A year ago when Joseph and I were planning our wedding, we decided that since we both love traveling, we would do a destination wedding. Originally, our hearts were set on Italy, specifically Lake Como. It was a beautiful location, so picturesque, and combined elements that both of us loved – fantasy-like for me, Star Wars for him (did you know that the beautiful scene where Anakin married Padme was filmed in Lake Como’s Villa del Balbianello?). But as we weighed the pros and cons, the cons started to stack up more than the pros.
As much as I would love to have the plush green background as our wedding backdrop, we decided to go a different one. One that was more close to home, and one that was way more affordable (yet still as equally beautiful).
That place was Secrets Maroma in Riviera Maya, Mexico. I’ve just written a blog post about the resort itself, so feel free to head on over that way. I will be the first to say that I’m so glad we made the decision to have it in Mexico instead.
One of the biggest factors for our wedding was the price. According to Fortune, the average American wedding is $35,000. We wanted our wedding day to be amazing and unforgettable, but we didn’t want to to spend a lot of money on just one day when that money could be spent on things like future traveling. For $35,000, you can take a 100+ day cruise around the world – for two! So we looked into a destination wedding around Cancun, where the backdrop of white sand and vibrant turquoise ocean water is just breathtaking.
The starting cost of a wedding in Secrets Maroma is free (with qualifying stay) and goes to $3,599, plus any add-ons you may want. We chose their top package, the Secrets Ultimate at $3,599, which includes:
- Wedding organization and personal touch of on-site wedding coordinator
- Service of judge or minister
- Preparation and ironing of the couple’s wedding day attire
- Hairstyling and make-up application for one member of the wedding couple day of the ceremony
- Live Mexican music trio (1 set, during cocktail hour)
- Natural floral centerpiece for the sweetheart table (1)
- Natural floral centerpiece for ceremonial table (1)
- Ceremony décor- 20 chairs with white covers, ceremonial table, and aisle runner
- Wedding cake and sparkling wine toast (up to 20 guests)
- Private cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres (1 hour, Gold Menu, up to 20 guests)
- Private dinner reception (3 hours, Gold Menu, up to 20 guests)
- Complimentary room for one member of the wedding couple the night before the wedding (based on availability and upon request)
- Newlywed package
- Special turn-down service the night of the wedding
- Late check-out for the couple (based on availability and upon request)
- Free first anniversary nights ( Details)
- 50 full color photos taken during the ceremony and wedding album
- Edited video of ceremony
- Bouquet(s) and/or Boutonniere(s) for wedding couple
- Two boutonnieres and two corsages for wedding party
- Wedgwood Vera Wang Love Knots toasting flutes
- 15% discount on all spa treatments (boutique purchases not included)
- Choice of a couples spa treatment (options to be provided by the resort)
The price also includes a wedding coordinator who will help you with any wedding related thing you need (will talk about it later). What it does not include is your hotel room at the resort. We ended up paying an additional $2,000 for five nights in the Ocean View room.
We also only added on a couple of upgrades in terms of decor – 30 lanterns, 2 additional floral centerpieces, 5 table lanterns – to liven the reception area. Otherwise, I think the scenery was beautiful enough that hardly any upgrades are necessary.
With the upgrades and one additional guest, our total was still under $5000 for the wedding itself.
So was the price worth it?
With any luxury brand, I expect a certain level of service that is beyond expectation. This is something that I believe Secrets Maroma did very well. They exceeded my expectations many times, especially with my wedding. After initially emailing to reserve the wedding date, we met up with the head of the wedding department, Valeria, in December to discuss the details in person. She was very kind and explained the process, and walked us over to where the wedding would take place. I was a wishy-washy bride who couldn’t make up her mind, even until the last minute, and she was calm throughout the whole thing.
THE DAY OF
One of my concerns about having a resort wedding was not being able to fully customize our wedding to how we want it. This included my bouquet and cake. The resort gave us a selection of bouquets that we could choose from but they were all so plain and ordinary. I was thinking of choosing the bouquet of white roses (that was it, just a bunch of stem roses) and going to a florist in Playa del Carmen (half an hour away from the resort) to spruce it up with how I would really want it. And then Joseph said, “why don’t you just ask Valeria if they can make it how you want it? And if it costs extra, we’ll pay it.” So I emailed Valeria, and not only did she say she could make it happen, they didn’t charge me extra for it! I absolutely love my bouquet.
During our ceremony, the weather was absolutely beautiful. Nothing but blue skies and a calm breeze. But halfway through our reception, it because super windy and thunder started dancing around every few minutes. We were worried it would start raining, but all weather forecast said it wasn’t supposed to rain until later that night. Of course, soon after, it started pouring. We were taken away from the beach and soon after, placed in Plan B location – a ballroom in the main building, ready to resume our party. All of the staff handled it quickly and professionally.
To top it all off, they had a surprise for us! While we were cutting the cake, someone dressed as Darth Vader came out, lightsabers blazing, and greeted us all. That was awesome.
When we asked our wedding guests if they enjoyed Secrets Maroma, they said a resounding yes, and their reasonings always led to how amazing the hotel service is in general. Because it’s a destination wedding, all of our guests treated it like a mini vacation (which is what we wanted) and they strongly told us how it is because of the service of the resort that they ultimately felt like they were in paradise. As the bride and groom, that makes us so happy – to see our loved ones being pampered and treated well, especially since they made the trip all the way to another country just for little old us.
Many of our guests stayed for more than three nights. Some, we haven’t seen for years. It became nice to be able to relax by the pool with them and catch up on life.
THE PROS & THE CONS
To recap, here’s a list of all the pros and cons that I found, and I hope it helps you decide if a destination wedding at Secrets Maroma (or a similar resort) is right for you.
- Affordable for the bride and groom
- Pick and Choose system – stress free
- Full time wedding coordinator to help you with anything
- Mini-vacation for everyone
- Amazing backdrop
- A short plane ride away
- Hard to bring wedding DIYs while traveling
- Being with wedding guests for possibly several days
- Harder to customize the little details
- Organizing long distance
Ultimately, we wanted a stress-free, intimate, and affordable wedding that everyone can enjoy, and I truly believe that Secrets Maroma was able to give us our dream wedding.