With its white sandy beaches, endless sunsets, tropical breezes, overhanging palm trees, and unforgettably delicious food and cocktails, the Riviera Maya region is one of our favorite getaway spots of all time. It’s a simple hop on a flight from the states to Cancun and there are tons of different locale types to choose from. From manicured beachside to wild jungles, tiny villas to five star hotels, there’s something for everyone in this area of Mexico.
The talented and stylish maven of wedding planning, Ashley Smith of Buzzworthy Events, recently produced a wedding at Hacienda Riviera Maya in Puerto Aventuras for a couple of travel-loving foodies.
We’re absolutely in love with the bold red flowers, the smart use of colors and local elements, and the peaceful feel of all the photos. This is one tropical, festive, food-and-drink-loving feast not to be missed!
What Happens When Foodies and Mixologists Get Married
Should we start with the pimped out mezcal lounge or the booze-filled slushie machines? Because both are pretty epic. The groom even went so far as to smuggle in his favorite liquors for the cocktail recipes he developed for the wedding.
To up the ante of standard catered wedding fare, this crew of party animals brought in chaupulines (crickets) from a La Perla restaurant in Playa del Carmen, making the cocktail hour extra hoppin’.
“Working in Mexico has its challenges, but for the most part, Riviera Maya has a lot of professional vendors and resources. You have to be smart and somewhat resourceful on your own. I always encourage creativity with my clients and working in this area will teach you to think outside the box.” - Ashley
To add an extra flare of authenticity to the venue, Ashley sourced some major scores from local vendors. Mezcal was served in traditional terracotta copitas in the mezcal lounge. For the ceremony flooring, she was able to get her hands on a white wool serape. Additional décor in the hotel was used to add to the overall ambiance, as the hacienda has an incredible collection of artwork and textiles.
Words By: Ashley Smith of Buzzworthy Events
Tell us a little bit about the venue in general. The location, capacity, etc.
Located in the Riviera Maya, Mexico, the venue is about 10 minutes south of Playa del Carmen in a little marina called Puerto Aventuras. Puerto Aventuras is a gated community that is very safe. The Haciendas are beach front private property with three large haciendas you can rent. They all have ability to host upwards of 20 guests per night. Two of the haciendas operate as event spaces, both with pools, beach front lots, and courtyards for a more secluded event. They are beautifully curated and operated.
There is a full service staff on site, breakfast prepared in the mornings with your rental, and more amenities you can add on, like a personal chef for hire. They are wonderful for other reasons too, the fact that it is a gated community keeps it very quiet and peaceful, there is plenty of parking on site, they offer airport transfers, and the beaches are beautiful. Cancun is an easy airport for most travelers, which makes having as destination wedding so much easier.
“Cancun is an easy airport for most travelers, which makes having a destination wedding so much easier. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't love this part of Mexico. There is plenty of adventure, outdoor activities, resorting activities, nightlife, spas, amazing food and drink, and a healthy mix of boutique hotels and restaurants that make it still feel authentic.” - Ashley, Buzzworthy Events
Tell us a little bit about this particular celebration!
I hosted a destination wedding for 120 guests, all which arrived from different parts of the globe. We hosted a gorgeous rehearsal dinner in Playa del Carmen at Almirent Pech. The wedding followed the next day, which was beach front, they held the ceremony on top of the pool, in front of the ocean. We had the cocktail hour in the open air house and on the green in front of the beach.
We moved all of the guests over to the next door hacienda for dinner, where I set up long kings tables in the courtyard. I had flipped the ceremony area to a mezcal lounge with 7-8 types of mezcal with tiki torches and lanterns and big pillows. The dance party was rather eventful! It was a really exciting and gorgeous wedding.
Why did you as a planner along with the bride and groom choose this location?
We were searching for something more inclusive, less hotel feeling, that allowed the guests to stay on site. We wanted to be near Playa del Carmen, but with BPM and other festivals that time of year, wanted to feel tucked away from the city. The location was so close to all of the other places guests wanted to visit, like Tulum, it was ideal.
Any inside tips that you can share?
The light in Hacienda del Mar is insane on the top floor for getting ready. The amenities are all great quality and you can request items for your stay (within reason) and the staff will accommodate them. Lastly, the staff will cut down fresh coconuts for you, it was great having them right there and not having to go find them on your own!
What types of events besides weddings, do you think this venue is ideal for?
Birthday parties, anniversary parties, holiday celebrations, group getaways, workshops, retreats and reunions.
Is there anything existing on the property or the town that you incorporated into the event?
The haciendas are decorated beautifully, filled with real Botero's and well curated art and furniture, we used a few pieces and linens at our event. We did drive out a few hours towards Coqui Coqui in Coba to stop on the side of the road and snagged the most gorgeous wool white serape which the bride and groom stood on at the ceremony.
We sourced traditional copitios, terrra cotta mexzcal sipping cups, for the mezal lounge, which were surprisingly hard to find. We had a lot of tiny details that were sourced from the town and locally.
What makes both the area + the venue a good destination for a group getaway or event?
The beach! There are so many acitivites there, I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't love that part of Mexico. There is plenty of adventure, outdoor activities, resorting activities, nightlife, spas, amazing food and drink, and a healthy mix of boutique hotels and restaurants that make it still feel authentic.
Why did you make the design decisions you did? What about Mexico influenced your design direction?
I had a lot of fun planning this wedding. I loved so many pieces of it and putting them all together was somewhat challenging, but also really rewarding. I loved staging the pool and creating a custom Mezcal Lounge for the guests. We staged the pool for the ceremony, because my clients wanted a beach front ceremony, but we couldn't be on the sand.
Later on, were able to move spaces and flip that area into a really ambient beach front lounge at night. I filled the pool with floating candles. It was probably the biggest highlight for me. I brought down all of the cafe lights so we could create the right about of light for dinner and the dance floor.
What made this space an ideal location for the event?
The haciendas are beautiful huge Mexican Haciendas. They are full service where guests and parents stayed onsite. There were a few different event spaces, so we were able to create transitions and keep the event moving and interesting.
Did you meet anyone at the venue that you connected with or made a lasting impression?
I really loved Lucy, the property manager. She was so sweet and accommodating, she really made the stay just wonderful. We had some challenging requests for her and she really pulled through!
Any special drinks or eats you had in the surrounding area?
Yes! We had a few super custom elements for this wedding. The bride and groom are both huge foodies and mixologists from San Francisco and quite big travelers. We were a little limited in terms of the menus provided by the caterer, so we tried really hard to push and add some things we wanted to incorporate. We had one of our favorite restaurants in Playa del Carmen, La Perla, deliver us their Chaupulines (crickets) which we served at cocktail hour.
In Playa, a favorite is La Perla for dinner. In Tulum, one place I always hit is Todos Santos in the town, same great drinks at Casa Jaguar just a little bit less money. Casa Jaguar has amazing dinner in the jungle as well. I love Gitanos, Hartwood, and the little rincons in the town.
Did the bride and groom incorporate anything unique from the local area?
The groom custom created all the cocktails for the wedding, of which some were slushies. He shipped all their specific liquors into Mexico just for these cocktails. I hunted high and low for a slushie machine to serve their cocktails with, which proved was no easy task, but I did find one!
This location is pretty amazing as far as Riviera Maya goes. Guests can fly into Cancun and Puerto Aventuras is about 45 minutes south of the airport, just past Playa del Carmen. Tulum is another 30 minutes down the road, so you have easy access to a lot of the hot spots.
Venue: Hacienda Riviera Maya | Design: Ashley Smith of Buzzworthy Events | Photography: Britt Rene Photo | Floral Design: Studio Monodine | Beauty:Katie Nash Beauty
MEET THE CORRESPONDENT
I'm Ashley, a wedding planner based out of San Francisco planning weddings around the world. Creating an event is something that I value. Not only is an event purposeful but one should be well crafted and beautiful. I don't believe in sacrificing one element for the other. I believe that purpose, craft, design, and strategy are all cohesive elements to produce a successful event. - Website