How did you come to decide on your wedding date? Is there meaning behind it?
We decided that a destination wedding would be more appealing during winter months so our friends and family could escape a very cold Chicago. December 5th happened to be the day we first met (in 2012), and we loved that we could make it our official anniversary and celebrate with sunshine.
Describe what it was like working with the wedding coordinator at the resort? What went well? Any challenges?
We booked our wedding without seeing the resort in person, which was a huge leap of faith! Because of this, we leaned heavily on the wedding coordinators based in Miami to give guidance and advice from previous Hard Rock weddings. The only challenges we faced were due to the changes put in place due to Covid-19. We had originally wanted a buffet meal at the reception, but for safety we had to choose plated. It actually made a lot of decisions easier because we only had 1 option instead of many (I suffer from analysis paralysis). A month before the wedding, the Miami coordinator transitioned us over to the wedding coordinators onsite in Cabo to finalize it all before our arrival.
Describe the booking process for your guests. Did they find that to be easy to navigate?
We sent our save the dates with information about our wedding website about 11 months prior to our wedding to encourage early booking and direct guests to the FAQ page. Having all the information online (with our catchy domain/website name) made it so seamless to book, or at least bookmark the page until they were ready to book.
What were some of your biggest fears or things you worried about as your wedding date drew near? How did you get through this?
As our wedding date began to approach, the US was seeing rises in Covid-19 cases. We had already lost a good number of guests because of the uncertainty of travel, and we wanted to ensure that it was indeed safe to travel while communicating to our guests that we were continuing on with our wedding as planned. The key to getting through it was continuing to email our guests our intentions, any research or data we had come across to highlight the safety protocols taken by airlines and the hotel and assure them we understood if they needed to cancel. Luckily, we ended up with a solid group of 48 people!
Describe the meeting you had with the onsite wedding team when you arrived at the resort.
No detail was overlooked in the wedding process, and I was confident our onsite meeting would be seamless – and it was! We arrived later in the evening, so our wedding coordinator planned a morning meeting with us the day after we checked in. They put up a picture and welcome note to us on their huge lobby projector when we showed up for the meeting. It was so thoughtful!
We showed the coordinator all of the décor we brought from home: table numbers, placecards, frames, and other items for the reception. I hadn’t had room for a gift/card box and they told me they could bring one for me – a relief! Then we ran through every detail with timing for our welcome party, ceremony, and reception. This gave us an accurate timeline to reflect back to our wedding party. Finally, we walked through each venue booked for welcome party, ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Although I’d been curious enough to go check out the venues the evening we arrived, it was nice to walk through with the coordinator to know where the tables would be situated, which angle our ceremony would face in the garden, and that the grass would be watered and maintained before wedding day.
Were your guests wowed by the resort and the all-inclusive concept? What was their reaction upon arrival?
We had a mix of guests who had either never been to a Hard Rock resort (us included!) or an all-inclusive resort in general, so we were excited and a little anxious to hear everyone’s experience – especially knowing there were some restrictions in place due to Covid. Every single guest raved about the resort. The food was delicious (and plentiful! Portions were not small). There were several restaurants at the resort plus unlimited in-room dining. The swim up bars were closed at the pools but this didn’t affect anyone’s experience. Masked and gloved servers everywhere taking your order and bringing to you directly in the pool.
How easy/difficult was it to travel with your wedding dress? Did you carry-it on, where did you store it? Did you get a lot of comments at the airport?
A friend of mine who had a destination wedding asked me how I planned to tote my dress to the wedding. I hadn’t thought of it prior and just planned to bring the dress in the bag it came with, but she assured me I wanted something sturdier and let me borrow her dress bag. It folded up and was able to fit atop the carry-on bags in the overhead compartment on the plane, and I carried it like a duffel through the airport. Since the bag was pretty inconspicuous, I actually didn’t garner any comments or attention at the airport – which I preferred!
Tell us about your wedding – did you have a traditional wedding with a cocktail hour, dinner reception and dance? What was different about a destination wedding compared to a wedding at home?
We chose a destination wedding for it to be a little less traditional than a wedding we’d host at home, but we still ended up with a pretty standard cadence of events on our wedding day. Our ceremony was officiated by my husband’s father, lasted no more than 15-20 minutes, and we used music from Spotify for it all (low key!). After the reception, our guests were led up to our reception location for a cocktail hour with light appetizers. After that, the bridal party entered, we cut our cake, and were served dinner with speeches in between each course. Our wedding coordinator was insistent that we wait until sunset to start our first dance, so the dinner portion felt like it lasted quite a while but as soon as the dancing started – it never stopped! We had no formal events or activities as soon as dancing started (no bouquet toss, garter toss, etc), but ended the night with a whole-group karaoke session which was the most memorable part of our whole wedding.
What was the best part of having a destination wedding?
This is a big question! Our original hopes for a destination wedding would be that it provided a vacation/relaxed feel for our friends any family. Because so many people hadn’t traveled in 2020, it was even more appreciated, celebrated, and relaxed! The only real requirements for our guests were to attend our welcome party and reception, but the rest of their trip was completely up to how they wanted to spend time in Cabo!
In what ways did Romance Travel Group make the planning less stressful for you?
All of the travel details! I used to manage travel for consultants at work and I know the tedious nature of collecting information, sending updates, and orchestrating all the fine details. Shelli and Heather were incredible through the whole process from information gathering, sharing pictures and videos of resorts, communicating with our guests, and even troubleshooting flight discrepancies while we were all at the resort. They mail every guest a packet of travel documents before the trip with advice for packing, tipping, etc. It was wildly helpful and really helped everyone focus on having FUN!
What would you do differently? What advice would you give to couples just starting the planning process?
I wouldn’t change a single decision! Both Romance Travel Group and our wedding coordinators through the hotel made the selection process easy. We didn’t have to “shop around” for vendors and negotiate contracts, nor did we have to spend time on a bunch of calls with separate vendors. If you want a chill/lowkey wedding, this is the way to go. And if you want an extravagant wedding, this is also the way to go! The options are endless and it’ll always be beautifully handled no matter what you choose.