Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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Posts Tagged ‘weddings in antigua guatemala’

Destination Wedding at San Jose el Viejo in Antigua Guatemala: Rishi & Diane

Posted by Rishiray on July 30, 2014

Destination Wedding at San Jose el Viejo in Antigua Guatemala: Rishi & Diane

Here continues the photo blog for our wedding … I thought I was being a bit self indulgent with my pre-ceremony posting, but I’ve gotten so many positive notes and comments from my readers, so I’m just going with it. It also helps to have some great pictures to post … so here is part 1 of our ceremony at San Jose el Viejo in Antigua, Guatemala.


















Photography and Film: Julie Comfort : Comfort Studio | Shoes: Amanda King : A Crafty King | Floral: Escensia | Videographer: Jonathan Yonkers | Reception: San Jose el Viejo and Las Capuchinas catered by Westin Camino Real | Invites: Diane Mitchell : Handstampology.com | Hair & Makeup: Melissa Woods : Golden Studio | Grooms suit: Manhattan Tailor, Phuket Thailand | Truffles: Antigua on the arch street | Cookies: Maria Jose Garcia Gandara | Dress: Pronovia Gowns, Washington, DC | Wedding Favors : Diane Mitchell : Handstampology.com

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Posted in Central America, Guatemala | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Yet another I Do Guatemala horror story …

Posted by Rishiray on July 30, 2014

Over the last year, I’ve gotten many responses and e-mails from brides to be about to my negative “I Do, Guatemala” wedding planner review. A regular business is only as good as the satisfaction of it’s customer … but wedding planners are a bit insulated from this feedback model because it’s a referral business. It also helps when you have a business that has a quasi-monopoly on being a destination wedding planning business to English speaking brides. If you can’t find the links to the first I Do, Guatemala review or my FAQ, here they are

Normally, I wouldn’t post the back and forth e-mails, but Veronica’s story was so similar to our story that I had to cross post. We would have cut ties with Diana but she held our wedding venue reservations for Las Capuchinas and San Jose el Viejo and we didn’t want to risk her cancelling the venues and hence completely ruining the wedding planning. The letter is just an opinion and is meant to help prospective brides with their planning … like any business interaction, your mileage may vary and Diana could be a good planner for you, she just was terrible for us and now Veronica.

Name*: Veronica Gomez
Email*: ligia21@att.net
Website: http://
Subject*: Wedding 2015
Message*: Good afternoon Rishi,

I had emailed you before, regarding the experience I was having with Diana of I do Guatemala. As it turns out both my fiancée and myself agreed 110% that cutting ties with Diana was better than dealing with her inconsistency, even if we lost our deposit (which we did!). I’m not sure what month I emailed you, but late last year we had a lot very personal and unfortunately family circumstances that prevented us from continuing the planning of our wedding and when tried to talk to Diana over email or Skype she was very short in her response and never available. My heart was not in it, I even tried contacting her and explaining what we were going through, but she never responded; very unprofessional.
I saw that you posted my original email and I’m glad you did, because now more bride/grooms will know not to hire her based on what they see online or pictures she posts, which was my original mistake.

My fiancée and I have been together for 10 years and have two beautiful little girls and happy to report that we are moving forward with our plan to get married. I’m for the most part doing a lot of things on my own, which means I will probably be traveling to Guatemala and with the help of my sister in law who lives in Guatemala I will put together a wonderful and beautiful wedding.

I’m so happy to see that you answered a lot of the questions others had and I’m going to be using some of those tips and contacts.

Planning a wedding can be an overwhelming and scary thing to do, that I’m glad people like you are out there to help guide those of us that can feel lost in the process.

I had one more question, in your list of contacts I did not see any information regarding the bartenders you used. I would like to maybe use the same ones you used; I would be very grateful if you could provide that information.

Thank you again for everything.

Best Regards

Veronica Gomez

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I Do Guatemala review follow-up : Questions and Answers

Posted by Rishiray on July 4, 2014

It’s been almost a year since our epic wedding in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s also been almost since our exorcism from the wedding planning outfit of “I Do, Guatemala” … we’re still not over how upset we were with them. Based on the number of e-mail responses from other brides who had WORSE experiences than us … I think enough time has passed and enough responses gathered to ascertain that we were not the only ones who were completely screwed by the lack of planning, preparation and care exhibited by “I Do, Guatemala”.

Here’s a sample list of questions from one

  • Could you possibly give me a rough idea of what you did yourself and/or what was provided? For example, you had gorgeous little notes with your wedding favours, and I love the fans that doubled up as programs. Were those provided by you or I Do Guatemala?

    Done by Diane … in fact, because of “I Do”, she made ALL of the favours. The lessons she learned from the wedding translated into a thriving little side business at handstampology.com (Good things can happen from bad people)

    https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/HandStampOlogy/

    The fans are not available right now, since Diane’s been inundated with orders and she’s at capacity because of wedding season. However she can send you a private listing of the fans that she’s sold … or you can see fan pics at

    https://www.facebook.com/handstampology

  • What did you decide to do on your own because it was cheaper?
    We organized the liquor, the food, the housing, the transport … it was all cheaper and easier to do on our own. A lot of the props like antique boxes and the old school bell, we bought in the craft markets prior. We stored all of our stuff with friends who live in Guatemala City.
  • How was the food? What did they provide?
    The food was catered by Hotel Camino Real (The best hotel in Antigua) … the food was amazing, however we did many tastings – I’m very specific about the food. The hotel catered the servers, food, and transport along with cutlery etc.
  • Was the quote for flowers, etc., enough? Or were there lots of hidden extras?
    The quote for flowers was worked out with Escencia. Not many hidden extras to speak about.
  • You talk in your blog about a contact list, but I couldn’t see it – would you be able to send this to me?
    I didn’t ever publish the contact list – since there were too many emails to go through and I just haven’t had the time to collate this. Invariably … it got pushed to the wayside.

    What I do have to publish are the other horror stories from other brides who have emailed me based on their experiences with I Do. It’s not pretty.

  • I may try to do the whole thing without a planner. Is that possible???
    • Only attempt this with the following parameters
      • If you’re from Guatemala or speak Spanish AND
      • If you have a network of friends there who are willing to go back and forth between Guatemala City and Antigua AND
      • If you have a husband with unlimited airmiles who can fly you there 3-4 times between now and your wedding for tastings, meetings and shopping AND
      • If you have friends who understand the Guatemalan way of booking things, permits and doing business
I Do has business and can keep screwing people because as beautiful as the place is, they know that people will pay a premium not having to deal with all the BS on having to do business in Guatemala.
  • Do you have a trusted friend or person that you can refer me to, that can help with my wedding??
    If you’re looking for someone to help you, we have a friend who also got into the business after going through this with another friend. I’d be happy to pass along the information to you. Please e-mail me directly for this.
  • You’re scaring me … so you’re saying that I should have a planner, but you can’t recommend “I Do” … can you recommend someone else?
    No … read our story again. Multi-level failure by Diana at I Do … that scares anyone from using another planner.
  • How many events did you have in your wedding week?
    We had four days of events
  1. Day One: We had an Antigua tour which we rented the hop on-hop off buses and they provided a really great Antigua tour, followed by a meet and greet with traditional Guatemalan food, drinks and music (marimba) at the houses we rented.
  2. Day Two: we had the rehearsal and dinner for immediate family followed by a salsa night out where we provided nachos, drinks, salsa lessons, etc.
  3. Day Three: the wedding day.  The lanterns, table decor, flowers, etc. were all done by our designer/decor guy who’s name is Mario Ayala from Escensia
  4. Day Four: the day after brunch was held at Hotel Camino Real-they have a beautiful outdoor area, and a delicious buffet.  We also priced out the terrace at Trocolli. I gave up on that idea because I kept getting different prices and the quotes just never seemed to work out.
  • How did you find a hairdresser there?
    We lucked out … we had an amazing hair/makeup artist … Melissa Collins, she’s a Canadian woman who lives in Antigua – she was phenomenal. Unless you’re Latina or Guatemalan, don’t go with the Guatemalan makeup girls … we had a number of trials. The makeup artists were either late, no-shows or put on clown make up for Diane. I don’t get the whole Latina, overdone make up BS.
  • I loved your videos & photos but couldn’t you have hired a Guatemalan video/photographer
    We previewed many wedding videos … most of them were just not great. You get what you pay for and what you research. I suggest that you put a LOT of time into picking our your videographer. It’s probably the single most expensive item you’ll pay for and probably the item that will be shared the most.http://vimeo.com/81519327 : This one looked like a Mexican telenovela – there’s a lot of this. It wasn’t our style.
  • Your officiant was great … how did you find him?
    He was amazing! In fact, he was one of the only good things that Diana did. We’re both not very religious and he completely understood what we wanted our ceremony to be about.httpsvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ejRqOF4Cco
  • Are you sure you’re not making this stuff up?
    It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? Well I’m posting a couple emails I’ve received from readers who had similar experiences – I’ve taken full names out and masked the email addresses.

    • From: Alissa Jo******* <alissa******@gmail.com>
      Date: Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM
      Subject: The “I do” review!
      To: rishi@rishiray.comHi Rishi (and Diane),

      First, thanks for posting your review of I Do Guatemala.  I’m getting married in Antigua with Diana in a little over a month and experiencing nearly everyone of these issues!  So frustrating!  So at least this validates my frustrations! I luckily do have some really great friends and contacts living in Guatemala that have been able to help… but still…! Will also set up some sort of review when this is all said and done!
      I’m writing as it being too late for me to fire her… I’m wondering if you can pass along the contact sheet you mention in your review.  I’m also interested in knowing where you got your lanterns, as that is a line item that seemed really pricey for what it was!  And flowers- how did she end up charging you for them?  She just has this arbitrary number no matter what I say I like that is confusing me and she won’t give me any more details about it…
      I guess any other tidbits you have that helped you manage are appreciated too!
      Again, thanks for posting.  Your wedding was beautiful and I’m sure everyone had an amazing time!  This whole process has made me want to move to Guatemala and be a wedding planner… I could do SUCH a better job… clearly, you could too:)
      best,
      Alissa
    • Name*:    veronica Gom****
      Email*:    carleal_*****@msn.com
      Subject*:    Antigua Guate. WeddingMy fiancé and I are planning our wedding in Antigua Guatemala for 2015. It scares me to read your review of I Do Guatemala, because we have already put a down payment for the venue and I Do’s service. Like you I’ve yet to see our receipt and have not heard back on some items that I needed information on. I’ve thought of doing everything myself, but because I don’t live there I wouldn’t have a clue where to even begin.I’m wondering if you can provide me with a list of the contacts you used (i.e. make up, flowers, vendors…) I would greatly appreciate it. This whole process has caused me so much stress, that I have even thought of cancelling it all together and see our deposit as a loss. I just think of how beautiful it all can be, that I almost have talk myself back into having it there.
      Gratefully yours

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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!!!!!

Posted in Central America, Guatemala | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »