Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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I Do, Guatemala review : 8 reasons why you shouldn’t use them.

Posted by Rishiray on September 18, 2013


Hiring I, Do Guatemala meant that I literally had to DO all of the work when planning our wedding…

If you’re planning your dream wedding in Antigua, Guatemala it can be a dream … but, we strongly recommend that you do your research before hiring I Do, Guatemala and Diana.  When we originally began the search process to find a planner, I simply found one beautiful wedding featured on a bridal site, saw the planners name and thought “Wow! She must have been good if she pulled this wedding off” – and that was the single biggest assumption I made.  In retrospect, I now know that that wedding was so beautiful, not because of the planner in particular, but because of the amount of prep work that  bride did on her own in combination with hiring a very talented decorator/florist (whom we also hired-more to come in our “great contacts in Antigua” page).  We have no idea how they work for locally organized weddings, but if you’re not from Guatemala, then you need a wedding planner who is honest, on schedule and communicates effectively.

Top three reasons why we wanted to create this board:

1) To ensure that NO bride will have to go through what we did when planning a wedding.

2) To share some of the wonderful vendor contacts we made along the way.

3) To share important lessons learned about planning a destination wedding! (It can actually be fun and rewarding!)

When searching for information on Diana’s services, we couldn’t find a single review.  (and trust me, I tried…I’m a good detective like that) It wasn’t until after we hired her, and things started going wrong, that I really did some digging and found other unhappy brides who had already gone through the same thing I was.

If there was a detailed review, we definitely would NOT have hired them for our wedding.

Here’s 8 reasons why I wouldn’t use Diana Sciarillo or I Do, Guatemala!

  1. Never accepts accountability or accepts that she made a mistake.
  2. Completely disorganized.
    1. One bride who hired her said that the major hotel in Antigua (Santo Domingo) where she had her wedding do not work with her because of the way she works.
    2. Has staff that are completely ineffective.
    3. Important things like budget for our wedding was still not confirmed as late as the week prior to the wedding!
    4. I went two weeks before the wedding to book, plan, order, and set up many little pieces that were still not complete. (Thankfully, I had two Guatemalan friends who were kind enough to take me around and complete all of this!)
  3. Horrible remote communicator.
    1. She is excellent in person, but doesn’t follow through on promises, dates, or actions. (two months after the wedding, I am still waiting to get the digital pictures from our photo booth…I assume I will never get those)
  4. Cannot manage emergencies
    1. I (the bride) was left stranded on the wedding day…(the shuttle she arranged wasn’t allowed into the housing compound where I was waiting (first fail)…they were also given the wrong address (second fail)…) It wasn’t until I was already 10 minutes late for the ceremony, that I tossed my bouquet and purse into a bag, hiked my dress over my shoulder and started marching down the street during a thunderstorm, that I found my ride banging on the wrong house! Diana kept telling concerned guests that I was on my way for over 35 minutes (I was less than a 10 minute drive away)…not once did she try to sort the situation out…or try to get me as she was the only on with a car. (third fail)
    2. Unable to organize seating at the post wedding brunch as planned.
      1. Brunch was at Westin Camino Real hotel (which was awesome btw…more to come on our “great contacts” page)- we reserved tables ahead of time so that guests would be together. This was not done and Diana was simply standing around telling everyone that we will just have to spread out.
      2. Groom discussed with Abel Murga (Hotel GM) and seating was arranged in 5 minutes!!!
  5. The head wedding planner Diana Sciarillo was completely dishonest with us on multiple occasions. (also see #6 on suspicious mark-ups)
    1. Made us change scheduled flights and time off because of “last minute” change by another bride. We later found out that she double booked us and made us pay the flight change costs and completely inconvenienced us as we also had to change our holiday time.
    2. Completely lied about the other bride’s emergency … there was no last minute change – which we confirmed with the other bride. They had a website clearly stating their dates.
    3. This was huge … since it destroyed any trust we could have in her.
  6. Creates suspicious markups-despite the fact that our contract clearly stated that, “I Do, Guatemala will,  negotiate in the client’s best interest.”
     

    1. The prices on most items or services she was responsible for procurement or tried to procure had unreasonable markups
      • e.g. Liquor prices quoted were 25% -40% higher than what we got at distributors in the city (depending on the alcohol)
    2. Quoted a price for bartenders from TGIF Guatemala City of $700 USD for two bartenders. We hired the exact bartenders directly and paid $150 USD total! …and they brought a third bartender for no extra cost.
    3. Was quoting us $700 for a day after brunch for 45 guests.  Another bride paid $300 for 60 people at the same location.
    4. Quoted us $144 for 12 sky lanterns to be used at the end of the evening.  Purchased 20 online for $13 total.
    5. Quoted us $855 for a salsa night out for our guests…we arranged it ourselves and paid a total of $600 including three alcoholic drinks per person, food, a private space in the bar, DJ and salsa instructors.
    6. Quoted $65 per person for make up only.  I found an amazing Canadian stylist…and paid, $20 per person.

    These are a few of the examples which is often why I just ended up booking things on my own…I saved money and didn’t trust her to find the “best price” for me. (How could I after seeing continuous gaps?) This made me feel like she was lining her own pockets.

  7. Has ineffective/sloppy and unaccountable staff
    1. We delegated 5 room bookings at the Westin Camino Real to one of her staff … she forgot one of those.  Thankfully I was in charge of the other 40 guests housing!
    2. Her staff aren’t very strong English communicators – which makes delegation completely impossible
    3. Staff failed to confirm the wedding night after party at Monoloco’s.
      • We showed up after the wedding to no reservation
      • One of her staff was there waiting and couldn’t resolve the issue.
      • Groom had to successfully resolve this with Monoloco management. Complete and utter scheduling and communication failure.
    4. Wrong entrance song for the reception (despite communicating this with Diana and her team multiple times).
    5. Wrong father/daughter song despite communication.
    6. Wedding rehearsal wasn’t even in the ceremony location!!  How does that even happen?  Of course, this wasn’t communicated until the afternoon of.
  8. Almost a complete no-show the day of the wedding  before the ceremony/reception.
     

    1. Nothing was setup at San Jose el Viejo until 30 minutes prior to the wedding ceremony
    2. Guests came to San Jose el Viejo with no food, drinks or anything setup … they had to wait while staff setup everything.

This is just a high level collection of failures we experienced when dealing with I Do, Guatemala! So many more to discuss… plus other horror stories from other brides.

Of course you must be wondering, “Why didn’t you just fire her?”

GREAT QUESTION!!

Here’s the answer…we chose Antigua because of the ruins we could hold our venues in.  San Jose el Viejo for the ceremony and Las Capuchinas for the reception.

The very first thing Diana did for us was book the venues…even before we officially hired her.  When we did hire her, I pressed for the receipts  (proof of booking).  When I finally got the receipts, I realized that they were not in my name.  I was terrified that if I fired her, I would essentially lose my venues.  The thought of losing my venues and her holding onto them after letting her go, scared me to the point of simply keeping her around and putting up with her.

LESSON ONE:  Make sure that every venue, booking, reservation made is in the bride or grooms name!!!!!

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12 Responses to “I Do, Guatemala review : 8 reasons why you shouldn’t use them.”

  1. DiDa said

    WOW! How terrible! Sorry for the mishaps and nightmarish planner and thank you for the info. May you have a wonderful, happy, blessed marriage.

  2. I Do, Guatemala said

    Dear Diane and Rishi,

    We have always said that the secret of a spectacular wedding is bride and groom involvement and passion, and to this, Diane, we take our hats off! Your love and dedication showed in every single detail you put together and we enjoyed helping it all come together.

    We are very sorry to see that even after our post wedding meeting, you are still unsatisfied and found the need to publish your complaint.

    We are very proud to know we have helped many, many happy brides and grooms make their wishes come true by pouring our hearts out and going above and beyond for each and every one of them, working diligently and honestly to provide for every single need, as we did for you.

    We are always thrilled and very grateful to read all the positive, heartwarming reviews our clients send over, providing them, together with real email addresses and phone numbers, to clients who wish to know more about us.

    We regret not having met your expectations, but we are really happy that you and your guests remember your wedding as a beautiful one.

    We will continue offering the very best service to our many future brides and grooms to be, and we honestly wish you both the very best, today and always!

    Best Regards,
    Diana

    I Do, Guatemala

    • rishiray said

      Hello Diana

      In all our communications and in our last meeting, I expressed my displeasure with the entire rundown. I always try to provide a “No Surprise” experience … and you knew how dissatisfied we were … I think I used the word “failure” more than 15 times in a 20 minute closing conversation.

      Your response to this e-mail is on point as was all of your written communication – the problem was the follow through. As for the review : I kept my emotions as much out of this as possible and stayed as fact-based as possible.

      I have no doubt that you have done good work for other couples, but working with you and your team was a ridiculously difficult and trying experience. Your team contributed the most stress to our wedding planning experience. Your dishonesty in our scheduling was really the thing that we couldn’t get over … especially as you never once accepted fault with any of the failures until we informed you that we knew about the double booking between us and the other couple’s wedding.

      If this review gets you to follow through with other brides on an improved basis, then the review has done its job. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten detailed feedback from 5 previous and current clients (with weddings in 2014 and 2015), stating that they had or having a very similar experience to us.

      Rishi & Diane

    • rishiray said

      Here’s a bit more :

      As for the ethics and accountability … here is
      Brittni and Nick’s wedding link on March 13, 2013

      You made us change plans, incur costs for a failure on your part. You said they changed their minds last minute (your words) … yet their wedding date was planned for months. You made us change our flight schedule and plans and didn’t even have the courage to accept that you made a mistake until we called it out in June.

      Again, as long as future Guatemala brides are aware, then the post has done its job.

  3. Caribbean Barbie said

    WOW! My word! Rishi, Thank you for the heads up about this company, we will definitely pass it along!
    So happy to read their reply as well, sounds like they are as bad as you said….

  4. Sean said

    We used Diana for our wedding last year. I and my wife both live in NY and couldn’t be happier with her services. Her staff was great and we had no issues. Just my two cents though. We even had an issue with transport at the airport with my non spanish speaking grandmother and she resolved it really fast.

  5. Charlotte said

    Hello, where did you have the salsa evening? We are planning our wedding in Antigua for next year and that sounds so fun and it seems like you found an affordable place! Please let me know. Thanks!

  6. Stefanie said

    Thank you for the info! We just started planning our wedding and was going through different wedding planners- Definitely not taking this company! Thanks again!!

    • rishiray said

      De nada Stefanie … it’s our mission to ensure that people have all the information they need to plan their perfect wedding experience in Guatemala … and not struggle in the process

  7. Diana's victim said

    GOD BLESS YOU FOR POSTING THIS!! I had a wedding back several years ago that was a DISASTER thanks to Diana Sciarillo at I Do, Guatemala. I never posted a review because I was too traumatized from the experience and only wanted to focus on the positive. However, her breaches were so egregious, the incident should not go without saying to protect others. She even offered to refund me my deposit and drop out of the wedding admitting she had made mistakes and was in the wrong TWO WEEKS BEFORE MY WEDDING – – trust me I wanted to take her up on it, but knew that at that stage in the game I had very little choice. It is my opinion that she is running a business that takes advantage of people, overcharges them for extras (she offered to rent me a chicken bus for $600 and when I called the vendors independently they quoted me $150-200 — I ended getting it on my own no thanks for her and her greediness). She maligns other vendors in Antigua to try to convince you to just use her people instead (why, are they giving her a kickback?!? does she own those businesses herself without disclosing an affiliation?!?) Even my ceremony flowers were terrible on that day that the florist had to come to the wedding suite to fix them. And he had even made several flower girl crowns — WHY?!?!? I HAD NO FLOWER GIRLS!!!! She explained that everything was included for a flat rate (huh? where i come from you only pay for what you order, why would they just “throw in” extras?? nope, this is a symptom of poor management and communication by wedding planner herself at my expense!!) Never mind that she NEVER EVER EVER showed up at my wedding and only sent a young woman who had just started working with her and admitted to me that it was the first wedding she had ever supervised!!!!!!!! These examples and many more . . . thank goodness I kept an archive of all my emails and recorded convos as back-up to support the facts. Keep spreading the word so innocent brides do not get swindled by this charlatan and her band of gypsies!!!!! P.S. Her response emails back to you are a bunch of BS — her classic spinning of ugly web!! Sounds like something a sociopath would write. That’s the last kind of person that should be in charge of someone’s special wedding day!!

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