Katie and Riley chose the stunning setting of Live Aqua Cancun for their Mexican destination wedding! One of my favorite resorts, the turquoise blue water and white sand of the Cancun hotel zone cannot be beat.
When Katie first made her appointment, she told me the long and twisty story of her and Riley's meeting ... long story short, it took SEVEN years for this couple to get together after their first meeting! When Riley later proposed in Mexico, they started exploring the idea of returning for a destination wedding.
With two busy jobs (Katie is a travel nurse and Riley is a field rep), Katie knew that she didn't have the desire or time to dedicate to planning a complicated destination wedding. That's where Alpaca came in!
While she described herself as a "bit of a sour patch kid," I found working with this couple to be nothing but pure joy. IN her original appointment email, Katie described something I think many couples can relate to. She said: "I am not the greatest at planning, especially when it comes to this because I am CLUELESS when it comes to weddings. We have also heard that some resorts will not charge for certain things if you have so many guests book (or something like that???). We are definitely interested in that! I am so excited about meeting with you!"
DESTINATION WEDDING q&a | Katie & Riley
What were your biggest fears when planning a destination wedding?
I was so fearful I was going to pick a resort that everyone would HATE. This was very hard for the people pleaser side of me. I wanted a place that everyone who truly wanted to come could afford, but I also wanted a nice resort where everyone would enjoy vacationing. Going into our wedding I thought we would only have around 20 people there, but we ended up having 45!!! Which made me even more nervous at first, but I quickly got over this. I just kept telling myself if someone couldn’t have a GREAT time on the beach with a cocktail in hand, then it was on them not me HAHA. Ashley also helped calm my nerves, too. Always reassuring me in the beginning when I was worrying about every detail.
Is there anything about the actual destination wedding experience that surprised you?
HOW EASY IT TRULY WAS. Once I got it in my head that the wedding planners/wedding team at the resort do this day in and day out, I was totally fine. I basically just showed up the week of the wedding, went over the last few details and they did everything else. It was so nice not having to set anything up or clean up afterwards. I’m a very indecisive person so this was truly the best option for me because I didn’t have as many decisions to make as you would in a traditional wedding. I met with the wedding planner and decor vendor via zoom a few times. I shared with them my ideas and my Pinterest boards, and they made it HAPPEN. I cannot brag on them enough. Most brides are stressed to the max on their wedding day/week and I wasn’t.
What is your favorite memory of your destination wedding?
Oh my word where do I even start. I think one memory that really sticks out to me was right before the ceremony when I was waiting to walk down the aisle. We had our ceremony on the beach in front of the infinity pool at Live Aqua. So my parents and I were waiting by the pool essentially and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THAT. It was so fun and totally calmed all of our nerves (my dad had been very EMOTIONAL) because people were like OMG CONGRATS or you look so beautiful.
Whenever it was time for me to walk down the aisle everyone in the pool started cheering and HYPING ME UP. I LOVED that. It just went right along with the theme of the wedding (one big party). There is a picture of my parents and I walking down the aisle with the infinity pool in the background and you can see some of the people.
Another memory that I will never forget was at the reception. My friends and I love to dance so we had been tearing it up on the dance floor. I had been going around telling them that we had to jump in the pool at some point. So towards the end I requested a hype song from the DJ, grabbed Riley and we jumped in the pool hand in hand. Several of our friends followed suit and the dance party continued in the pool. MY PARENTS EVEN JUMPED IN. At the very end of the reception, the DJ announced it was the last song of the night. The song was Dancing in the Moonlight and the funniest thing happened. We all got in a circle and held hands and just spun around. We basically made a very strong whirlpool hahaha. I remember looking at Riley and he looked so happy! At one point in the pool he told me it was his favorite wedding he had ever attended and I knew he genuinely meant that. It was a core memory and I will never forget it.
Did you splurge on anything travel or wedding related? If so, what was it and was it worth it?
We splurged on a BURRO (aka DONKEY) for the wedding. I think this was absolutely worth it. Her name was Frida and she was so sweet. People loved taking pictures with her and it was just a fun little thing to keep people entertained. We had the donkey come during our cocktail hour while we were finishing up pictures! Sweet little Frida added that much more to the cocktail hour and she stole the show (in the best way).
We also splurged on string lights for the wedding reception. Since that would be where we would spend the most time we were okay with this. Also, my favorite part of weddings is the reception, so I knew mine would be no different. The string lights gave it a dreamy, romantic feel and I LOVED it. You could also see the string lights from across the resort, providing a beacon for where our reception would take place. It was exactly what I wanted!!! I do not regret splurging on this.
Lastly, I upgraded my bouquet. I think this was totally worth it. My matron of honor gave me some really good advice when I was trying to decide what to splurge on. She told me the bouquet would be great to upgrade because it would be in a lot of pictures!!! So I kind of applied that to everything else, too.
Did you attempt to *save* on anything travel or wedding related? If so, what was it and was it worth it?
DEFINITELY. I was fortunate enough to have one of my good friends do my hair and another one of my friends helped me with my make up. I think this was worth it for me for a lot of reasons. I don’t like a lot of makeup so I didn’t want someone I didn’t know doing it, and the same goes for my hair. I also have a hard time sitting still (hahaha), especially on my wedding day. I don’t think I would have done well having strangers do my hair and makeup for hours and hours. It was nice having my friends help me and it just felt more ME.
Another thing we saved on was I didn’t go too crazy with flowers and decor (or I don’t think I did anyway). Our location was so beautiful on its own I didn’t think we needed a bunch of decor covering that up. We had a triangle gazebo with one floral arrangement and that was basically it for the ceremony. I didn’t have a lot of decor at our reception either because it was outside at Live Aqua’s pool club and it had the ocean in the background. Our wedding package came with all the basics so I didn’t go too crazy with all the little things because that adds up.
If you could change anything with your wedding (planning, the day itself, the location, resort, ANYTHING) - what would you change?
The only thing that I wish I could change was what I stressed about. The only thing I truly stressed about (which was a very small part) was the day of the wedding, I was worried about the weather. Which was a dumb thing for me to stress over because YOU CAN’T CONTROL THE WEATHER. Plus, we had a back up plan if the weather did get bad. I think I just needed something to stress about so my brain picked that thing to focus on HAHAHA. As far as everything else, I don’t think Ashley could have helped us pick a better resort for our event. I loved Live Aqua and so did everyone else.
Now that you've been through it, what is your #1 best piece of advice for wedding couples entering the planning process?
Trust the process. When Ashley says the wedding planners at the resort can plan your wedding in a weekend, they truly could if they had to. This is their job and they are so good at it. I remember emailing Ashley about something the week of the trip, and saying something about “not being stressed or worried at all about it.” Everything will get done and there is no need for you to stress!!!! They all make it so easy!!!! Another amazing thing about having Ashley on your team is she has visited these resorts and built relationships with the workers. I thought that was so awesome and helpful. She knows the best way to communicate with them and reach them!!! So don’t worry if you don’t hear back from them right away!
What kind of feedback did you get from your guests?
Everyone really liked the resort! My dad mentioned how awesome the beach was compared to other Mexico trips he has been on. Everyone really liked the restaurants and the pools!
I asked a lot of my friends what it was like on their end working with AYB and they said it was GREAT. One of my friends even said that she emailed Ashley and wants to use AYB in the future!!!
In what ways did Alpaca Your Bags Travel make this less stressful for you?
I remember learning so much just from the first phone call we had. I was like OH BOY! I definitely can’t do this on my own! There was so much I didn’t know, and I had no idea how to organize a trip like this. I didn’t know all the requirements for a legal ceremony to take place in Mexico, or how to set up a room block contract. AYB helped with all of that and more. AYB set up our room block contract with the resort. AYB made us a website for our guests to reserve their rooms. Not only did they handle travel related questions, but also wedding related questions. Another thing that was so helpful was the video & travel document/itinerary that they put together. It had all of our travel information in one place. Ex: when our flights left, what transportation would look like, what apps we should download for the trip, etc. Basically everything we would need to know for our trip, all in one place. AYB made that for us and all of our guests traveling. It was amazing and so helpful!