The Best Playa Del Carmen Wedding Planner
As you already know, I try to hold everyone (including myself) to high standards when it comes to professional service.
Just for you, my dear readers, I went on a wild goose chase looking for the best wedding planner in the area.
I searched very specifically for a wedding planner who had a lot of experience, was professional, and willing to meet in the near future for a personal interview.
She was not planning my wedding, of course, but if she was, the criteria would be the same.
So, when contacting Erica, I had no idea what I was in for.
After I sent her a quick e-mail, she responded to my message with an offer to meet me the following week at a Starbucks about a mile and a half (~2.5 kilometers) from my apartment.
Now, I am going to tell you about Erica, who I believe is the best wedding planner in the area.
However, before I do, I want to let you in on a little secret.
SHHH…Don’t Tell Erica! It’s a Secret!
When I was in law school, I met a girl named Erica. She was intelligent, gorgeous, and carried herself in a very…..well, let’s just say…… risqué sort of way.
Thus, as soon as I heard the name “Erica,” my imagination went to work, and I pictured a meeting that would include the following:
- Erica would be a beautiful woman.
- The interview would be hot and steamy.
- Erica would be the best wedding planner in town and allow me to glean some new information from her years of hard-earned experience.
To my utter surprise, ALL of my wishes were fulfilled!
As I mentioned above, the Starbucks was approximately 1.5 miles away. I had my backpack, camera, clipboard and several other things with me.
Thus I was very hot when I arrived (✔ – HOT).
It was raining during the entire ride there. Consequently, I was soaked by the time I walked in.
Because Starbucks here has a very strong air-conditioning system, my entry into the place caused the windows in the entire coffee shop to steam up (✔ – STEAMY).
Erica turned out to be a beautiful woman (✔ – BEAUTIFUL WOMAN).
Erica / Weddings In Playa is the oldest wedding planner in town, and by my estimation, the best (✔ – BEST WEDDING PLANNER IN TOWN).
She gave me A LOT of useful information for this article (✔ – NEW INFORMATION).
Well, not exactly.
When it rains here, all of the car oil, urine, grease, and grime on the roads is washed into still-standing street puddles.
Unfortunately, the taxi drivers in this town also carry a lot of malice towards bicyclists.
Really the taxi drivers in this city are assholes! Truly, they are!
So when it rains outside, they do their best to accelerate through the mud puddles and splash people riding bikes.
Consequently, when I first met Erica, I looked like a wet dog in a bathtub (and smelled like a cross between a gas station with a leaky pump and an empty stadium just after a rock band had finished their last set).
Erica must have thought I was a bum off the street when I approached her.
With feigned confidence, I stuck out a sweaty hand.
“Hi. Are you Erica?” was all I could muster in a decidedly meek voice.
Thus, when Erica responded (in a melodic Italian accent), “Did you make it here okay, Rufus?” I just bit my tongue and smiled.
Our interview began from there.
Compelling Competence & the Characteristic Confidence of a Concise Coordinator of Weddings
From the very first probing question that I asked Erica, one thing was readily apparent: this woman knew what she was talking about.
Moreover, she had a demeanor that was friendly, but also assertive.
The whole picture would slowly unfold as we continued, but like they say, “You can only make a first impression once.“
My first impression of Erica was an adept, elegant woman, whose first-hand experience in the wedding business had borne a distilled confidence that further blossomed in the confines of a chaotic career choice.
She was busy, yet relaxed; open-minded, yet decided.
From that moment forward, I was under a hypnotic spell as she answered the questions that I presented to her both concisely and without any hesitation whatsoever.
Luckily, she even threw in some SECRETS about making a wedding great!
Read on, my dear friends!
I’m going to tell you about them here!
Some Facts About Erica and Weddings In Playa
I always feel more comfortable with someone I’m acquainted with (even if it is superficial).
Because I want all of you readers to feel comfortable with Erica, let me tell you a few things about her.
- Erica is originally from Italy
- She began working as a manager in Yaxche, a landmark Mexican/Mayan restaurant here in town that still exists today
- She started her own wedding planning business in 2001 after helping many wedding parties plan receptions at Yaxche
- She is the oldest wedding planner in town
- WeddingsinPlaya.com plans approximately 60 weddings a year
- After several years in business, Erica invited her childhood friend, Maria, to Playa Del Carmen to become her business partner
- Together, the two of them operate their wedding planning business
- For the record, Erica/Maria DO NOT get involved with weddings at resorts
- They specialize in “Off-Resort” weddings (generally held at one of the many available weddings venues in the area)
When I asked Erica about why she forgoes resort weddings, she gave me the following reasons:
Resorts charge vendors fees for nearly every service that the resort does not handle. For example, you would get charged for the following:
- If you want your own photographer, you will pay a vendor’s fee
- If you want to choose your own musician or DJ, you will pay a significant vendor’s fee
- If you want to work with the best florist in town and are unsatisfied with the florist at the resort, you will pay a vendor’s fee
- If you want a professional wedding planner, be prepared to pay a significant vendor’s fee
“Use Our Services – or Suffer Severely” is the going motto for most resorts.
Resort wedding planners/coordinators are overworked, underpaid, and have an excessive turnover rate. Consequently, it is almost impossible to get an experienced wedding planner provided by a resort. (Note: when I did an interview with two RIU properties in Playacar, one of the wedding coordinators who took me on a “site inspection,” had only two months of wedding planning experience. Despite this, she was the wedding coordinator there! Surprisingly, she was also training a new hire on how to do a correct “site inspection” for potential resort wedding clients. Children having children was the first thing that came to mind.
Resorts are like machines, sometimes having two weddings in the same day with only one wedding planner responsible for the both of them! (NOTE: a bare minimum of two people will be there at your wedding if you use Erica and Weddings In Playa as your wedding planner.)
The Process of Hiring a Wedding Planner
I have never been married before, so I really wanted to understand the process of working with a wedding planner.
Thus, I asked Erica to walk me through the necessary steps. Honestly, I was quite surprised at the simplicity.
Here’s all it takes:
- Contact Eric or Maria at via a phone call/e-mail/Skype call. Include the following information:
- Date of wedding?
- How many people will be attending your wedding?
- What is the approximate budget of your wedding?
- Whether or not you have already chosen a venue?
- What are the “must haves” at your wedding?
- What are the “must NOT haves” at your wedding?
- Receive your customized quote
- Erica/Maria will reply with a proposal that will include itemized price ranges, their wedding planning fees, and an estimate of how much your wedding will cost.
- Decide what you want/what you don’t want
- Erica/Maria (and most wedding planners in general) work on an à la carte system. Consequently, you will need to go through the items on the list and decide what you want and what you don’t want at your wedding.
- While you are working through your decisions, you should schedule a Skype call with Erica/Maria to discuss the wedding further.
- From there it is just a matter of working with numbers and making decisions about what is important.
- Erica/Maria will be there to answer any questions along the way. Their wedding planning service includes unlimited e-mails/Skype calls and you can guarantee quick responses to all your questions and inquiries.
It’s really that easy to plan your wedding if you have a wedding planner like Erica or Maria!
Does That Stuff Only Happen In the Movies?
After seeing movies like The Wedding Planner and Wedding Crashers, I had a vision that wedding planners have all sorts of funny experiences. Thus, I asked Erica to relate a story of something fun or entertaining that she had personally witnessed.
Her story went something like this:
Erica had been working with this particular bride and groom for the last year or so.
The bride arrived on location.
The ceremony was about to begin.
She looked absolutely gorgeous.
Despite all the preparation and rehearsal, she was exceptionally nervous.
After Erica heard the bride take a deep and horrifying breath, she looked over and saw an expression of impending death on the bride’s face.
Naturally, she walked over to see what was wrong.
The bride was panicky.
“I left the wedding rings in the taxi,” she stated as tears began to fall from her eyes.
As Erica told the story, she reminded me that this was not a cheap wedding (the combined value of the two rings was well into the five-digit range).
Erica remained calm, but also knew she had to act quickly.
Taxi drivers, or “taxistas” as they’re called here, have a notorious reputation for being liars, thieves, and blatantly dishonest.
Without any more thought, Erica sprinted to the security desk, got the taxi company on the phone, and pinned down the identity of the driver.
Only moments before she was about to “go nuclear” on the company and demand the rings be returned, she felt a tap on her shoulder.
It was the bride.
She was holding her right hand up in the air.
The multiple diamonds on each of the circular objects glittered brightly in the sun.
Both of the two rings were on her fingers.
The rings had been there all along.
Erica told me the story not because she was trying to brag about her running skills nor because she wanted to evoke my emotion at the thought of a teary-eyed bride.
She told me the story because she wanted to amply demonstrate the level of stress that a bride and groom sometimes feel on their wedding day.
“A bride or groom can sometimes forget their own names on the day of their wedding,” Erica explained. “The stress they feel can be that great.”
The next question was obvious, “So how can a bride and groom alleviate that stress and best plan for their wedding?”
Erica’s Best Wedding Advice
So, when I asked Erica about her best advice for assuring a smooth wedding, she instantly sputtered out a list of proverbial-like wedding tips.
- Get the groom involved. Remember that as a married couple, you will need to move through life as a team. You might as well start with the wedding. Let the groom choose, for example, the music or DJ, the flavor of the cake, the seating arrangements at the reception, etc.
- You’re getting married in Mexico, so don’t expect the exact same reactions/responses from the Mexican people as you would from a 1st world country. For example, it’s normal here for a vendor or service provider to NOT answer e-mails or return phone calls. It’s just the way it is here.
- Let your wedding planners (Erica/Maria) be the liaison between Mexican culture and your own cultural expectations. That’s their job. Let them do it.
- If you choose to hire a wedding planner, make sure you always deal directly with them. If you’re also communicating with vendors and service providers yourself, the extra crosstalk will only cause confusion.
- A wedding in the Riviera Maya will reduce the number of attending guests. Expect approximately 60% of what you would have had back home.
- Whether or not you hire Erica/Maria as your wedding planners, find a local planner – preferably one who knows the area, regularly communicates with local vendors, knows Mexican culture, understands the local point of view, and can guide you through the process from start to finish in a foreign country.
- The venue is the most crucial part of your wedding. NO VENUE = NO WEDDING! In order to feel comfortable about the process, be sure to find and reserve your venue at least one year in advance – especially during high season. However, once you have your venue reserved, there is no pressing reason to get focused on planning your wedding until approximately 6 months before the actual date.
- 85% of couples have not seen their wedding venues before arriving. If this is you, don’t worry. Nonetheless, this is an example of why you need a wedding planner that you can trust.
- Reserving your own venue – beach club, villa, or cenote – will give you much more control over your wedding (as compared to using a resort as your venue).
- Make sure you “click” with the wedding planner. If you don’t, find another planner or else it will make your wedding nothing but an uphill battle. As Erica says, “No trust, no wedding.”
- If you want something special, ask your wedding planner. So long as it’s not illegal in Mexico, Erica/Maria should be able to accommodate it. (If it is illegal, you can start by talking to your DJ or bartender. Maybe they can help you find what you’re looking for!)
- Your wedding is only one day. Marriage is for life. Don’t lose vision of this.
- Most importantly, have fun and think about your wedding as a beautiful experience. Moreover, make sure you are getting married for the right reason: LOVE!
When I asked Erica about venue recommendations, she provided the following suggestions:
Beach clubs usually work the best for wedding venues. Here are a few of them:
- As there are so many of these, it is best to consult directly with Erica/Maria.
- There are hundreds of these in the Riviera Maya. Again, it is best to consult with Erica/Maria about these hotspots.
Wedding planning: $1000-2000 USD
Other services: I’ve listed the other services as price ranges. This is also how you will receive them in a quote from Erica/Maria.
Setting and flowers:
- Huppa/arch: $220 USD and up
- Bouquet: $65 – $380 USD
- Bridesmaid bouquet: $35 – 180 USD
- Boutonnieres: $10 USD each and up.
- Corsages: $25 USD and up.
- Bags of petals: $15 USD each and up.
Music and entertainment. A big party must have great music. This is what Weddings In Playa offers:
- Classic violin from $350 USD, saxophone from $280 USD, classic guitar from $250 USD each per set of 45 min.
- Mexican trio from $250 USD per set of 45 min
- Mariachi from $350 USD per set of 45 min
- Live band (MINIMUM TWO HOURS): from $1100 USD per 2-hour set (Raggae, 80s, 90s, etc..)
- DJ starting at $1100 USD per event (up to 7 hours)
- Photo booth (MINIMUM TWO HOURS): 2 hours from $550 USD
Weddings In Playa Phone Number and Contact Info
In order to make contacting Erica/Maria as easy as possible, I’ve included a contact form below.
All messages are automatically forwarded to Erica.
Also, here’s a message you can send them.
PLEASE USE IT!
My husband and I are planning our destination wedding in the Riviera Maya on (insert date).
There will be (insert number) of people attending our wedding.
We have already chose / have not chosen (choose one) our wedding venue. We will have our wedding at (insert name of beach club/villa/cenote).
We ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE a live band/a DJ/a lot of alcohol (insert whatever you must have).
We DON’T WANT flowers/food/dancing (choose what you don’t want) at our wedding.
It’s best to contact me via phone/email/Skype (choose one) at the following times (insert time).
Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Rufus Stasher the Wedding Crasher (replace my name with yours!!!)
NOTE: ALL MESSAGES SENT HERE ARE AUTOMATICALLY FORWARDED TO ERICA.
Erica and Maria – Wedding Planners Summary
I’m really happy I met Erica! She’s an amazing person who knows weddings inside and out. If you work with her, make sure you tell her that Rufus says hello!
Also, drop me a note and let me know how she does with YOUR wedding.
I’m quite sure you’ll be satisfied.