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Non Resort Wedding in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico: A Review (LONG)


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#1 dallas_texas09

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    Posted 15 January 2008 - 10:44 AM

    Wedding Coordinator: Ajua Weddings (Ajua Weddings - Playa del Carmen Wedding Planner, Riviera Maya Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Reception, Akumal, Tulum, Xpu Ha, Cancun, Mexico)
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    I don’t even know where to begin to rave about Ajua Weddings! First off, my coordinator was Maartje Oremus. She was absolutely amazing to work with. But before I get into that, I would like to talk more about why we picked Ajua Weddings. The first reason was because we wanted a Catholic ceremony. After much research online, I found that Ajua Weddings are very experienced with planning a Catholic ceremony. With all of the work involved planning a Catholic ceremony, I wanted to make sure we went with someone with experience. Ajua definitely has that! They made the entire process go so smoothly! The second reason why we picked them was because we wanted a non-resort wedding. We wanted our wedding to not only reflect us as a couple, but to also embrace our destination of choice. Ajua definitely made that happen for us! We had our wedding at the AMAZING Capilla Nuestra Senora del Carmen – a cute little chapel centrally located in Avenue 5 in downtown Playa del Carmen.

    All of the vendors that Ajua Weddings used for our wedding were absolutely amazing. My bouquet was simply gorgeous as were the bridesmaids’ bouquet and the boutonnieres. The cakes (Tres Leches cake for the wedding cake and chocolate cake/chocolate filling for the groom’s cake) were absolutely delicious. I also had a special request to have 2 eggless miniature cakes made for our vegan guests and we got amazing feedback on that – our vegan friends wanted some to take home with them! The guitarist they picked out (Benjamin Aguilar) was wonderful – the music was beautiful and fit perfectly with the ambiance of the chapel.

    Maartje Oremus (our coordinator) was a joy to work with. The scariest thing for me while planning the wedding was working with someone whom I had never met and with a company that I just randomly found online. To put my dream day on someone I didn’t even know was pretty terrifying. However, Maartje made the whole thing so easy for me. All I had to do was send her pictures of what I wanted and she made sure it happened. She was so patient with me throughout the whole planning process. I don’t know about you girls, but I can be a bit of a bridezilla, but that didn’t faze Maartje at all. She was such a trooper – helping me make my decisions, offering suggestions to me, and letting me change my mind 5 million times without batting an eye! She didn’t even blink when I walked in to our pre-wedding meeting with boxes of wedding stuff! Maartje coordinated everything for me – from transportation, to flowers, to cakes, to music --- EVERYTHING! She even arranged for a van to pick my family and I up at the airport upon our arrival in Cancun. Maartje also took care of everything on the wedding day – all we pretty much had to do was show up and enjoy ourselves. Oh, my mom also meet Maartje at the pre-wedding meeting. My mom’s a pretty good judge of character and after our meeting she told me that she could tell that Maartje is a genuinely good person. She couldn’t have done a better job even if she wanted to. She was the perfect wedding coordinator and I will forever be grateful for all the work she did in making sure my dream wedding came true.

    Reception Site: Ajua! Maya Restaurant
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    We had our reception at the Ajua Maya restaurant, which is also on Avenue 5 and owned by Ajua Weddings. Ajua Maya is by far the best restaurant and the best bar in downtown Playa del Carmen! The food was SOO delicious. We gave our guests a choice of either the BBQ platter or the rib-eye and both were a huge hit! Our vegetarian/vegan option was the spinach enchiladas and those were delicious also. The ceviche was by far their best dish ever – probably the best I’ve ever had! The restaurant is the perfect blend of 5-star dining and laid-back atmosphere. As for the restaurant staff, well, I don’t think there are words to describe what an amazing staff they have at Ajua! They kept all of us entertained throughout the night – from serving food and drinks on their head, to the infamous legs (very funny), and to the best conga line ever (which, I must say, ends with tequila being poured down your mouth!). Ajua Maya also have a live salsa band playing at the restaurant every night. The music was amazing. It definitely gave our wedding the perfect Mexican vibe!

    Ajua also catered our beach cocktail party and the food they served at the cocktail hour were also huge hits with all of our guests! I’m telling you, these guys can’t do anything wrong! If you are looking for a unique place to have your reception, rehearsal dinner, whatever, definitely go with Ajua Maya! You will have an absolute blast there and I can guarantee that you will leave the restaurant with happy stomachs!

    HUGE kudos to Maartje, Vaughan and all the staff at Ajua Weddings and Ajua Maya Restaurant!

    Destination Wedding Photographer: Jill Higgins Photography (Jill Higgins Photographer Destination Wedding Photography Savannah Charleston Tallahassee Valdosta<)
    A++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


    There are no words to describe how wonderful Jill is. The first time I met Jill I was barefoot and in my lingerie – this was for our BD session meeting. From the second we met, she made me feel so comfortable. She was so laid back that she just made me feel comfortable instantly. Obviously, this is a must if you have to parade around and pose in front of a camera in your lingerie! In all seriousness, when picking a photographer you want to make sure it is someone you feel comfortable with. To me, it was important to have a personal connection with my photographer because that reflects on their work. That’s exactly what I had with Jill. I had such a great connection with her and I think that helped make our pictures more personal.

    Jill did such an AMAZING job with our wedding pictures. She captured everything – from the tears, the laughter, and all the fun. Her pictures truly reflected the joy we felt on our wedding day. You can feel the energy of the day just by looking at her pictures. She was with us the entire day of the wedding, from the wedding day breakfast, to getting ready, and then to the ceremony/cocktail hour/reception. She even woke up bright and early the next morning (7 am!) for our TTD session!!!!!!

    I can’t rave enough about Jill. Every time I look at the pictures from our wedding day, I get teary-eyed. I view our slideshow at least several times a week. Jill’s work is just absolutely beautiful. I sent the link to the pictures to all of our friends and families and everyone has commented on how great they turned out. If you’re looking for a photographer whose pictures captures all of the emotions of your wedding day, definitely, definitely use Jill. Looking at her pictures makes me feel like I’m back in Mexico all over again!

    I give Jill two thumbs up and HIGHLY recommend her to anyone looking for a fantastic photographer!

    View our slideshow at Catherine and Will

    Dallas Photographer: Harry Photo (Harry Photo)
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    Will and I used Harry Photo for our engagement and pre-wedding pictures. Both turned out amazing! Harry did such a fantastic job capturing mine and Will’s personalities in all of the photos. He was very easy to work with and just give me free reign on what kind of pictures I wanted. He didn’t blink an eye when I told him I wanted pictures of me in my wedding dress taken in front of graffiti! The other good thing about Harry is that he takes his time with each session. Our engagement session was only suppose to be 1.5 hours….we were in such a roll and were having such a good time that the 1.5 hour session quickly turned in to FOUR HOURS! I think Harry would’ve kept going had I not told him we had dinner plans that night! LOL.

    Harry’s work is not only wonderful but he gets your pictures to you fast! I think I received the disc with all of my pictures two weeks after each session. Then it only took a week to get my prints! We also ordered two albums from him and he emailed us the proof 1.5 weeks after I sent him my photo selection…then another week to get the hard copy of the albums. He definitely works fast! (and still produce good quality work too!)

    Harry is also very affordable. His packages are reasonably priced. I looked at a few other Dallas photographers but he fit our budget the best. Don’t let his website fool you – his website does not do his work any justice! I was hesitant about hiring him when I first saw his website, but after meeting with him and seeing his work in person, I was very impressed with his work. If you’re looking for a good Dallas photographer that won’t eat out your budget, definitely contact Harry and arrange a meeting with him. You will not be disappointed!

    View my favorite pre-wedding pictures at: Catherine Gonzaga Solidon's Photos - Pre-Wedding Portraits | Facebook

    Favorite engagement pictures can be seen at: Catherine Gonzaga Solidon's Photos - Our Engagement | Facebook

    Customized Cake Topper: Frosted Art Bakery & Studio (Bronwen Weber Frosted Art Dallas Bakery & Studio)
    A-


    Bronwen Webber is the owner and pastry chef at Frosted Art Bakery & Studio based in Dallas, TX. I had a vision of the kind of cake topper that I wanted to have on our wedding cake. I contacted a few bakery/pastry chefs to see who could do a customized cake topper for me and found Bronwen!
    I wanted our cake topper to be just like Will and I….and it literally was! We met with Bronwen to go over the design of the cake topper. She took down notes while I gave her an exact description of what I wanted. She also asked for close-up and full-body shots of Will and I.
    The cake topper turned out very well. The quality of her work is simply amazing. Every little detail was perfect. I had sent her pictures of my wedding dress so she could replicate it on the bride and it turned out wonderful! If you’re a fan of the Food Network, you might have seen Bronwen! She’s apparently pretty famous in the pastry world and has competed (and won!) several Food Network Challenges. Her work is very detailed…she captures every little minute thing. To put it simply, Bronwen’s work is exquisite. I’ve watched her compete on the Food Network and the amount of work she puts into everything she makes is incredible. I know that she put in as much work into our cake topper because it couldn’t have been more perfect.
    However, as happy as I was with the quality of our cake topper, I have to say I was a bit disappointed at the same time. Though our cake topper turned out great, it was not the cake topper that I had in mind. It was not my “vision.” When we met with her, I gave her an exact description of what I wanted – everything from what the bride and group would be wearing, what they would be doing, etc, etc. I was VERY specific. I also emailed her my very specific explanation so she would have it in writing for her reference. When speaking with her, I thought we were on the same page. I was informed by her Office Manager that she would provide a sketch of the topper. I never did get the sketch. I thought she would sketch it during our meeting but she did not. I emailed her and the Office Manager several times after our meeting to request for a sketch. I expressed to them several times that I wanted a sketch in case my idea got lost in translation. However, I never did receive one.
    My “vision” did get lost in translation and that really disappointed me. I actually felt horrible when we went to pick up the cake topper. Bronwen was in a meeting with another client but came out to personally give me the topper and she and everyone else in the shop were just so excited about it. I saw it and I had to do everything to not let the disappointment show on my face. I’m not going to lie, like I said earlier, the quality of her work is AMAZING. The details that she put on our cake topper were great – my cowboy boots had creases on them….Will’s pants looked real and fit like pants do on a real person…..every little thing was perfect. The only thing was that it was only half of my vision. If I could do it all over again, would I still hire Bronwen? Yes, I would. You can’t find good quality work like that anywhere. Plus, the excitement that she showed when she brought out our cake topper to us made me feel like she honestly thought she captured what we wanted. However, if I could do it all over again, I would’ve tried harder to find someone who could draw and sketch my vision for me so at least this way I would know for a fact that we are both on the same page.
    Also, on a side note, Bronwen gives you several options for the material used on your cake topper. We picked some type of sugar that makes the topper inedible. However, you can keep the topper for up to ten years, which is why we decided on this material. We actually have our cake topper placed inside a glass case and displayed in our dining room. I love it! It is such a great memento of our wedding day!

    Pictures can be viewed on Jill’s slideshow (there is not a close-up shot of the topper but you can catch a glimpse of it on one of our cake cutting pictures)

    #2 starchild

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      Posted 15 January 2008 - 10:55 AM

      Fabulous review!

      I'm looking at your pics and your wedding kicked ass! That is one of the most fun weddings I've ever seen. Parading through the streets followed by mariachis and your guests? Now that's a Mexican wedding! You were a beautiful bride :o) What fun!!

      Kudos to Jill for the great shots!

      #3 jillhiggins

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        Posted 15 January 2008 - 12:09 PM

        Awww...I heart Catherine!!!

        I must warn you though - she was not completely truthful! lol
        She didn't even have an ounce of bridezilla in her - so don't believe that part - she was so concerned about everyone else. Somehow, she even knew I was a vegetarian and had a delicious vegetarian meal for me!!

        Oh - but this isn't a review about Catherine is it? lol

        Catherine's vendors rocked the house and her cake toppers were so cute I just went and snagged a couple of shots for you to see. Even the back of Will's jersey had fabulous detail!


        Thank you for your sweet words!



        #4 dallas_texas09

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          Posted 15 January 2008 - 12:31 PM

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by jillhigginsphotography
          Awww...I heart Catherine!!!

          I must warn you though - she was not completely truthful! lol
          She didn't even have an ounce of bridezilla in her - so don't believe that part - she was so concerned about everyone else. Somehow, she even knew I was a vegetarian and had a delicious vegetarian meal for me!!

          Oh - but this isn't a review about Catherine is it? lol

          Catherine's vendors rocked the house and her cake toppers were so cute I just went and snagged a couple of shots for you to see. Even the back of Will's jersey had fabulous detail!


          Thank you for your sweet words!
          Somehow, she even knew I was a vegetarian and had a delicious vegetarian meal for me!!

          I found out from stalking your blog. HAHAHA. A little creepy but I'm glad it came out as thoughtful :)

          #5 Vaughan Long

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            Posted 15 January 2008 - 08:02 PM

            Catherine,

            Since Jill beat me to the "I heart Catherine," (lol) I will just say WOW! You guys were great and it was such a pleasure to work with you and your family.

            From all the staff at Ajua Weddings and the Ajua Maya Restaurant, we want to thank you for taking the time to write such great comments about your experience with us.

            Take care,

            The Ajua Family
            Vaughan Long

            vaughan.long@ajua.biz
            http://www.ajuaweddings.com
            http://www.ajuamaya.comAjua Weddings: Planning destination weddings in the Riviera Maya since 2004

            #6 cheese_diva

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              Posted 15 January 2008 - 08:48 PM

              Great photos Jill! It looked like everyone had a wonderful time.. I loved your veil!
              http://i148.photobuc....0smash/032.jpg
              faberphotography.com
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              #7 brandoo

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                Posted 16 January 2008 - 02:03 AM

                WOW! I can only hope my wedding is as much fun as your looks like it was!! Very cool pics! I have a question for you...

                we are having a guitarist at our ceremony too... unfortunately the stupid resort won't let us chose who we use, but do you know which songs yours played? I LOVE accoustic guitar, but don't know the first thing about what songs to ask for.

                Again, you guys look like such a fun couple and you wedding looked amazing! Congrats!

                #8 BarefootBride

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                  Posted 16 January 2008 - 04:09 AM

                  I loved your photos! You looked beautiful and your wedding was sooooo festive!!!

                  #9 dallas_texas09

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                    Posted 16 January 2008 - 11:24 AM

                    Quote:
                    Originally Posted by brandoo
                    WOW! I can only hope my wedding is as much fun as your looks like it was!! Very cool pics! I have a question for you...

                    we are having a guitarist at our ceremony too... unfortunately the stupid resort won't let us chose who we use, but do you know which songs yours played? I LOVE accoustic guitar, but don't know the first thing about what songs to ask for.

                    Again, you guys look like such a fun couple and you wedding looked amazing! Congrats!
                    Our wedding party walked down the aisle to "Canon in D Major". I walked down the aisle to J"esu, Joy of Man's Desiring". Both sound absolutely beautiful played on an acoustic guitar. It gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes just listening to the songs.

                    Here's a clip of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" on guitar: YouTube - Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - J.S.Bach Arr. D.Qualey

                    Here is also a website of a Dallas based guitar ensemble. You can listen to samples of a few wedding songs played on a solo guitar:
                    Classical guitar for Dallas wedding (there's a sample of "Canon in D Major" on there)

                    Hope this helps!

                    -Catherine-

                    #10 Leia78

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                      Posted 16 January 2008 - 01:14 PM

                      You look so radiant in all your photos Catherine! It looked like your wedding was so much fun!




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