Destination I Do
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

An Elegant Playa del Carmen Wedding

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Wedding Day Story

Carrie and Paul always knew they wanted to say “I do” with ocean waves crashing in the background. After a close family member held a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic, the couple knew that a wedding away was the perfect route for them to take. “We chose a destination wedding because we love the beach and wanted to be married in a natural and serene environment,” says the bride. “As a couple, we wanted to experience the natural beauty of the ocean and still have an elegant, unforgettable wedding.”

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Now that the couple knew they weren’t going to be getting married in Texas, they needed to decide on their W-Day location. “From the beginning, we knew two things: 1. We wanted to be on a beach and 2. We wanted an all-inclusive experience,” says Carrie. “We wanted a place that exhibited a nice balance for the adventurous souls, the beach bums, the culture lovers and everyone in-between. We chose Playa del Carmen because it offered all of the above and everything we thought our guests would want to experience and explore. The city is full of culture with the Mayan ruins and cenotes a short drive away. And, of course, there are the typical tropical excursions such as snorkeling, Jet Skis and parasailing. We really couldn’t ask for more.”

While the couple decided on their destination relatively easily, narrowing down their venue options proved to be a bit more challenging. “While researching all-inclusive resorts in Playa del Carmen, we quickly realized there were too many to choose from…” Luckily, the bride’s brother had recently held his own destination wedding at the Paradisus Punta Cana Resort in the Domincan Republic.

“Because we had an amazing experience with Paradisus [Punta Cana] and knew what to expect (and to prevent being extremely overwhelmed by the options), we just went with what we knew. Also, once we saw the Gabi Bridge overlooking the ocean, we knew this was where we’d say ‘I do.’”

With all the big decisions falling into place, it was time to inform their guests. Thankfully, the majority of the couple’s loved ones were on board with the idea of a Mexico destination wedding. “This wasn’t my parents’ first rodeo with destination weddings – my brother and sister-in-law were married in Punta Cana, Domincan Republic,” explains Carrie. “They had an amazing experience and absolutely loved the idea of traveling and celebrating a wedding, so they knew what to expect.” However, some guests had reservations about traveling to Mexico. To ease their guests’ concerns, the couple encouraged them to research Playa del Carmen specifically and soon after everyone was put at ease.

The couple couldn’t have had a more positive experience with the planning team at Paradisus Playa del Carmen and it’s a good thing! Planning a wedding can be stressful enough, but Carrie and Paul were dealing with an added element. “Paul was deployed in Afghanistan for nine months during our engagement, so I ultimately planned everything alone,” says the bride. “He was a great fiancé and offered opinions and was very supportive along the way. We made decisions while he was halfway across the world…I would show him things via Facetime and email. When he arrived home from deployment three months before the wedding, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. He landed on U.S. soil and we literally hit the ground running…”

The Paradisus planning team and wedding package worked perfectly for this couple. “Before Paul deployed, we purchased a wedding package and customized certain things in the package i.e. the ceremony gazebo, bouquets, the cake and sweetheart table,” says Carrie. “The resort handled everything – all I had to do was tell them what I wanted and they made it happen. They were great about incorporating our ideas and personal touches to make it our own and suitable to our styles.”

The couple wasn’t able to visit their chosen venue and destination before their wedding week, but thankfully it didn’t end up being an issue. “When we arrived at the resort, we met with the entire team working on our wedding including the DJ, photographer and wedding coordinator,” says the bride. “We could not have been more pleased! Paul and I left the meeting feeling excited and, most importantly, confident that we made the right decision.

“There wasn’t a doubt in our minds that our wedding would be spectacular because our team was on top of everything. Aside from the wedding itself, our coordinator also helped us plan a meet and greet for our guests on the first night, a farewell dinner for the last night and, of course, the rehearsal dinner. So, needless to say, our planning experience was easy and refreshing.”

One area the couple remained hands-off was the booking of their guests’ rooms. “We blocked a set of rooms for our guests and under the block they were able to make reservations at a lower rate than market value,” explains the bride. “I provided the romance travel coordinator’s information to guests and left the booking responsibility to them. She maintained a list of all the guest reservations and handled any issues that arose. I took the travel coordinator’s advice and removed myself from this portion of wedding planning – I sent one or two reminder emails to our guests – that’s it.”

Looking back, the couple knows they made the right decision sticking to their destination wedding guns. Not only did they get the serene, beach wedding they always wanted, but they saved money in the process. “We definitely feel as though we spent less money by choosing to do a destination wedding. We purchased a lot of ‘extras’ in addition to our wedding package, but even after the additional expenses, we were still well below the cost that we know it would’ve been to have [the wedding] locally. We were able to get everything we wanted and the best part about it all is that we are wedding-debt free!”

As a classic, stress-free destination bride, Carrie has some helpful words for other couples planning their dream wedding away. “My advice would be to trust your wedding coordinator. You're probably thinking, ‘Why would I hire someone I can’t trust?’ But, it’s easy not to trust a coordinator who is in another country because you can’t actually see the outcome of what they’re doing. Remember, most resorts or hotels plan multiple weddings per day, per week. They can do this with their eyes closed. I would tell anyone who is contemplating having a destination wedding to do it!”

Vendors: Photographer: Wedding Day Story, Wedding Planner: Aurora Avila Jimenez with Romance by Paradisus, Ceremony/Reception Site: Paradisus Playa del Carmen, Florist: Perla Cervantes with Romance by Paradisus, Stationery: Invitation Solutions, Cake: Romance by Paradisus, Hair & Makeup: Toya Terry, Gown Designer: "Benicarlo" by Pronovias, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Q Clothier (custom blazer), Bridesmaids/Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: Bari Jay/Bar III, DJ: J&S Audio Visual, Favors: Maracas from Vintagebabydoll, Custom Signs: Nese Décor, Reception Stationery: Posh Posh Designs

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