A Riviera Maya, Mexico WeddingWords by Emily Garcia
Photos courtesy of MLE Pictures
Philip and Caroline decided to tie the knot on a Mexican beach on Cinco De Mayo. The couple loves to travel and has always dreamed of traveling with friends and family. When it came to deciding on a location for the big day, the couple could not turn down the luxuries of an all-inclusive resort in a country known for their remarkable hospitality.
The couple narrowed down possible wedding locations based on logistics, level of hospitality and availability for the Cinco De Mayo date. Their goal was to make travel as convenient as possible for their guests and ensure a positive experience during the stay at the resort. Philip and Caroline hired a travel agent, Shawn Lewis of Captains Travel Club, who specializes in destination weddings.
Both Philip’s and Caroline’s family and friends reacted positively to their decision to have a destination wedding. “They were thrilled to celebrate our marriage abroad with us,” the couple says. Philip’s parents threw the newlyweds a pre-wedding celebration at home for friends who would not be able to travel. Some friends did decline to attend their wedding because of the concern for the potential risk of the Zika virus.
The pair only had one vendor for their wedding, Secret Akumal Wedding Planners. Their travel agent connected Philip and Caroline to Secret Akumal, who coordinated the ceremony, reception, florists, stationery, cake, hair and makeup.
During the planning process, the wedding coordinator requested visuals from the couple and created a Pinterest board to help plan the wedding. MLE Pictures were highly recommended by their friends who used their services for their wedding. “Shawn Lewis was a great resource for us as he coordinated travel, gave us great tips and made the travel aspect of the destination wedding easy for all who attended,” the bride says.
To avoid stressors, the bride didn’t make any DIY items for the wedding day. The bride considers herself fortunate to have a bridesmaid who is “a fabulous artist.” Her bridesmaid, Catherine, created a fingerprint guest book that she brought to the resort for the day of the wedding.
All of Caroline and Philip’s guests flew to Mexico and no one’s flight was longer than four hours. Most flights were direct to Cancun airport with a one hour transfer to Secrets Akumal Resort in Riviera Maya.
The newlyweds communicated with the wedding coordinators via email and also had the opportunity to visit the resort five months prior to the wedding to meet with coordinators and plan most of the details in person. The couple highly recommends going to see the venue in person prior to the wedding, as it allowed them to see all of the options for each location and chose their ideal locations for the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
The decision to have a destination wedding did not affect the number of people the bride and groom invited and they know they spent less than an average local wedding. The couple thinks if they had most people from their guest list attend the wedding in Mexico, it would have been comparable to what would have been spent closer to home. “It is certainly a bit more expensive for the guests to attend a destination wedding, but the celebrations go on for days rather than hours,” the groom says.
If the couple had a local wedding they guess about 60 percent of the guest list would have attended the local wedding versus the Mexico wedding. The newlyweds think if they held their wedding closer to home it would have been more traditional. “Being on vacation allows people to kick back and relax before, during and after the festivities,” the pair says. “It was fun having family and friends unite away from our everyday lives. Everyone became best friends after spending a vacation together.”
The couple’s advice for anyone planning a destination wedding is to hire a travel coordinator. “Shawn was not only our agent, but the agent for all 57 of the guests who attended,” the pair says. Philip and Caroline sent out their save the dates 10 months in advance, giving guests time to plan, request time off work and budget travel expenses. They also advise couples to take matters into their own hands if they have any doubt about vendors. The newlyweds placed their priorities on good music, food, beverages and a photographer. “Most of all, when your big day arrives, show up to the party that you put so much love into planning, smile and enjoy one of the best days of your life together,” the newlyweds say.
Vendors: Photographer: MLE Pictures, Wedding Planner: Secrets Akumal, Ceremony/Reception Site: Secrets Akumal, Florist: Secrets Akumal, Stationery: Secrets Akumal, Cake: Secrets Akumal, Hair & Makeup: Secrets Akumal Salon, Gown Designer: Anna Campbell, Groom’s Clothing Designer: The Black Tux, Bridesmaids/Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: Lulus, Boohoo, Tobi, David’s Bridal, The Black Tux, Other Vendors: Shades Club, AES Sportswear.
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