How luxury destination weddings got their groove back
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Couples who wanted to host destination weddings had their plans impacted during the pandemic. In between border closures and travel restrictions, loved-up couples had no choice but to postpone their impending nuptials.
Of course, with the vaccine roll-out and countries reopening, travellers are spoilt for choice with grand destinations options to host their special day.
Wedding and Function founder Alison Kirk said smaller, indulgent destination weddings in South Africa and abroad were to remain popular post-pandemic.
She said couples who wed during the pandemic found that intimate weddings allowed them to offer their guests a luxury holiday.
“More couples are choosing destination weddings for their guests, which allows them to say their vows in a picturesque setting with people they love, and de-stress while they explore a new location.
“Sparing no cost, most of the destination weddings offer guests a glimpse into luxury travel, with over-the-top activities included.
“The bridal party count down the days to the nuptials with a curated website that shares everything that guests need for their trip,” said Kirk.
Natalie Knibbs, the owner of Africa Memories Travel, said most couples want to stand out from the rest and do something different.
“They want to offer an experience for their guests and not only a wedding. A wedding is something that you do only once in your life. You want it to be something you and your guests will never forget,” she said.
Destination South Africa
With nowhere to travel during the lockdown, couples opted for locations within South Africa, which rival some of the most famed international destinations.
Kirk said the South African tourism and wedding industry took strain during the pandemic.
She said destination weddings had the potential to boost tourism and allowed wedding guests to appreciate the beauty of South Africa.
Boasting world heritage sites, mountains, beaches and sunshine, South Africa doesn’t disappoint on the experience front.
“We have so much to offer here,” Kirk said. “Couples can find something that suits their personality, passion and style, whether it’s in a national park or at a blue flag beach in Durban.”
South Africa was also a cheap wedding option for local and international travellers alike, Kirk said.
Abroad, couples favoured destinations such as Mauritius, Zanzibar, the Seychelles, Bahamas, Bermuda and Hawaii.
Knibbs said most couples chose to book out the accommodation for their exclusive use, which was dependent on the size of the venue and affordability.
“Exclusivity means that the venue can be relatively flexible on timing and arrangements and pull out all the stops to make the special day run smoothly.
“Safari weddings are a popular choice as many hire out the entire lodge for exclusive use. Besides that, nothing beats African hospitality. We are warm, inviting, and we go out of our way to make you feel welcome,” she said.
Planning the itinerary
While couples have their work cut out for them when it comes to planning the wedding, the itinerary allows them to include bucket list activities into their schedule to help them unwind in between the festivities.
Kirk said she found that many couples were lavish on their itineraries.
She said couples often booked boat trips with champagne on tap, spa treatments for the women and golf days for the men. The more wealthy included helicopter experiences, sunrise hot-air balloon rides, and indulgent wine-tasting tours.
“We also find that people wed on cruises and treat their guests to all-expenses-paid sailing on luxury cruisers. Or they opt for experiences and locations with a view,” she said.
Kirk advised couples to make use of a travel agent to do their booking and planning.
“Travel agents are knowledgeable about where to go and what to do. They know what places offer incredible experiences and what to steer clear from.”
What couples should know
Kirk said couples needed to ask the right questions before booking a destination wedding.
“Find out whether there are additional costs after a certain time or whether the destination will offer the honeymoon suite for free if you book the property.
“Many couples rely on their wedding planner or travel agent to do this, but having a hands-on approach will save you money and time, especially if you have a budget.”