The Ultimate Playa del Carmen Destination Wedding Planning Checklist
Helpful information for Planning a Destination Wedding in the Yucatan Peninsula
I have been photographing weddings in Playa del Carmen for over a decade, and you could say I have “seen it all.” Some things have come up more times than others, so I have compiled this list of things to think about when planning your destination wedding along the Riviera Maya.
I believe what is most important is that you relax and enjoy celebrating with family and friends. I hope to share some helpful tips with you on how to have the most enjoyable and relaxing experience, and avoid any unforeseen problems.
Selecting the Best Season for Your Wedding:
November through June is often sunny during the day and fresh at night – the perfect combo for a comfortable wedding day. Consider that the rainy season is June through November, so weddings in both June and November could go either way, and you should be prepared for all the weather possibilities.
I love rainy days, they often result in a perfect, natural landscape with dramatic backdrops and jaw-dropping skies. If it rains on your wedding day, I would love to create an epic portrait for you, of you and your new husband or wife dancing in the rain under a colorful sunset.
Summer in Mexico can get very hot and humid, with the potential for tropical rain that can catch you off guard. Do not get me wrong, summertime is great for a wedding, especially if you are coming down from a colder, winter climate.
If staying within budget is a top priority for you, I would suggest thinking thoroughly about what is the most important part or aspect of the wedding for you as a couple. By answering this, you will be able to determine what you are looking for in your vendors. You’ll save a lot of time during the planning stage and will be able to focus on exactly what you want for this celebration.
All-Inclusive Outside Vendor Fee:
This is a fee the hotels decide to charge you, on top of everything, to celebrate your wedding day at their location. Be aware that in several all-inclusive hotels the fees are pretty hefty and that can greatly impact your wedding budget.
Having a person that knows their way Playa del Carmen and the Yucatan Peninsula is a very good idea. I’ve photographed weddings that have a wedding planner, and some with no wedding planner at all, and there is a noticeable difference in the level of organization and how smoothly the day runs. Remember, it is important you get to relax and allow someone else to deal with any urgent or time-consuming matters.
Although most of the specific times in the wedding itinerary might only be ready just days before the wedding, you should share with your family, wedding party, and guests a general outline of what the day/weekend will look like. This will allow everyone to enjoy themselves without missing or delaying any wedding activities.
Wedding Makeup and Skin:
One thing I’ve seen work wonders with brides is having a facial treatment before coming down to Mexico, nothing too invasive, i.e. a deep cleanse allows your skin to look fabulous.
In regards to makeup, I strongly recommend booking a professional, not only you will be more relaxed, but you will be getting the best option for a humid and hot area like the Caribbean. If you are considering airbrushed makeup, remember to always ask for a trial before the big day. If you decide to do your makeup, make sure to buy some good waterproof makeup to deal with the humidity, and bring a matt powder with you to combat shine during the day.
There are several important aspects to consider in wedding attire: fit and breathability. Be sure to select a wedding dress that works with your body type, there is no point in getting one that looks great on the hanger if it doesn’t accentuate your body. Be sure you can move easily in your dress, and won’t feel constricted or overheated on your wedding day.
Consider breathable fabrics for the suits or tuxedos (such as linen, which is perfect for a beach wedding). I’ve photographed many grooms and a lot of them have a rough time wearing traditional suits at the beach during the day.
Dress Code for Guests:
You will be photographed with all of your attendees. Please note that the neon/fluorescent or heavy prints don't work well in photographs, they can take the focus out of the couple and/or impact a beautiful photograph. If this would bother you, consider sending a note on dress code to your guests.
Check your passport expiration day, this is something that seems a bit silly on account of being so very obvious, but checking the expiration date is very important. Also, please remember to bring your wedding outfit and wedding rings as a carry-on, do not put them on the baggage you check-in. All of this applies to everyone attending your wedding.
Official Language and Currency:
Mexico’s official language is Spanish and although most of the people working in the tourism industry speak English, learning a bit of the official language can save you a lot of time and headaches. The official currency is the Mexican peso; however, US dollars are widely accepted in resorts and tourist areas. Remember to withdraw some cash back at home, some ATMs will allow you to pull out USD, but the vast majority will only dispense pesos.
I cannot emphasize enough that the weather can get really hot in Playa del Carmen, be comfortable with the fact that sweat will be part of your day. I recommend using dry spray deodorant, so it doesn’t leave any noticeable white marks. Also, when traveling to a different climate than you’re used to, your skin can get dry, so pamper yourself and stay hydrated.
Remember to schedule your rehearsal dinner or welcome party at least 2 days in advance so there is plenty of availability at the hotel. Make sure you have a great time with all of your guests, but remember to sleep well and hydrate plenty!
Tanning Before Your Wedding Day:
If you are having your wedding down here in paradise, there is a big chance you love the beach, the sun, and sun-tanning. Try to avoid tanning at the strongest hours of the day (12 pm to 3 pm), this will help you avoid getting weird tan lines on your face, chest, back, and arms. Don’t forget that if you are wearing a strapless wedding dress, you will need to wear a strapless bathing suit to avoid tan lines.
Remember to ask the hotel staff to cut off the couple’s, immediate families’, and bridal party member’s hotel bracelets on the day of the wedding. The bracelets are often noticeable and distracting, and it is impossible to edit out everyone’s bracelet in every photo.
Family / Bridal Party Helpers:
Your family members or bridal party can have some items at hand for you on the big day, such as a sewing kit, a small first aid kit, and a water bottle. Another helpful item is a hand-held fan. Fans can be a total lifesaver if you are hot or sweating too much, and they are easy to carry and hide for photographs. Additionally, you or your crew can bring some fun hangers for the dresses and suits, bridesmaid’s ropes, small gift bags, etc.
Wedding Day Helper:
This is one very helpful way to save time on the wedding day. If you assign a person who knows your family and bridal party to corral the needed subjects during portraits, then the formals and group photos will be quicker and smoother, making the best use of the time you have booked with your photographer and videographer. Be sure to introduce this person to me on the wedding day so I can coordinate with him or her when I need to get the important people together in photos.
Filling out the wedding questionnaire I will provide is extremely helpful to me, and the perfect way for me to learn what you like and what you don’t, allowing me to provide you with more great photos you will love!
Last but not least, enjoy your day, and smile!
A destination wedding tends to go quicker than a traditional wedding, remember to embrace the entire experience from a place of gratitude; you are getting married to the love of your life surrounded by a handful of your closest family and friends in a Caribbean paradise. What can get any better than that?