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Monday, November 5, 2018

All-Inclusive Weddings Insight

Words by Courtney Cox

It’s day one of our Destination: All-Inclusive Weddings week, as part of our ongoing #DestinationX series! Today is all about expert advice and recommendations, aimed at giving you an inspiring place to start when considering a destination wedding of your own at an all-inclusive resort. We’re sharing five all-inclusive resorts that cater to weddings, as well as one of our favorite high-end options in Mexico. One all-inclusive option, that might not immediately come to mind for weddings, is opting for a luxury cruise. Read-on for a review of one such cruise, ideal for couples looking for an alternative to a warm-weather wedding destination.

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An Upscale All-Inclusive in Mexico

Words by Samantha Ross

There are couples out there who aren’t satisfied with just beautiful views and luxurious accommodations. They don’t just want decadent food and high-end amenities. Some couple’s don’t just want a wedding – they want an experience. For those couples, head south to Riviera Maya for the ultimate hotel adventure.

At first, it’s hard to put your finger on what’s different about UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya. Like most all-inclusive adults-only hotels, it comes with sparkling pools, swim-up bars and gourmet restaurants, but unlike anywhere else, Unico 20˚87˚ takes their guests and immerses them in events and encounters unique to the culture and beauty of the land around them. When you and your guests stay here, a crew of specialists create an environment that is surprising and delightful. Each day, a walk around the property could bring local artisans handcrafting goods right before your eyes, musicians playing sounds of the region or pop-up activities like a mezcal tasting or live painting demonstrations.

Beyond the deep connection you’ll begin cultivating for the area, the hotel goes one step further in making you feel at home. The inclusions at the resort are practically unlimited. Take some time to relax with a massage at the spa or explore outside the hotel with a guided tour – these are all included in your stay. With the UNICO 20˚87˚ “no itinerary necessary” attitude providing plenty of activities outside, returning to the serene and still of your guestroom is just as inviting. Each room, the majority featuring ocean views, boast semi-private swim-up pools or an outdoor hydro spa. Additionally, every guest has access to their own personal local host, available 24 hours per day, to help curate an even more customized stay.

With Mexico being a popular destination for weddings, you and your guests will find it easy to travel to the property for your event. Weddings here provide backdrops of unspoiled white sand and emerald ocean waves. Your wedding is designed down to the last detail with the help of the hotel’s dedicated wedding specialist and, just like your tailor-made stay, your celebration is sure to showcase the special aspects of you, the couple, that chose to share this unparalleled experience with their family and friends. 

5 of the Best All-Inclusive Resorts with Unique Wedding Offerings

Words by Kacey Bradley with The Drifter Collective

Let's face it – wedding planning is stressful. You must decide on a budget while inviting everyone you love and enjoying the day of your dreams. Instead of putting yourself through months of worrying about everything big and small, try a destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort! The price can often be better than you anticipated and you get to take the anxiety out of making your special day perfect by yourself.

Here are five of the best all-inclusive resorts with unique wedding venues:

1. East Winds in St. Lucia

If you want an intimate wedding experience, East Winds is for you. This resort accommodates boutique-sized weddings for two to 72 people. It has 30 cottages you can "buy out," making the entire resort your paradise to celebrate. There's also a complete wedding team that is guaranteed to make planning a little less stressful for you.

You can choose between a superior or deluxe cottage, as well as an ocean front room. If you have an extended wedding that lasts between five to seven days, you'll find plenty of activities to take part in. You can participate in yoga classes, go kayaking, taste rum or even try a snorkeling class. There's something fun and enjoyable for every wedding guest, no matter their age or interests.

2. Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta in Mexico

The Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta in Mexico teams up with celebrity event designer Colin Cowie to create all-inclusive weddings right along the ocean. It also comes with an extensive number of amenities for pampering. For example, you can choose the comprehensive group benefits for your guests, which includes complimentary room nights, room upgrades, cocktail receptions and more.

The hotel also has a spa on-site if you want a luxurious girl's day before you walk down the aisle. Plenty of dining and nightlife options are available to keep your guests occupied during the week you spend there. If you have a more adventurous bunch, try different land or water sports options, suggested by the staff.

3. Villa Punto de Vista in Costa Rica

An all-inclusive wedding at Villa Punto de Vista includes everything you could dream of, offering both luxury and privacy. On-site staff and a wedding coordinator will stay with you every step of the way, including being available to help you plan wedding logistics before you arrive. The rates vary by which season you choose, but you can also purchase add-ons such as meals from a personal chef and personalized services.

The best part about Villa Punto de Vista is the scenery and wildlife you'll encounter. The rooms boast stunning 270-degree views and you might be delighted to see a sloth or monkey attend your big day! You'll also discover beautiful sights and adventures to explore after the ceremony, such as waterfalls and exceptional culinary experiences.

4. Couples Negril in Jamaica

Couples Negril has several different packages for your wedding, ranging from tropical and sunset to a private island. If the beach setting isn't your thing, you can opt to have your ceremony in the lush, tropical gardens around the property. You can also connect with a wedding planner at the resort to assist with putting everything together.

5. Hotel Riu Palace in Aruba

Maybe you want a destination wedding, but are still looking to bring a hefty guest list with you. That's where Hotel Riu Palace in Aruba steps in. This expansive hotel can accommodate a bigger guest list while operating 24/7, so you can keep the party going all night long. Kids are also allowed at this resort in case you have younger guests who want to attend.

Book Your Wedding Today: It's a misconception that all-inclusive destination weddings are more expensive than a domestic one. You can find ways to save money, such as asking your guests to pay part of their way or paring down your guest list. Also, domestic weddings often include extra costs once you factor in amenities like an open bar, flowers and more. An all-inclusive resort typically encompasses these "hidden costs" at a standard price.

Don't endure the stress of traditional wedding planning, which could potentially taint your day. Book a stay at an all-inclusive resort for stunning views and a more peaceful wedding experience.

Cruise the British Isles & Beyond

Words by Carolyn Steere

Having traveled through many romantic parts of the world on behalf of Destination I Do, it is no surprise that a few have become favorites. Destinations that beckon me to return time and time again. The British Isles never disappoint, whether exploring the countryside by car or cruising along the coast. The people are welcoming, the scenery is spectacular and the wealth of history draws you back to romantic times long past.

England

This time our journey started and ended in Southampton, the nearest port to London, sailing on Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess®. For 12 magical days we experienced ports-of-call in Ireland, Scotland, England and France and all the amenities of the recently refurbished ship.

Channel Islands

After settling into our comfy cabin, our first stop was the Channel Island of Guernsey. It may not be large, but its cobbled streets, medieval castle and Little Chapel make it one of the places where people routinely want to escape for a few days…or years. This well-situated island has been captured and recaptured by the French and English many times over for good reason.

Ireland

Tucked on Ireland’s east coast, Dublin has amazing energy with its young population, delicious libations and city treasures ready to explore. With over 1,000 pubs, Ireland’s oldest university and the gorgeous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin is definitely a place where there are plenty of fun things to do.

Northern Ireland

Emerald green countryside, coastal splendor and historical treasures are all part of the Belfast experience. Our choice was to drive along the magnificent Antrim Coast to the Giant’s Causeway, considered by some to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” According to one myth, the giant, Fin McCool, used the basalt columns of the naturally formed causeway to travel from Ireland to Scotland to visit his lover, a Scottish giantess. Proof that romance has been part of the region for many years. 

Scotland

We drove on to Scotland through beautiful countryside from the port of Glasgow to discover Loch Lomond and the adorable town of Luss. This enchanting lakeside village would be my hands-down pick for a destination wedding with its picturesque stone church and rose covered cottages. 

Inverness is the largest city in the Scottish Highlands and if you are a fan of “Outlander,” many of the sites would be familiar, including the historic battle site at Culloden Moor. It is also the port for visiting Loch Ness, the rumored home of the legendary sea monster “Nessie.” There were no sightings for us, but the lake was beautiful and we explored Urquhart Castle. (We also decided not to own a castle as they tend to get plundered.)

When we disembarked in Edinburgh, we chose to drive to the quaint coastal town of St Andrews. Known primarily as the birthplace of golf, St Andrews is also where the royal romance budded between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge while they attended university. How could Destination I Do not visit? The city of Edinburgh also has much to experience, including Edinburgh Castle that sits above the city and the historic Royal Mile. We definitely have to return to see more of the city sites!

Paris

In addition to the British Isles, we had the wonderful opportunity to add the magnificent, iconic city of Paris on to our journey. Paris has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, especially at night. The Eiffel Tower, Champs-Éysées, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral and nearby Palace of Versailles are all must-see destinations for any couple seeking a romantic experience.

Without a doubt, being on the Caribbean Princess for 12 days was a delight and we learned that saying “I do” on the high seas has never been easier or more idyllic. Princess Cruises, the original “love boat,” broke ground in 1998 with the first wedding ceremony at sea conducted by the ship’s captain. When we spoke with the captain of the Caribbean Princess, Marco Fortezze, he expressed that he welcomed the opportunity to officially tie the knot for his guests.

This part of the world has certainly captured our hearts and we have only just scratched the surface of all the places to visit. Whether you are looking for a great location for a destination wedding, honeymoon or romantic trip, consider visiting our friends across the pond for the trip of a lifetime.

Stay tuned the rest of this week for more recommendations from our team here at Destination I Do, some unique all-inclusive packages, real-life destination weddings, fashion inspiration, real-bride advice and more!

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Carolyn Steere (1st & 15th-16th), UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya (2nd & 4th-7th), TOURISM NI (3rd & 13th-14th), Princess Cruises (8th), VisitGuernsey (9th), Tourism Ireland (10th-12th), Paris Tourist Office - Amelie Dupont (17th), Paris Tourist Office - Jacques Bravo (18th) & Paris Tourist Office - Sarah Sergent (19th).

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