This is my first time "blogging" so here goes nothing. The reasoning for me blogging is to see if I could get any inside tips of what questions I need to ask to make our destination wedding as pain free as possible once we get to the resort and the other is to share some good and bad experiences I've had so far.
I wanted to know if anyone has stayed, attended or planned/planning a wedding at the newly opened (Nov. 2015) Secrets Akumal in Riviera Maya and if so what can I expect from the resort itself, your experience's with the wedding coordinators, wedding food, DJ, how to tip the wedding staff, etc... Any honest feedback would be immensely appreciated. I don't always trust the reviews on sites like Trip Advisory. Also, if anyone has any insider tips for upgrades or freebies from the resort would also be great.
Let me tell everyone a little about me and my fiancée's experiences so far with planning our destination wedding.
First the bad, after making the decision to do a destination wedding we contacted my fiancées high school friend who is a travel agent that works for an independent travel agency (out of respect to my fiancées friend I will not name her agency) that deals with Apple Vacations to help us pick a destination and to book our trip as well be the main travel agent for our guest. She is the one that sold us on Secrets Akumal because of a pre-opening promotional rate. Shortly after hiring her as our travel agent she had some personal issues to attend to and then went on maternity leave after that, but before she left, she handed everything to her "boss" to handle and insured us that we were in good hands. Unfortunately it wasn't. Even though we already paid the resort a non-refundable deposit to reserve our Wedding date, The "boss' kept telling us not to book the trip right away because Apple's charter flights for January from BWI (Baltimore) have not been posted yet and that "if you book your package thru Apple, we would basically getting out flight for free", so we held off on sending out our invitations. After a few weeks went by waiting on the charter information, my fiancée stumbled onto a Facebook post from the resort saying "hurry promotion ends in xx days!!!". We then contacted the agent to notify her of the post but she was of no help as she said oh that's not good and also the charter flights have not posted yet. Because of this my fiancée contacted Apple Vacations and the airlines XTRA airways directly to see what the hold up was. It turned out it was due to contract issues between Apple and XTRA. Long story short, we created a wedding webpage and had to call, text and email everyone that we wanted to attend our wedding and tell them that if you want to attend our wedding you need to contact our travel agent to reserve a room and then either book a flight thru them or book on there own immediately. (this was truly embarrassing and tacky) Luckily enough we have awesome family and friends and they put a deposit down on the rooms thru the agent and booked their own flights. And as our trip approaches we still have to constantly email and call the travel agent to get information and updates out of her.
Now for the good: So while still dealing with the above we still need to make arrangements with the hotel for the wedding day and find a DJ, photographer, etc. Due to the fact that we are in Baltimore and the resort is in Mexico, we had to coordinate everything via email, which can be slightly frustrating but overall was pretty painless. The Wedding coordinator at Secrets Akumal Elisa Guadarrama has been great, she helped plan everything down except the photographer, which was not her fault as the photography options that the resort provides were subpar in our opinion. So we decided to look for a local photographer that travels and does destination wedding.
So this brings me to our brightest spot of our whole planning experience, our photographer James Berglie of Be Photography in Baltimore, MD. After doing multiple interviews with different photographers we chose James. And I TRUELY TRUELY WISH that we knew about him prior to booking our trip because he can do everything for you, not just photos. Turned out that he is the whole package, he is also a travel agent. If we would've used him as our travel agent and had our guest book thru him, our photos would have been included for FREE. But unfortunately it was to late to do that. Because James was so great, we decided to use him for our engagement photos which I have to say came out great, he even made me look good which is not an easy thing to do. I can't wait to see the photos he'll take at the wedding and how he'll make me look good again.
This is basically how our planning has gone so far and I look forward to some feedback and tips as the forums on here have been helpful to us throught this planning process.