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  • Saturday, March 17, 2018

    Why Are Destination Weddings So Popular?

    Words by
    Photos courtesy of Julieta

    The wedding industry is indeed an inflation proof business; and the growing interest in bespoke celebrations has boosted the market. From Puerto Rico to Turkey, top-notch wedding planners and sponsors who are attendees of the 5th Annual Destination Wedding Planners (DWP) Congress; have one thing in common—an uptick in the destination wedding business over the last two years.

    However, the growth in the destination wedding market has not been restricted to a specific type of destination or function. It is across the industry, as observed by Debra O’Brien, Director of Group Sales, Key Accounts, Belmond, USA who said, “In the last few years, we noted an increase in requests for destination weddings across our entire portfolio of travel experiences, from our beach resorts in Mexico to our 15th-century architectural beauties in Italy.”  

    So why are destination weddings so popular?

    •  It's an excuse to adventure with guests. “Demand for destination weddings is growing so fast; most couples love to have their wedding in a romantic setting that they or their relatives have not been to, or a place that is dear to them but is not home,” commented Dinesh and Ruwanthie Wanigarathna Co-Founders, DR Creations Photography, identifying common motivations couples espouse when planning a destination wedding. 
    •  Culture and cuisine are important factors for destination weddings too. Either couples search for familiar options, or explore foreign destinations with deep cultural roots and culinary heritage – vastly different from their own. “Rich in culture and culinary offerings, and paired with pristine beaches and natural beauty, the Island of Puerto Rico is increasingly attracting more couples, especially those from the USA. Yes, there was a lull after Hurricane Maria, but business is picking up again,” commented Iris Ortiz, Destination Weddings Manager, Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, Puerto Rico.
    What destinations are becoming more popular?
    • Smaller, lesser known areas are getting attention. Agreeing to the general sentiment of an increase in demand, Anna Sourbati, Owner, The Event Company, Greece, said, “In the last two years, there has been a big increase in destination wedding bookings across the country in Greece. Couples have begun exploring other smaller islands, and unexplored parts of Greece rather than sticking to popular destinations such as Santorini and Mykonos.”
    • Exclusive and unique destinations are always a good choice. While the search for the perfect area propels lesser-known destinations into the limelight, time-honoured destinations like Seychelles, dubbed the ‘Island of Love’, are still an attraction for many couples, “Continuing to host weddings almost on a daily basis from clients across the world, the archipelago’s destination weddings market is growing steadily annually,” stated David Germain, Regional Director, Africa and the Americas, Seychelles Tourism Board.

    About the DWP Congress: Organized by Dubai-based QnA International, the DWP Congress is a one-of-a-kind, exclusive gathering that hosts the crème de la crème of the global destination wedding industry. From planners, to suppliers, the by-invite only list is carefully curated to reflect the most prestigious names from the most sought-after destinations in the world, discussing industry trends, challenges, and its future. Additionally, the Congress is held annually at a prime destination wedding location, backed by the host countrys’ tourism boards. Having had hugely successful previous editions in Florence, Phuket, and Athens, the 5th DWP Congress will be hosted at Los Cabos in Mexico in April 2018.

    Speaking on the importance of the Congress to their business, Ozlem Gunesi, Assistant Director of Events, Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, said, “There are many well-known speakers and wedding planners from across the world that attend DWP Congress. Moreover, the Congress does not focus on only one destination, and the change of destination each year increases the chances of meeting different and top wedding planners and representatives from prestigious hospitality and travel brands. It is a must attend event for those in the business.”

    In addition to providing attendees with one-on-one networking opportunities and pre-scheduled appointments for business and relationship development, the Congress also affords a degree of publicity, as Susana Mendia, Banqueting Manager, Hotel Maria Christina, Spain, put it, “The DWP Congress is a great platform for us to announce our destination internationally.”
    Indeed, the DWP Congress has something for everyone in the industry. The 5th annual DWP Congress will be held from 10-12 April 2018, at Los Cabos, Mexico.

  • Friday, March 16, 2018

    Caribbean Wedding in St. John

    Words by Katie Martin
    Photos courtesy of Artanis Collective

    Jennifer and Mark were looking for a small and intimate wedding and they figured the best way to do that was by having a destination wedding. Wanting a place that was both beautiful and would keep guests busy, they chose to have a St. John destination wedding in the Virgin Islands.

    St. John is the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands and for the couple, it's a good thing. St. John was a location that not only allowed more time for the couple to spend with their friends and family, but it also offered plenty of activities for the couple and their guests to enjoy. “St. John has so much to do - not all beach related - which provided a great vacation for all our guests when they were not attending wedding events,” says the couple. “We chose Caneel Bay specifically because it is so beautiful with so much history. The ceremony location at Turtle Bay Point allowed for the most beautiful sunset. The Sugar Mill ruins, where the reception was held, was so unique and showed the history of the island to our guests.”

    The couple had chosen the perfect location for their small and intimate wedding, but now they had to break it to their friends and family and see if they were open to the idea of a destination wedding in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Our families were on board and were excited that we would get to spend more time together,” says Jennifer. “Many of our friends were going to have to travel anyway, so they were excited that we picked a beautiful destination.”

    With their family and friends on board with the wedding, now it was time to start planning, which can be difficult if you don’t live in the location of your wedding. Luckily, the couple got help from a wedding planner. Kristin with Kristen Ashley Events took control of the planning and was able to coordinate everything for the couple’s wedding, from bringing in out-of-town vendors, like their photographer, to working with the local vendors on the island to keep everything running smoothly. “Kristin asked a ton of questions to the vendors to help assemble the best team for us,” says the couple. “This allowed confidence even though we did not meet each vendor in person before the event. She was key in pulling off our wedding. She took care of all the events.” By having Kristin, every detail was planned out and there was less stress for the couple, which comes with the territory of planning a wedding.

    While the couple had a lot of help from their wedding planner, they, like every couple, wanted to add some personal touches to their big day. “We brought the welcome bags and contents with us and assembled them there since we weren’t quite sure if we could find enough of each item we wanted,” says the bride. “Since St. John is a U.S. territory, it was very easy to ship all the items down through the post office.”

    As the couple’s wedding day grew closer, they had to figure out all of the travel logistics for their guests, but the travel details turned out easier than the couple had originally anticipated. “Traveling was very easy for our guests,” says the couple. “Since the island is small with so many different accommodation options, our guests were able to choose what worked best for them and their budget without feeling disconnected from the events.”

    When the big day arrived, the couple walked down the aisle at their wedding, which overlooked the ocean, and they were able to spend a memorable evening with their closest friends and family. “We were able to spend tons of time with each guest and they really got to know each other well,” says the bride. “We got to share our favorite place in the world with them and now they too understand why we love St. John so much.” With a memorable experience in St. John, it’s hard to imagine anything more perfect, but if the couple had chosen to have a wedding at home, it wouldn’t have been as personalized. “Our destination wedding was a nicer, more detailed wedding for the same price as a larger, less detailed wedding in our home town,” says the bride. The couple spent more money on the little details at their destination wedding, but it was well worth it in the end.

    At the end of the day, the couple wanted to offer some advice to others planning a destination wedding. “I would highly suggest hiring a wedding planner or finding a location with a coordinator if possible,” says the couple. “It really helps to keep the details straight when you can’t be on-site for every decision and it allows you to enjoy your time at the wedding instead of stressing about the details. Your vendors are your greatest resource, so make sure you ask them everything you can.”

    Vendors: Photographer: Artanis Collective, Wedding Location: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Ceremony/Reception Site: Caneel Bay Resort, Wedding Planner: Kristin Ashley Events, Florist: Roses Too, Stationery: On Three Designs, Hair and Makeup: Sugar and Spice Salon, Gown Designer:  Hayley Paige, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Perry Ellis, Bridesmaids Clothing Designer: Show Me Your Mumu, Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: Perry Ellis, Welcome Party: The Beach Bar St. John, Sunday Brunch: Ocean Grill, Music: Lauren and Bo, Officiant: Michael Motylinski

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