Puerto Rico Destination WeddingsWords by Courtney Kellar
With its passport-free convenience, friendly locals and jungle-meets-beach winning combination, it’s easy to see why Puerto Rico is one of the most popular Caribbean islands for U.S. destination wedding couples. We’ve explored two potential hosts for your wedding away and found that, no matter what you’re after, Puerto Rico has an option that will suit your needs.
For couples wanting nuptials accompanied by great nightlife and century-old ruins, stick to San Juan and the historic Condado Plaza Hilton. Since it’s the only hotel located between the Condado Lagoon and the Atlantic, you get the best of both worlds with scenic ocean views on one side and a calm-watered lagoon backed by the city skyline on the other.
Express “bienvenidos” by hosting an evening cocktail party for your guests with delicious passed hors d'oeuvres like truffle cheese "empanadillas" at the swanky Pikayo restaurant. Then, exchange vows over the sound of crashing waves and with the San Geronimo Fort ruins as your backdrop. For your reception, the Royal Ballroom is an easy choice with floor-to-ceiling windows, a large stage and gorgeous built-in bar.
All-in-all, the Condado Plaza Hilton has 18 event spaces to choose from and its 500-plus rooms are all poshly decorated in either red or sea-blue hues. As a member of the Historic Hotels of America, the hotel lives up to its reputation with amazing food and an experienced event staff waiting on your beck and call.
If you’re not interested in the San Juan nightlife, head to the northeastern tip of the island and the El Conquistador, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. This expansive property has got entertaining down to a science; so don’t worry about keeping your guests busy. Aside from the shopping, marina, 18-hole golf course, spa, arcade and nightly entertainment – there’s also a waterpark. Oh, and did we mention the private island?
While guests can catch a free, 15-minute ferry over to Palomino Island for the day, book it for your exclusive use in the evening for a wedding “welcome” barbeque and bonfire to be remembered. Because the resort can bring their world-class cuisine to the island, think beyond the traditional BBQ staples. Treat your guests to gourmet fare like fresh ceviche served in coconut bowls and topped with crispy plantains, or the fresh-catch seasoned and grilled whole – just how the locals like it.
Used to handling large conferences, El Conquistador can accommodate even your craziest W-Day request and has expert vendors on-site. "You're only limited by your imagination here,” says Lydia Feliciano, Director of Marketing and Communications for the resort. “We've seen it all and we've done it all. There's no such thing as 'no' here. We will work with you to make it happen…as long as it's legal!"
For a slightly slower pace, consider moving over to Las Casitas Village – an oasis of villas set apart from the main resort. Ranging from one-to-three bedrooms, every villa comes with a full kitchen and butler service.
With easy convenience to the U.S. and a history of excellence in the world of destination weddings, Puerto Rico is a safe and spectacular option.
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): the Condado Plaza Hilton (1st and 4th) and the El Conquistador, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (2nd and 3rd)
This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall/Winter 2015 issue. You can order a copy here.
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