Worldwide weddings & honeymoons
By Rowena Marella-Daw | June 2018 | 6 minute read
Getting married abroad brings many benefits, with the average cost pegged at £7,500 (excluding flights) or less, compared to getting hitched in the UK which, based on a recent survey, averages between £27,000 and £34,000. Add a honeymoon to that and you’ve got yourself a great commission.
“Most hotels that take weddings have co-ordinators who make the big day run smoothly and sometimes we even put them in contact with the client, and where possible, any extras booked are then commissionable to both travel agent and operator”
PAUL BRITCHFORD, EUROPE PRODUCT MANAGER FOR ELEGANT RESORTS
Romance by rail: Slow travel by luxury rail the civilised way to watch the world go by. Belmond’s legendary Venice Simplon-Orient Express travels from London to Paris, Venice, Verona and Budapest, while Rovos Rail offers exciting rail adventures between Cape Town and Victoria Falls.
Roadtrips: A tailor-made fly-drive package allows couples to stop and stay wherever takes their fancy. The U.S. and Canada open up myriad adventures, while driving through South Africa’s coastal Garden Route, from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, throws up romantic options, cosy beach properties, top restaurants, and private wine tastings in vineyards.
Stargazing: Couples can gaze at the constellations from the comfort of their romantic abode. Top destinations include Tenerife’s Teide National Park, andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, which has an observatory in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, and Chile’s Atacama Desert, where the Elqui Domos resort incorporates an observatory, domed tents and timber cabins with glass roofs.
Food and wine: Food is at the heart of any culture and the route to the soul of any destination – which makes foodie experiences, from gourmet dining to street food, popular with couples. Wine tourism is also growing, and lesser-known regions such as Slovenia’s Vipava Valley, ‘Slovenia’s Tuscany’, make perfect honeymoon destinations. Stay at Castello Gredič, a fortress palace built over 400 years ago.
Themed weddings: Couples can tie the knot in the ‘local custom’, such as a traditional Tahitian or Japanese ceremony, complete with costumes, music and rituals. In The Bahamas, the Grand Bahama Island Enchanged Encounter package enables couples to exchange vows either underwater or in the open sea in the presence of dophins.
The world’s their oyster
Keeping wedding and honeymoon costs low can be down to timing – off-peak season bookings can slash the price of packages, accommodation and flights. And, according to the Weddings Abroad Guide, some of the most affordable wedding destinations are Mauritius, Malta and Sri Lanka.
But there’s almost nowhere off limits for a romantic holiday. Foodies can indulge in gastro destinations like France, Spain and Peru; carefree couples can hit the road in big sky destinations like North America, Australia or South Africa, old-fashioned romantics can embark on rail journeys perusing the heights of the Andes or the Canadian Rockies, whilst wildlife lovers can fall for Africa’s luxury private reserves, Latin America’s steamy jungles or southeast Asia’s rich seas.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge chose to honeymoon in the Seychelles in 2011 and with British Airways’ new Heathrow-Seychelles route it is easier than ever tie the knot in the Indian Ocean destination. This region continues to lead the way in couples-dedicated holidays and weddings.
Also up there is the Caribbean, where the properties of AMResorts, which include Zoetry, Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Now and Sunscape, offer a selection of personalised wedding and honeymoon packages. Each property offers a complimentary ‘symbolic’ wedding package for up to 10 guests.
Jamaica is one Caribbean island proving popular among British and Irish romantics: in 2016 40% more taking their nuptial vows there compared to the year before.
Accommodation: When it opens in September Ayana Komodo Resort will be the only five-star retreat on Labuan Bajo, Waecicu Beach, in Indonesia’s Flores Island. Couples can get married on the resort’s rooftop venue with ocean views, head for its private pier and sail away on board the luxury Ayana Lako di’a Phinisi vessel.
Natural Selection’s Shipwreck Lodge opens this month (June) on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. Nestled among the dunes are shipwreck-shaped chalets with views of the Atlantic Ocean.
The latest addition to the Time + Tide family is Miavana in Madagascar, an eco-friendly honeymoon retreat that blends luxury and progressive conservation on the island’s northeast coast.
Tour Operators: Caribtours’ current agents incentive, the ‘Royal Guest List’, sees several leading honeymoon and wedding resorts providing prizes such as three nights all-inclusive in the Cove Penthouse at Blue Waters, Antigua, and five nights all-inclusive at Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla. In addition to room nights, prizes include bottles of champagne, cases of wine and gift vouchers. It kicked off on May 12 and will run until June 30. Prizes can be claimed at caribtours.co.uk/royalwedding by July 9 2018.
What the experts say
“From intimate gatherings to the most lavish affairs, outdoor celebrations, modern or historic venues, Malta has a wide selection of wedding venues. For those who wish to have a religious ceremony, the island is home to 365 churches.
“Malta is a welcoming and inclusive destination for all, which was cemented last year with the approval of same-sex marriages and the country topping the Rainbow index for the second year. Hotels like the refurbished Phoenicia Hotel offer plenty of luxury, whilst beautiful palazzos, including the Palazzo Parisio, provide an elegant backdrop to a fairytale wedding.”
PETER VELLA, DIRECTOR UK & IRELAND, MALTA TOURISM AUTHORITY
Where to book it
Simply Luxury by Travel 2 has The Brando Private Island in Tetiaroa on its books, French Polynesia’s most luxurious destination. A 10-night package includes seven nights in a one-bedroom villa and three nights at the five-star InterContinental Tahiti Resort, both on a B&B basis. Also included are economy flights with Air New Zealand, private transfers in Papeete, and private plane transfers between Papeete and Tetiaroa, all from £9,999pp, for travel January 10 - March 23 2019.
Seven nights at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island with Caribtours starts from £4,245pp. The deal includes international and domestic flights, private transfers and the use of a UK airport lounge. Qualifying periods in 2019: May 12-June 14, June 28-August 19 and September 2-October 31.