My Super Awesome Mexican Wedding Part II

Venue: El Dorado Maroma Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico
For more information about the resort: My Super Awesome Mexican Wedding Part I
Season: April 2016
Photography: Anthony Vierras, Tacoma, Washington
Makeup/Hair: NÁAY spa

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Wedding Traditions
We chose to do wedding gifts for one another.  The groom gifted me with a charm-filled necklace and a poem to match.  It worked out beautifully since I forgot my Something New at home! His gift was perfect for the day.

Something Old: My abuelita’s cookbook
Something New:
Charm necklace
Something Borrowed:
Diamond mickey heads in the bouquet
(borrowed from my Maid of Honor)
Something Blue:
Peruvian Amazonite necklace & earrings

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Excursions & Diversions on the Big Day
Before the getting ready commenced, the ladies woke up early for some breakfast and drinks at the swim up bar! Who cares that it was nine in the morning? While the ladies primped, the boys went out on a few excursions thanks to the concierge!


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The First Look
It was very important to me to keep the First Look private, and thankfully most of the rooms offered at El Dorado boast privacy.  We held the photography under some shady palm trees on the side of our room.
I made my groom a scrapbook of our relationship and wrote him a few thoughtful notes.  Included at the end of the book was a watch, my gift to him, with a note attached reading “See you at 3!


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Photography
Although ELD has their own list of preferred photographers, I chose to bring a photographer friend of mine along for the journey.  Trading a trip for free services was the way to go! You can’t take an ugly photo here.


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The Bliss of a Wedding Package
I cannot stress the importance of leaving the details to the professionals enough.  The EDM staff KNOWS how to do this.  We chose the Pure Glamour package and we were not disappointed.  Turns out, you really don’t need a ton of knick knacks, burlpap, or cutesy signs to have a magical day.


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Beach Wedding Playlist
“Seamless” by Sabrina Carpenter                                        (Guest Seating)
“You and I” by Ingrid Michaleson                                        (Seating of the Parents)
“A Whole New World” by Yuna                                             (Bridal Party Processional)
“Mil Años” by Kevin, Karla y la Banda                                (Bridal Processional)
“Just the Way You Are” by Sungha Jung                             (Unity Ceremony)
“Love Me Like You Do” by Kevin, Karla y la Banda          (Exit Processional)


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The Ceremony
It was beautiful.  The sound was perfect, the breeze was gentle, the ocean was the bluest of blues.  We chose to do a wine themed Unity Ceremony where we combined two bottles into a goblet.  Every anniversary we can remake our own blend!  Because the wedding was in another country, we chose to only do a symbolic ceremony, no legalities to slow down our trip.  We were given a symbolic wedding certificate to commemorate the day!



Cocktail Hour
As soon as we did the exit, hotel servers were waiting with trays of Rose French 75s. Very classy, and definitely got the buzz going!  We enjoyed our cocktails in the sand with tons of hugs, laughter, and chatter.  Our cocktail “hour” only lasted until our reception area was ready.  I don’t think we stood around with our cocktails longer than 20 minutes.  The wedding planning staff was very good at making sure we were whisked away from event to event without any stress on our part!


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Decorations From Home
To save money, we did end up bringing a few items with us, like silk flowers (rather than buying bouquets or center pieces).  The bridesmaid bouquets doubled as center pieces during the reception, and we simply bought a huge bag of craft shells to scatter around the tables.  We also brought some craft wood, mason jars, and collected sand for the jars the night before! Sticking with the wine ceremony theme, we were gifted a cork holder as our guest book.  Finally, our wedding favors were Mexican blankets we actually bought at a discount online! We just delivered these to our guests once we were home…but until then, everyone got to take home a maraca with a handwritten note promising their blankets upon return home!


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The Reception
Cocktail Hour
First Dance
Dinner
Speeches
Mother/Groom Dance
Mother of the Bride Dance Tribute
Dance Floor Opening


“I Choose You” by Mackenzie Johnson
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“Never Alone” by Lady Antebellum

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“Como La Flor” by Selena
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A Magical Evening
As the sun set on Maroma Beach, the party was hoppin’ for us on shore! The DJ was wonderful, the weather was warm, and the drinks kept coming.  We brought glow sticks from home for our exit, but the DJ actually provided everyone with glow sticks and party balloons for fun!


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My Super Awesome Mexican Wedding! Part 1

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Look at those gorgeous over-the-water bungalows! El Dorado Maroma is the first resort in MEXICO to build these! These were one of my many wonderful surprises that added to our stay at Maroma.

Before I continue, I need to credit my photographer, who makes this post worth sharing.  If you like any of his work, check him out on his Facebook Page! Or, pin this stuff like crazy! 🙂

Part I: El Dorado Maroma

I’m going to give LOTS of details about the resort itself, because hopefully you will also become a Maroma bride. For an inside look at the wedding day itself, look for my next post, Part II.

When I was trying to plan my wedding, I WISH I had a bride’s first-hand story because I didn’t fly out to see the resort beforehand.  I posted a review on Trip Advisor after I got back, and I had two brides email me personally with questions.  I welcome any bride to email me because I truly think every woman should have a perfect day like I had.

Ready?!

Tip 1: Fly first class, and fly with your friends. At least your best ones.

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We flew with my maid of honor and her husband-to-be, which made our long travels a little less boring!

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Tip 2: Bring tip money!
Tip 3: And book that shuttle ahead of time.
Tip 4: Oh! And any room you get will be amazing, so don’t stress.

As soon as you exit the airport, you will (hopefully) need to figure out where your resort’s shuttle is.  Don’t get conned into taking a taxi straight from the airport! You’ll need to tip a few dollars to your shuttle driver (as well as folks from the resort you feel are deserving).  El Dorado Maroma was about 45 minutes from the airport with the other passengers we had to drop off.  Lomas Travel picked us up. When we arrived, we were greeted with champagne glasses and smiling faces.  Welcome to paradise.

We loved our Junior jacuzzi suite! We had so much privacy on our own pool-balcony and enjoyed lounging there while the sun was directly overhead.

Tip 5: Get a list of resort activities ahead of time for your guests.

There are lots of resort activities which are free, including kayaking, pool volleyball, and dance lessons.  I picked a handful of choices and made them as “meeting spots” for my guests since we were all arriving at different times.  If they didn’t want to join, no pressure! But at least this way there are lots of opportunities to socialize and spend time together doing new and fun activities.

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(Seriously, I typed this up on Microsoft Word.  I am obsessed with calligraphy fonts so I modeled it after some cute ones I saw on Etsy).

If you’re with friends and family, you’ll want to chill by the swim up bars.  There are tons of activities you’ll love if you’re open to being silly! Get rid of that shyness or worrying about what everyone thinks.  You’re in MEXICO.  Everyone is there to have a good time with you.  Go out on a limb and try a dance lesson or water aerobics! Nothing is done half way.

Tip 6: Find Alex.

He deserves a true shout out.  This guy makes your entertainment his business.  Whether he’s leading the group in kayaking over the local reefs, or making you giggle as he guides you through your first salsa lesson, or pumping you up with shots DURING water aerobics, he knows how to keep your group happy.

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Tip 7: Get there a few days prior to the wedding so you can enjoy everyone fully.

Even with a “small” party of 21, it was really tough to fit us all into a restaurant together, so it worked better to do things in small groups.  El Dorado Maroma has a membership program, so to be fair to all members (as well as regular guests), they will not close down an entire restaurant for a large party unless they absolutely have to.  Think about it– when places are jammed packed with one huge party, it was wreck the experience for other guests.  Your quality service is only as good as you make it, so don’t expect quick food delivery if you have more than 15 people in your party! Instead, spend time together doing activities during the day, and go your separate ways for dinner.

 

Whether you’re thinking of becoming a Maroma bride or you simply want a peek inside the El Dorado Maroma Resort, I hope this information was helpful! I certainly don’t work for the resort and I don’t have all the answers, but I am happy to steer you in the right direction on your journey.

Thinking about a Destination Wedding?

So you’re thinking about a destination wedding? There’s lots of information about destination weddings out there, but when I began my search, I relied heavily on Pinterest to make my decisions.  It was so tough to weed through destination wedding blogs versus destination wedding ADS.  They’re everywhere! I couldn’t tell if each resort would be what I wanted or if they were just trying to make a sale.  After months of searching, I chose El Dorado Maroma in Riviera Maya, Mexico. If you want to know why click here to read my thoughts.

Choosing a Destination

Think about weather– it’s the most important thing to consider! Even in hot, sunny locales, remember that tropical spots have rainy seasons.  Spend A LOT of time figuring out where and when you want to travel.  Don’t rely on photos– surf Trip Advisor for comments other have made about the location you’re considering.  Look at the TIME OF YEAR! Consider spring breaks, mid-winter break, holidays, major sporting events, and heavy tourism seasons.  It makes a huge difference in your stay, wherever it may be.  Lots of guests staying in the area impact all of your excursions AND the quality of customer service you receive.

We chose Mexico because we wanted a Spanish-speaking country (for me) and for the Caribbean ocean.  I mean, you can’t beat that kind of beauty. 

We chose Riviera Maya because of its closeness to ruins and historic sites.  We were looking for a less crowded place than Cabo and Cancun.  One of the highest-rated areas to travel in Mexico is Playa Del Carmen, which is in Riviera Maya.

We traveled in April because I’m a teacher! I am locked in to specific breaks, so my timing was very specific.  We traveled over spring break, but don’t be fooled! It’s Cabo and Cancun that are college hot spots, not Riviera Maya.  This travel time then contributed to our resort decision.  We didn’t want to risk having a wild spring break crowd, so we close a small, intimate adults-only resort.

Looking for a more specific look at a destination wedding day? Pop over to My Super Awesome Mexican Wedding!

Why We Chose El Dorado Maroma

For the bedroom

El Dorado Maroma, photo by Stacia Vierra

When my fiance and I made the decision to do a destination wedding, I was overwhelmed with all the suggestions on Google & Pinterest.  I printed out hundreds of sheets of resort information and wedding packages.  I sorted them by price and location and most important wedding details…and I cried and cried when I couldn’t figure out the right choice.

The tears were for naught. We went through a few basic steps to narrow our choices.

1. Location: Riviera Maya won because it is an older city with more opportunities to see ruins and archeological sites.  We were also trying to steer clear of Cabo and Cancun because of the huge tourist base.  With lots of tourism comes over-crowded resorts, poor customer service, and long lines. This is the NUMBER ONE thing to consider when choosing your resort!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Wedding Package: We took a long hard look at all the packages resorts offered.  This is truly overwhelming! Narrow it down to your top 3 priorities.  Mine were honeymoon package, reception package (decorations, set up) and price. This brought us down to 3 resorts in Riviera Maya.

3. Style of Resort: Some resorts are big and touristy with lots of entertainment on site.  Some are kid-friendly.  Some are adults-only.  Some are well-known for weddings, while others are boutique hotel off the beaten path.  After considering the options, we decided we wanted an adults-only resort for a more intimate feel.   We also wanted the resort to be all-inclusive, which brought us to the Karisma Resort chain.

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El Dorado Maroma, photo by Stacia Vierra

4. Resort reviews: This is the most crucial once you narrow down your selections.  Thank goodness for TripAdvisor! We kept our eye on the reviews for our top three Karisma resorts for a few months before making a final decision.  It’s important to look at the time of year the review was written (based on when the guests stayed).  Since we were planning on an April wedding, we really focused on guest reviews from February-June.  Unfortunately for me, even with review photos it was difficult to picture myself anywhere.  Bring in Google Maps! I actually took a virtual tour around the outside of the resorts! This helped me finalize my decision at last.

5. Find a travel agent that has been to your resort.  We never use agents, but in order to ensure all of your guests are accommodated together, it’s best to go through an agent for a wedding.  He/She should be the main negotiator between you and the resort.  Lots of resorts “certify” agents as representatives for them.  Choose an agent wisely.  While they may not charge, you want your agent to know what your resort looks like, know the staff, and know how to negotiate for your group.  Sometimes airfare is cheaper if you book it on your own, but booking rooms through the agent is usually beneficial for you! We asked if there were any deals for us, the bride and groom, if we had a minimum number of guests…and there was! We got a kickback for each person who booked through our agent.

In the end, El Dorado Maroma was PERFECT for us.

If you’re interested in my bridal experience with them, check out my next blog:
Maroma Bride Guide

How to Bachelorette and End by 9

El que se levanta temprano, Dios lo ayuda, my mom used to drill into me. “God helps those who rise early.”  Needless to say, I have always been an early riser who forever struggles at staying up past 10.  In college, I dreaded the call to “RALLY” before we went out.  I’m 27 now and I still haven’t changed much, so for the my bachelorette, I decided to have a “wild” day party.  If you’re like me, here are some fun ideas to party all day long, and shake your guests by bedtime.

First of all, this was a double bachelorette.  If you’ve seen my previous posts, you will notice that my bestie and I have the Bride Wars situation going on, only without the Wars.  We have the same friends, so we hosted a double bachey in Woodinville, our local wine country.

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We started the day on our private shuttle.  We didn’t want to splurge on this kind of transport, but there really was no other way to have 10-15 ladies safely travel around wine country.  We also hired photographer Brooke Drumm to party with us.  Again, it may be a bit extravagant to have a photographer following you around, but this is a great chance to get some hot pics of your girls out on the town! Much better than taking pictures the entire time and missing out on the actual experience of being out.

Stop One: Tour of Chateau St. Michelle.  This formal tour “taught” us a little about local wines and how to enjoy them properly.  A little pretentious maybe, but it certainly gave us a base of wine knowledge and leveled the guest playing field.

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Stop Two: Page Cellars, industrial park. It was extremely difficult to find places who wanted to host a party this large.  Most tasting rooms are only open for 5 hours and don’t want to miss out on all the Saturday business (despite it being January).  Brett and his fabulous crew at Page Cellars cleared a big space for us as we enjoyed a full tasting, a bottle or two, and some games!

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View More: http://brookedrumm.pass.us/jillandheatherbach

Game 1: 3 Second Rule.  I mean, it’s recommended by Ellen.  We drew names out of a hat and split into two bridal teams– Team Johnson vs. Team Woodruff.  Everyone on the team had two turns since it’s so quick.  The final team with the most points won the challenge.  At the END OF THE DAY, the bride whose team with the most challenges won got a Victoria’s Secret gift card (since Heather and I were hosting for each other, we each put money on the card for the final prize).  This way, we didn’t have to dish out a prize for EACH winner but had the teams competing to win us a prize.

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Game 2: Swing Your Ding-a-Ling. Holy moly this was hilarious. Basically, you tie a panty hose around your waist, and inside one of the feet is a large tennis ball.  You have to pelvic thurst at a smaller tennis ball and get it to cross the finish line.  IT IS HARD.  We did this relay style, so everyone on each team got a turn.  It was SO MUCH FUN.View More: http://brookedrumm.pass.us/jillandheatherbach

Team Woodruff lost this relay.

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Team Johnson emerges victorious!

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Stop 3: Needle in the Eye cellars– makers of the 12th man wine! Heather, the blond bride, is a DIE HARD Seahawks fan, so we were SO grateful that this tasting room was willing to take us! They were so sweet and kind to us!  Great space and awesome service.

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Game 3: Suck & Blow.  This game is sweet and simple.  Pick up marshmallows with a straw by sucking the air through! The lady with the most marshmallows in their cup/bowl wins.  We did teams again, so the two winners on each team had to face off.

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At this point, we were seated at nice tables and we had purchased some turkey wraps from Costco to help us stay sober-ish.  Although the winery did not provide food, they were very gracious and accommodating to our food needs.  We also brought Wheat Thins and bananas along to stay fresh!

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View More: http://brookedrumm.pass.us/jillandheatherbach

Final Stop: Locust Cidery for our friends who are not wine drinkers!  They had so many yummy ciders to try! Our tasting was awesome.

 

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Game 4: Seran Wrap Prize Ball. This was, by far, the hit of the day.  It’s exactly as it sounds.  The objective is to unwrap the ball as quickly as you can before the person next to you rolls doubles (with dice).  When they do, they grab the ball quick before the next girl rolls doubles, and so on. While unwrapping, gifts can fall out of the ball.  We filled our ball with anything and everything– chocolates, make up products (from our ipsy subscriptions), dollar bills, change, tampons, panty liners, pain killers…really anything.

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Time to ride back to the hosting apartment! Although the drinking was over(ish…), we were having our lingerie party back home!

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We didn’t take too many pictures of the actual lingerie party, but we took lots of our fabulous black and gold decorations for the event.View More: http://brookedrumm.pass.us/jillandheatherbach

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A Promise to Mr. Darcy

Dear Mr. Darcy,

I made the decision to take your breed into my life the summer of 2012, after binge-watching Jenna Marbles and her skinny companions on YouTube.  I have always had an affinity for “weird” animals– the ones with too-long necks, quirky habits, and beady eyes.  Moving from apartment to apartment growing up made it impossible to have a dog, but I always longed for an animal to care for.  I finally owned a ferret for ten beautiful years, and she was the best first pet anyone could ask for.

When she finally passed on to pet heaven, she left a long, skinny, hunched-over hole in my heart.  I was not quick to find another pet, for this loss had taken its toll on me.  But time passed, and I discovered Jenna, and I quickly fell in love with Italian Greyhounds like you.

The decision to add you to my life was not taken lightly.  I hope anyone else who is hoping to add an adorable Iggy like yourself to their home takes this decision just as seriously. I added you to my life because you sound like my soul mate: we are both timid and sensitive, we both despise the cold, we both want constant attention and a loyal partner always at our sides.  After I did my research, I knew you would be my other half.

Dad was not an easy sell to your breed, it’s true.  You have always felt this, I’m sure of it.  Dad wanted a German Shepard– something brave, and fierce, and obedient. But not me, Mr. Darcy.  I wanted a little friend who would run errands with me, who would keep my feet warm at night, and who might like doggy sweaters.

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I knew you would be difficult to house train, Mr. Darcy, but I didn’t know how much of a strain it would put on the relationships I had with the other humans in our home.  We did everything we were supposed to.  We tried crate training, and every day, we would find you covered in your own poop, shivering.  We tried different sized crates, three of them and over $100 later, to adjust to your bedding needs.  We tried doggy daycare every day for six months, so that you would be under constant surveillance.  You are nearing your second birthday, my little nugget, and you still poop in the house.  The upstairs offices stink of pee and we carpet clean those rooms every other month.

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I am so grateful you have yet to break any bones.  This constant fear is present every time you sneak into our bed because you are so flat; you hardly make a lump under the sheets! With one careless sit down, your little legs would be splinters.  I am also grateful I have caught you both times you have escaped from your leash.  I know it is not in your DNA to come back when you are called, but the danger of our busy front street is always a worry.

Mr. Darcy, here’s the thing.  You were the best choice of dog for me.  I spent two years researching and committing to your breed before I took you in.  You were the best choice for me, but you were not the best choice for my family.  All the negative traits iggies are known for (please refer to this honest guide MyPetNannyBlog’s recent post, “Why You DON’T Want an Italian Greyhound”), I was prepared to work through, because I already loved you before you were mine.  But I didn’t know my family would not feel the same way.

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After a year of struggles, compromises, MOVING, and lots of love, you have finally have the dog parents you deserve.  I promise that we will always keep you safe and healthy and warm.  I promise to always wipe the pee off of your leg after potty time.  I promise Dad will always let you be the little spoon.  I promise we will never exclude you from our pack.  And I promise, although I love you more than your little doggy heart can know, I will make sure future iggy owners are truly prepared for this kind of dog parenthood.  You are one-in-a-million, flacuchento.



For more on Mr. Darcy’s life, follow him on Instagram @mrdarcy_theiggy.

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How to Have a Besti-versary

If there is anything I have learned in my 27 years of life, it’s to celebrate the true friends you have.  When you find someone who is willing to put up with your nonsense, with your taste in partners, and with your troubles, put them on a pedestal, because you never know how long you will have them in your life.  It becomes more difficult to maintain relationships the older you get…so put all your love into the few you hold close.

My BFF & I have celebrated our “friend-iversary” for many years.  We highly recommend it.  While we have wonderful men in our lives who celebrate regular anniversaries with us, there’s nothing wrong with setting aside a day to honor the special bond you and your bestie share! Here are some great ways to celebrate:

  1. Do a photoshoot.  We researched for local up-and-coming photographers in the area before our anniversary in order to find someone who was budget friendly and talented!  We had the BEST time shooting photos on our college campus.

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Photos by Sarah Alston Photography

2. Spend the day enjoying the city…and document it! Ok…are you sensing a trend here? If you’re like us, you love taking photos all day, everyday! Call us narcissistic…we don’t care.  We’re big scrapbookers and these fun photos made for an adorable “Tour Around the City” coffee table book!

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3. Celebrate how awesomely different you guys are! Let one girl choose a “her” activity, and the other choose their favorite.  It’s like they say…opposites attract! Try pairing together two activities that you’ll both enjoy, but might challenge the other.  Batting cages & a play? Farmers’ marker & a sports’ bar? Football game & a fine tasting room?

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4. Have fun with some chalk (and again, a camera)! We took advantage of my university’s campus and went wild! You could do something similar to this with a tripod and a nice camera (on a standing wall, not the ground like us).  For these angled shots, I recommend a third party who is not afraid to stand and jump on a park bench.  Still, taking the shots is part of the fun.  (I don’t think we could have got these without the help of our photographer, but if you come prepared with a small portable ladder, you could maybe achieve something close).

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5. Host a theme party. For our 10th anniversary, we threw a Mustache Bash for our friends.  They signed a frame for us, we played tons of games, and most of all, we had the chance to not only celebrate our friendship, but the friendships we have with all the other wonderful people in our lives.

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How to Mini-Bachelorette in Disneyland

My bestie and I are getting married one month apart.  We have both been in two-year engagements, are each other’s maid of honor, and both have way too much to do leading up to the weddings.  In addition to the traditional bachelorette and bridal showers, we decided to gift ourselves our very own pre-bachelorette to Disneyland 6 months out from the big days (October). Because why NOT? Instead of buying each other pots and pans, this was our wedding gift to each other.

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It cost about equal for me to pay for plane & hotel fare (about $700) and for her to pay for the park tickets (two 2-day park hoppers).

We recommend Eden Roc Suites! We’ve stayed there twice and have always had a good experience (even before the remodel!) It’s newly updated so everything is very clean and spruced up.  Very affordable AND the best part? It’s walking distance from the park!

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Look how gorgeous the rooms are! This photo was taken directly from the Eden Roc Website.

Now that you know where to stay, here’s what you need to do to have the best time ever!

      1. First, make your bestie shirts.  I know there’s a million of cute options online, but seriously, it’s so easy to make your own. Just order some iron-on paper, type a cute phrase on word, MIRROR FLIP IT, and print! We made “Bride” shirts with the saying “Look like a beauty, drink like a beast” on the back.  We even added cute bows in our wedding colors on the back.  Maybe an hour’s worth of work, tops.  Oh, and we bought cheap three-dollar white tee shirts for the job and just CUT them into tank tops.  It’s not like we’re going to wear them every day! We also ordered bridal mickey hats ahead of time and added a few personal touches.  We swapped the veil for some tulle, sassed up the ears with some huge glitter chunks, and scrawled our new last names on the back with silver Sharpie.
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        We made these on Microsoft Word and printed on iron-on paper!

         

        2. Follow DLR Prep School on Facebook or Instagram. Her job is to basically go to the park each week and scope out the best deals, what’s happening, and what’s new.  She even gives you a REAL idea of line wait times.  We used her religiously for the month leading up to our trip to get an idea of crowd sizes, etc.

        3. Plan your trip around Mickey’s Halloween Party. We bought our tickets to the park before we realized the party is only on certain nights, so we ended up paying DOUBLE to stay for the party.  Here’s how it works:

        1. Guests pay regular price to enter the park from open until around 4 PM.  They are asked to start leaving the park around that time.
        2. At 4, guests start entering for the Halloween Party, which is a separate admission. By 6 PM, staff members have a pretty good way of sweeping through the crowds and kicking out anyone who is not wearing an admission bracelet.
        3. If you want to go to the park all day AND stay for the party, like we did, get ready to pay close to $200 to stay all day!If we had to do it again (which we hope we do), we would have spent the day in California Adventure and then gone over to the party and skipped buying a park hopper.  There are also a few industrial wine tasting rooms in the area that are easy to get to…a little wine tasting day and a party at night would have been great!

4. The party is TOTALLY worth going to.  Everyone is dressed up, there’s a pumpkin treat crawl (map provided with park admission), trick or treating (just regular candy), the villains come out, and there’s a great parade.  The guests in costume was the best part.  There’s a lot of people who look better than even the Disney official characters! We chose to go as a matching pair, Pocahontas and Meeko.

Don’t forget to participate in the pumpkin crawl! There’s a map that leads you through the park to find all the pumpkin specialty goodies, including pumpkin lattes (2 stars here) and pumpkin beignets (2 stars again, regular are better).  I know, I’m not really selling it, but it really is more about the experience of finding the treats.  We had a blast.  I HIGHLY recommend the mint juleps in New Orleans– non-alcoholic.  They were AMAZING.

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We sat on the street waiting for the parade with our stash.

5. For California Adventure, plan your trip around World of Color (if you haven’t seen it).

This is the original show that absolutely must be watched because holy moly.  It’s like my entire childhood. Sorry if this ruins the current WoC for you, because this show is MUCH better.

This time around, it’s more like a documentary about Walt Disney– a lot less emotion, but still a fun watch.  We made reservations at the Wine Country Trattoria restaurant and got a PACKAGE deal– a multi-course dinner plus tickets with reserved seating for the show (about $45 per adult, more than worth it).

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First course: Italian wedding soup

Main Course: Choice of herb-roasted chicken with fettuccine OR filet migon and potatoes.
We weren’t too picky, since, as you can see, the bottle of Snap Dragon we ordered was now empty.

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Final course: Dessert Platter. All delicious.

Now, we certainly weren’t on any sort of budget.  $45 for each of us PLUS a bottle of wine to split really was quite extravagant, but good seating for the show is really quite crucial.  No point to standing in the cold to watch a show you can’t even really see.

EVEN THOUGH your tickets guarantee you a place to see the show, you still need to get there WELL in advance.  We made dinner reservations at 6:30.

I recommend going to wait in line for your reserved seating about 80-90 minutes before the show starts.  I know it’s a long time to wait, but you will have a really hard time seeing if you aren’t in the front somewhere.  There’s so many kids on their parents shoulders! Also, it does get chilly while you’re waiting and if you get wet during the show (it splashes), you’ll be freezing all night.  I recommend a light sweater or cotton hoodie you can easily fold into your day pack… something like this hoodie or maybe this one.

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6. Finally, don’t forget to get your drink on! You can get alcohol into the park, but it’s  a pain.  You’re allowed to bring water bottles, so sneaking in a white wine is no problem (it looks like apple juice, especially if you have a tinted water bottle like this awesome blue Nalgene one…which, incidentally, holds a full bottle of wine! We ordered vinyl lettering from Etsy, but you could make it yourself.)

IMG_0150At backpack check, there is no patting down or frisking– they only look inside your backpack for weapons and things like that.  Pretty low-stress.  But if you plan on being at the park ALL DAY, it might be annoying to lug around a full bottle of wine all day.  At the Wine Country Trattoria, you are allowed to order a drink (or two, or a bottle) and they will give it to you in to-go cups.

It really doesn’t look like very much wine but they are huge cups and 8 oz. pours.

WATCH OUT.  The to-go cups are not covered by a lid, but you are allowed to walk around the park with them.  We took our to-go cups and drank for the 90 minutes we were waiting in line for the show.  Poor Heather spilled hers while we were sitting 😦

There’s a lot more information here about the show!

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Don’t forget to raid Pinterest for all sorts of adorable photos you can take at the park.  We didn’t want to weigh ourselves down with too much, but we did print this sign and fold it up for Splash Mountain.  We did it during the big fall, but the paper flopped back and we couldn’t read it in the photo, so we settled for this one.  (Another friend of ours who is ALSO getting married joined us for this shot!)

Happy travels, ladies!

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