These days, you’re more and more likely to see a young couple head out to a destination than stay put for large traditional ceremony. There are a number of reasons why destination weddings have become more popular over the last few years, from cheaper travel costs, to less stress planning a large reception, to a clever excuse to pare down the guest list.
Tourism and resort industries around the world have also been enjoying a rise in destination weddings over the last decade, and as they continue to make it their business to bring in more wedding parties, destination weddings promise to grow simpler and more stress-free as their popularity continues to boom.
As part of a destination wedding package deal, many brides and groom pairs are looking for more than just a posh location where they can tie the knot. Young couples in the know are looking for complementary services as well as on-site wedding consultants to help make the decision of pursuing a destination wedding more appealing.
Destination weddings are more and more popular not only because of how stress-free and easy it’s become to organize but also because of how accessible exotic locations have become too savvy travellers who know how to book and what packages to look for.
In this article, we’ll be examining the benefits of the destination wedding over a traditional ceremony and reception, as well as some of the top global destinations for your upcoming nuptials.
Easy to Organize
Many resorts offer marriage licenses, officiants, and even cake as part of their wedding packages, leaving young couples with the sole responsibility of showing up on time. An on-site wedding planner will also often act as a concierge for the duration of your vacation and can help organize activities for you and your guests from sports to shopping, SCUBA diving to sightseeing.
Because many resorts are so eager to lock down a wedding party, many will offer the bride and groom exclusive services such as spa days and suite upgrades as a thank you gift.
With a smaller invitation list, couples can avoid feeling forced into inviting every last second cousin or in-law to the wedding. In fact, a destination wedding often means a smaller, more intimate crowd, one that reduces the drama of over-large crowds and family skeletons in closets.
Young millennial couples are happier than ever to make the trip abroad to get married and send their relatives photos after the fact.
Fewer Invites Mean Fewer Costs
One figure that often surprises people who are beginning to think about their upcoming wedding is that a destination wedding can often come in at half or even one-third of the cost of a traditional wedding at home, even if the bride and groom even if the bride and groom are splurging on accommodations for their guests.
Because destination etiquette differs, be sure to let your guests know exactly what you will be paying for and what they will be responsible for handling on their own. Are you taking care of their rooms, food, and entertainment expenses for the 3 to 5 days you’ll be away? Will you be paying for their flights? For some wedding parties, all-inclusive means all-inclusive. But for others, only a few accoutrements and extras are included.
Either way, make sure that you negotiate for reduced rates on the rooms you and your guests will be using in order to bring the cost down. Many resorts are willing to make massive accommodations for wedding parties as they will be able to recoup costs elsewhere.
If you’re keen on a destination wedding, but money is an issue for you or your guests, look at domestic locations or countries with favourable exchange rates, and always be sure to keep the guest list as small as you need in order to facilitate all of the trimmings that come with this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Destination weddings are also money-savers because you can often fold your wedding and honeymoon into one long event.
Rather than spending your honeymoon at a bed & breakfast, a hotel, or a discount travel resort, a wedding abroad allows you to roll the ceremony and the honeymoon into the trip of a lifetime in a glamorous location.
Let’s summarize all of the advantages associated with destination weddings:
- As the bride and groom, you’re often only paying for yourself or a small group of guests
- At an all-inclusive resort, food and entertainment costs are typically covered
- With the added costs and travel, your guest list will be considerably smaller, with fewer unwelcome in-laws invited out of obligation
- The reception doesn’t need to be as elaborate, as the destination will speak for itself
Now that you’re convinced of the benefits of a destination wedding, you’ll need to start thinking about the destination itself. Here are a number of popular locations, and what makes them so perfect for weddings.
There are many factors to consider when choosing your location, from distance to beauty to how accommodating that country will be to foreign wedding parties. Here is our list of the top spots to consider and why we rate them so highly.
Marrakech, arguably the most beautiful city in all of Morocco, has become a front and center wedding destination in recent years, and you don’t need to be a celebrity to enjoy everything this city has to offer.
The city’s glamorous architecture and flowing gardens are a photogenic fantasy for any couple and the golden light — especially at sundown — makes for perfect wedding photos.
The vivid colors, and the surrounding palm and olive groves make for an idyllic setting, and the city’s many luxury hotels are more than happy to accommodate weddings. The general manager at La Mamounia (a famously popular wedding hotel) prides his hotel on serving unique culinary delights you can’t find anywhere else in Marrakech, and his hotel’s legendary 17-acre gardens are the capstone to this Mediterranean oasis.
Because no destination wedding is complete without activities and events leading up to the wedding, Morocco also offers a cornucopia of adventures for couples and their friends and families to embark on.
From swirling Saharan dunes to the jagged, majestic peaks of the High Atlas, Morocco seems tailor-made for adventurers and travellers.
Sun dappled mountain ranges offer breathtaking vistas, and nothing can beat the view of rolling cloudbanks over the Tizi n’Test pass at daybreak.
If hiking through the mountains is too much work, on the lower ground, you’ll find rugged coastlines, caves in forested hills and waterfall oases in the middle of the mighty desert. Talk about a wow factor!
Enjoying Morocco and Marrakech, in particular, is easy to do, and begins with nothing more strenuous than enjoying a morning coffee. It’s been said that the country’s national pastime is people-watching in street cafes. The bold and beautiful city is a perfect place to plan the next phase of your incredible destination wedding, whether you’ll be learning to roll couscous, braving a camel trek through the desert, indulging your inner shopaholic at one of the city’s many souqs, or simply spending an afternoon getting lost in the medina.
Between these incredible activities, you can also relax and enjoy a sunset on one of the many panoramic terraces, or sample the delicate flavours of a tajine at a nearby cafe, or sweat it all out in a restorative hammam — all before falling asleep in a boutique riad.
If you’re looking for a destination wedding that pulls out all the stops, consider Marrakech for your nuptials. You’ll be happy to say “I do” over and over again in this incredible city.
Some like it hot, while others prefer the crisp crunch of snow underfoot. Switzerland is an alpine paradise and has become a very popular location for destination weddings over the last decade, in part because of how much there is to do and see.
Switzerland prides itself on its breathtaking scenery and its alpine splendour. From lakeside towns such as Montreux (made famous in “Smoke on the Water”) and Vevey to large cosmopolitan meccas like Geneva and Zurich, there’s something in this wintery paradise for everyone. Whether hiking the Eiger, enjoying footfalls in the pristine snowy wilderness, or skiing the Matterhorn at 30 miles per hour, there is no end to the incredible things to pack in during your destination nuptials.
Known as the ski resort on top of the world and the birthplace of alpine tourism, St. Moritz has hosted the Winter Olympics twice (in 1928 and again 20 years later) since its inception in 1864. Located in the upper reaches of Engadine, this luxury ski resort begins at an elevation of 6,000 feet and only climbs from there.
If you’re looking for the best in accommodations, look no further than Badrutt’s Palace, the hotel where your sheets are warmed every night with hot water bottles and there are so many spas that each couple is guaranteed tranquillity and isolation.
Badrutt’s Palace offers incredible food and drink options as well, which is likely why Alfred Hitchcock spent his honeymoon there.
For the truly adventurous, no destination wedding could be more majestic than a trip to Middle Earth itself. New Zealand is considered one of the single most beautiful countries in the world — and that should come as a surprise to no one. New Zealand is as varied in its lush topography as it is gorgeous, endowed with towering mountains that stand behind breathtaking landscapes, glimmering turquoise lakes, and well over 9,000 miles of shoreline.
From showstopping fields of pink and purple lupins along the shores of Lake Tekapo to the craggy fjord of Milford Sound, there is so much raw beauty on offer that you’ll want to bring a whole team of wedding photographers.
The country’s natural splendour and beauty extend from the incandescent Waitomo glow worm caves to the mountainous summits of the Humboldt Range.
If you’re looking to cut loose during your wedding weekend, there are plenty of incredible cities boasting exciting nightlife, including Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington, and Hamilton — offering up an urban edge to this otherwise pastoral country.
Tucked away in the depths of the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand experiences seasons in reverse to how we encounter them in North America. The warm summertime weather runs from early December to January, while winter hits hardest from June to August.
Also, be sure that you and your wedding guests are aware of what to expect from the local cuisine and venue options. The local New Zealand cuisine favours meat pies, which are a rich and savoury delight. So be sure to replace the traditional wedding midnight snack of deep-dish pizza with some hearty pies from a local bakery.
If you’re looking for a wedding locale that truly captures the picturesque nature of the country itself, consider Mantells Mt. Eden, a Tuscan-inspired hotel that offers the perfect intimate experience and even boasts an in-house wedding service catering to bridal parties. With tropical palm trees and a stone courtyard flanking a long, narrow dining room that offers some of Aukland’s best cuisine, your guests will be in heaven.
Exquisite plating and sumptuous filets of beef or smoked salmon will give your guests a meal to remember. And after dining, Mantells is only a quick three-minute drive to the top of Mount Eden — where the view from atop the volcanic cone offers some of the best views of Auckland, which is perfect for photos of the bridal party.
Well Worth It
If you’re undecided on whether a destination wedding is right for you, remember that the experience and the memories it creates are the most important part of your most important day. If you like the idea of being surrounded by friends and family for an extended period at an exotic location, enjoying several days of events and activities, then a destination wedding is the perfect way to celebrate your marriage.
And whether you travel to Morocco, Switzerland, New Zealand, or anywhere else, remember that a destination wedding retreat caters to you, ensuring that you’ll remember this special time for the rest of your life.