Destination Wedding: Spotlight on Xcaret Park in Playa Del Carmen

Guadalupe Chapel at Xcaret Park. By Gonzalo Nunez Photography.

There’s nothing wrong with doing the standard destination wedding — a beach ceremony and reception. We’ve all been to one or have seen several all lined up along the water while on vacation. But if you are looking to throw something a little more authentic with a flair of some local Mayan culture — like my cousin Kelly Meegan did with her now-hubby Kevin O’Connor — Xcaret Park in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico should be on your map!

This exotic resort and eco-theme park on the Mayan Riviera features one of the best kept secrets along the Caribbean as far as weddings go. The Guadalupe Chapel. This breathtaking venue is the perfect mix of new and old, with it’s 20th century neoclassical architecture and a cavernous altar surrounded by water lit up with floating candles. Once seated on wooden benches inside the spacious yet intimate venue, guests look up behind them as the wedding party and beautiful bride descend down the stone steps to the underground cenote, the surroundings giving off a calming and awe-inspiring vibe to its visitors.

Father of the bride Paul walking his daughter down to the altar. By Gonzalo Nunez Photography.

By the time the bride and groom said their “I do’s” it was dark and we walked through the jungle-like exotic paths lit by paper lanterns leading us to a reception area set up on the sand, overlooking the waves crashing over the rocks below. Strings of lights between palm trees made the remote party paradise glow as top 40’s hits played on a sound system. I felt like I was on The Bachelor. It was made-for-TV-magical.

The Guadalupe Chapel altar.
Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Kevin O’Connor! By Gonzalo Nunez Photography
The bride and groom at their romantic Xcaret Park reception

Guests dined on Mayan cuisine and tequila, dancing all night under the stars to hit songs by Bruno Mars and The Weeknd, along with some throwbacks jams by artists like 50 Cent and Ludacris. The bride and groom chose Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” for their sweet first dance, the “we were just kids when we fell in love” lyrics reminiscent of their story, the couple having known each other since grammar school. It was very touching and an excellent song choice. See the video of their first dance below!

Magic moment.
The father of the bride, Paul, dancing with daughter Kelly.
The groom and his mother Debbie. By Gonzalo Nunez Photography.

It was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve been to, and I’ve been to quite a few!

After a flawless wedding day and night, we shuttled back to the all-inclusive Riu Palace Riviera Maya where most of the guests stayed and enjoyed a couple more days in the sand, celebrating with the new Mr. and Mrs. and our even more extended family.

Huge thanks to Kevin and Kelly O’ConnorPaul and Pegi Meegan (bride’s parents) and Pat and Debbie O’Connor (groom’s parents) for throwing such a gorgeous party and to their dear friends Sarah and Kip Kelley (and adorable daughter Ferrill) for the classy welcome reception at the Riu Palace the night before the wedding, a lovely touch to get acquainted with everyone! Thank you Ryan Meegan for the fancy tequila and your overall generosity with family.

Viva Mexico! Sí.

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By Gonzalo Nunez Photography
By Gonzalo Nunez Photography
By Gonzalo Nunez Photography
By Gonzalo Nunez Photography
By Gonzalo Nunez Photography

 

 

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