I have previously posted a general review for the resort, which was absolutely wonderful, but I have received many emails with questions about our wedding so I wanted to post a wedding specific review for brides-to-be trying to plan their wedding at Barceló. Our wedding was around the time of the swine flu scare so our experience may have been different than the usual wedding protocol so please take that into consideration.
Destination wedding are so much fun, we are always getting compliments. The Barceló is a very large resort. The complex is split up into 3 areas; Beach/Caribe, Colonial/Tropical & Palace. This is great because it will allow your guests better selection for their budget. The beach/caribe is the least expensive and the Palace is the most expensive. We booked Colonial/Tropical and encouraged our guests to do the same. It is in the center of the hotel so it is easiest to get around and mid-range budget wise for our guests.
PLANNING & PACKAGES: Barceló will provide you with a wedding planner. They offered 6 different package options and your travel agent should be able to provide you with the pricing for these. They did not have restriction on wedding party size but each package varies with how many people it accommodates, along with the prices for each additional guest. Your wedding planner will get in touch with you before you arrive via email to get an idea of what you want.
DECISIONS: I was worried when the planner was asking me to make decisions before I had ever been there but don’t worry, you will meet with your wedding planner (usually the day after you arrive) and you will go over everything again and finalize the details. You will need to choose your date and time BEFORE you get there since there are limited times available.
FOOD: Your wedding coordinator will send you your menu options before you arrive and ask you what you want. You will finalize your dinner menu after you arrive; we went with steak which was really good, one of the best meals we had at Barceló. For the cake we went with vanilla on one layer and pineapple on the other. The cake was not anything extravagant but it worked just fine for smashing into each other’s face! It was pretty tasty too!
FLOWERS: The coordinator will have you will look through a photo book of optional flower arrangements to see if there is one you like. If you already have something in mind, bring pictures and I’m sure they will do their best to re-create it, they are very accommodating. I just told them my colors (coral & Ivory) and I let them decide on the arrangement for me and they turned out perfect.
TIES: You will also verify what color of ties you want (on your chairs), we went with ivory. They asked us before-hand what we wanted but we were asked again when we met with the coordinator. I’m not sure if they would be less flexible to change if the resort was at full capacity so I wouldn’t suggest picking anything you may want to change later.
TABLES: They will ask if you want a few round/rectangular tables or one large rectangular table for your reception. We had about 30 guests so we went with one long table so everyone felt included.
LOCATION: The wedding planner will send you photos and ask you to pick which location you want, which can be stressful since the photos don’t really show you what it is like. To be honest, all of the beach locations are beautiful, you can’t go wrong. When we met with the coordinator she showed us the different beach site options for the ceremony and let us choose which one we liked best. But again, at full capacity they may not be as flexible. We chose the beach in front of the grill (closer to the palace side) and had our ceremony at 5:00. For the reception, we were lucky enough to be offered the grill as our venue because it closes at 5:00. I would definitely see if this is an option for you! She showed us the banquet hall where the reception usually is; it was a nice air-conditioned room, but lacked the whole beach theme we were going for. If you can afford it, spend the extra money and rent the grill! The thatched roof, burnt orange tile floors and beach ambience really made our reception special.
REHEARSAL: If you want a rehearsal before you walk down the “aisle”, you have to request it. We did not do the rehearsal and they walked us through it as we went and everything was perfect but they are willing to do a rehearsal upon request. Your wedding coordinator will meet you in your room 15-20 minutes before “go” time and she will take you to the beach and brief you on everything. It seems a little crazy but it works just fine!
PHOTOS: The Ceremony was followed by cocktail hour from 5:30-6:30 before the seated dinner/reception. This is the time when you will go off with your photographer to do your pictures. We did bring our own photographer and for us it was well worth the extra money, I couldn’t be more pleased with our photos. To see additional wedding photos and more photos of the hotel please message me and I will send you a link to our photo share site.
HAIR/MAKEUP: Barcelo does have staff available for hair/makeup and some of the packages include this service. I chose to bring my own hair/makeup stylist so I cannot comment on the quality of this service but I did see other brides around the resort and they looked wonderful.
MUSIC: For the reception bring an iPod with music of your choice and put your maid of honor in charge of this. They will provide the sound system for you.
WAIT STAFF: The staff did a great job with keeping everyone happy and entertained. They were constantly pouring champagne/wine and making everyone shots. Everyone had such a great time! They were good about keeping us on track too, reminding us to cut the cake and whatnot. Everything was great!
A FEW OTHER SUGGESTIONS/TIPS:
USE A TRAVEL AGENT: Although it may be cheaper to book online, a lot of your guests may not be too familiar with travel. By going through an agent your guests should be able to make payments rather than paying the whole amount to book. The agent will also make sure that transportation to/from the airport is arranged for everyone in your party which some guests may forget about. Another benefit of a travel agent is in case something happens and people need to reschedule or change anything they will take care of it. A lot of our flights were canceled due to the swine flu outbreak and all we had to do was tell our agent and she took care of the re-booking at no extra cost. Otherwise we would have had to wait for our refund which would take weeks on top of re-booking our flight. You just never know what could happen.
CREATE A WEDDING WEBSITE: Many of your guests will want constant information from you, and you have bigger things to worry about! If you have a website you can refer them there for additional information. We used ewedding.com for our website. You get to pick your own website address name, style, etc and you can add tons of information. They have examples you can see if you go to their website. We also sent out “Save the Date” cards with our website information and an engagement photo (well, we actually sent picture magnets so people could keep them on their fridge).
BRING “THANK YOU” BAGS FOR YOUR GUESTS: We did one bag per room and included things like first aid kit, sewing kit, hand sanitizer, tums, advil, blow up beach volley ball, and any other fun things your guests might like. Also include a welcome letter and itinerary that will let them know what your plans are for the duration of the trip and remind them to book their dinner reservations ASAP. We let our guests know which reservations we had made in case they wanted to dine with us. If you are going to do gift bags for your guests consider sending the items to Barceló in the mail beforehand. We were stopped at the airport and had to empty out our luggage (HUGE PAIN!) and explain why we had so much merchandise which was difficult since we don’t speak Spanish. They ended up having us pay taxes on the stuff (not much, like $20) but it was a huge hassle and put a damper on the beginning of our vacation.
GO CHEAP ON YOUR DRESS: Don’t spend too much money on your dress; unless you have a large budget or if the dress is very important to you. Your dress is going to get dirty. You are walking around in the sand/dirt; twigs and other debris are getting tangled in it, etc. If you spend a lot on it you will be worried, spending a large portion of you time holding it up, and won’t have as much fun. My dress is an Amy Michelson INSPIRED dress. I tried on the real thing at a dress store, and then found a company on eBay to make it for me for $165!
TIP: If you like to tip for good services, which I do, have someone in your party make sure they bring some money to tip the staff that helps at the reception. They did such a great job and I didn’t have any money in my dress to tip with.
UNITY SAND CEREMONY: We did a unity sand ceremony in lieu on the traditional candle lighting ceremony. We brought 2 different colors of sand (Brown & Tan) and poured them into one container while the best man read the meaning of the ceremony (I provided). It created a really cool keepsake and the meaning of the ceremony is really nice. Look it up online if you’re interested! WARNING: The unity sand ceremony was great but it didn’t travel as well as we had hoped. We didn’t bring enough sand to fill the vase up the whole way so on the morning we were leaving we went down to the beach and put more sand in it so it wouldn’t mix up but unfortunately once the added sand settled in our suitcase is wasn’t as tightly packed as before and the design from when we poured it got messed up. I’m not sure if they’d let you carry it on the plane but if you can I would recommend doing that. If not just make sure you bring enough sand and bring tissue paper (like you use in presents) to stuff in the vase during transportation.
HAIR: Don’t wear your hair down! It is breezy and I suggested to my bridal party not to wear it down but they didn’t listen and half of the pictures they are in they are either brushing it out of their faces or it’s just flying around. The breeze is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not good for your hair/pictures.
IDEA: Just an idea; we wrote “Thank You” in the sand and had a photo taken of us by it. Then we had postcards of the photo printed off and used those for our thank you cards. Everyone loves them and compliments us on the unique idea. Plus it goes with the destination theme!
BRIDALS: If you’re planning on having your bridal pictures done at the resort don’t do them the same day as your wedding. Time will fly by and it will be time to walk down the aisle before you know it! My photographer went into Playa Del Carmen and found a cool place he wanted to shoot at and so we did that a few days after the wedding.
Sorry for the information overload! Let me know if you have any additional questions. We had such a positive experience with Barceló, I couldn’t be happier. Also, there seems to be a lot of information on www.unofficial-barcelo-maya.com, including discussion boards, package pricing, menus, etc. all dedicated to the Barceló Maya resort.
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- Also Known As:
- Barcelo Maya Colonial Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Colonial
- Barcelo Maya Colonial Beach Resort
- Barcelo Maya Caribe & Beach Resort
- Barcelo Maya Tropical & Colonial Beach
- Barcelo Maya Colonial Riviera Maya, Mexico - Puerto Aventuras