Mexico Destination Wedding: Now Amber (Puerto Vallarta)
Now Amber Puerto Vallarta Wedding: Everything You Need to Know
I recently had the pleasure of staying at Now Amber with my mother and my 3 year old son. Not only is this a fabulous luxury family friendly all-inclusive resort, but it’s an ideal place for a Mexico destination wedding. I spoke with the wedding coordinator, Edith, in depth about the ins and outs of having a Now Amber Puerto Vallarta wedding and have a ton of info to share with you. I witnessed a real wedding taking place on the beach so the photos you see are of that wedding. I hope this helps those of you that are considering Now Amber for your wedding location, but are unable to personally take a research trip yourself.
Now Amber would love to help you plan your special day with a complimentary onsite wedding coordinator. The resort offers a free wedding package for guests that stay 7 nights or more in a minimum required room category, or when 5 rooms in any category are booked for a minimum of 3 nights per room. You can choose from three Now Amber wedding packages with rates starting at $1,000 up to $3,000, and can customize them however you like. Edith was very open to the suggestions I had about dinner options, etc so if you have an idea – just ask!
Edith showed me the options for ceremony and reception locations. They each have pros and cons. The most common question is “What happens if it rains?”, and the answer is – DON’T WORRY! They will move it indoors for you!
They have a beautiful beachfront Gazebo on a long wood deck that can accommodate up to 150 guests. This location is great for those that want to be “on the beach” but not necessarily IN the sand. The ceremony is performed under the Gazebo and the cocktail party and dinner are setup on the deck. Note: This is not a private location. You are bordered on one side by the beach/sand and the other is the main pool. BUT the nice thing is that the pool goers start going inside just before sunset anyway.
You can also choose the beach. The ceremony is performed under a decorated arch that is specially created for you. They lay down a mat walkway on the sand which makes it fairly easy to walk in heals and avoid getting sand in your shoes. This area can accommodate 200-250 guests. The ceremony, cocktail party and dinner are all set up directly on the sand. One downfall to this location is the people and vendors who walk by on the beach, but you’re going to have this problem on ANY beach.
There is also a large area between the two pools that can be set up and used (up to 200 people). It’s a little hard to see in this picture, but it’s basically where all those pool chairs are under the palm trees right in the middle of this photo below.
Edith’s favorite location is the Terrace. It’s the most private outdoor option as it is located in the center of the resort, above the Barefoot Grill. There are only two entrances – one is going thru the Castaways Restaurant and the other is a long pathway/ramp located on the Secrets side of the resort. When having a private function, there is signage placed at each to let people know not to enter. Thing is, if Edith hadn’t pointed out this located to me – I would have never even known it was there! There is nothing but the Terrace up there so now reason to go and, as you can see, is not only above the view line of anyone at the pool or beach, but it’s also surrounded by beautiful foliage.
Another bonus to this location is that if you have young children, there are no bodies of water near by that they can jump into :)
If I were to have my wedding here, I think I would like to have the ceremony on the beach, the cocktail hour on the deck and the dinner/reception on the terrace. I didn’t ask if this was possible, but I have a feeling they would be ok with that!
For really large weddings (up to 450 people) or for when it rains, the party is moved indoors into the ballroom.
Rainy season in Puerto Vallarta is typically July/August through October. High travel season is November thru March/April. Did you happen to notice that leaves MAY as being the month that has beautiful weather but isn’t busy? I can attest to this! We stayed from May 5-9 and we had beautiful 80 degree weather every day and the resort occupancy was PERFECT. There were enough other people to not feel isolated, but not enough for it to seem busy or crowded. There were always plenty of pool chairs and no waits at the restaurants. I highly recommend May for this reason!
Sunset weddings are the most popular, in the summer the sun sets between 7:30 and 8:30 PM, between 6-6:30 PM during fall and winter. The resort recommends you allow at least an hour after your ceremony for pictures. My personal recommendation is to choose your ceremony to start 1.5 – 2 hours before sunset. This will give you excellent lighting conditions and amazing photos! And unlike other resorts that accommodate 3+ weddings per day, Now Amber only allows up to 2, held at different times and different locations.
Food and Drink
If you choose the Eternity or Divine package, it includes a 1 hour cocktail party and 3 hour dinner/reception. To continue the party into the night, guests can head to the nightclub and continue to drink and dance the night away (for no fee if you are a guest of the resort). The packages include either 10 (the Moments / complimentary option) or 25 guests (the Eternity and Devine options) and additional charges apply for more guests. The current rate is $85/additional adult, which yes – is quite high. It was explained that the cocktail/dinners are completely set up from scratch at each location and they have to hire additional staff to man each of these. I have been told they they are re-evaluating this fee and it may be lowered soon. Children 3-12 pay 50% of that price and under 3 are free.
The menu is set because this is the only way the kitchen can accommodate and serve your wedding party efficiently without taking away from the other guests dining at the resort. The biggest complaint that I have seen online from brides is that you must choose ONE option to serve everyone – meaning everyone gets the same salad, main entree, and dessert (with the exception of any vegetarian/special diet needs). However, I did ask if I gave her WELL IN ADVANCE a count of guests who wanted one option (lets say steak) and guests who wanted a different option (lets say chicken) and she said she could accommodate that request. She stated that I would need to clearly mark each place setting with a card or sticker or something so that the waiters would know who gets what.
I also asked about having the dinner in one of the restaurants, and she said that would be fine as long as you had enough guests to warrant shutting it down to the other resort visitors. Another option for those of you that really want to be able to offer a variety of food options is that you can request to have it in the Carnival Buffet restaurant. They would not be able to offer it to you exclusively, but could definitely reserve a section or group of tables so that your party would be in the same area. This is definitely the least private option though.
If you would like to have a private rehearsal dinner, it will cost $25/person for 3 hours.
The Eternity or Divine packages include things like a bridal bouquet and boutonniere for the groom, up to 2 boutonnieres and corsages for your wedding party and one table centerpiece. If you want additional, they can be made for about $20-$50 each. Local flowers include roses, lilies, gerbera daisy, bird of paradise, and orchids, but florists can get almost any variety you request.
Here are some pictures of the bouquets you can choose from that come with the packages. You can also upgrade to something different for a fee.
And these are your options for the included centerpiece (also upgradable for a fee).
The Divine package offers a musical instrument soloist for your ceremony, but none include reception music options. For the resort to provide a DJ, the cost is going to be about $880. You can also choose to set up your own ipod and ask about a speaker/equipment setup fee which would be $520 for 3 hours for the reception. If you’d like a small basic audio system for the ceremony, it is $230.
There is an outside vendor fee of $100 if you bring someone in to cover a part that the resort currently offers – photographer, DJ or Hair/Makeup. However, you are welcome to use any other vendor for any other service with no fee – ie florist, general decor, cigar roller, etc.
You are welcome to bring decorations and supplies, but be aware that if you choose to ship these items, they could get stuck in Mexican customs and not arrive on time. Edith highly recommends packing and brings any important supplies with you on the plane. *TIP* ask your attending friend, family and wedding party to each bring a few items to lessen your cost and also decrease the chance of loss!
A simple cake is included in the packages. A sample of what they look like is below. The flowers are not included, and I suggest just bringing or purchasing some from a local florist!
Things to Do
Aside from just having a fabulous wedding, another big factor for me for any destination wedding is the ability for the bride, groom and guests to have FUN. Included with your stay as a guest at Now Amber are plenty of complimentary activities:
- Beach and water volleyball
- Beach movies
- Beach soccer
- Board games
- Boogie boarding
- Water trampoline
- Inflatable scalable iceberg
- Giant movie screen
- Explorer’s Club for kids
- Golf range
- Kite flying
- Non-motorized water sports
- Ping pong
- Water polo
- Scuba diving *extra fee
- Horseback riding *extra fee
- Jet skiing *extra fee
And even more to do offsite. (Would be fun to go as a group!!) They have a tour office located right on property to help you book these and more:
- Whale watching (seasonal)
- Swim with Dolphins and Sea Lions
- Tours to Guadalajara and Tequila
- A wide variety of 18-hole Golf Courses
- Excellent game fishing and open water diving
- Eco-adventure tours
- Los Arcos National Park
Important things to know
- If you have a specific day in mind, the resort suggests planning 12 months in advance as they need at least three months for all wedding plans. A deposit of $100-$500 is required to reserve your chosen date, but there are no cancellation penalties. The balance is due on arrival.
- Mexico requires you to enter the country 2-4 days before your ceremony! (arrival day, holidays and Sat., Sun. do not count towards the 2 day requirement)
- Now Amber Puerto Vallarta requires they have all documents in hand at least 5 weeks prior to your wedding day (they must be translated into Spanish before submission). You can submit them to the resort via fax or email.
- Be aware that any wedding guests not staying at the resort are required to purchase a day pass. (discounts are available for children)
- The suites can accommodate up to 4 people – 2 adults and 2 children OR 3 adults and 1 child.
- There is a complimentary supervised Kids Explorer’s Club for children aged 3-12 that is open til 10pm. This is an excellent option for you and your guests if you’d like to have a child free wedding/dinner, but still be able to bring your kids with you on vacation. You will be given a buzzer just in case they need to contact you. If you decide to party well into the night, babysitting services are available 24 hours a day for just $10 an hour.
- TIP: A few times a year, travel agents will offer a 3G Special where you can earn 1 free stay for each 5 stays booked (max 3 free stays for 15 stays booked). This is not offered directly thru the hotel so you will want to check with your travel agent.
- A perk to having your wedding at Now Amber is that it’s family friendly. But if you have guests without children or that want to stay in a more romantic atmosphere, the other side/half of the resort is Secrets Vallarta Bay. Guests of Secrets may come over to the Now side at any time and may eat at the restaurants whenever they like. Adult guests of Now Amber may eat at the restaurants on the Secrets side, only after 6pm. No children are allowed.
- *NOTE* Once you get into the water at the beach here, its very rocky – immediately. This could make taking any “trash the dress” photos difficult or at least painful on your feet. If this is something you are interested in doing, I suggest buying a pair of water socks/shoes to wear :)
You can elect to have a civil or symbolic wedding. The fee for a symbolic ceremony is $295 (only if you want both legal and symbolic ceremonies, otherwise there’s no fee). The cost of legalization runs about $400 and requires things like blood tests. Find out more info here
- Certified copy of birth certificate (less than one year old) – must be certified copy
- copy of Passport or Driver’s License, if applicable
- certified copy of Final Divorce Decree or Death Certificate with seal (If divorce is less than on year prior to the wedding, the marriage will need to be approved by the Judge)
- Judge’s Form
- Two Witnesses with copy of identification (can’t be parents or grandparents of bride/groom)
- health certificate and blood test ($300 per couple) provided by a Mexican Official in Puerto Vallarta
- names and addresses of both parents
- mandatory Pre-nuptial Briefing and Certificate of Attendance. (Ensure you allow plenty of days prior to the wedding day to attend this Pre-Nuptial course.)