Bride and Groom First Dance

2024 Trends for Hosting the Ultimate Destination Wedding


January 16, 2024
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of various

In the ever-evolving landscape of wedding planning, couples are turning to cutting-edge technology and creative ideas to host the ultimate wedding weekend. To help predict what elements of the wedding will take center stage in 2024 and beyond, we’ve consulted with event staff of trendy hotels and venues across the U.S. alongside talking to real-life couples who recently wed!

Artwork from a wedding websitePhoto by @tinkertailorart

New Tech Helps Preview Desired Designs

Gone are the days of extensive brainstorming sessions, countless visits to decorators, and flipping through endless magazines and websites just to get an idea of what you want your wedding vibe to be. AI technology can delve into a couple’s unique preferences, drawing insights from a myriad of sources such as social media profiles, browsing histories, and engaging quizzes or questionnaires. The AI platform meticulously considers details like favorite colors, memorable holidays, and preferred decoration styles, to help give couples an idea of what they might want their overall wedding design to be. While nothing could ever replace the expertise of a wedding designer, this could be the inspiration to bring to their professional teams as a jumping-off point. 

Set of beach themed giftsPhoto by Corbin Gurkin

Welcoming Guests with Local Goodies

In efforts to honor and give back to their chosen destination, we are seeing more and more couples incorporating local goodies in guest welcome bags. Whether it’s a towel handwoven in the nearby village, sweet treats from the local candy shop, or a staple of the destination (like fresh fruit or maracas), it’s a great way to get guests excited about the locale!

Activities for the Whole Group or Just the Guys or Gals

Let the games begin! We’ve observed an increasing number of couples including outdoor games or even tournaments in their wedding weekends. Not only are they great bonding experiences and way to get guests comfortable with each other, but they set the tone for a weekend of fun. Some couples are even offering more tailored experiences for guests, like taking the guys out for a day of fishing, golfing, or exploring on ATVs while the gals have a spa or shopping day. How fun is that?

Cats dressed up in tuxedosPhoto by Joelsview Photography

Don’t Leave the Fur Babies at Home

Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Residence Inn has witnessed a rising trend of couples including their fur babies in wedding festivities. Whether serving as the “Ring Bearer,” “Flower Dog,” or the esteemed “Cat of Honor,” four-legged friends are becoming an integral part of the celebration. Their names and likenesses are even featured in signature cocktails at the reception.

Live wedding painter for hirePhoto by Kismet Visuals & Co. // Live Painter: By Brittany Branson

Capture Things From a Different Eye

Another element we saw gain traction in 2023: live painters! No longer do couples wish to relive their wedding days solely with photos and video, but through the lens of an artist. This way, by the end of the night, couples can take home a piece to be hung on the wall or even passed down for years to come. Not to mention, guests have the opportunity to marvel at the painter’s progress throughout the event. Live entertainment? Check!

A taco on a record player

Photos by MeewMeew Studios // Food by Chef Lee Anderson

Unique, Interactive Food & Beverage Presentation

Couples are incorporating interactive experiences, such as attaching place cards to a Champagne wall, Jamison Vaught of The London West Hollywood tells us. Guests ring a bell, and a hand pops out of the wall to hand them a glass of Champagne, adding an element of fun and surprise to the seating process! Another neat trend showing up everywhere are unconventional food presentations. For example, a 2023 event celebrating 10 years of business at Maui’s Sugar Beach Events featured a DIY dish set atop a record player and salads displayed in clear cocktail shakers. This proves that not only can wedding food be delicious but a culinary experience as well!

I live wedding band for hirePhoto by Charla Storey

The Party Don’t Start ‘Til The Band Walks In

The Ballantyne Hotel’s Wedding Sales Manager, Claudia Long, has witnessed the comeback of live bands, coupled with DJs incorporating elements like drums or saxophones for a unique musical experience. This combination adds a touch of sophistication and energy to the celebration, ensuring the dance floor stays lively. After all, who wants to leave a band jamming their hearts out hanging?

Nautical themed event with a drone show at a pool (wedding)Photos by Phillip Van Nostrand

Let Light Bring the “Wow” Factor

Claudia Long mentions the increasing demand for LED walls and dance floors at The Ballantyne Hotel. These additions bring a captivating visual element to the wedding, creating a dynamic atmosphere for guests. And, as an alternative to traditional entertainment, couples will likely be incorporating the newest “light show” method with drones… you read that right: DRONES! We’re truly in future times. 

“We do!”

Rita Moore of Le Meridien Salt Lake City Downtown has observed the concept of “Crowd Vows,” where the officiant invites the crowd to collectively say, “WE DO.” This engaging tradition turns the couple towards the guests, creating a moment of smiles, interaction, and fantastic photo opportunities.

As couples continue to embrace technology trends and redefine traditions, hosting the ultimate wedding weekend in 2024 involves a blend of creativity, personalization, and a touch of the unexpected.

Header image Ricardo Arellano

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