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How To Have An Affordable Karisma Wedding - Tips

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Hello lovely brides!

 

I wanted to post some info that I thought might help future brides. I recently returned from my wedding at Azul Fives this month. The thing my husband and I keep thinking about is how happy we are with where we put our money into. We were a couple on a budget but of course wanted a beautiful wedding. For those just starting out in their planning process, I know how daunting it feels hunting for the perfect resort. The number crunching is stressful and it starts to feel like it is all adding up way too quickly.

 

This is just my experience and how we went about it and I'm sure there are a lot of other brides who have other tips and tricks we didn't think of. Hopefully this thread starts a dialogue and we can help the future upcoming brides save some money!

 

Karisma properties are gorgeous but with an a la carte type of wedding the bill can really add without you realizing it. As my TA warned me "just be careful they will woo you but if you keep an eye on what your adding to your wedding you can still have a beautiful wedding on a budget". She was totally right!

 

General Tips

*prioritize what areas you want to focus on

-Choose free locations (I love the sky deck but it just didn't fit in our budget based on where we were putting our money for other areas of the wedding)

--Choose a set menu (it was cheaper than family style. they were good portions, no one was hungry, they will still accommodate dietary restrictions)

-Make your own playlist (consider apps like DJ app or QLAB)

-Consider skipping the wedding cake or maybe just getting one tier to do a ceremonial cutting of the cake

-want to broadcast your wedding for those that can't make it? Looking into apps like Zoom that allow you to have multiple people on one link and all you need is wifi

 

(keep in mind prices are in USD as that is how your Karisma bill will appear and this only includes resort costs. I wish my entire wedding cost this much! haha!)

 

The Numbers

 

Total Resort Bill $3375.00

Karisma Bill (paid in advance) $2990.00

Onsite Set up fee (paid in cash) $250.00

Spa (paid onsite cash or credit) $135.00

 

# of Guests 50 adults & 9 kids (including bride and groom)

 

Cost Breakdown

 

Always and Forever Package (everyone has to start off with this basic package) $950.00

 

Spa

GIVC Perk (free hair & make up with trials for both, mani/pedi PLUS mani/pedi for a friend. You do have to pay for the tax and tip) $135.00

 

Pre-Ceremony

Semi-Private Dinner (included in the A&F package. Up to 40 people, set menu at Flavours. Kids not counted in numbers if they are ordering from the children's menu) FREE

-Menu- smoked salmon, nut crusted chicken breast, apple crisp

Rehearsal Ceremony (time and date TBD onsite - we did this the day before the wedding at 1pm) FREE

 

Ceremony

Location - Zky Terrace - FREE (one level below the Sky Deck, smaller but still private. It fit our size of group very comfortably)

Flowers - HC08 (floral vase, tall vase) x2 $80 (each)

- BC14 (table floral arrangement) $70

(*seeing the size I probably would have not added this or maybe would have added another HC08 for the price)

Aisle Runner $40

 

Cocktail Hour FREE

Location - Zky Terrace/Bar (came with hor d'oeuvres, sparkling wine post ceremony and a signature drink. We had "Tequila Party". Cocktail tables with ribbon in our wedding colour)

**We got lucky on this one...not sure how but we qualified for a free cocktail hour. If we didn't we would have just done an informal cocktail hour in the Zky Bar**

 

Reception

Location - Garden - FREE

Decor - we brought our own and then asked for all of the flowers from the HC08 arrangements to be divided among the tables to add to the centrepieces

Set Up Fee - $250 (this included candles, books, vases, signs, favours and string lights)

Menu - Set Menu 2 (Beef Carpaccio, Pork Rib Eye, Creme Brulee - No wedding cake)

Originally $20/pp ...somehow we qualified for a discount and paid $14.40/pp (x50)

Kids FREE (if ordering from children's menu)

Sound Equipment - Amplifier and microphone $250 (for 4 hours. We brought our own playlist and plugged it in - no DJ)

 

Misc

Outside Vendor Fee - $800 (photographers)

2 for 1 massages (A&F package) - transferred to our honeymoon at El Dorado Casitas Royale (they gave us 2 for FREE)

Honeymoon Breakfast in Bed (A&F package) FREE

Candlelight Dinner on the beach - transferred to El Dorado as well FREE

 

It really is possible to do it on a budget and we have absolutely no regrets or feel like we missed out on something.

 

Let me know if there are any questions!! Happy planning!

Edited by snswedding2016
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@@snswedding2016 – Again, thank you so much for posting this (and all your other fabulous reviews!) This post couldn’t come at a better time for me. Last night (Mike’s travelling for work) I went through our budget spreadsheet and converted everything to US $. I almost had a heart attack. I knew we were spending a lot but man, it looks MUCH better before you take into account the value of our Canadian dollar.

 

I have a zillion questions, so brace yourself lol

 

Here goes…

 

First, everything you have listed is in US $, correct?

 

Pre-Ceremony
Semi-Private Dinner (included in the A&F package. Up to 40 people, set menu at Flavours. Kids not counted in numbers if they are ordering from the children's menu) FREE
-Menu- smoked salmon, nut crusted chicken breast, apple crisp
Rehearsal Ceremony (time and date TBD onsite - we did this the day before the wedding at 1pm) FREE

 

*Did you use your semi-private dinner for your rehearsal dinner? Good to know kids ordering from the kids menu are not considered one of the 40 people (lol sounds bad, but helps with planning!) Because our group is larger than 40, I was thinking of inviting our wedding party, their significant others and our family. I feel bad about excluding non-wedding party guests but I think that’s what we will have to do. Food was delicious? We blended a few of the menu options with our favs. Hope its delicious!

Cocktail Hour FREE
Location - Zky Terrace/Bar (came with hor d'oeuvres, sparkling wine post ceremony and a signature drink. We had "Tequila Party". Cocktail tables with ribbon in our wedding colour)
**We got lucky on this one...not sure how but we qualified for a free cocktail hour. If we didn't we would have just done an informal cocktail hour in the Zky Bar**

 

*HOW? Did you plan to pay for it but they said it was complimentary when you had to pay your bill before your wedding? I want this! Our Miami WD said to do our cocktail hour on the Xky Terrace (as opposed to Sky Deck where C & R are) because it was cheaper but definitely not FREE. Also, ‘Tequila Party’ is not in my Private Events Banquet Kit? The only options are Asia Pacific ($38USD), Viva La Roma ($23USD), Mexican Fiesta Cocktail Party ($18USD), The Deluxe ($41USD), Mexican Donkey Bar (pay per item), and White Glove Cocktail Party (pay per item).

Reception
Location - Garden - FREE
Decor - we brought our own and then asked for all of the flowers from the HC08 arrangements to be divided among the tables to add to the centrepieces
Set Up Fee - $250 (this included candles, books, vases, signs, favours and string lights)
Menu - Set Menu 2 (Beef Carpaccio, Pork Rib Eye, Creme Brulee - No wedding cake)
Originally $20/pp ...somehow we qualified for a discount and paid $14.40/pp (x50)
Kids FREE (if ordering from children's menu)

 

*Set-Up Fee: I know we won’t know the décor set-up fee until we arrive but how was your experience with this? Was it a negotiation or did they just say $5 x 50 adult guests = $250?

 

*Menu: WOW again with the discount. Was this something your Miami WD told you when you made your selection? According to our listing that would be $20USD pp.

 

Sound Equipment - Amplifier and microphone $250 (for 4 hours. We brought our own playlist and plugged it in - no DJ)

 

*I remember you saying you were meeting with a friend to teach them how to use the Wedding DJ App. Did you set them near the amplifier or were they able to sit them at their regular table and control it from the iPad/iPhone from there? I had a friend that has said if we decide to use the app he’d be happy to control it I just don’t want to have to segregate him for too long!

Misc
Outside Vendor Fee - $800 (photographers)
2 for 1 massages (A&F package) - transferred to our honeymoon at El Dorado Casitas Royale (they gave us 2 for FREE)
Honeymoon Breakfast in Bed (A&F package) FREE
Candlelight Dinner on the beach - transferred to El Dorado as well FREE

 

*Massages: Okay, wow again. Are you and Sean the best negotiators ever or was there some serious luck on your side? Was this a resort mistake or a kind gesture? Again, did you coordinate ahead of time with Miami WD or was this done on site?

 

*Honeymoon Breakfast in Bed: We made our selection for this as well. YAY! We chose the morning after all our guests’ leave (we are staying for a total of 2 weeks – the last 5 days will be just us at AF). When did you do yours?

 

*Candlelight Dinner on the Beach: We picked this one too! Couldn’t justify paying for the pier or the Sky Deck option.

THANKS IN ADVANCE!

Edited by ashhtayy
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@@ashhtayy I'm so happy you're finding it helpful. Wedding planning can be stressful especially when you're planning a DW and you can't just drive over to the venues to check things out or meet the vendors in person. Us brides (past and present) gotta stick together!!

 

answers are embedded in the body of the message...

 

First, everything you have listed is in US $, correct? Yes, all numbers are in USD (I figured it would be easier to leave it that way since that's how it will show up on your wedding builder)

 

Pre-Ceremony
Semi-Private Dinner (included in the A&F package. Up to 40 people, set menu at Flavours. Kids not counted in numbers if they are ordering from the children's menu) FREE
-Menu- smoked salmon, nut crusted chicken breast, apple crisp
Rehearsal Ceremony (time and date TBD onsite - we did this the day before the wedding at 1pm) FREE

 

*Did you use your semi-private dinner for your rehearsal dinner? Good to know kids ordering from the kids menu are not considered one of the 40 people (lol sounds bad, but helps with planning!) Because our group is larger than 40, I was thinking of inviting our wedding party, their significant others and our family. I feel bad about excluding non-wedding party guests but I think that’s what we will have to do. Food was delicious? We blended a few of the menu options with our favs. Hope its delicious!

We did use our semi-private dinner for the rehearsal dinner. Oh yea, we totally depended on the kid's eating from the kid's menu (plus they wouldn't have liked the regular meal...all of our kids were under the age of 8 though). We opened up the invite to our entire group (secretly hoping some would back out). After we counted all the wedding party members, family and partners we didn't have many people left over so we just invited everyone. Luckily it worked out and we had 37 adults RSVP yes.  I made it an event on our Facebook group page and asked everyone to RSVP by a certain date as we had to confirm numbers with the resort. The food was really good. Usually I don't love chicken for events (I find they are often too dry) but it was really good. We had one vegetarian and my WC in Miami originally said that she would have to eat from the buffet and I couldn't pre-select the menu. I decided to ask the onsite WCs about it and we were able to pick something so that she wouldn't be going to the buffet while everyone else had a plated meal. 

Cocktail Hour FREE
Location - Zky Terrace/Bar (came with hor d'oeuvres, sparkling wine post ceremony and a signature drink. We had "Tequila Party". Cocktail tables with ribbon in our wedding colour)
**We got lucky on this one...not sure how but we qualified for a free cocktail hour. If we didn't we would have just done an informal cocktail hour in the Zky Bar**

 

*HOW? Did you plan to pay for it but they said it was complimentary when you had to pay your bill before your wedding? I want this! Our Miami WD said to do our cocktail hour on the Xky Terrace (as opposed to Sky Deck where C & R are) because it was cheaper but definitely not FREE. Also, ‘Tequila Party’ is not in my Private Events Banquet Kit? The only options are Asia Pacific ($38USD), Viva La Roma ($23USD), Mexican Fiesta Cocktail Party ($18USD), The Deluxe ($41USD), Mexican Donkey Bar (pay per item), and White Glove Cocktail Party (pay per item).

Ok so this one is a bit of a mystery to me. When I see you tomorrow I'll give you some of my theories but really I can't explain this one...which I know isn't super helpful. My WC in Miami told me about this about 2 months before the wedding. Originally we were just going to not pay for a cocktail hour and just tell our guests that meet at the Zky Bar for drinks before the reception. They didn't tell me ahead of time what my hor d'oeuvres would be but I didn't really ask either since it was complimentary (I just made sure there was at least one veggie option). I didn't try any of it (we were taking pictures) but our guests said they were delicious! "Tequila Party" was the name of our signature drink. When we were there for the BDR in September, we did a menu tasting and they also asked us to pick a signature drink. At the time we didn't know we were going to get a cocktail party and we were also scheduled already on the Zky Terrace so I was kinda confused why they were asking about a signature drink but I didn't question it. We wanted something that had tequila in it, we asked about some of cocktails from the cantina but they couldn't do it so the food and beverage manager went away and came back with "Tequila Party". It is tequila, amaretto and sour mix...basically an amaretto sour with tequila in it. haha! It's really good!!


Reception
Location - Garden - FREE
Decor - we brought our own and then asked for all of the flowers from the HC08 arrangements to be divided among the tables to add to the centrepieces
Set Up Fee - $250 (this included candles, books, vases, signs, favours and string lights)
Menu - Set Menu 2 (Beef Carpaccio, Pork Rib Eye, Creme Brulee - No wedding cake)
Originally $20/pp ...somehow we qualified for a discount and paid $14.40/pp (x50)
Kids FREE (if ordering from children's menu)

 

*Set-Up Fee: I know we won’t know the décor set-up fee until we arrive but how was your experience with this? What it a negotiation or did they just say $5 x 50 adult guests = $250?

This is the one I was most nervous about as it seems to really fluctuate wedding to wedding. At our onsite meeting I asked how much it would be and they said they would have to see all of our items we brought from home and they would determine the cost. The day I dropped it off, I ran into one of the WCs and she told me it would be $250. I was expecting that they would count kids in the numbers and that it would be anywhere form $5-7 per person. It was a lot less than I expected so we just paid it and didn't negotiate this one. 

 

*Menu: WOW again with the discount. Was this something your Miami WD told you when you made your selection? According to our listing that would be $20USD pp.

So this one we did book it at $20 pp and then when we got the cocktail hour we also got a discount for the food. They said we qualified for a promotion....I was so shocked that I just didn't question it. I was so nervous that it would suddenly go away which is why I waited until after the wedding to post about it.  ;) So we did know ahead of time but we only found out about the discount 2 months before the wedding.

 

Sound Equipment - Amplifier and microphone $250 (for 4 hours. We brought our own playlist and plugged it in - no DJ)

 

*I remember you saying you were meeting with a friend to teach them how to use the Wedding DJ App. Did you set them near the amplifier or were they able to sit them at their regular table and control it from the iPad/iPhone from there? I had a friend that has said if we decide to use the app he’d be happy to control it I just don’t want to have to segregate him for too long!
We actually didn't use the Wedding DJ app we used a program called QLAB instead. It's a program that allows you to build in sound cues with the music you load into the program. So with the press of a space bar you can pre program how slowly you want your processional song to fade in and out for example. This allowed us to not worry about the transition between songs - this program was more helpful for the ceremony which was I was more concerned about. The amp and mic were set up at a table close to our sweetheart table and dance floor but our friend did have to go to the table to control it as our laptop was plugged in over there. Our friend who helped with the music was also our MC so we just went over the timeline of when he needed to bring down the music for speeches and he would just walk over. It worked out well because we timed each speech after a course. We only had a maid of honour (after appetizer), best man (after main course) and a thank you (after dessert) speech. For the dance portion he really just hit play and every so often went over to adjust volume or skip to a different track. @ will definitely be more helpful to explain how the app works...it is totally foreign to me.


Misc
Outside Vendor Fee - $800 (photographers)
2 for 1 massages (A&F package) - transferred to our honeymoon at El Dorado Casitas Royale (they gave us 2 for FREE)
Honeymoon Breakfast in Bed (A&F package) FREE
Candlelight Dinner on the beach - transferred to El Dorado as well FREE

 

*Massages: Okay, wow again. Are you and Sean the best negotiators ever or was there some serious luck on your side? Was this a resort mistake or a kind gesture? Again, did you coordinate ahead of time with Miami WD or was this done on site?

haha! I know I thought the same thing...I think that because we transferred it over to their sister resort that maybe El Dorado has a different honeymoon package and maybe we lucked out and got them both for free that way? They also had this really nice hydrotherapy room that we used...kind of like body blitz for any Toronto gals who have been. We let our Miami WC know we wanted to use it at El Dorado and she put it in the builder. We picked the day and time of the massages on site at El Dorado with our personal concierge. 

 

*Honeymoon Breakfast in Bed: We made our selection for this as well. YAY! We chose the morning after all our guests’ leave (we are staying for a total of 2 weeks – the last 5 days will be just us at AF). When did you do yours? 

Since we transferred all of our honeymoon stuff to El Dorado we decided to do the breakfast in bed the day after the wedding. We thought we would need recovery time anyway post wedding. The funny thing was that we ordered it for 11am (this was scheduled on site) thinking we would be really tired and hung over and we were up and ready at 8:30am- lol! go figure!

 

*Candlelight Dinner on the Beach: We picked this one too! Couldn’t justify paying for the pier or the Sky Deck option.

Neither could we although it does work differently at El Dorado. They have a "candlelight beach restaurant" essentially they have all these little palapas along the beach and they can have multiple candlelight dinners every night and the weather doesn't really matter because you're covered. The dinner was really romantic by the ocean!

 

 
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@snswedding2016  Great info Steph. Thanks for helping out the "up and coming" brides!! It means a lot to have information passed on!

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@@snswedding2016  Great info Steph. Thanks for helping out the "up and coming" brides!! It means a lot to have information passed on!

It sure does mean a lot! Reading all the planning threads helps tremendously and it has been super beneficial that two recent ones have been brides at AF. Thanks again ladies @@snswedding2016 & @@TinkerSofi!

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@@ashhtayy I'm so happy to help and pass on whatever tips I can!! This site was so helpful to me, I never would have thought of half of the things I did for my wedding. 

 

Let me know if there is anything else you need!  :)

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Thanks for the info.

 

I am really set on this resort. I love the memorable moments vintage package and menu. That wedding cost isn't so much a problem for us, it's the $2000 stay for 2 adults for all our guests (not including airfare!!) Already we've had several people say they wouldn't be going because of the price tag. Any suggestions?? I've looked at other resorts and the prices all stink and there's less info on the resorts.

 

Getting married January 7th, 2017.

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@@Sweetpea2018 sorry I just saw your message now. It sounds like you're coming from the US if your trip doesn't include airfare. How long is are your guests staying for? You should be able to qualify for free events that are offered to the US brides and not the Canadians. The trade off is that the Canadians usually get much better pricing for their packages. Hopefully the package price comes down a little. 

 

Our package was $1630 per person for 1 week (including airfare). 

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