Thursday, December 5, 2013

Destination Weddings - Part 1

Destination Weddings are one of the hottest trends in weddings these days and with a lot of the 5 star resorts offering free wedding packages (within specified criteria that isn't that hard to match), it's no wonder that the trend has caught fire. I've devoted quite a few of my Pinterest boards to the various aspects of Destination Weddings, check them out:
The last few vacations we took to Mexico we noticed quite a few weddings happening just in the week we were there! When you imagine that's probably happening almost every week at most of the all-inclusive resorts, it's clear that more and more people are opting to take their vows barefoot on the beach!
There are certainly all kinds of Destination Wedding sites to consider from the all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean to historical sites in Europe and the lush paradise spots in Bali or Bora Bora. There are lots of things to consider from the costs and legalities involved to how Great Aunt Martha will feel when she hears she'll miss out on the vows and that you won't be marrying in the traditional church like everyone else in the family does. Unique Wedding at Sunscape Sabor Cozumel
Personally, after witnessing a few weddings while away and looking at the cost comparisons between having a traditional wedding where you feel obligated to invite everyone in the family, including those distant cousins you've seen maybe once in your life ...not to mention a slew of work acquaintances that would feel slighted without getting an invite, well...the costs of a traditional wedding add up quickly, as does the stress and there's certainly a lot of positives to a wedding away.

Secrets Huatulco Wedding Gazebo
Since this is a huge topic, I've decided to do a few posts about it looking at the various options for a Destination Wedding including Europe, Bali, and even unique wedding sites in the United States and Canada. This blog post, however, I'm going to focus more on the general idea of a Destination Wedding and concentrate on the All-inclusive resorts in Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, etc. Most resorts these days offer various wedding packages for couples to choose from with each resort having slightly different offerings and inclusions.  Now resorts
Many even offer complimentary wedding packages that include decor, cake, flowers, sparkling wine, and other special amenities if a couple books with them and meets certain criteria such as a certain number of nights booked at a certain accommodation level or a certain number of guests booking rooms. This can make the cost for a wedding much much less than the traditional at-home sit-down affair, plus with less people and wedding planners/teams at the resorts, happy to help with details, a destination wedding can be a lot less stress...for everyone! Plus your honeymoon starts right away! Intuzuri bridal sleeveless Begonia Gown
Obviously, due to the cost, only closest friends and family are willing to make the trip, which for many couples can be a real positive depending on how you feel about your family :-). It can make the whole affair one that is much more intimate and special, but it could also place more of a financial burden on friends and family who might not have much money and some may simply not be able to make the trip at all. That is certainly something to consider when thinking about your wedding party and who you truly want there. An alternative is that you offer to pay a portion or all of their costs for the trip. As outrageous as that may seem initially, the costs would probably still be much less than you would be putting out to pay for a traditional ceremony at home (especially if you end up getting the wedding package for free due to the number of bookings). Plus many resorts are willing to haggle a bit regarding room costs and it might turn out to be far less expensive than you first think. The added benefit is that those attending would truly be able to be excited without having the financial stress of a trip they might not really be able to afford (and might resent having to make) and can just be happy and enjoy a mini vacation along with you!  El Corazon Wedding Chapel at Cabo Azul Resort.
With dedicated on-site wedding planners, happy to plan with a couple through email, it's nice that rather than pulling their hair out, stressing over the multitude of details it takes to put a wedding together, the bride and groom, as well as their families can simply enjoy the day and have a relaxing vacation away in luxury themselves! Resort wedding planners and their teams do it all - setting up the chairs, decor and altars wherever the bride and groom choose... on the beach, in front of the gorgeous blue waters...

Dreams Riviera Cancun - setting up a wedding on the beach
Karisma resorts - "Majestic Flair" themed beach wedding decor beautiful gazebos that many resorts have specifically for weddings. Gazebo at Sandals Royal Plantation Ochos Rios, Jamaica Secrets Marquis, Cabo San Lucas wedding gazebo Secrets Silversands Wedding Gazebo lit at night Dreams Huatulco Wedding Gazebo   Secrets Maroma wedding gazebo, Riviera Maya

Most resorts offer wedding packages of various prices and sizes. The most basic package is the one that is often offered free is certain criteria. For example, at Secrets Silversands the basic wedding package is complimentary if the couple books 7 nights at the Preferred Club Junior Suite Pool-view level or if 5 or more rooms are booked for 3 or more nights at any level.   Sandals Grande Antigua wedding gazebo
The basic package usually includes the ceremony itself on the beach or gazebo, the services of a wedding officiant/minister, an on-site wedding planner and her team, bride's bouquet and groom's boutonniere, cake and sparkling wine for around 10 people (different resorts have different variations but that is the general gist). Often the wedding couple is also entitled to various extra freebies like a special accommodation for the groom the night before the wedding, special turndown service, spa discounts, etc.

The couple can, of course, choose to pay for a package that includes more such as additional flowers for the wedding party, ceremony and reception; an hors d'oeuvres & cocktails hour, as well as a sit-down wedding dinner reception off a special menu (these packages also tend to accommodate larger groups of guests, ie: up to 20); bride's hair and makeup done, often a special area for the bride to prepare and so on. With the paid packages, photographers are usually supplied and the couple receive a wedding album/CD of high-res digital pictures. The minister or wedding officiant is generally included, but often marriage documentation fees and so on need to be paid and the cost varies with country (usually less than $100-300). Live music may be included, and sometimes a gift such as special champagne flutes plus after-the- wedding perks like spa discounts, free couples massages, romantic dinner on the beach and/or breakfast in bed and so on. 

For instance, Sandals resorts offer something called a Weddingmoon Beautiful Beginnings Wedding Package that is free as long as the couple books a minimum of 6 nights or more in any room category. It includes a bouquet, boutonniere, cake, wedding planner & resort wedding team to help take care of details, sparkling wine & chilled hors d'oeuvres/cocktail reception for the wedding couple and up to 6 guests; a special honeymoon dinner for the couple with white glove service, decorated honeymoon room, mimosa breakfast in bed and a 5x7 wedding photo.
They also offer specials like a $500 bonus credit that you can use towards certain add-ons to enhance your experience such as a romantic catamaran cruise, room upgrade, honeymoon highlights video, or even to pay for the minister and government fees which are not included in the package. They have other wedding packages to choose from based on different themes that include different colour schemes and decor and other extras, but couples can also work with the wedding planner to customize any aspect they choose. Their Flutter of Romance theme (listed total cost is currently $1700, but again, a couple can choose to use their $500 bonus credit towards the cost and it reduces the price to $1200) is all about butterflies and shades of pink.
 They also have a number of other themes with associated colours such as Seaside Serenade
in shades of aqua, an all white theme (Vision in White), a Chic & Natural theme (greens and browns)
and a tropical Caribbean theme called Island Paradise that is all vibrant oranges and purple decor!
 Couples resorts offers a variety of all-inclusive wedding packages with different prices and features. Their most expensive wedding package is their Tower Isle Wedding package that includes a ceremony on your own private island (Tower Isle)!

Pink sash and orchid chair decoration at Couples Tower Isle Wedding

Tower Isle Recption

So there is no end of choices, colour schemes, styles and costs to choose from. Also, most resorts have spas and beauty centres on-site that include hair stylists and makeup artists that can help the bride and her maids get ready.

Your reception can be set up right on the beach... Dreams Cancun  Secrets The Vine

around the pool ...  Secrets Marquis, Los Cabos

Or inside the resort:  Now Jade, Riviera Cancun

You can even incorporate some cultural traditions into your ceremony Colourful Mayan Wedding Ceremony
As for those who can't attend about planning a Wedding Celebration Bash when you get back. You could even re-create a Caribbean theme with some fake palm trees, tropical drinks & buffet food, island music ...and tell everyone to wear flipflops! Have a big screen set up playing footage of the wedding for all the aunts and cousins to see.  (I plan to do a more indepth post in the future just about this topic).

Basically it's the reception everyone missed but with a casual DIY vibe to help keep costs down (or not, if you have $ to burn). In my future post I'll provide links to lots of DIY tropical food and decor ideas and even fabulous tropical cakes. If it were me, that would be the one thing I'd probably splurge a little on...a wonderful tropical cake to cut and share with guests! :-)
Tropical themed wedding cake

Whatever kind of Destination Wedding you plan, make sure it's where and what you want. Keep it romantic and personal and don't be afraid to break some traditional wedding rules if it makes your wedding more right for YOU! 
beach wedding inspired wedding band - Krikawa
Zuhair Murad, sea-inspired dress - so stunning!  
Here's a few additional pics of wedding dress ideas and a fun personalized sunglasses favour idea for the wedding party. :-)

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