Why destination weddings become full-fledged group vacations – 71Bait

Jack Ezon has planned some wild weddings in his 22 years in the travel business. As the founder of Embark Beyond and a member of T+L’s Travel Advisory Board, Ezon has arranged seven-figure celebrations worldwide. Take the event in Puglia, Italy, where he threw up fireworks to discourage paparazzi from photographing guests from the air. Or when he chartered a Boeing 737 to fly floral arrangements from Holland to a wedding in Anguilla. He once sent an advance team to build a Mykonos-style beach club on a private island in the Caribbean for just one night, so guests could dance until sunrise without having to turn the music down.

But these days, even this wrangler of the seemingly impossible is a little breathless. “It’s been crazy this year,” Ezon says of the latest requests from couples and their families. “Budgets have increased by almost 70 percent, and not just because of inflation. People are done with everything at home. They want to celebrate – and big.”

Here’s why couples go all out for their destination weddings

It’s a shift that’s being felt throughout the wedding industry, let alone hotels and venues worldwide.

“No expense is spared when it comes to weddings these days,” agrees Kara Bebell of the Travel Siblings. She and her brother Harlan deBell are wedding experts on T+L’s A-list of travel consultants. “All the couples who have had to postpone their weddings and honeymoons four or five times,” says Bebell, “are coming back to travel in full force, splurging on exclusive experiences, better hotels, more exotic trips and resort acquisitions.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Areias do Seixo

Real estate in California’s wine country, for example, is seeing a boom in business, be it the Montage Healdsburg, the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Napa Valley or the new Stanly Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection. But with popular demand — and a willingness to invest — many couples are looking further afield.

Europe is a one-stop shop, says Josh Alexander, an A-list consultant at Protravel International who specializes in weddings and honeymoons. “International events are huge, but especially in European destinations – partly because the euro is so weak that it offers great value,” he says.

Portugal was particularly hot, say advisers. Resorts like Areias do Seixo, just outside Lisbon, or Six Senses Douro Valley, in wine country, are among a range of luxury offerings that offer the space and amenities to host lavish events. Ibiza is another destination growing in popularity with Americans, says Bebell, who likes the newly opened Six Senses on the Spanish island: “Who doesn’t want a suite with plenty of indoor/outdoor space and a view of Xarraca Bay? “

Lake Como
Photo credit: Ricky Monti/Courtesy of Passalacqua

Italy is another favorite, says Ezon. “I am delighted with the new Passalacqua overlooking Lake Como from the owners of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo,” he notes. “Lake Como is probably our most popular wedding destination this year, although Florence is still the best city for celebrations thanks to its amazing variety of venues.” (Florence, by the way, took fourth place among world cities in T +L.)

Some couples skip the hotel and tap into maritime tradition aboard brand new cruise ships. “On celebrity beyond, you can have your wedding performed by Captain Kate McCue, the first American to helm a large cruise ship,” says Bebell. Booking an event at sea means the logistics such as flowers, food and entertainment are taken care of by the professionals, while the couple and their guests can enjoy not just a celebration but a week-long Caribbean or Mediterranean sailing.

In fact, the idea of ​​turning a wedding weekend into an all-encompassing group vacation is becoming increasingly popular.

“Couples are now curating their wedding with a whole list of to-dos, whether it’s organizing parties or cultural field trips,” says Emily Forrest, communications director at wedding website Zola. “For example, if a couple is having a wedding in Sonoma, they take on the responsibility of arranging all of the wine tastings for everyone — to treat their guests to a full-on event.”

Destination wedding
Credit: Tim McKenna/Courtesy of The Brando

At Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, more and more couples are putting together elaborate itineraries for guests making the trip, says Event Sales Manager Alexis Hurey. “Most look at the whole experience – not just the wedding.”

It’s a trend that Ezon is also seeing in its customers, who are willing to spend whatever it takes to create something amazing. “They want to do what they want, when they want, how they want it — and more than four out of five of our celebrations are now buyouts,” meaning one party reserves an entire resort. It could be a wedding in Southall, an inn and farm set to open near Nashville this winter, or an even more over-the-top event on Brando, the private island in French Polynesia.

“Weddings aren’t just about the wedding anymore,” says Forrest. “It’s about spending time together.”

This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com

Main and Game Credit: Samantha Falewée and Paul Brady

Also see: Realize your dream wedding in Thailand at Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort

Leave a Comment