February 16, 2011

Save the Date - Officially Dilannis

Once we had the resort and dates pinned down, we had to decide on the actual wedding date. We decided to go with Friday, November 26th. Our travel dates were November 21-28 (Sunday to Sunday) so the Friday just seemed to be a good date.

I didn't want to spend a lot of time (and money) doing up Save the Date cards so I just decided to send out a simple Evite. One of the many perks of having an intimate wedding with only closest friends and family is that you can send an electonic Save the Date! I wanted it to be short and sweet so I did a simple write up and customized the Evite with graphics:

A romantic affair...
something special is in the air!
Kindly save the date for
a tropical marriage celebration uniting
Dilara Hamid
Dennis Litonjua
in November 2010
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Invitation will follow

Et voila! Quick and easy... now if only the rest of the planning were this easy!
For those of you wondering about the Dilannis part - see here for the 411.

February 15, 2011

The Resort - Gran Porto Real Resort & Spa, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

After a lot of research and going back and forth we finally decided on the Gran Porto Real in Playa del Carmen as our resort of choice. We wanted a smaller resort so our guests wouldn't have to waste time looking for each other but also wanted to ensure that they wouldn't be bored. This resort fit our needs perfectly - 278 suites ensured an intimate experience and being steps from Quinta Avenida ensured our guests wouldn't need to travel far to experience life outside the resort.

I wish we had it in our budget to do a site visit before booking the venue for our wedding but our travel agent had personally visited this resort and highly recommended it based on our needs. I also chatted with a few past GPR brides who are part of Best Destination Wedding and they all had nothing but good things to say about the resort. Here are a few pictures I found online:

 View from Quinta Avenida

 Resort overview

View from the beach

Gran Porto Real combines an authentic Mexican ambience with a matchless location in downtown Playa del Carmen, just steps from cosmopolitan 5th Avenue. This elegant resort has been consistently recognized for its outstanding hospitality, the original d├ęcor in its suites, its bountiful array of restaurants, bars and lounges, the ample day and night activities program and its exclusive SPAreal. Gran Porto Real guarantees a memorable vacation experience for guests of all ages.

Caribbean breezes and impressive colonial architecture are complemented with unparalled Mexican hospitality to offer you an idyllic vacation in Gran Porto Real style.
You will find a special detail in every corner... and a flavor festival in every meal.
As you arrive… time seems to stop…

Gran Porto Real is located on the beach, in downtown charming Playa del Carmen, only 30 minutes from Cancun International Airport, 5 minutes from famous Xcaret theme park and a 45 minute ferry ride from Cozumel.

Gran Porto Real Resort and Spa
Av. Constituyentes No. 1
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico 77710
View Website

Location, location!

Picking a venue is important for any wedding but this is especially true for a destination wedding. Not only did we want to ensure we picked a beautiful venue for our wedding, we also wanted to make sure the location would be within our budget.

While we both wanted an intimate wedding, having our closest friends and family celebrate our union with us was of utmost importance so we decided to go with a November date (we began the planning process in January so that would give ample time for people to take time off, save up, etc.) That also meant we had to immediately nix the idea of getting married in Tahiti - asking our friends and family to spend approximately $3K each was not something we were comfortable with.

We started looking at locations in the Caribbean and found Jamaica, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic to have very good resorts within our budget. We decide not to go with Jamaica because we wanted to ensure our guests would be able to leave the resort as they please and not have to worry about their safety. Nothing against Jamaica, but safety first. I was partial towards the Dominican Republic, more specifically Punta Cana, but our travel agent advised against it. The majority of our guests would be our age and would therefore get easily bored just sitting around the resort. The resorts we looked at in Punta Cana, while beautiful, are a bit secluded. Mexico was actually my last choice since both of us have been there to party with friends in our single days. I just didn't want to get married at the same place we partied. Luckily for us, neither of us had ever been to the Mayan Riviera. Perfect. We decided not to look at resorts in Cancun since people mostly go there to party. Playa del Carmen seemed to fit the bill - it was only 30 minutes from the airport and not as party centric as Cancun. The location was pegged... not to pick a resort!

February 14, 2011

Do it for Someone You Love

February is Heart Month so I chose to write this post on Valentine's Day aka Hearts Day.

The heart is such an amazing organ - just think about it, the average human heart beats 72 times a minute - yet we take this vital organ for granted.  My family has a history of heart conditions so I've been educated on heart health from an early age. My paternal grandfather and two uncles have all died of heart attacks and just last month my father underwent quadruple bypass surgery at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto. I am happy to say that he is recovering very well and that his surgeon, Dr. Robert Cusimano, is very happy with the results. That event last month gives me even more reason to write about Heart Month.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon hopes to raise awareness of heart health through various campaigns and promotions during the month of February. The website also provides recipes, fitness tips, and tools for healthy living. Please consider looking through this information - if not for yourself, do it for someone you love. Millions of Canadians are at risk of heart disease. More than 50,000 strokes, 75,000 heart attacks, and 40,000 cardiac arrests occur each year. Sadly, one in three deaths in Canada are due to heart disease and stroke.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation offers various events throughout the province. Check here for a listing.

I Heart You

Happy Valentine's Day lovelies! Wishing you lots of love, kisses, and chocolate! ♥

Words Ring True

Developing love and compassion and reducing anger and spite is a universal activity which requires no faith in any religion whatsoever.
One may practice religion or not, but so long as we seek happiness and continue to live in society, love and affection are indispensable.

- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? I wish that were the case... my husband and I are directly affected by religious bias and while we don't let it bother us now, it will get a little trickier in the future. I'm sure that once we decide to start a family our different religions will become a bigger issue with the grandparents. I am confident that we will get through it; it isn't something we take lightly and we have discussed it at length before taking the big leap into marriage.

The two quotes above ring very true to me; I take them to heart and plan on passing that wisdom along to my future children.