September 11, 2018

Planning a Destination Wedding? Look no further!

Dana- Destination Weddings (

Beautiful views, delicious food, rich culture, and amazing service. These are a few things you will get when you plan your destination wedding in Mexico.

I recently got back from a trip with Apple Vacations with 40+ agents to Cancun & Riviera Maya Mexico to see some of the most amazing properties for destination weddings.  We were lucky enough to be hosted by these properties for extra special visits where we were able to see ceremony and wedding set ups, and get to taste some food and drinks offered at the hotels.

We flew into Cancun, where the customs were easy as can be, and right outside the airport is the easy to navigate shuttle area. This is where we got on our transfer with Amstar to take us to our hotel in Riviera Maya.  If you are staying in Riviera Maya area, the drive is about an hour, for Tulum, it is about an hour and a half, and for Cancun area resorts, the drive is only about 20 minutes. All depending on your hotel location. It is very easy to set up transfers especially if you book a package deal such as with Apple Vacations. You can get shared transfers, which would be a maximum of 4 stops, or you can do private transfers directly to your resort. These are nice for groups such as destination weddings, because they have large caravans that can take a big family or friend group.

The first property we saw, and the hotel that we stayed at, is Hotel Xcaret Mexico in Riviera Maya.  This resort is unlike any other. It is such a vast resort surrounded by caves and jungles, with bridges and walkways taking you all around the resort. There is always a new exciting area around every corner. The food, drinks, and service here was amazing. We got a new Mexican candy in our room every night. Another bonus of staying at Hotel Xcaret, is that it is “All Fun Inclusive” Which means you get unlimited access to the parks Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xoximilco and Xenses, as well as tours to Xenotes and Xichen. This is an AMAZING deal as tickets to the parks range from $89 - $156 per person.  The parks have SO much to do, cenote dives, zip lining, RTV, performances, animal encounters, and much more.

The view from a suspension bridge over the many beautiful rivers at xcaret looking over a relaxing hammock area

The view from the main lobby looking out over the infinity pool all the way to the ocean

Infinity Pool with swim up bar and restaurant overlooking rivers and the ocean

The rooms are beautiful. They feel brand new with lots of modern features, and I love the hammocks on every balcony.

The view from the bathroom door where the rain shower and toilet are behind a sliding mirror door. The sink and tub are open to the rest of the room

Next we were off to see the wedding venues. First we got to see a beautiful set up in a secluded beach on a river surrounded by trees and caves

This area was also available for cocktail hour, and there is a cave restaurant area nearby for reception.

Next we were taken up to their brand new chapel, located at the highest point of the resort, accessed by stairs or elevator. Their beautiful chapel for catholic ceremonies has stunning panoramic view of the ocean.

View of the chapel (ocean views but too bright)

View from the chapel, outside

Next we were invited down one story, accessed by stairs or elevator, to the reception area.

By regular day it is a restaurant, but for weddings it is transformed into an amazing stone-clad venue, with the same beautiful views as from the chapel.

We were treated to a DJ, harpist, cocktails, amazing food and service, and a lovely atmosphere.

What I was surprised to find out, is that you can also have weddings in the Xcaret Park. Another day we were able to go to the park to see some of the venues. These venues are located all over the park, some more private than others. And don’t worry, you don’t need to stay at hotel Xcaret or pay the day fee to go to these venues, your guests will be driven to access points in the park and dropped off near the venues. The park suggests that ceremonies be held at 7PM, because that is when they have their nightly show, so the crowds will be gone.

The first venue we saw was the Chapel of Guadalupe.  This large catholic chapel is located near the entrance of the park, with ample seating and a beautiful altar over a cenote.


Connected to the chapel is the Henequen Hacienda, a replica of 20th century Mexican villas, which houses many rooms with period furniture, as well as the unique bridal suite.

Continue through Henequen Hacienda, to their large square for ceremonies.  This square has a large open patio, which can be filled with tables, dancefloor, and decorated to your liking. Worried about rain? Don’t. This entire patio square has a retractable awning so you know you will be covered in the event of rain!

Next we went to the Chapel of San Francisco de Asís, situated at the highest point of the park with great views. This space is for Catholic ceremonies as well.

Next we went to see La Isla Restaurant, a large reception space that holds 600 people. This space can be accessed through caves that cross over underground rivers. When you come out, you are in a large open cave, which by day is a restaurant.

The last site we saw was an ocean front area.  You could either do your ceremony up on the edge of the cliff, or down at a rock alter between two natural pools. For this ceremony, the guests would be somewhat above you.

On our first full day of tours, we started at Dreams Tulum.  This resort was beautiful, and even though we got caught in the rain, we still got to see some great set ups.  Dreams Tulum does a maximum of 3 weddings in a day – catholic, symbolic, legal, same-sex, & Mayan. Before we saw the sites we got to see some of their rooms, and they had a great option for guests. The first floor rooms have 10-12 rooms per hall of a building, with two doors on either side of the hall. If your guests book the entire hall, they can give you keys to the outside doors so they lock from the outside, making it your own private hall. They also have many options for connecting rooms which is great for families.

The first spot we saw was their new sunset rooftop spot. This spot is situated to the right of the main pool, and can hold 100 people for a ceremony, and 60 people for a reception. It also has a bar on the rooftop making it perfect for a cocktail hour.

Their stunning chapel is for Catholic ceremonies only. It can hold 40 people inside the chapel, but it has an annex connected to it which can extend that amount to 150 people.

Lastly we saw the garden area, which can be used for both ceremony and reception. And in the event of a rainy day like we had, they do have ballrooms.

We also got to peek inside their bridal suite located inside their spa.

The next property we saw was the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal.  This property is located in the Grand Bahia Principe complex. All the rooms are Superior Jr Suites, and guests here have access to the surrounding Bahia properties. A maximum of 4 weddings per day are held here, and all venues face the ocean.

We saw 3 venues at this property, two on the beach, and one in a gazebo.  We were treated to live Mariachi music and even a “mock wedding” on the beach with music and drinks.

The next property we saw was the SianKa’an at Grand Tulum, which is an adults only Oasis property.  We only saw one ceremony spot, because we were hosted for lunch. That spot was a stunning rooftop location with amazing views.  This spot can be used for ceremony, cocktail, or reception. They also have beachfront, poolside, garden, and chapel locations.

This rooftop location had a ceremony spot, as well as cocktail tables, and another seating area.  We even got treated to some great saxophone music!

Next we went to our reception area for lunch.  We had lunch in their ballroom, which was very beautiful and modern. They have many other reception spots as well.

Next up was the Royal Suites Yucatan Hotel located in the Grand Palladium Resorts of Riviera Maya.  This is an adults only all-suite luxury boutique style property.

Gazebo/Garden ceremony area

Outside of their Catholic chapel

One of their beachfront set ups

Inside of the chapel

One of their many restaurant semi-private locations for reception, with deluxe decoration set up

Barcelo Maya Palace is located in the Barcelo Maya Beach Complex, and guests here have access to all the facilities in the complex. We saw 4 sites at this resort.

First location was the Gazebo Palace.  Believe it or not, you can fit 120 people seated around the gazebo.  It is also connected to a covered lobby area where more people can sit if necessary.

Next we saw Playa Azul, a beachfront location located near the main beach. The bride and groom and a few other guests will get driven to their wedding location in a golf cart.

Playa Mariachi is located a little further down the beach by the sports area (equipment will be removed for a real ceremony). This set up is the standard package of décor.  For the beach locations, you may use the restaurants behind them for reception.

Lastly, we saw their catholic chapel

For dinner, we headed to Ocean Riviera Paradise.  Before our meal, we got to see the property, and a few wedding locations, even though it was dark.  This property struck me as a great location for families. They have a kids club and they had a large projector with a kids movie playing while we were there.

Reception or cocktail area in the resort

Beachfront location

Another beachfront location located near reception area

We also got treated to a mock Mayan ceremony which was really cool and includes the entire family.

Afterwards we went next door to an indoor/outdoor area opened up to ocean views, where we had our dinner & live music which was really good. They even got some agents dancing!

Day two we started at Secrets Maroma, which is an adults only resort, with one of the best beaches in the area.  The hotel is set up with the main buildings in the center of the property so everything is east to find.

Below is a garden area, set up for reception, but can be used for ceremony as well. Note that this is near a public walkway.

Next we saw an interesting set up.  This is located in a more central area, so it is not private, but it is uniquely set up IN shallow water. That’s one way to stay cool!

We were able to see one of their beautiful beach set ups, with nice touches such as a “shoe check”

Lastly we saw their gazebo location, which was vibrantly decorated. We also were treated to acrobatic shows, and people on stilts.

Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso

This hotel had a very different style than all the rest. It was very Spanish palace like, almost Venetian. With painted ceilings, large domes, and lots of marble.  They showed us one basic wedding set up and some restaurant locations which can be used for reception.

The next property we saw, which was probably my favorite, was Dreams Riviera Cancun.  Not only did they greet us with a Mariachi band, drinks, fans, and their whole wedding staff with great welcoming service, they showed us some beautiful set ups and features.

The first set up we saw was off of the main lobby. These ceremonies are held at 4PM to ward off busier traffic times. This can hold 150 people.

Next we saw their LOVE locks.  The bride and groom can bring their own lock, or have one included in their package and engraved, to stay on the sign after they leave.

Pictured here is a really pretty area used for rehearsal dinner or cocktails

Their Saber Tree garden area can hold 40 people. It is a beautiful set up but located near a main walkway

Next we saw their signature location, their beachfront gazebo.  This location makes for great pictures, but it is located right next to a main pool, so note that there may be other guests nearby, though security has the area roped off.

We got to see a nice cocktail hour location, located around one of their hot tub areas.

Above their swim up bar, there is a rooftop area which overlooks the resort and the ocean. They had a really unique set up for ceremony here. And off to the side they had tables for cocktail hour.

Next we saw a beachfront reception area

We also got to see an area that can be used for cocktail hour, rehearsal. It is located on the beach and has a bar. It is set up with vibrant colors. Guests can have a bonfire.

Finally, we got to see their bridal consultation room, which they had just finished renovating the week before. We got to cut the ceremonial ribbon!

BONUS! On our last day, our flight got cancelled, so the people on that flight with me had to stay an extra night.  Luckily, travelling with our apple vacations rep, she contacted Dreams Riviera Cancun and they were gracious enough to put us up for the night.  AND while we were there enjoying our extra night in Mexico, we got to see a real wedding!!

They had a very basic set up, but it was beautiful. The area was roped off.  We were at the pool when the ceremony started. As I said, it is right next to the main pool, but all the guests were very courteous and quiet. And when they announce the new couple, everyone cheered, including pool guests! If you don’t mind the extra attention, this location is great.

They started setting up the reception area while we were at the pool, stringing up lights and setting up tables.  And later that night we even caught a peek of the reception.

Our next property was Ocean Coral and Turquesa. This property is built horizontally along the beach to allow more beach access for the property. We saw 5 locations. Lobby terrace, beachfront, gazebo, rooftop terrace (catholic), and a reception ballroom.

Breathless Riviera Cancun was next on the list.  This property has a big party reputation. But it’s not all party.  They have three sections. Allure, which is standard resort level, Xhale which is the quiet relaxed luxury side, and Xcelerate which is the party side. The décor of this hotel is very modern and sleek. This resort would be great for bachelorette parties or weddings.  They showed us one set up on the beach in front of the Xhale side. They also showed us their spacious bridal suite.

For dinner this night, we headed to the Hard Rock Riviera Maya. We were able to see two beachfront locations, and they informed us that they have another chapel under construction that will be open in a few months!

The next morning we saw two RIU properties. The first was Riu Palace Mexico, they showed us their chapel which is located in the main lobby, and a garden set up.

Then we went over to the Riu Playacar where they had a beautiful beach set up for us with delicious hours d’oeurvs. Though this set up was right next to the main beach area.  A nice thing about this resort location is that it had shops right across the street within walking distance of the hotel.

On our last night we did something not quite wedding related.  We went to Xoximilco Cancun. It is an excursion where you go on Mexican gondolas and float around to different stations with live music, drinks, authentic Mexican tasting plates, and dancing.  We had a great time, and it would be a great option for a bachelor/bachelorette party.

All in all – my takeaways from this trip is that Mexico is safe, the food is delicious, the customer service is unmatched, and it is beautiful!  I wouldn’t hesitate to send any client here for any trip, and it it’s an amazing place to have a destination wedding!

Call Classic Travel today if you have any more questions on any of these properties or the many other resorts in Mexico, and we will be happy to help you plan your dream wedding!

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