2012 Destination Wedding Trends

destination wedding

Can’t you just picture it? — The sun is beaming down as you make your way down the aisle, the warmth of the sand wrapping around your feet with every step. Soft sprinkles of water fall gently on your face…

Oh yes, it’s a destination wedding!

Saying “I do” amidst the sun, sand and endless margaritas may not be every Bride’s #1 choice but boy does it ever sound intriguing!

I’ll admit that having a destination wedding was never something I had dreamt about as a young girl, but as my fiancé and I — he’s from around here  whereas I grew up in Toronto, three provinces away — tried to compromise on a wedding location that suited both of our families, it really felt like the way to go.

I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Destination Wedding himself, Ed Cotton, who is the chief operating officer at DestinationWeddings.com. He answered a ton of questions I had about getting married down south, and even calmed a few twinges of apprehension I had about doing it so far away.

So have a read through this in-depth Q+A all about destination weddings and hopefully you’ll gain a little more understanding about this traditional wedding alternative that’s going to be so hot in 2012…Enjoy!

What was the most popular destination this year and what can we expect for 2012?

Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica, in that order. That’s roughly 85% of all our destination weddings.

Honestly it hasn’t changed, with the exception that it’s gotten 2% more popular, and it’s been Mexico for years. 60% of our weddings go to Mexico, it’s up from 57% last year (2010), and it looks like we’ll be by the end of the year roughly around 63-64% this year.

And you’ll be amazed how many weddings (in Mexico) we have on the go for 2012 and 2013 already. Our books are filling up daily, it seems.

Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma Cancun, Mexico
{photo courtesy of Karisma Hotels & Resorts}
Why Mexico?

Easy. Number 1, it’s certainly more affordable so there’s more value for your money. The majority of the people go to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, with a much smaller percentage going to western Mexico (Cabo and Puerto Vallarta).

(Mexico) is certainly more affordable so there’s more value for your money…there’s literally something for everybody no matter what your budget is.

Up until recently in Cabo there really weren’t a lot of all-inclusives. The resorts in Cabo have been slowly moving over to all-inclusives but they were a little bit more expensive to begin with. It’s a great destination, as is Peurto Vallarta, because it’s such a great mix between colonial Mexico and modern Mexico. The mountains, the ocean, no matter what you like the flavor is there.

But if you look at Cancun and the Riviera Maya and you look at the hotels, there’s literally something for everybody no matter what your budget is. And number 2, weddings are a big part of their business so they know how to do them, they do them well, they have enough staff, they understand the importance of them, and it just seems to grow for those reasons.

Krystal International Vacation Club in Cancun, Mexico
{photo courtesy of Krystal International Vacation Club}
And it’s the all-inclusives that people want?

Oh yes, 95 %.

What about honeymoons?

I would say 99% if not 100% of them stay within the all-inclusive concept. But I would still say, honestly, for people who don’t do a destination wedding and just do a honeymoon, you’re probably looking at roughly 65% that do all-inclusives.

How much can couples expect to spend on a destination wedding?

I would go out on a limb and say a couple could spend as low as $2,500-$3,000 and actually have their wedding.

A couple could spend as low as $2,500-$3,000 and actually have their wedding.

A Bride and Groom today can really spend not at a lot more than they were going to spend on their honeymoon anyway, and spend it with 40, 50 or 60 of their closest friends and family.

What is that the average number of guests that attend?

The average is 44…but the thing that’s become so interesting over the past couple of years is that when the economy got so bad the number of weddings increased and the number of guests have actually increased as well. I think that’s because of two things: number 1, prices have gone down because the economy isn’t good so the resorts have lowered their rates.

The number of weddings increased and the number of guests have actually increased as well…people are now looking at a destination wedding as if it’s a traditional alternative.

Number 2, the trend that I’ve been seeing is that people are now looking at a destination wedding more as if it’s a traditional alternative. I’ve seen a fair amount of destination weddings where we’ve had 150-200 people.

How long does it take to plan a destination wedding?

I would say 9 to 12 months is perfectly doable.

Where do couples typically choose to have their ceremony?

By the beach. The conundrum for a lot for a lot of Brides is that they really want to get married on the beach but they really want to wear high heels. Some resorts you can’t do that but other resorts have made wooden runners that go to the gazebo so that Brides can wear their high heels and still get married on the sand.

Intimate Beachfront Wedding at El Dorado Royale by Karisma in Cancun, Mexico
{photo courtesy of Karisma Hotels & Resorts}
What about the tacky colors typically associated with all-inclusive resort decor?

They have so many options for colors I didn’t know there were that many colors in the world. And I’m not just talking about the chair bows, I’m talking about the chair covers, table cloths, floral settings…Again, it’s about creating that dream and they do it in Mexico like I’ve never seen!

It’s about creating that dream and they do it in Mexico like I’ve never seen!

What are the most popular months to have a destination wedding?

January, February, April, June and July are the top months and December is high as well. A lot of teachers choose destination weddings so it’s not unusual to see a lot of people wanting to get married on school vacations.

And of course, over the past couple of years we’ve been dealing with the 9/9/09, 10/10/10 and 11/11/11 and next year it’ll be 12/12/12 and some people are looking at 10/11/12.

If you’re interested in hitting the beach for your wedding, check out these tips, advantages and difficulties associated with planning a destination wedding.

And for even more juicy info, check out this blog post by one of our designers whose brother was married in the Dominican Republic earlier this year.

A big thank-you to Ed Cotton for taking the time to talk destination weddings with us! Check out DestinationWeddings.com for more great tips, facts and photos from some of their fabulous destination weddings.

Happy destination weddings!

Photos in photo 1 courtesy of: Hard Rock Hotels and Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Roger Kirby and USAG Livorno PAO.

One thought on “2012 Destination Wedding Trends

  1. Allison – the photographs are absolutely gorgeous! I don’t know why any couple wouldn’t want to enjoy the beauty that this type of wedding offers. Absolutely beautiful!

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