It was especially impressive to end the walk in the Spiral which is at the entrance of La Isla. (btw, the Spiral gives you a really nice group photo opp with your guests! Don’t miss it!). Finally, we had our reception in La Isla restaurant. I was initially afraid La Isla would be too big for our 80 guests but it was perfect. We put the DJ on the stage at the front, rented a light-up dancefloor to set up in between the tables and also added a few hightables next to the bar. All of this took up just enough space to make the restaurant look full. I was super pleased by the reception location! J Now… for the food. OH MY…. The food!!! It was amazing! We are usually pretty picky about our restaurant choices, but this was BY FAR the best food we had in the Riviera Maya region. Our guests, who are also foodies, were so impressed!! We ended up serving a variety of appetizers during our cocktail hour (loved the coconut shrimp!) and we had a four course dinner. We started with a spinach and cheese soup. This was a recommendation by Xcaret during our tasting and once we tried it we just had to add it to our initial 3-course meal! It actually turned out to be the biggest hit of all the meals with our guests. Weird eh…who would’ve guessed?! But it was truly delicious. We chose the inlet salad as a second course (yummy and suitable for everyone). We had the Xcaret Surf and Turf, which had some very interesting pineapple and tamarin seasoning. The meat was also very tender and perfectly cooked (definitely no complaints from the meat-lovers in our bunch!). And we decided to offer two desserts, the chocolat fondant and the crème brulée, and interchanged for every second guest this way they could share and taste both (Seriously… by the time we were at the dessert stage in our tasting we just couldn’t choose anymore. All of the food options were so good!). So all and all, our guests raved about the food. Finally, the Xcaret coordinators. They are all so wonderful. You will notice when booking Xcaret that the venue is not cheap. But honestly, they provide service at the level you are paying!! We initially worked with Gabriela, who is the manager in charge of booking the venue for the event. Gabriela always answered in a timely manner, was super polite, open-minded and so accommodating when we weren’t sure how many guests would come and what exact venue we wanted to select. I think at one point she put together like 8 quotes with different options so we could choose what we preferred. She was amazing! She also put us in contact with Pablo from her team, our wedding coordinator, who was just as excellent! They both were so flexible and professional and a real pleasure to work with. On the day of the wedding, you could feel that they had a real handle on the event and everything was rolling perfectly (at least from my point of view!). Everyone from the servers to the decorators and the coordinators at Xcaret did a fantastic job! They are really pros at what they do…You are definitely in excellent hands if you choose to go ahead with Xcaret!
Wedding Planner: Erica Bressan from Weddings in Playa
Erica’s help while we were trying to pull this wedding together at a distance was extraordinary! I really questioned the need for a wedding planner for a long time. But in the end, I don’t regret it one bit. Erica really became an extension of me, on the grounds in Playa. Erica often offered to run around to help me with everything from décor to cake and would send me pictures directly from the stores or the vendors. She was also so quick to respond to emails, which let me tell you, is extremely reassuring when you wake up with 100 questions going through your mind and nothing tangible you can do about it except research online or email someone else about it! haha. We arrived one week before the wedding and she had almost 100% of her attention on us during that last stretch. She drove us around to meet our vendors and helped us deal with anything from champagne purchases to bus rentals, which were out of scope since they had to do with other activities we were planning during the week. We were so grateful for her help! Finally, I have to say that Erica definitely delivered on our wedding day. She knows what needs to get done for the wedding day to roll out without a glitch and I totally trusted her as she kept everything under control and she kept us on time throughout the evening. She is professional and discreet and I am eternally grateful I reached out for her help last July.
Flowers and Decorations – Sandra from Cherry Blossoms
My biggest fear in planning this marriage from a distance was the details like the flowers and the decor. I wondered how I – with my slight need to control everything! – would be able to organize the decor for our wedding without even seeing or touching anything or being on the grounds. But the minute we started exchanging emails with Sandra at Cherry Blossoms, I knew she understood my vision, and I knew I could completely trust her. I decided to go with Cherry Blossoms because they seemed to have a lot of experience in vintage style weddings. They also had a large catalogue of items I could rent that really fit my style. Once I started working with them I realized that Sandra even surpassed my expectations… Not only was she extremely responsive to my ideas but she went out of your way to recommend things that she thought would complement them. She was also so quick to respond to email (I swear Sandra answers right right away, with pictures and new ideas!) Working with Sandra was an absolute joy. The flowers for our wedding were absolutely gorgeous and the vintage set up she did for our reception (with a mix of props and frames that I brought and some décor I rented from her) was so bang on what I had hoped for!! I was one extremely satisfied bride on my wedding day! Don’t think twice about working with Cherry Blossoms…. They are wonderful!
Priest: Father Hubert Reiner
I’m not sure if people usually review priests, but I feel like I have to include a few comments about the priest that officiated our wedding because Father Hubert really became a special person for us. Father Hubert speaks perfect English (and as I learnt during the ceremony when my guests were answering in French, he speaks French as well!). He had very touching words to say during our ceremony and I will forever remember his beautiful message to us. The ceremony was a real highlight for our guests. No one could hold back the tears. Father Hubert was such a mix of serious, romantic and funny! We ended the ceremony with a selfie! If you have the chance to have Father Hubert officiate your ceremony, please do so… you won’t regret it.
Photographers: Quetzal Photo
Quetzal was a recommendation from our wedding planner. After going through the portfolio of many photographers, they really stood out for me. I really love a more candid and artistic approach to photography. I really didn’t want too many posy pictures and I felt like Quetzal could fit that bill! Quetzal is managed by a married couple (Ches and Bernardo) and they are both such lovely people. Ches, Bernardo and an assistant showed up during our wedding day and our guests are still saying how amazing our photographers were and how kind they were! And we totally agree. We had complete faith in Quetzal and their creative skills the day of the wedding and with good reason, the pictures are amazing! They were especially wonderful when our itinerary ran very late and we had to squeeze in 10min of wedding party pictures. They were patient and kept things under control and really helped us catch up on missed photo opportunities throughout the evening. Book them!!!
Videographers: Cinematik Weddings
I looked at many videos before choosing Cinematiks. Like Quetzal, I really liked their style. More cinema than documentary and very beautiful. They are a young company full of talent! One thing I learned is it is extremely important to feel a good connection with your videographer to be comfortable with the camera (we are no movie stars! Haha) and even though we had only met Jorge from Cinematiks quickly once the week before the wedding, it felt like we thoroughly knew them the day of! They were discreet and made everyone feel at ease. Their presence, talent and professionalism were greatly appreciated and we cannot wait to see our videos! J
DJ: DJ Diego Alvarado – EvolutionMix Audiovisuales
What a gem Diego is. He really pulled off one hell of a party!! My husband’s family has managed a radio station for a long time and we deal with DJs regularly. It was tough for us to select someone at a distance and just trust that we would like their music. But Diego did an absolute amazing job. We gave him a few tracks beforehand to give him an idea of what we wanted and he just went with it. Everyone was extremely happy with the music and we were so excited that people danced till the end! Actually, people didn’t want it to stop… haha! We’re also extremely grateful for Diego’s MC services. With less than 24hrs notice of our “entrance” song and the difficult names he needed to call out, Diego still got that whole moment right on the nose! He is very good at what he does and we definitely recommend him!
Hair and Makeup: Styling Trio
Styling Trio has a really good reputation in the Riviera Maya region and although I finally decided to book them because my hotel had a ‘preferred vendor agreement’ with them, I do not regret it at all!! They sent a super professional team to my hotel room. They did a trial three days before the wedding and did all the hair and makeup from A to Z so I really knew what to expect the day of. They were very open-minded and extremely interested in my opinion of their work. I had Zoe doing my makeup and Alex doing my hair and they were both wonderful! They also sent over another hair and another makeup artist because I had hair and makeup for the bridesmaids and mothers as well. The whole Styling Trio team was on fire! Everyone in my wedding party was very pleased with the outcome of their look for the wedding. The only thing I would recommend is to start early… we started at 10:30am with the intention of finishing at 1:30pm and we didn’t leave the hotel until almost 3pm. So make sure to start early… best to have more time then to be rushed!
Voila! As you can see we got extremely lucky and worked with some pretty fabulous people! If any brides-to-be have any specific questions about any of these vendors, feel free to ask!
Best of luck with the planning and sending you all much love for your wedding day! XX