Shana’s Feedback: I could not have prayed for a more wonderful day for the both of us! The weather was perfect and pretty much everyone we wanted to be there was able to make it! Our wedding coordinator, Delia, did an amazing job! She was on top of everything and even put in some extra special details to make each part of the wedding stand out. The staff was so friendly and accommodating. I even pulled a few staff members onto the dance floor! The food for our reception was AMAZING! I absolutely loved the way the resort was laid out!It was a perfect venue for a wedding.
Resort: Valentin Imperial Maya
- What made you decide on having a destination wedding?
My husband, Kelly, and I have always dreamt of getting married on the beach, barefoot in the sand, ever since both of us were little kids. But, we didn’t think it would be financially possible. After meeting with Hannah and contacting a few resorts to get an idea for the package cost, plus extras, etc., we discovered that our dream wedding on the beach was possible!
- What made you decide on the destination/resort/venue?
We ultimately decided to choose the Valentin Imperial Maya for several reasons: (1) The cost for our guests to stay 4 nights was reasonably affordable; (2) We read SO many raving reviews of the resort from people who were first time visitors, as well as repeat customers who don’t stay anywhere besides the Valentin – some of which had gone back 5, 7, and even 9 different times!; and (3) A few years ago I had spoken with a Cheap Caribbean rep about potential resorts for a vacation with friends and he told me that him and his wife are loyal Valentin customers – it’s their favorite resort of all the resorts they’d ever visited. They went for the first time for their honeymoon, and liked it so much they’ve been back every year since!
- What was the biggest difficulty in planning your destination wedding?
The most difficult part of planning was probably figuring out the transport situation for all of the decorations and welcome gift items we were bringing with us. I had done an enormous amount of research online about the best way to transport the items, and it sounded like shipping them ahead of time was too risky, so we checked everything on the plane. But even with all of the prep work, taking a spreadsheet listing out each group of items with their respective costs, we still encountered a little pushback in the Cancun airport customs area.
I think we were flagged because Kelly and I had checked 5 large bags between the two of us – 3 for decor/welcome gifts and 2 personal bags, plus my dress and other carryons. Luckily Kelly speaks a little Spanish and was able to explain to the customs agent that the items in our bags were gifts for our 65 wedding guests! He was prepared to charge us $1,000 extra tax for the items since we were carrying more than $500 worth of items per person (he asked for the total value of the items so I pulled out my spreadsheet.) After about 15 minutes of the agent searching through all 5 of our checked bags, he let us go, but it was a nerve racking experience to say the least.
I would recommend to any destination bride who is bringing a significant amount of decor/gift items with them, make sure you ask 2-3 family members or bridal party members to check the extra bags under their names so that you don’t get flagged in the first place. But also make sure you have a list documenting the cost of each item with a grand total, just in case they ask for it. And make sure each person isn’t checking more than $500 worth of stuff.
- What was the highlight of the experience and what was the biggest surprise?
The biggest highlight was when I was walking down the aisle and initially saw Kelly for the first time at the altar. The sun was about to start setting in the sky, the waves were crashing behind him, all of our closest friends and family was there – it was truly the most perfect day and a moment that I’ll never forget!
- How well was the resort and your Onsite Wedding Coordinator to work with?
Our wedding coordinator at the Valentin, Leslie Robledo, was unbelievable!! I started emailing with her in January and finished the bulk of the planning by the end of August, for our wedding on November 5. I’m a perfectionist so it helped that Leslie has amazing attention to detail because she understood how important the details were to Kelly and me.
Together, we planned every single detail of the ceremony and reception, and upon my request, she quoted costs up front for every extra expense that was above our package cost so that I could easily track expenses for my parents throughout the process.
And when it came time to execute our incredible vision, Leslie and her team carried out every tiny detail to perfection! She even surprised me by throwing in the gold sequin tablecloth that I wanted for the cake table at the reception but had to nix early on. It put the finishing touch on our glamorous reception – what an awesome surprise!
I would highly recommend working with Leslie. She never said “No” to any of our requests, she always said “Let me see what I can do,” and we really appreciated that. Leslie and her team made our dream wedding come true!! 🙂
- If your best friend were planning a destination wedding what would your advice be to her?
Do it! And never look back. So worth it!
- Was there anything that you would change looking back?
No way! Every detail of our wedding weekend was absolutely perfect! All of our guests had a blast, too. A few of them told Kelly that it was the most beautiful and fun wedding they’d ever been to 🙂
Resort: Dreams Riviera Cancun
What made you decide on having a destination wedding?
We actually both envisioned ourselves having a destination wedding. We had each been to a couple of them and loved the idea of spending multiple days with family and friends. Another big factor was how much easier and less stressful it would be to plan a destination wedding!
What made you decide on the destination/resort/venue?
We narrowed our location down to the Cancun/Riviera Maya area due to the number of beautiful resorts, the amazing look of the beaches there, and the cost of travel for our guests! We did a little bit of research before contacting a travel agent, and fell in love with the layout and look of the rooms at Dreams Riviera Cancun. I searched for the top rated destination wedding travel agencies in DFW, and Legacy Travel came up during my search. I contacted them, and Hannah Cote was so quick to respond! After giving her our list of wants/needs she sent back a list of resorts that met our requests with great prices for our guests. Dreams Riviera Cancun was one of those resorts! It was a great price point for what you get (beautiful rooms, nice resort layout, plenty of restaurants, many activities)! The icing on the cake was that Dreams Riviera Cancun are known for their weddings. They do an amazing job! More than anything, we wanted this to be a vacation for our guests with a cool wedding on top of it!
What was the biggest difficulty in planning your destination wedding?
I didn’t feel like planning a destination wedding was very difficult for us. I was a very laid back bride so I didn’t need to ask our wedding coordinator a lot of questions during the planning phase. The thing I realized about planning a Destination Wedding, is that you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want. One thing that might be difficult would be waiting for the wedding coordinator to contact you regarding the wedding details. Depending on the resort, some of the wedding coordinators typically don’t reach out to you until about 3 months before the wedding. They are so busy planning other weddings, but when your time comes, their focus is on you! I actually liked that they waited so long to contact us. I can’t even tell you how many times I changed my mind about what I wanted.
What was the highlight of the experience and what was the biggest surprise?
Our wedding day! Both our ceremony and reception were beautiful and more than I dreamed of! We had our reception in the ballroom and it had a WOW factor! Our flower arrangements were large and beautiful, the lighting was amazing, and everything was put together so well!
How well was the resort and your Onsite Wedding Coordinator to work with?
Dreams Riviera Cancun is a well-oiled machine! They know exactly what they are doing when it comes to hosting weddings. Our wedding coordinator, Natalia, took care of everything for us! Natalia, the wedding department, and the service team were amazing. The DJ, the food, really everything was fantastic! They also have so many options to choose from when it comes to planning your wedding. We chose to add a cigar roller and that was a hit!
If your best friend were planning a destination wedding what would your advice be to her?
A destination wedding is the way to go!!! Definitely get a travel agent to handle all of your guests travel arrangements! I would highly recommend Hannah with Legacy Travel! She was amazing and answered every question we had. Having a travel agent handle our guests travel arrangements was one less thing for us to worry about. Plus they sent these awesome fliers out with the resort information so that our guests had Legacy Travel’s info when they were ready to book. Our guests had nothing but great things to say about Hannah and how easy it was for them to book. Another piece of advice would be to research weddings at different resorts they are thinking about. I think the reason I did not stress about how our wedding would turn out, was because I saw so many pictures and read many reviews of different weddings at Dreams Riviera Cancun. I knew they would make my wedding vision a reality.
Was there anything that you would change looking back?
I don’t think there is anything we would change! Our guests still rave about how much they loved the resort and the entertainment team there. They even talk about how beautiful our wedding was!