I had my dream destination wedding in Mexico at the Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun in March 2017 and because I get so many questions about it I decided to share with you my own experience.
In the beginning it was very overwhelming to plan a destination wedding. I didn’t know where to start and I didn’t know how things work in most of the resorts. So I hope this post can help you to decide if destination wedding is a good fit for you and how to plan it.
I would like to say that it was the best week of our lives! Yes! WEEK! My husband and I agree that our honeymoon to Costa Rica afterwards was a little depressing. Don’t get me wrong, our honeymoon was awesome but our wedding week in Mexico was TOO GOOD and having them right next to each other, we couldn't help but compare them!
For me, the best part of the destination wedding is that you will actually spend a vacation wedding with your best friends and closest family. Only the people who really love and want to be there for you will find a way to come. Just make sure you give them plenty of advance warning so they can plan their vacation, save up the money and pack. Also the number of guests are lower than a conventional wedding in your town, which is awesome if you want more of an intimate wedding.
How to choose your all-inclusive resort for your wedding?
My husband and I considered three factors: Location, quality and price.
You have a BIG decision to make. You are not planning just your wedding, it is also a vacation for your guests. Location will make it more appealing to them, so take that into consideration. In our list we had Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica even USA (Hawaii). Some places are more expensive than others, some places offer more activities outside of the resort, etc… You need to find the best type of vacation for you and your guests.
We chose Mexico because there’s so much history, all kinds of pyramids/ruins/archaeological sites, and amazing snorkeling/scuba diving. Also the location was good for people flying from USA and Brazil.
To find quality, your best friend is TripAdvisor. Seriously, we spent at least two months reading thousands of reviews of all the resorts we were taking in consideration.
We ended up choosing the Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun. We have to say it was one of the best resorts we've been to. Great food, top shelf liquor and AMAZING service. All workers there were smiling and happy to serve us any time. They were extremely hard working.
We wanted a place that was going to give us a great group rate for the rooms. We contacted many resorts and finally came across AM Resorts. They have many resorts all over the map and we were able to negotiate an amazing deal.
Getting this deal demands more work, time and responsibilities than having your guests book directly with the resort. I contacted the Group Department asking about group rates and the resort sent us an e-mail of their representative. We had to negotiate everything with this Travel Agency. We estimated a number of people coming and had a contract with the travel agency. So it worked like this:
Guests pay us –> We pay travel agency –> Travel agency pays resort
The travel agency receives payment only from us, it’s their rule. This was the hard work for us. We had to keep track and receive payments from our guests. But we wanted the best deal for them, so we did it! And because we are responsible for the contract, even if we don’t have enough people coming, we’d have had to pay for all the rooms in the contract anyways.
They also had a group deal where you book five rooms and receive the sixth room free! I don’t know if this sale will last but you can share this “free room” with your guests and get everybody more discount. Ask for more information to your travel agent because there are rules for this sale.
Tip for your room: The AM Resorts typically (it’s not a rule!) upgrade the bride and groom's room to the next level. So if you want the ocean front suite, choose the level right below it when booking.
Now that you have found the resort you want, let’s start wedding preparation.
In any resort, you choose a wedding package and it’s included some basic decoration, services and a wedding coordinator. This is the Wedding Guide from Now Sapphire so you can understand better what I am talking about.
After you book your date you will be introduced to your wedding coordinator. My wedding coordinator was Juan Carlos and he's amazing!! Check his Instagram out! I wasn’t 100% happy with the basic decoration of my package, I wanted mine to have more of my style. The resort can provide anything you want, you just need to send pictures to your wedding coordinator and they will make it happen. It is very convenient. I had a few outside vendors and also I brought some decoration with me.
Things that I brought in my bag: Favors, place cards and all sort of signs.
To have outside vendors you need to pay the vendor’s fee. The fee at my resort was $300 plus tax. Check the right prices for your resort. They are expensive fees but in the end it was totally worth it. As you know, I am a wedding photographer, so I know how important is to have a great relationship with my vendors, specially with the photographer and videographer. Those professionals spend more time with you during your wedding day than your future SPOUSE! So it was a big deal for me. If you hire the photo and video services from the resort you will only know who will be working with you at the day of your wedding, and that was not an option for me. I will share our vendors with you in case you are having your wedding close to the Cancun area. Our vendors for flowers and video were located in Mexico.
Calligrapher: Kay Letter & Co.
Florist: Cherry Blossom
Videographer: AmorAmor Weddings
One more tip:
Flights - set price alerts for your destination on google flights. Flights to Mexico dropped down to $220 round trip non-stop from Newark to Cancun.
That's all I can remember for now. If you have any question or suggestion leave a comment, I'd be happy if I can help with anything else.