Continuation of my wedding weekend review, Day 1 here:
Itinerary for Friday:
9:30am = Informal Group Breakfast (Tropicana)
11:00am = Spa Appointment at Qua, 1.5 hrs
12:30pm - 3pm = Hang out in Spa Facilities, Relax
3pm-4pm = Blowout
4:30pm = Rehearsal
5:15-6:15pm = Rehearsal Drinks
6:30pm = Dinner reservation at Eiffel Tower, just the parents
9:00pm = Meet photographer & limo back at Tropicana for photo tour
12pm = Back to Tropicana, SLEEP!
I woke up on Friday morning a little before my alarm and decided to go to work on writing my note to my groom. We had originally decided to do our own vows, but it was really stressing us both out trying to write profound expressive statements of love and commitment. So instead, we both got each other a card and wrote our vows to each other in it to be opened morning of the wedding. It ended up being a wonderful idea as I got to express so much more than I felt I would have in vows. I was very tearful even writing my card!! I followed the general guidance of : say things you love about him, say things you commit to, then say what your hopes for the future together are.
After that, we had a casual breakfast at Beach Cafe in Tropicana at 9:30am. I wasn't sure how many people would show up, since it was 9:30am after the bachelor / bachelorette parties and we knew not everyone was staying at the Tropicana. I sort of assumed it was going to be a huge empty restaurant (for early Friday morning), and I also decided that if a lot of people showed up it wouldn't be a big deal for everyone to sit at a table or even in the same area, that I would make the rounds. Because of all that I didn't make a reservation and didn't show up even a few minutes in advance. So. I was wrong about a lot! First, it was packed, and we were lucky to be sat in just a few minutes. Second, the group that showed up was 8 people total, groups of 2, 2, and 3, and then me, which made it really weird to be separate at all. We ended up with one table of 6 and one table of 2 right next to each other but it was just weird. Looking back, I'm not sure I would have coordinated this at all. We weren't paying for our guests at this breakfast, but I read some great advice early on that at a destination wedding, you should really make it a point to make opportunities to hang out with your guests that have traveled so far to be there for YOU! So this was one of those opportunities. As I think it over again, I probably would have done it, but would have shifted the day so that breakfast was maybe at 10:30 or even 11am, and I would have made a reservation.
Beach Cafe itself was OK. Definitely enough room for a small group (i.e. 20 or less). They had a buffet which was very small compared to "real" buffets on the strip but overall looked good for $21. Or you could order off the menu (what I did). Many other people went to Beach Cafe for other meals due to its convenience and good price point. Everyone's reaction was a "It was fine" kind of reaction. I would do breakfast there again, especially if convenience is a factor. They get a B!
The reason breakfast was so early was because I had an 11am appointment at the SPA! Woo!!! I have always wanted to try Qua in Caesar's palace. After breakfast I made a quick exit and drove to Caesar's. Big mistake. Definitely should have taken a taxi to/from Caesar's just to save on time for the day. I was definitely stressed out about getting from point A to point B and back to point A in accordance with my timeline. Easily could have shaved 20 minutes off each of those trips with a taxi.
I had advertised my day at Qua as a "girls day" and had dreams of all my girlfriends and I chatting it up in the sauna. Sadly that was not my reality. Although *I* value really incredible spa facilities, it appears that not many people attending my wedding did - they all opted for other activities. I was surprised as I found the price for a day pass pretty reasonable. I only had 3 girlfriends join me, and while I got to spend a TON of time with them I definitely missed out on time with others. I'm not sure how I would have changed this, since I really did want to do the spa as a part of my wedding weekend. Maybe paid for some people? That would have been really, really pricey and since a lot of girls were there with significant others they wanted to spend the day with them, anyway. Also, I overestimated the amount of time I wanted to spend in the facilities. I allotted 2.5 hours and probably would have been fine with 2hrs or even less. Normally I could spend ~5 hours in a spa and be really really happy about it, but with so much on my mind and a timeline to stick to, I wish I would have spent less time there.
OK but. Let's talk about Qua. It's INCREDIBLE. It is by far the most amazing spa facility I've ever been in. It feels like you are in a water oasis. I can't recommend it highly enough. I had a "morning dew" treatment and paid for it with SpaFinder gift cards, which you can get at Costco for a discount, reducing the actual cost of your treatment. One thing that was weird was that I paid up front before the treatment, but the front desk didn't return me a card with unused credit. It was a small-ish amount but still ~$20, so that was weird. I figured maybe she just auto-added to the tip. After my AMAZING treatment my therapist returned me back to the spa area. Later I realized I hadn't had an opportunity to tip him! My girlfriends said that when their session was over their hairtie or another item was sitting on a piece of paper that showed where you could tip. I was in such bliss after my treatment I just grabbed my stuff and got out of there and didn't notice such a paper. So, that was odd. Also I got locked out of my locker not once but TWICE and waiting for "management" to come with a master key is not how you want to spend a day at the spa. I was mostly upset because the staff thought I was incompetent at their locks but I demonstrated both times I was in fact doing it correctly. Despite the two shortfalls, I would still rate Qua an A+ and a MUST VISIT if you like Spas!!! The steam room, and various pools, were just incredible.
At some point, my wedding coordinator had called and left a message that she was "just checking in". I thought that was odd because we were going to see her at the rehearsal in just a few hours....hmmm....couldn't call her back though due to spa policies.
I had decided that because we were having a photo tour that night (our substitution for engagement photos) that I'd get a blowout. Originally I was going to go to Sam Villa's Hair Show because the blowout was cheap at $35. At the last minute I changed it to Color, which is right outside Qua, but it is wayyyy more expensive at $95. Again, this is another change I'm so glad I made. I'm serious - if you've got a crazy itinerary, do what needs to be done to save yourself some time. I would have been twelve times more stressed if I had to get in the car and drive somewhere else just to save $60 and almost definitely would have been late to my rehearsal. The blowout itself didn't seem like anything special, but was definitely one of the better blowouts I've had. A for the product/service, C for the value.
When I got back to my car, I called my coordinator even though I knew I would see her in less than an hour. She let me know that the dress steaming company had found a hole in my veil!! They were going to try to steam it so that you couldn't see it, but were also going to provide a secondary veil that they had just in case my veil didn't work for me. In my mind, I was thinking that a little hole wouldn't be a huge deal, so I wasn't freaking out too much externally... but internally I was!! I just wanted to see the veil!
I went back to the hotel room to pick up my programs and change into my rehearsal / dinner/ photoshoot dress. I was a few minutes late to the rehearsal. This was the first time I'd seen my groom in a full day!!!! So glad to see he survived his bachelor party We had a short meeting with our coordinator where we met our main coordinator and the a day-of coordinator who I had never heard about before, and I started to become a little nervous as I had originally been told my coordinator would be there. After a few questions I discovered they both would be there, which was a weight off my shoulders and nice to have some extra help. We rehearsed the ceremony - no officiant - and overall it went pretty smoothly. We didn't have a bridal party so it was just parents and us.
After the rehearsal, I went to go pick up the dress (and veil!). I tried to undo it while I was with my coordinator but it was all wrapped in plastic. Once I finally got up to my room, I unwrapped the veil to find a hole about 2inches long!! The backup veil was 2 layers which I don't like the look of, so I was going to have to suck it up and trust that no one would notice.
Off to the rehearsal drinks! We did a non-sponsored hour at the Tropicana Lounge, Tropicana's main bar. This was where we got to see most of our guests all at once and hang out! Tropicana was running a 2 for 1 happy hour during the time frame we were there and our guests LOVED IT and no one seemed put-off that they were paying for their own drinks. In fact everyone thought it was a stellar deal. We had an excellent time hanging out with everyone, this was definitely one of the positives throughout the weekend in terms of getting to see people and hang out with them. This was also the time frame where some of our guests were arriving in from out of town, so it was perfect. I'm sure guests stayed a little longer, mingled with each other, and made dinner plans with each other while they were there. This was an A+ in terms of success of event. Tropicana lounge gets a B- for execution, as the service was a little slow. Would definitely have done this again, maybe would have elongated by a half hour if there was time. I also would have let Tropicana know we were bringing 30 guests to their bar in advance; they might have staffed up more. I just really didn’t want to have to pay for anything extra (i.e. a reserved area) so we were OK with risking it without a reservation of any kind.
Promptly at 6:15pm, we made an exit with my groom’s parents and my parents, hopped in two taxis, and headed for Paris! We were going to have a very small – and very expensive – rehearsal dinner at the Eiffel Tower restaurant. Our parents had never met each other, and this was a good opportunity to spend some quality time with the folks that had contributed financially. At one point in time I was looking into getting a limo for the to/from and I’m glad I didn’t. While it would have been memorable, it wasn’t important in the grand scheme of things.
We checked in at the Eiffel Tower desk right at our reservation time of 6:30pm (made on Open Table) and the dinner took exactly the 2 hours I had allotted. I probably should have put in the reservation or at least told our server that we needed to leave at 8:30pm but it worked out just fine anyway. We were a little slow to start at dinner but ended up having an incredible meal. My parents had beef wellington and wouldn’t stop raving about it. At one point in the dinner, I asked if they would share some marriage advice. This was probably the best decision I could have made. Their eyes all lit up and they just beamed with excitement that they were going to have “this special moment” with their children. Of course, their advice was wonderful and well-taken, but their reaction to us even asking was worth it. I wish I had thought of more questions in advance to ask as a conversation since this went over so well with both parents. Maybe, “What do you remember most from your wedding day?”. Eiffel Tower provided us with a special dessert to help us celebrate! Overall, Eiffel Tower gets an A, but I will almost definitely never eat there again due to cost. A truly memorable experience for our folks though. Keep in mind, that all the tables right next to the window are tables of 2. Larger tables sit further back and don’t have as great of a view.
We hopped in taxis and headed back to Tropicana. This is where we left the parents, and met our photographer, for our tour of the strip! This was going to sub as our engagement photos since we decided we are SO not the couple that walks hand-in-hand through a park smiling while looking in the distance. We just didn’t want photos like that. So, I created a map of the places I’d like to visit (see thread here: http://forums.theknot.com/discussion/1048893/las-vegas-strip-photo-tour-w-map-timeline) based on the photos I had seen on Pinterest. Based on the feedback I received in the thread, we extended our time in the limo from 2 to 3 hours using some extra credit we had.
Our limo (Presidential Limos) picked us up right on time at 9pm. I wanted to knock out the Las Vegas sign first. We arrived, and there was NO ONE there!! It was amazing!! The only people that were there were the people trying to sell you their photography services- haha. We were out of there by 9:15pm. Off to Wynn – we did some photos inside the hotel and then some by the waterfall. Since we were so ahead of schedule, we decided to walk to Venetian. We got a lot of photos along the way including one of the Las Vegas Blvd sign. I really like the doors they have at the Venetian, so we spent a lot of time there. We had the limo pick us up at Venetian and take us to Bellagio. We took photos of the Bellagio Fountains with the Eiffel Tower in the background. This is seriously my new favorite spot to watch the fountains and take pictures!! It is just a few steps past the valet/taxi area. Next- Paris. We only took a few photos here because we were all fading, FAST by this point. I couldn’t remember exactly what pictures I wanted or where to get them – I was just letting my photographer take the lead and she didn’t appear very inspired by the surrounding area. Although we had an hour left of limo – we were all just DONE. We dropped my groom off first, then the photographer, then me back at Tropicana where our driver presented me with a rose. Presidential Limo services gets an A++ for being totally flexible throughout the night, very responsive, and we never had to wait for more than just a few minutes. He was great. Also there was champagne and water provided, which was nice.
As for the strip tour….despite being exhausted I would have done this again. The big problem was I loved all the photos of brides in their dresses on the strip tour, but since I was having a morning wedding, I wasn’t sure how we were going to accomplish evening photos without completely abandoning our guests way later on. This was the compromise. I’m sure the photos will be incredible, but boy. We were tired. Maybe the time change effect again? In the moment I wished we hadn’t done it. But maybe, during the scouting trip instead of the wedding weekend. Or- since we actually stayed an extra day, we could have done this on Sunday night instead. Not sure. I’ll let you guys know how I feel once I see the photos
I seriously passed out after this – BUT – I took the advice of a recently married friend and still took a sleeping pill that night, because there was a possibility I wouldn’t be able to sleep due to jitters!! Seemed pretty unbelievable with how tired I was that I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but I really didn’t want to take any risks with my slumber. I needed my energy!