Booking a wedding abroad is going to be the single most important holiday a couple books and agents can secure clients for life if they get it right. Commission can be increased with large group bookings and upselling opportunities are available when clients see what they are saving.

“All Indian Ocean hotels really push the boat out for couples, with many offering options such as special turndown services, relaxing baths with candles, special dinners on the beach and couples massage”

DEBORAH WADHAMS,SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER, TRAVEL 2

Perfect 10

  1. Underwater magic: Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa in the Maldives has launched a semi-submarine excursion for an intimate marine adventure exploring the reefs

  2. In expert hands: Planning a wedding is stressful enough, so a specialist’s package deal removes the hassle and ensures small details are all taken care of and covered by one bill

  3. Multi-hued wonders: Newlyweds can witness natural beauty together on a day trip to Chamarel village in Mauritius, which features multi-coloured volcanic surfaces and the highest waterfall on the island

  4. The four elements: Hilton Seychelles offers a selection of wedding and renewal of vows packages based around the four elements. Every package includes a bottle of sparkling wine, cake and romantic in-villa breakfast

  5. Vast vistas: Take in ethereal views together atop Adam’s Peak, one of Sri Lanka’s most revered pilgrimage sites

  6. Dine with a view: At Four Seasons Anahita in Mauritius the honeymoon package includes a candlelit dinner which for a small supplement can be arranged on the jetty, the beach or in their villa

  7. Island Castaway: JA Resorts in the Maldives offers ‘castaway island’ wedding options. Couples say their vows on one of its secluded islands, Medhafushi or Govvafushi

  8. Beach baby: Indulge in pre or post-wedding relaxation on Anse Source D’argent in the Seychelles, one of the most photographed beaches in the world

  9. All in the detail: It is the little extras that brides share on social media, which could create opportunities for further agent business

  10. Extra-sensory: Park Hyatt Maldives offers a ‘blind dining’ experience. Guests dine blindfolded at a private beach location experiencing a three-course banquet crafted from their favourite ingredients.

The USPs

The decision to marry overseas is one more and more Brits are making. The benefits are obvious. Not only is the dreamlike setting and spectacular weather attractive but choosing to say ‘I do’ abroad can really keep a lid on costs. According to research from ABTA, around 1.5 million people travelled to a wedding abroad in 2014, either as a guest or part of a wedding party.

Brides magazine says a UK wedding costs on average a hefty £24,000. A wedding overseas, meanwhile, is substantially less, with the average spend being around £6,500. ‘Light’ packages consist of a basic ceremony and reception, while indulgent packages include everything from spa preparation to rose petals and champagne in the bridal suite.

Guests travelling to an overseas wedding pay on average £564, making it a costly event to attend. Therefore, the job of the agent is to ensure that resorts are suggested that will suit both the couple and their guests – for example balancing a romantic secluded island that also offers watersports and activities.

The details

Every country has different legalities for marriage so agents should have a comprehensive knowledge to reassure couples that they are in expert hands.

For example, weddings in Mauritius require couples to apply for a certificate of non-residency at least one month before marriage.

On arrival they need to travel to the Registrar of Civil Status, taking along original documents such as passports and birth certificates. Notice of intent to marry will then be posted and clients can marry the following day. They will also need to swear an affidavit before the Supreme Court’s chief registrar.

Fortunately, most wedding packages will include a dedicated coordinator who will be able to organise the legalities, along with planning the ceremony and any extras.

What the experts say

“The Indian Ocean is the perfect place to celebrate a wedding or a honeymoon. Mauritius particularly caters for newlyweds with some hotels offering huge discounts – up to 50% for honeymooners.”
DEBORAH WADHAMS, SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER AT TRAVEL 2

What’s new

Resorts: Scheduled to open in November 2016, Milaidhoo Island in the Maldives will be offering a stargazing honeymoon package. Newlyweds will be gifted their own star while staying in one of the resorts 50 private villas set atop the Baa Atoll’s UNESCO Biosphere reserve.

Time + Tide on Nosy Ankao is scheduled to open in late December 2016. The first five-star offering in Madagascar will feature 14 villas and will have a large conservation focus offering guided marine and wildlife experiences.

Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa has 16 new Grand Ocean view Pool Villas, each boasting a private infinity pool and panoramic vistas of the Indian Ocean.

Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa, Mauritius is undergoing a soft renovation that is nearing completion.

The new Thanda Island, off the east coast of Tanzania, gives couples the opportunity to hire an entire island for their wedding party.

Packages: The free Classic Wedding Package at Veranda Pointe Aux Biches now includes a discount voucher for the bride at the hotel’s spa, in-room sparkling wine and a fresh fruit platter upon arrival. On the wedding day, the couple will enjoy a ceremony and candlelight dinner on the beach.

2017 will see the luxury Maldivian resort Gili Lankanfushi celebrate its fifth birthday by offering couples the chance to sleep under the stars on a roof terrace, dine on a deserted island surrounded by hundreds of candles or enjoy a private outdoor film screening experience.

Where to book it

Hayes and Jarvis offers seven nights for the price of five at the new five-star OZEN By Atmosphere at Maadhoo on an all-inclusive basis costs from £2,749pp, a saving of up to £720pp. The offer includes speedboat transfers and return international flights from Heathrow with Etihad, based on May 21 departure.

Seven nights’ all-inclusive at the Veranda Paul et Virginie in Mauritius from Travel 2 is priced from £1,259pp. The deal includes return transfers and flights from Gatwick. The adults-only hotel has direct access to the beach and features double hammocks for couples.