YES! YES! YES! We found a wedding venue!!!! Let me start by coming right out and saying it: Ben was right. And I’m so glad I followed his advice.
As soon as we decided that the Riviera Maya was our top wedding location pick (approximately 10 minutes after we got engaged), he said our best bet would be to take a short investigative trip. Although we’ve been many times, going with a mission in mind ended up being incredibly productive.
Here are the top things that I believe greatly contributed to us finding a place we are really excited about. I’d recommend anyone planning a destination wedding to follow as many of these as possible:
1. Knowing the language
(Or having a friend who does and letting them be your voice)
Let’s face it—If you are a rich foreigner, the assumption will be that you can afford more than your average local, and you will be charged accordingly. Therefore, the goal is to camouflage your foreignness to the best of your ability. Weddings are expensive enough without someone pulling the wool over your eyes!
In our case, Ben handled most if not all of the initial emails/phonecalls. In Mexico, you are less likely to be overcharged if your last name is Vargas than if it’s Tuggy. We even conducted our Google searches in Spanish, looking for sites that weren’t geared toward tourists. It takes a lot of scratching, but it’s worth it!
2. Going physically
(Having a friend who lives locally and lets you stay with her and use her car is a HUGE bonus—shoutout to the amazing Vania! We love you!!)
Clearly, nothing beats being able to see a place in 3D before committing to it. But it’s not just about the places; it’s about the people. Being able to shake their hands, to establish a rapport, to ask them questions, show them you’re legit and make sure they are too. Ben had a contact from one of the many phone calls he’d made prior to the trip (a DJ/light/sound guy), and he ended up being a goldmine of resources! He put us in contact with all the people in the wedding industry he worked closely with, and even calling them for us and telling them his “friend” was getting married so they’d give us the best deal possible! WOW, was that a relief, which brings me to my next point.
3. Keeping an open mind.
I had initially fallen in LOVE with a spot in Tulum that does gorgeous wedding packages, but it ended up being way out of our price range ($4000 dollars just for MIXERS for our guests, not including the alcohol! $3000 to rent the place but you HAVE to hire on their wait staff of 40, and oh, you wanted the sand on the beach as well? That will be another $3000. And let's not get into the cost of dinner, tables, chairs, sofas, flowers, a dance floor, you get the gist). Keep in mind most places are going to throw out crazy numbers. Why? Because people are willing to pay them! They know it’s one of the biggest days of your life, they know you’d rather not be bothered with the details and are likely willing to pay good money to have someone take care of everything for you. I was overwhelmed with what Ben was proposing—the idea of just renting a spot on the beach and being in charge of coordinating all the details ourselves. But somehow, miraculously I managed to stifle bridezilla and open my eyes to something I would have never thought of.
4. Opening your eyes to new horizons
This is basically an extension of my previous point. What I’m trying to say is don’t be rigid with decisions you’ve previously made. Be willing to look outside your original zone, and be flexible. I was dead set on Tulum. We both were. It’s a magical place, really. But the thing with magical places is that you’re never alone in thinking so. Demand goes up, prices go up, and this affects not only you, but your guests. We had completely ruled out Cancun on the sole fact that it reminds us too much of Vegas, but hadn’t thought of exploring the coastline a little further north. That’s when Ben’s contact came in: he suggested a sweet little place he had just done a wedding at a few weeks prior. Ample space? Check. Private beach? Check. Reasonable price? Check. No crazy rules or obligations? Check. (It's called Villa Chenera, for those of you asking.)
We think we made the right choice.