In June 2014 I began to plan my destination wedding for the following spring of April 2015. We chose Mexico but had no idea which area or what resort. Hours and hours went into researching resorts, wedding packages and flights. Ultimately we decided to go with Puerto Vallarta mainly because of the direct flights, which made us think more people would be willing to go.
I had my heart set on Dreams Adventuras in Riviera Maya but the flights had long layovers, the bus to the resort was over an hour long, and the cost was high. After researching Dreams Resorts, and discovering that they are the highest rated resorts for weddings, I asked my amazing travel agent to look up costs and flights for Dreams Villamagna in Puerto Vallarta. Shockingly, the cost came back in my favour, the flights were perfect, and direct both ways! We wanted to book right then and there but had to wait a week to get an answer back from the resort about what dates were available for the actual wedding to be held on. One major downfall to planning a wedding long distance and with a language barrier is how long you have to wait to get answers for any little detail.
The Wedding Planner
Once the date was set and the invitations were sent, it was time to get planning the rest of the wedding. This was so stressful because the wedding planner would take weeks to a month to respond to me as he was working in Costa Rica at the time. Lisa (travel agent) was an angel and called them many times to get a response for me.
Basically the resort sent me a package with a list of all the options I could pick from for décor, food, music, ect. Of course the majority of items had no price list next to them which made it really frustrating to try and stick within any sort of budget. Honestly in a destination wedding you don’t get much say as to what you want. Either they don’t have it or they are too busy to remember what you asked for. An example of this was I said I really don’t want roses since they gave no specific flower options in the package, and nope, the day of my wedding we all had rose bouquets and boutonnieres.
I brought my own centerpieces and cake topper because I didn’t want to pay their prices. They did have pre designed packages for food, decor, ceremony, ect, but they all only included 10-30 people and my wedding was 65 people. It was a very frustrating experience in my opinion and I was confused as to how this resort was Puerto Vallarta’s number one wedding resort. I didn’t realize how much everything would really add up. The food was outrageously priced considering it’s Mexico.
The photographer we used was the one at the resort and we got extremely lucky that he was amazing and were very happy with the photos. The price for the photographer was again a lot more expensive than I imagined as your package included the number of photos you would receive and not necessarily by the hour. I think in my mind I imagined it being all so affordable because it was Mexico.
No amount of research I did could have prepared me because the info I found online was not the same I was given. Another thing they failed to mention was the noise bylaw of shutting down music at 10 pm! If I had known that beforehand I would have considered another resort. We did end up all going downtown to a foam party at 10 pm but I would have rather continued dancing at the reception. I paid so much for an awesome dance floor and a DJ to only use it until 10 pm.
The Big Day
On the day of the wedding, the wedding planner was awesome and there for every step of the way, which was a relief. The photographer was amazing and easy to work with. The flowers at the ceremony and centerpieces were perfect. The bouquets, not so much, but I had too much going on to really notice. The DJ had a few hiccups with the music at the ceremony and reception, but played all the music from my list. I can’t imagine my wedding without the dance floor and DJ as that was the best part so I’m glad I splurged on that.
We had a buffet and the food was good with plenty of options. We had our own private bar and bartender who kept the party happy. They served our signature drink at cocktail hour. We danced from 7 pm to 10 pm until the party was shut down, so we all headed downtown to a foam party that lasted till 3 am.
The day ended up being amazing and memorable and for the most part stress free. Don’t assume just because you are having a destination wedding that everything is rainbows and butterflies. The language barrier and long distance can make it very frustrating and there can be a lot of hidden costs you may have never suspected. We paid close to $10,000 CAD for our wedding day. We did get our trips paid for by WestJet because of all the guests booking through them, which was amazing and that money could then be put towards the wedding.
Check out my blog post on Dreams Villamagna Resort