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specializing in destination weddings & honeymoons

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Sweet Sri Lanka Romance in the Land Down Under

Weddings & Honeymoons on the


3000 miles | 130 plane tickets | 6 linen suits | 2 rings | 1 perfect dress

No worries.

Your destination celebration should only be about one thing:

Love in a faraway land.. From room reservations and transportation to flowers, food and favors, your DestinationVows specialist has the smarts, passion and planet-wide partnerships to ensure every moment of your celebration goes just the way you planned. So whatever the occasion, wherever the destination, trust an expert with the details. We’ll help you go that extra mile. Go to to find a specialist in your area.


The all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels of Mexico and the Dominican Republic proudly welcome you to proclaim your love on the picturesque sands of paradise. Customize your wedding experience and infuse your personal style with spectacular collections by celebrity event designer Colin Cowie. Keep the fun in full swing after the wedding with 3 signature Honeymoon Packages including the COMPLIMENTARY HONEYMOON PACKAGE, which comes standard. Or turn up the luxury and select other honeymoon packages. MEXICO






Contact your Ensemble DestinationVows Specialist

Choose your romantic adventure in the Hawaiian Islands Hawai‘i offers six romantic islands, tailor-made for two. Spend the day sharing adventures, from watching the sunrise atop Haleakalā to catching the sunset from WaikĪkĪ Beach. Explore beaches. Chase rainbows. Stumble upon a surprise or two. You’ll see why the best memories of your trip to Hawai‘i are the unexpected moments that you discover together.

KAUA‘I Tranquil and green, Kaua‘i is an island for rejuvenation. Explore the towering cliffs of the Na-pali Coast on the North Shore by taking a boat tour or cruise.

O‘AHU Home to Waikı-kı-, the island of O‘ahu is Hawai‘i’s epicenter for cuisine, culture and iconic destinations. Visits to Pearl Harbor and the North Shore are a must, but wander from the beaten path to discover unique, local gems. MAUI Romance blooms on the golden sands of Maui. For an unforgettable experience, watch an intimate sunrise together more than 10,000 feet above sea level atop Haleakalā volcano.

ISLAND OF HAWAI‘I Adventures await on the largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Explore the crystal blue waters of the Kohala Coast or the lush gardens and waterfalls of the Hāmākua Heritage Corridor.

Get inspired at #LetHawaiiHappen For more information please contact your Ensemble Destination Vows Specialist.

Of people and place. ©Aylssa Marie Photography

No matter how many stories I read, I never get tired of learning about a person’s real destination wedding. There’s just something so romantic about the concept of friends and family stealing away to an exotic locale, gathering beneath a warm sun and filling that place with love, hope and good times. And after another year of working on DestinationVows magazine, I’m still blown away by the sheer community of it all. Perhaps it’s the romance of stepping away from daily life and into a place that holds special meaning for you and yours. Or, maybe it’s the feeling of being surrounded by your loved ones in a place that’s essentially worry-free thanks to the help of thoughtful and skilled wedding experts. A wedding can be themed, purposeful, unplugged (page 18), or include the hottest fashions (page 10) - anything is possible. It can be on the beach, on a ship (page 46) or in a waterside chapel (page 44) - whatever the details, there’s no denying it: Marrying away from home is an unbeatable way to make some memories (and let’s face it - the photos are always just spectacular). But there’s something else about taking your vows in a special place. After everyone has returned home, and anniversaries have gone by, the memories of one of the best days of your life stays quite vivid - made stronger by the fact that everyone took time out of the busyness of life to really celebrate your love in a big way. When you think back to that day, the memories are more tangible - you can still hear all the beautiful things that were said that day, taste the flavors of the foods you’d never had before, or feel the warmth of the sand beneath your toes. It stays with you, perhaps because it was deeply meaningful, like the intrinsic customs of Natasha and Hector’s multicultural Indian-Mexican wedding (page 30). The common thread tying all the real weddings in the following pages is this: It was the people and the place that made the wedding day so special. So as you sit back and enjoy our latest issue of DestinationVows, don’t just try to pull inspiration from the fabulous photography, decadent décor and sensational style of these weddings. Take a moment to consider how you’d like your own day to feel in-destination - before, during and after it’s all taken place, and most importantly, who will help you make it that way.

Britney Hope, Editor

06 | 2019

Britney Hope Editor

style real weddings planning destinations

10 Essential Bridal Styles for 2019 18 Trends 18 Trends

22 Brittney & Jason 26 Rebecca & Danny 30 Natasha & Hector

38  Top Wedding Customs Nobody Wants to Live Without 59  Destination Wedding Checklist

42 44

How to Have a Dream Wedding in Madrid The Waterside Chapel at Baha Mar, Nassau

26 Rebecca & Danny

ocean cruising honeymoons

46 Why Get Married on an Ocean Cruise?

50 52 54

Finding Romance in the Land Down Under Sip, Savor, Saluti on an Italian Honeymoon Sweet Sri Lanka



Ensemble Travel® Group

Managing Editor & Creative Director Kimberly Buerkle


Britney Hope

Project Manager Wendy Russo

Contributing Writers

Carly Ostroff, Charlotte New, Megan Honan, Zachary-Cy Vanasse, Katie Lockhart, Christina Newberry, Alex Davies, Erin Lindholm, Liz Scull

Advertising Co-ordinator Alice Stroh

Art Direction

Cherry Ann Valles, Cinzia Cammisa Foxx Advertising & Design Inc.

46 Ocean Cruise

Production Management

Joe Viecili, Dalia Shamkhani Foxx Advertising & Design Inc.

Print Management AM Lithographers

Marketing & Advertising

Kimberly Buerkle, Sr. Manager of Marketing & Communications

Ensemble Travel® Group. All rights reserved. 2019 Ensemble Travel® Group, Ensemble DestinationVows® is a registered trademark of Ensemble Travel® Group. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without written permission of the publisher. Ensemble DestinationVows® is issued once per year on behalf of Ensemble Travel® Group member agencies. Photos by Getty unless stated otherwise. Ensemble Travel® Group – DestinationVows® | 256 W. 38th Street, New York, NY 10018 2019 | 07

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

Say Yes to a Dream Wedding

No matter what amorous occasion beckons you to Dreams Resorts & Spas, you will be enraptured by luxury from the moment you arrive. Beautiful and exciting destinations provide a lovely setting for a wedding, honeymoon, anniversary, or vow renewal getaway. Best of all, every amenity is included as part of UnlimitedLuxury ® for a picture-perfect vacation experience with welcoming service and romantic inclusions. Offering a variety of wedding packages with abundant, romantic personalization options, Dreams Resorts & Spas makes it easy to find the perfect package. Each expertly crafted and customized package provides you with all the essentials for your picture-perfect event – plus special touches that will wow to make your wedding truly unique including free anniversary nights! Relax knowing our onsite wedding coordinators are there for you every step of the way and handle all the details so you can focus on one another. Have the wedding of a lifetime at Dreams Resorts & Spas!

Guests of Dreams Resorts & Spas will enjoy Unlimited-Luxury®, which includes: luxurious accommodations, 24-hour room and concierge service, daily refreshed mini-bars, an array of gourmet dining options, exquisite bars serving limitless top-shelf spirits, countless day and nighttime activities and much more! COSTA RICA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: La Romana | Punta Cana MEXICO: Cancun | Huatulco | Los Cabos Nuevo Vallarta | Playa Mujeres Puerto Aventuras | Riviera Cancun | Tulum PANAMA

For more information, please contact your Ensemble® DestinationVows specialist! Tours operated by Travel Impressions, Ltd. Information is accurate at time of publication and is subject to changes, blackout dates, exceptions, cancellation charges and restrictions. Not responsible for errors or omissions in the publication of this information. CST #2029006-20, IOWA #758, Washington UBI #602 425 801. LF24311-18_SH_11.16.18.

tie the knot with Princess


Create memories that last a lifetime. Embark on a romantic journey on board one of our beautiful ships. Elevate your imagination with an unforgettable Tie the Knot wedding at sea, in a unique port or in an exotic destination. Delight in a professionally curated reception designed to turn your special moments into lifelong memories.

Receive up to USD



onboard spending money on select sailings*

*Up to $85 USD Onboard Spending Money is per stateroom. Offer is applicable to first/second-berth guests only. Third/fourth-berth guests are not eligible. Onboard spending money may be used on a single voyage only, is not redeemable for cash, cannot be used in the casino and expires at the end of that voyage. Offer is not transferable and may not be combinable with other select offers or other onboard credits. Onboard spending money is quoted in U.S. dollars and is based on the ship’s onboard currency. Void where prohibited by law. ©2018 Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. Ships of Bermudan and British registry.

fashion & beauty ESSENTIAL

Bridal Styles FOR 2019 By Carly Ostroff

Ready to make it official? Every season ushers in its own wave of new bridal trends designed for beachside weddings. We’ve scoured the runway for nine of the most notable styles for this year’s waterfront weddings. Read on to find your perfect look.


10 | Fashion & Beauty 2019

Flirty floral

Stop the show with a strapless mermaid gown embellished with floral cut-outs and a detachable bow. Balance the ultra-feminine style with a jumbo statement pearl cuff for a classic look with an edgy twist. Finally, a couple sprays of Byredo’s wedding-worthy fragrance are all that’s needed for love to be in the air. Johanna Ortiz La Leyenda Del Beso Dress Byredo Seven Veils Eau de Parfum Beaufille Brixton Gold-Plated Faux Pearl Cuff


Sheer perfection

Nothing says true romance like a crystal-embellished semi-sheer corseted gown - and layers upon layers of light-as-air tulle. Sweep windswept hair half up with a sparkly barrette and finish off the ensemble with strappy studded sandals - and a couple coats of quality mascara - for a real eye-opening look.


Dana Harel Morning Star Collection price upon request,

Valentino Garavani The Rockstud Leather Sandals Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara


In love with lace


This season’s lace gowns are parting with tradition, with new plunging dress styles tying up at the waist in shades of ecru and cream befitted to beachside weddings. With this style, lips should be rosy, hair lightly adorned with baby’s breath, and diamond earrings can spell out a bride’s wedding day bliss – literally. Reformation Montego Dress

Sydney Evan Love 14-Karat Gold Diamond Earrings

Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick in Infinite Rose 2019 | 11

fashion & beauty



Who says you have to wear white? This Dana Harel plunging sequin gown with sheer pink pooling tulle is a great reason to buck tradition. Keep focus on the gown with a simple touch of blush stick over cheeks and lips, while diamond drop earrings will catch the natural sunlight of any outdoor ceremony. Dana Harel Morning Star Collection Montse Esteve 18K Gold, Oxidized Silver and Diamond Earrings NARS The Multiple - Orgasm

12 | Fashion & Beauty 2019

Fit and flare


A modern-day bride will still appreciate the appeal of enduring dress styles that have been updated to hug the body in all the right places. While strategically placed pearls in the hair prove a little jewelry can go a long way, an all-silk handbag in baby blue dials up the drama on an age-old tradition. Maggie Sottero Rosamund Applique Gown Lelet NY Mercury Imitation Pearl Comb

The Row Ascot Small Satin Tote in Light Blue

Shine on

A sweetheart gown that crops just above the ankle has an of-the-moment feel suitable for a ceremony on the water. Pick up on the dress’s metallic detailing with silver sandals in the same shade, then give hair a quick spray of micromist to give hold with natural movement all night long.


Marchesa Notte 3D Embroidered Strapless Gown Jimmy Choo Lang Fine Glitter 85mm Sandal TRESemmĂŠ Compressed Hairspray Smooth, Hold Level 2 Hairspray

fashion & beauty

Diamonds are forever

Every bride wants to stand out on her wedding day, and embellished dresses are guaranteed to shine. Before slipping into the dress, brides-to-be can apply shimmering body oil to arms and legs for just a little bit more sparkle, and anchor the look with a gauzy floor length veil for a more classic appeal.


Sottero & Midgley Evangelina Sheath Gown

Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil Inmaculada GarcĂ­am Chapel Veil

14 | Fashion & Beauty 22019 019

Open up


An open back gown is a sophisticated way to show off a little skin at an outdoor wedding. As for beauty, a couple strokes of bronzer is all it takes to highlight any bridal glow. Keep a pale pink ring clutch in hand for a striking contrast to an otherwise refined look. Mikaella Bridal V-Back Sash Fit-and-Flare Trumpet Gown BECCA x Chrissy Teigen Endless Bronze & Glow Alexander McQueen Pink Four Ring Flat Clutch

9 Pretty in pink

Everyone expects something blue, but Vera Wang’s pink and nude gown will give them something they’ll never see coming. Keep it modern with clear, crystal-studded PVC heels for the illusion of legs for days. Press-on nails with Instagram-glam art make for instant standout manicures – and an enduring look of love. Vera Wang Corset Ballgown Schutz Blanck Mule

KISS Glam Fantasy 2019 | 15


ROMANTIC SIDE. Guests save up to $225 per booking on destination weddings. Delta Vacations offers luxurious resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Las Vegas to create the perfect wedding, from beautiful complimentary packages to elaborate upgrades. Your guests save up to $225 per booking on a flight and hotel package of $699 or more. Plus, as the wedding couple, you receive up to $100 for each guest booking, up to the total cost of your own reservation.* For more information, please contact your Ensemble DestinationVows Specialist.

Offer subject to change without notice; other restrictions may apply. *Minimum night stays, select travel dates and other restrictions may apply. For complete terms and conditions, visit Inclusions vary at select resorts. Š2019 Delta Vacations DV32502


We've got the cure for wanderlust

Luxury Small-Ship Voyages NOTE: Rights Managed TMK, need to price out what it would cost to use per publication

For more information please contact your Ensemble DestinationVows Specialist.


Trends By Liz Scull

ŠShayla & Nathan Simon

Giving back

The act of giving back to a disadvantaged community in the destination you marry in has seen a huge surge over the last year. In lieu of gifts, couples ask for donations to a charity or school and pre-arrange a visit to drop off the donations. It not only gives the couple and their guests a good feeling about what they have done, but more importantly, it is helping out those in need.


At the entrance to the ceremony, place your cell phone in the basket provided, that is what more and more couples are asking their guests to do. It’s not only annoying to see guests with arms in the air taking pics or video, it can also spoil the wedding pics being taken by a professional photographer, especially during your first dance as a married couple.

18 | The Trend Report 2019

Cult u ral experiences

Cultural-inspired weddings seem to be on the rise, especially in Mexico where authentic Mayan weddings are gaining popularity and giving couples that unique experience they all hunger for. The ceremony includes all the local customs of the Mayan day including traditional chanting, drumming and dancing and being married by a Shaman. This experience is truly mesmerizing and spiritual. ©Liz Scull

S’mores beach party

This is a perfect, light-hearted way to gather friends and family for the night before the wedding or perhaps after the reception. The resort will set up your s’mores bar on a private section of the beach. It will be complete with everything you need including a fire pit and sticks for roasting marshmallows.

©Liz Scull

©Liz Scull 2019 | 19

Light up the sky

What better way to celebrate your love then to end your reception with a colorful fireworks display. We are also seeing fireworks during the ceremony and reception with stand up flares that explode into a

vertical spray of sparkling light that shoots high into the air. Rest assured, resorts ensure the safety of all guests and fireworks are set off in locations approved as such.

ŠAht Yomga, Phuket Photographer

It’s pawsome!

Not even your fur baby should miss your big day. Some resorts are now permitting dogs to stay on 20 | The Trend Report 2019

property and receive the royal treatment. The resort will provide all you need with soft plush doggie beds, bowls and grassy areas to do their business.

Themed weddings

Couples are going all out in ways to make their destination wedding unique with themed weddings. With creative décor and themed attire, you can marry your “Superman” with a comic hero theme or medieval style with a “Game of Thrones” wedding. Why not say your vows on your greatest day with “The Greatest Showman?”

Diy food stations

A great alternative to a buffet style dinner, many resorts offer a variety of food stations such as fish, beef, chicken, bbq, salad, dessert, etc. serving up local or international dishes freshly cooked on the spot. It also avoids those long strings of guests on the buffet line.

A new t w i s t on trash the dress

This trend continues in popularity and resorts are taking notice by offering couples a new venue for a photo session that takes Trash the Dress to a whole new level. At Chic Punta Cana, the resort features a “Mermaid Pool” where couples can trash the dress underwater.

©Liz Scull 2019 | 21

real weddings


Brittney Jason

NOT YOUR TYPICAL DESTINATION WEDDING By Charlotte New First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. That is, at least, if convention is your cup of tea. But it’s not so much for Brittney & Jason. This couple has been making their own rules since they started dating in 2011. Perhaps the only common thing about their story is how they first met – at a bar named Hudsons, where Jason made the first move. “She was sort of in a relationship at the time so she kept trying to deflect me to her friend,” Jason recalls, as Brittney laughs. They went on their first date the following weekend, and have been together ever since. In fact, it was only a matter of months before they were expecting their first child – a welcome addition to the family they had quickly established with Brittney’s two other children.

Fast forward 15 months and that same song was playing as they made their way down the aisle as a married couple after their wedding ceremony, which took place at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Brittney and Jason giggle as they recall the day, which brought together 70 guests, including 14 children. “We knew right away that we wanted a destination wedding because my family is basically all in different cities,” Brittney says. Getting everyone there from various locations was made easy thanks to the expertise of their destination wedding specialist, Amy. “She just suited our personality and we clicked with her really well,” the couple says. “She kept us in the loop but took care of the details.”

“Everything went off without a hitch”

“We met in November and then in February, my brother and I went to a hockey game together,” Jason says. “After a few beers, I told him that the girl I had met only a couple of months ago was definitely ‘the one.’” Alas, Brittney always told him she’d never get married – after all, “Once you have a house and kids together, it’s basically just a formality” – so when Jason did eventually pop the question, it was not a standard proposal abounding with pomp and circumstance. Instead, after five years and two children together, he spontaneously bought a ring at the suggestion of a friend who was visiting from out of town. Within a few hours – back at Hudsons, the bar where it all began – he had the DJ play Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You” and got down on one knee. Anything but your typical Sunday night.

When it comes to the on-location coordination, Brittney and Jason liaised directly with the resort. They were warned that given the number of weddings taking place at any given time, correspondence in planning could be slow. As such, they were forced to place a lot of blind faith in the process until they finally arrived in-destination for the big event. “We got down there on a Saturday, the wedding was on the Wednesday, and our first meeting wasn’t until the Monday,“ Jason explains. “Over the last six months, we’d been e-mailing back and forth but the wedding was less than a week away, so we were a bit concerned. But when we got there, well, they know their stuff. It was very impressive.” “Everything went off without a hitch,” Brittney adds. “I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.”

As you might expect, this was no typical beach wedding; the goal was to have a classically-themed wedding that just happened to be in Mexico. Forget the beachside ceremony beneath a trellis with the ocean as the soundtrack; they instead opted for a rooftop location. Forget khaki pants, boat shoes and teal colors; bridesmaids wore navy-charcoal dresses and the groomsmen, dark gray suits with suspenders and soft-pink ties. There was no “beachy” feel to Brittney’s dress – bring on the long train; she didn’t let the location dictate her decision. And no Hawaiian shirts for guests; everyone showed up in their Sunday best. In terms of décor, chairs were white and tables were adorned with DIY markers, displaying only odd digits and photos of the bride and groom at the corresponding age. Their wedding party equaled eight, half of whom were the siblings of the bride and groom. Much to the stress of the wedding coordinator, Brittney was late for the 4 p.m. ceremony (when nature calls!), but Jason remained calm; “She’s always late for everything,” he jokes. After the formalities, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour on the beach before returning to the rooftop terrace that had been changed over for dinner and speeches, and the group danced the night away. “I remember my face hurting from laughing and smiling all night,” Brittney says. As for Jason’s favorite part of the experience? “I would have to say the bride.”

All photos credited to: Eduardo Reyes, ROMANZA Wedding Photography 2019 | 25

real weddings

Rebecca & Danny:

A Real-Life

fairy tale ITALIAN

WEDDING By Megan Honan

A wedding set against the backdrop of Guardia Sanframondi, Italy with a gown fit for a princess and a groom who is so clearly in love. How could this not be a scene from a book of fairy tales? In reality, this is the real-life wedding of Rebecca and Danny who also happen to be high-school sweethearts. When Rebecca was just 13-years-old she agreed to a date with Danny. They met up to watch a local junior hockey game and as they say, the rest is history. They spent their formative years side-by-side and grew together as a couple. After 15 years together, Rebecca awoke on Christmas morning to an engagement ring in her stocking. After she gave a big, emphatic “yes,” the first thing they both agreed on was that they wanted a destination wedding - and they knew it had to be in Italy. The decision was easy:

26 | Real Weddings 2019

The pair visit Guardia Sanframondi, Italy often, so it only made sense that their dream getaway destination would serve as the backdrop for their wedding. But planning a wedding in a tiny Italian town with no official accommodation proved to be a problem. That’s when Rebecca turned to Kelly, her step-mom and destination wedding specialist to help her with the arrangements. “I would never have taken this on by myself. If we didn’t have a Kelly in our lives it would not have been something we would have done,” Rebecca laughs, adding that Kelly pieced many of the most challenging details together, including making all the arrangements for guest accommodation. 2019 | 27

Standing alongside four groomsmen dressed in gray, and four bridesmaids glowing in pale pink, Rebecca and Danny joined hands in the garden terrace of the castle overlooking the valley below as they said their vows. As a memento of their special day, they each wrote a letter and placed it inside a box of local Italian wine before hammering it closed – to be opened again on their fifth wedding anniversary.

And as over 80 guests far and wide began to arrive at the small and charming town of Guardia Sanframondi, they were welcomed into the authentic Italian lifestyle. The guests quickly fell in love with the area and the graciousness of the locals. Rebecca and Danny wanted to ensure the authenticity of their guests’ experience, so with Kelly’s expert help, they arranged a tour of Italy alongside the wedding. They whisked everyone off to a fully-planned journey to Rome (where they toured the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and Vatican), Minori on the Amalfi Coast, and of course, to Pompeii. Back in Guardia Sanframondi, Rebecca and Danny, along with stepmother-ofthe-bride and wedding specialist Kelly, set about preparing for their big day. The boys visited the local barber for a haircut and enjoyed a few beers. After grabbing coffee at Rebecca’s favorite

28 | Real Weddings 2019

local shop, she gathered her closest girlfriends for a hair and makeup session before enjoying a long, leisurely antipasto lunch. Afterward, the bride slipped on her princess-style dress – sparkling in the sun from the antique-style beading – and made her way to the local medieval castle, a majestic structure built in 1139. Thanks to a recent restoration that has made inner-access to the attraction possible, Rebecca and Danny were the first couple to marry in the ancient castle in more than 1000 years. “As I walked down the aisle I just remember breathing a sigh of relief,” says Rebecca. “People had come all this way and I was just hoping it would all come together. It was so surreal.”

Afterwards, the newlyweds joined their friends and family in the castle’s courtyard, which glittered with twinkle lights strung from olive trees while hundreds of white candles lit up the Italian landscape. “My favorite part of the evening was our first dance. It just kind of kicked off the party and we danced to an Italian band and then a DJ for about eight hours,” Rebecca recalls. The bride’s second favorite part? “We ordered too many bottles of Champagne, so we ended up spraying about 80 per cent of it at our guests,” she laughs. “We were dancing, and people were ripping off their shirts and being sprayed with Moët, it was crazy.” Rebecca smiles. “But if I could, I’d go back and do it all over again.” All photos credited to: Liam Hennessey, Applehead Studio

SAY ‘I DO’ CARNIVAL STYLE. Carnival helps creates fun memories every day, so just imagine what we can do for your wedding. Picture your wedding photos with a blue sea-sky background or white-sand beach behind you… and a gentle breeze through your hair. The location is up to you — your ideal wedding spot just may be aboard a Carnival ship, or perhaps at one of the scenic island destinations we sail to. Whichever you choose, we are here to make your special day fun, memorable and stress-free! For more information please contact your Ensemble Destination Vows Specialist.

@2018 Carnival Corporation. Carnival and the Carnival logos are trademarks of Carnival Corporation. All rights reserved. Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas, Panama and Malta

real weddings A MARVELOUS

multicultural CELEBRATION IN MEXICO By Alex Davies


real weddings Balancing two cultures, three days, and 200 guests is quite the challenge. But for detail-oriented bride Natasha and her husband Hector, it was a challenge they were ready to tackle. “I call it our Big Fat Indian-Mexican Wedding,” Natasha jokes. Traditionally, Indian weddings happen over three days, with different events leading up to the marriage ceremony on the third day. Natasha and Hector wanted to incorporate the classic Indian traditions to honor her heritage while weaving in Hector’s Mexican background, but in a way that was all their own. “I’m very much a DIY bride,” Natasha says. “I think of things for the wedding and I figure out a way to get them done.” Their destination wedding specialist, Zahra, coordinated with the venue and booked all guest travel to their choice venue, Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun, leaving

32 | Real Weddings 2019

Natasha free to focus on the little details. Guests arrived to find welcome bags in their rooms, full of thoughtful treats like traditional Mexican candies and cheeky custom ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs stating: “We’re recovering from Natasha and Hector’s wedding!” The three-day extravaganza kicked off Thursday afternoon with the Mendhi, where the bride and female members of the family gathered to have intricate henna patterns drawn on their hands. Thursday night was the Sangeet party, a boisterous Indian celebration full of music to welcome the guests. Natasha and her mom had traveled to India earlier in the year to pick out wedding attire, including a dark indigo kurta (a collarless silk jacket with intricate embroidery) for Hector to wear. Natasha dazzled in a blush-colored sari covered in sparkling silver gemstones, jewel-encrusted bangles, and a stunning jeweled bindi.

Family and friends took to the dance floor for traditional Banghra dancing, while others had fun with the light-up flower crowns and funky sunglasses the couple provided. There were also sandals for guests who needed comfier dancing shoes, and a Moroccan-themed hookah bar for guests to enjoy. “We really didn’t want to do anything cookie-cutter,” Natasha recalls, “and we had never seen light-up flower crowns at a Sangeet before!” Natasha and Hector left Friday free so people could enjoy the balmy beaches and exciting excursions on offer at the resort.

Then came the ceremony on Saturday, which began with the Baraat: the Groom’s procession. Sporting a golden silk jacquard jacket with red and gold embroidery known as a sherwani, a red velvet scarf called a dupatta, and a red velvet turban, Hector was truly resplendent as he arrived on a decorated white horse surrounded by friends and family playing drums and dancing.

“The awesome thing was how much his Mexican family loved it”

“We’d tell our guests: ‘You’re not just here for us, you’re here for yourself,’” Natasha explains. “We wanted to give people a day to relax, recover, and explore the area.”

“The awesome thing was how much his Mexican family loved it,” Natasha shares. “They dressed up in traditional Indian clothing, they danced, they did everything 100 percent.” Natasha was breathtaking in a traditional red sari (an auspicious color in Indian culture) with silver and gold embroidery and a long red veil with golden detailing. 2019 | 33

Their Hindu wedding ceremony took place beneath a mandap, an embroidered canopy, and began with the Kanyadaan, where Natasha’s parents gave her away with a prayer. Natasha and Hector then joined hands around a small holy fire known as the Agni, into which offerings were made, before sharing Indian sweets called prasaad to ensure good luck and a sweet future. The couple then took the Saptapadi, or seven steps, where they circled the fire seven times, delivering a different vow for a loving marriage with each circle. Finally, the couple exchanged rings, and, of course, a kiss!

At cocktail hour, guests enjoyed a live mariachi band while Natasha and Hector changed into western wedding wear. The reception was similarly dazzling; decorated in light pinks with golden accents, a slideshow of the happy couple and their families played while guests had their pick of tasty treats from the donut table or the Mexican candy bar. After working up an appetite on the light-up dance floor, guests were later treated to a midnight feast from a fleet of food trucks offering tacos, churros, and elote (Mexican street corn), plus an ice cream cart serving kulďŹ , a creamy Indian ice cream. For this multicultural couple, it was the perfect sweet ending to their incredibly special three days in Cancun. All photos credited to: Paradise Photo Studio 2019 | 35


*on !


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“Crazy in LoverWedding Packages” Complimentary Wedding Package: A minimum reservation of 5 Superior Deluxe Ocean View rooms for a minimum stay of 3 night each is required to enjoy this package free of charge.

For more information contact our DestinationVows planner



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Wedding trends are ever-changing, but when a unique ceremony moment or head-turning guest amenity is favored by brides again and again, they transform into time-honored traditions. Here are 10 game-changing destination wedding trends that have, over time, become beloved, can’t-miss customs.

The guest book-turned-photo album An addiiton to the standard sign-in guest book and makes for better memories than just a signature. Why not provide a polaroid camera beside the guest book, where guests can take instant photos in all their glam? Guests then stick the photo to the guestbook with a message of love for the couple.

Inspired photography While pictures have been a classic wedding tradition since the invention of the camera, destination weddings have given rise to a new breed of creative-concept photography. From the “everyone jumps in the air,” picture and “the big dip” photo where the groom dramatically dips his bride in a kiss, to the “heart in the sand” photo and the “everyone running from a dinosaur” picture, there’s always new and innovative ideas cropping up to keep wedding photo sessions fresh.

Welcome-to -our-wedding bags Destination weddings are about making the entire trip special for everyone, so welcome bags, typically filled with amenities to make a guest’s stay safe and fun, are a fantastic way to kick off the festivities. Wedding bags can include items like sun lotion, band-aids, and wedding-themed t-shirts and drinking glasses, and the best destination wedding resorts will arrange to have them waiting in guests’ rooms upon arrival.

Long-live save the date! The symbolic sand ceremony This colorful and dignified ceremony has eclipsed the once-favored unity candle ceremony, which can be troublesome to keep lit, especially on a windy beach. The sand ceremony, which has the bride and groom each pouring their own vial of colored sand into a single vase, is a vivid symbol of the coming together of two people in marriage. The result is a beautiful memento of a moment that the couple can keep for a lifetime.

Often featuring the couple’s name and the date with a note that the invitation will follow, the Save the Date is crucial for destination weddings as they often require more planning on the part of guests than a traditional wedding. Traditionally sent out before the actual details of the wedding (such as the resort name, time, etc.), the Save the Date allows for guests to mark their calendars – and book any necessary vacation time – well in-advance. 2019 | 39

Wedding favors Couples and guests alike love this tradition and they make for a great souvenir. Wedding favors designed and created by artists in your wedding destination. Maracas seem to be popular with our Mexican weddings, along with tequila shot glasses, mini-sombreros and of course, Mexican chocolate! In Jamacia, a bottle of rum, jerk chicken seasoning or Blue Mountain coffee and in Dominican Republic, for the men cigars and for the ladies – anything made with amber.

The oh-so-smart "shoes optional” station

It can be difficult to navigate a sandy beach in heels, so having a station inviting guests to remove their footwear before stepping onto the beach is a great way to make everyone feel comfortable. Some clever brides have also been known to equip the station with alternative beach accessories, such as fans, flip flops, or sand brushes.

©Aylssa Marie Photography

Sig nature cocktails You’d be hard-pressed to find a destination wedding without a signature cocktail these days – and for good reason. Signature drinks are an easy – and delicious – way for a couple to put their own special brand on their post-ceremony celebrations. Couples work with the resort mixologist to create their own special drink – usually christened with a very clever name – for guests to enjoy during cocktail hour.

Memorial bouquet charms Bouquet charms allow brides to incorporate special people from their past or present – typically those who couldn’t attend the wedding proper – into their big day. Charms can be black-and-white photographs of family who have passed on, or special tokens such as jewelry or ribbons, each with their own special significance.

©Aylssa Marie Photography

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destinations HOW TO HAVE A

Dream Weddi n g in

MADRID By Megan Honan

Madrid is a city renowned for its elegance and class, earning the title of a place for lovers. Boasting a plethora of charming historical buildings and portico-lined plazas, the central capital provides the perfect backdrop for your big day.


Let love take flight

After landing early in the morning, take guests on an extraordinary experience on a hot air balloon ride over Madrid’s Guadarrama Regional Park. The private car service on offer will add a touch of luxury as it transports you and your loved ones to the launch site at Villanueva de la Cañada. Once aboard your private balloon, enjoy the stunning views of ancient forests and the Castle of Mocha from above. Upon landing, enjoy a Spanish breakfast of Iberian ham and raise a glass of local cava to celebrate the start of the festivities.

Let love take flight ©Tabitha Mort


Bohemian dining

Gather everyone to cheers you and your soon-to-be spouse at Boho Bar, located in Madrid’s trendy Chueca neighborhood. This intimate restaurant is available for private rentals where you and your guests can delight in an eclectic space that is relaxed, colorful and brimming with natural accents. Start the meal off with huevos rotos (Spanish broken eggs) and pincho moruno (Spanish pork skewers) before moving onto cherry duck breast and tataki Iberian for the main entrée. Tying in traditional Mediterranean food fare with bohemian décor, it’s the perfect space to eat, share and laugh with loved ones. 42 | Destinations 2019

©Boho Bar


Celebrate in the charming countryside

Revel in your first few moments as husband and wife at Antigua Fábrica de Harinas, an old converted flour mill in the countryside. The property is surrounded by nature and bathed by several natural water channels, with mountains set in the background to boot. Watch the old mill transform before your eyes as the sun sets and dazzling string lights illuminate the dance floor for a romantic setting. A charming barn on-site offers the perfect location to keep the dancing going all night long. In Spain, the DJ doesn’t leave until you do, so prepare for an all-nighter.


Take your vows in Uceda

Say ‘I do’ at Cartuja El Sauco, a 17th-century charterhouse which was once a monastery used widely in the town of Uceda. With spacious gardens and a rustic atmosphere, the old arches and wooden beams of El Sauco will mark the spot you pledge your love to one another. It seems only fitting to have blooming trees surrounding the venue, as you and your partner enter a new phase of growth together.

©Antigua Fábrica de Harinas

When you go Radio Rooftop ©ME Madrid Reina Victoria


Escape to the baths

Spend a few extra days in the city to relax and unwind. After parting with your guests, celebrate privately with your husband at RADIO ME Madrid Rooftop Bar with stunning panoramic views of the city and unique crafted cocktails. Head to Hammam Al Andalus Madrid to literally soak up wedded bliss at the only Arab Baths in Madrid. Then, jet off on a quick one-hour flight to the crystal clear beaches of Ibiza and bask in some sunshine.

Planning a wedding in Madrid is no easy task. While civil ceremonies are not allowed, you can have a Catholic ceremony with the right documentation, or else tie the knot at home, and host a spiritual celebration in Madrid. Either way, ensure you have a destination wedding specialist who knows their way around Spain’s wedding regulations.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CITY OF LOVE: • Ensure your passport is valid for a least three months beyond your expected departure date or you will be unable to enter Spain.

• Plan your wedding for May to avoid tourists, but still soak up that Mediterranean sunshine. The average temperature falls between 68 and 89 degrees during early summer. • When in Madrid, do as Madrileños do: Tips are not required, all dishes are expected to be eaten with a knife and fork and meal times are much later. Lunch is to be eaten past 2 p.m. and dinner often isn’t served until 9 p.m. • For guest accommodations, try: InterContinental Madrid, a luxury central hotel; ME Madrid Reina Victoria, an avante-garde design hotel with a panoramic rooftop; or The Westin Palace, suited for the elegant and luxurious guest. 2019 | 43


The Waterside Chapel at Baha Mar By Liz Scull

Front Entrance of Wedding Chapel

My ďŹ rst impression of the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar was during the drive from the Nassau airport. I was taken aback by its incredible size, set against the sky like a glittering jewel in the distance, and towering over everything else. A stunning, bright white structure, Baha Mar is imposing - not only because of its 28-story stature, but also due to its sprawl of 1,800 rooms stretching along Cable Beach.

44 | Destinations 2019


Inside the Wedding Chapel

I entered the lobby area and was immediately struck by a Las Vegas-style vibe of glistening marble floors and palatial architecture - not to mention the flashing colored lights and musical clang of the slots in the casino (one of the largest in the Caribbean). After checking-in, I took off to explore, excited to see what Baha Mar had to offer our destination wedding couples. The resort can be described as a complete entertainment center in and of itself; a destination within a destination. Grand Hyatt Baha Mar features six gorgeous pools set in tropical gardens, a choice of 20 top-notch restaurants and bars, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a kid’s club, a state-of-the art spa and a massive art collection that decorate the walls of the resort with works of talented local artists. It even has its own private island (with free shuttles every 30 minutes) where you can lounge on the beach in blissful solitude. At the end of my exploration, I’d have to say my favorite part of Grand Hyatt Baha Mar was the BEACH (Baha Mar Ecological Aquatic Conservation Habitat). I especially loved the Flamingo Habitat, a beautiful 3,200 square foot sanctuary of sand and freshwater pool built to preserve - and educate guests on - the national bird of the Bahamas.

One of the Pools at the Grand Hyatt

Wedding locations include the beach of course, and the West Gazebo (a wooden structure set waterside with views of the fountains), but what really stole my heart was the Waterside Chapel. Simply divine! This gorgeous structure sits in solitude, in a garden area facing the resort’s water fountain park. Walking through the glass doors to the chapel, my eyes immediately look towards the ceiling, where a simple but elegant array of glass globes and natural light grace the room with starbursts. The startling white leather pews sits six people each, and the chapel accommodates up to 120 guests quite comfortably. An all-white décor allows couples to choose an accent color that can reflect their unique style and preference. Just the right amount of sun shines through window-walls on the side of the chapel, adding to a perfect wedding day, as the lighting is the charm for any sunset wedding. The grassy area in front of the chapel allows the ideal space for a pre- or post-cocktail party, or could be setup for a wedding dinner and reception. Of course, if you want to really do it Bahamian style, plan for a beach party reception complete with a Junkanoo Band and fireworks! All photos credited to: Liz Scull Pool with Cabanas


ocean cruise Why getting married on an

might be your best idea ever By Erin Lindholm

Whether you’re dreaming of exchanging your vows with your toes in the sand on a private island in the Caribbean, in a glass-floored chapel in Bora Bora, or even on the top of a glacier in Alaska, there are few better ways to reach some of the world’s most exotic locales than by ship – cruise ships, to be precise. Better yet, with your nearest and dearest on board (which could be anywhere from two to upwards of 200 wedding guests) you and your fiancé can rest

easy knowing that they’re being well looked after while you indulge in some much-needed pampering at the spa – or are just enjoying some peaceful moments together on your balcony, watching the ever-changing seascape. Starting to wonder why you haven’t considered an ocean cruise as a destination wedding option before? Here are a few more reasons why getting married at sea makes for a truly memorable wedding experience.

©Princess Cruises

©Princess Cruises

46 | Ocean Cruising 2019

Planning your wedding day couldn’t be easier. No need to hire a wedding coordinator, contract with a caterer, search for an officiant or even hire a photographer – wedding packages on major cruise lines ranging from Carnival to Princess Cruises to Paul Gauguin ensure every last detail is covered. They also all have dedicated wedding planning teams who help with the logistics and legalese required to be married abroad.


©Princess Cruises

Crui s e shi p weddi n gs are surprisingly affordable.

Much like their resort counterparts on shore, cruise lines typically offer an array of wedding packages for couples to explore, with one major catch – weddings at sea are a fraction of what they would cost on land. Carnival’s wedding packages start at $1,400 for a very intimate group of your family and close friends, Princess Cruises’ Tie the Knot packages start at $2,600, while Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Bora Bora Wedding Ceremony is just $950, which includes the bride’s arrival via an outrigger canoe and a Tahitian blessing by a local priest. 48 | Ocean Cruising 2019

©Princess Cruises

You can pret t y much be marri e d anywhere in the world.

Spin the globe and let your imagination roam – if you can dream it, there’s likely a cruise that sails there. Carnival sails to all of the most desired ports in the Caribbean and beyond, while Princess Cruises stops in more than 350 ports around the globe, including ports of call in Alaska, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe and South America. Paul Gauguin Cruises specializes in cruises in one of the most romantic destinations of the world: The fabled South Pacific.

A weddi cruisenweddi n g i s a dest i n at i o n g and honeymoon al l rolled into one.

Whether you tie the knot at sea, at some exotic locale on shore, or even before you officially set sail – a popular option that allows non-sailing guests to attend your nuptials, too – with a cruise wedding, you quite literally sail away into your honeymoon, without any further travel plans or logistical details to worry about. One of the joys of cruising is that you unpack only once and the world comes to you. Planning a destination wedding and honeymoon doesn’t get more hassle-free than that!

When i t comes t o ent e rt a i n i n g your guest s , crui s es offer something for everyone.

Part of planning a destination wedding is planning various gatherings and activities for your guests throughout the wedding weekend. Getting married on a cruise takes that pressure off the wedding couple to plan and entertain because cruises are designed to cater to guests of all ages, single travelers, couples and families, adventure-seekers and sun-worshipers. Whether at sea or in some gorgeous port of call, no doubt your guests will find something that suits their interests.

Large guest list? No problem.

If a cruise wedding piques your interest, but you’re concerned about having a larger wedding at sea, rest assured: Cruise lines are well equipped to cater to large groups and can – and readily do – coordinate weddings of 200 guests or more. What about an all-ship buy out? The M.S. Paul Gauguin sails with a maximum of 332 guests and could be all yours for an unforgettable week in the South Pacific.

©Paul Gauguin 2019 | 49

honeymoons FINDING

Romance IN THE LAND DOWN UNDER By Katie Lockhart

There are endless reasons to head “Down Under” for the bucket-list honeymoon of your dreams. The world’s best beaches, incredible wildlife, and breathtaking sunsets at these romantic destinations are just a few.

The Blue Mountains, New South Wales

An hour’s drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains World Heritage Site is the ideal day-trip locale for adventure-lovers. Rock climb and hike through the region known for its dramatic blue and otherworldly landscapes. Thrillseekers can hop on board the world’s steepest incline railway with Scenic World and journey into the rainforest to get a peek at koalas and eucalyptus forests. For the best views of the Three Sisters Hanging Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, take a ride on their glass-floor cable car. Sign up for a ghost tour through Jenolan Caves, to see underground rivers and impressive limestone formations in one of the world’s oldest cave systems.

50 | Honeymoons 2019

Byron Bay , New South Wales

Port Douglas, Queensland

Uluru, Northern Territory

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Less than two hours from Brisbane, Byron – as the Aussies call it – is a surfer’s paradise. Start the day off with an early morning hike to the top of Byron Bay Lighthouse to watch the sunrise. Then, get your fill of avo toast and flavorful Australian coffee at any one of the trendy beachy cafés dotting the town. Join the locals for a surf at The Pass, the area’s most famous surfing spot or kayak with the dolphins nearby. Plan your trip right for the country’s best music festivals including Bluesfest and Splendour in the Grass.

Like a mirage, the giant red rock emerges out of nowhere in the middle of the Australian Outback. There’s only one landing strip at Uluru Airport, adding to that “middle of nowhere” feel. From the airport you can pick up your rental car for the best and cheapest way to explore the wonders of Uluru and Kata Tjuta on your own. Drive to the main compound where there are eight different accommodation options to choose from ranging from camping to glamping. Set your alarm clocks to see how the sunrise changes the color of the rock and book a camel tour to see a different hue at night. After your camel ride, sit down for the Sound of Silence dinner under the Milky Way. It is one of the must-do romantic experiences of a lifetime.

The Great Barrier Reef is a must-visit for every ocean lover. With coral bleaching destroying large areas, now is the time to visit. This luxurious honeymoon getaway offers nature-lovers the best of land and sea. Swim with the tropical fish and turtles on the world’s biggest coral reef then ride horseback past giant tree frogs and sugar gliders in its ancient rainforest, the Daintree. End the day with a bottle of rosé and some fresh fish and chips while looking out over the water at On The Inlet restaurant.

Drive an hour south from Melbourne to Torquay, the start of the Great Ocean Road, arguably Australia’s most scenic coastal drive. After a tasty Australian-style burger (with beetroot) at The Bottle of Milk, and a peek at the surfers at world-famous Bells Beach, head west. During the next few hours, try to avoid stopping every 10 minutes for a breathtaking picture and explore the quaint surfing villages like Lorne and Apollo Bay overnight on your way to the natural phenomena that is Lochard Gorge and the epic Twelve Apostles. 2019 | 51

honeymoons Sip, Savor, Saluti!

A wine-lovers’ honeymoon in Italy. By Christina Newberry

weekend that Chris asked Athena to marry him, seven years after they fi rst met through mutual friends.

A shared love of local wine has always been part of Athena and Chris’ love story. It was during an anniversary wine tour

Athena and Chris enjoy a group cooking class in Florence.

The beautiful Tuscany landscape

52 | Honeymoons 2019

“He likes to take his time,” Athena says with a laugh. The couple are regular visitors to wineries close to their home. When they married in October 2017, the autumn vineyards offered a perfect backdrop for their wedding photos – and a huge congratulations sign greeted them as the wedding party drove onto the familiar property. A week later, sipping the local Chianti and eating regional cheese while looking over mountainside vineyards at the family-owned Poggio Amorello winery in Tuscany, the newly-married couple felt worlds away, and yet very much at home. Their two-week honeymoon to Italy revolved around food and wine – “some of my favorite things,” Athena says – with stays in Rome, Florence, Naples and Sorrento and day tours to Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. Chris and Athena had done plenty of traveling together before their marriage, usually to the Caribbean. For their honeymoon, they wanted an “extra-memorable” experience that was more than just a vacation, Athena recalls. Italy seemed a natural choice after hearing rave reviews from friends.

Cheesy Margherita Pizza

“The worst part of traveling is the traveling,” Athena points out. “Private transfers made for a very smooth transition with zero stress. We didn’t have to worry about getting a cab or any language barriers.” The couple dove into Italy’s food culture right away with a private pasta-making lesson in Rome. “My husband is not a huge cook,” Athena says with a smile. “It was fun for me to watch him.” In Florence, they joined a group class in a chef’s kitchen to prepare a market-to-table meal of fresh pasta with Tuscan meat ragu. Cooking with local olive oil, meat, vegetables, and herbs while sharing a bottle of wine with fellow travelers from Australia and New York was a really special experience for the couple.

“We’re not as into museums and history as we are culture, food and wine – in abundance”

Not knowing much about the area and wanting to go beyond the usual tourist attractions, Chris and Athena worked with destination romance specialist Kirsty to plan a custom trip that fit their own travel style.

“Both meals were just amazing,” says Athena. “In Italy, less is more. Everything was served very simply, but was very delicious. I always figured more ingredients meant more flavor, but that is not the case. It was kind of a learning curve

Wine tasting in the family’s vineyard

for me, which was a great experience since I love to cook.” In Sorrento, a harrowing drive up a narrow mountain road was worth it for the stunning views from the couple’s top floor corner hotel room looking over the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius from an enormous balcony. “The drive was interesting, on a crazy road,” Athena recalls. “But actually getting to the room, seeing it all from that height was pretty incredible.” As their one-year anniversary approaches, they are still savoring the culinary experiences they shared together on their honeymoon. Athena has started making her own pasta from scratch. For their anniversary dinner, she’s planning to pair it with the Tuscan sauce they made together in Florence and serve a bottle of Chianti the couple has tucked away in their cellar. Athena and Chris are already planning their next big trip. Instead of the balmy Caribbean, they’re planning another extra-special experience: an Alaskan cruise for their birthdays in June. “The Caribbean is really nice,” Athena says, “but we can do that anytime.”

“We’re not as into museums and history as we are culture, food and wine – in abundance,” Athena says. “We didn’t want to wait three hours in line to look at a picture. We like to do our own exploring and we wanted to take a more active approach.” When the couple arrived in Rome after a long flight, they were thankful to spot a driver waiting for them at the airport. As a special splurge, Kirsty had recommended booking private transfers for every airport and train station throughout their trip, so they never had to think about a thing once they landed in Italy.

The narrow roads of Sorrento 2019 | 53



Sri Lanka

Honeymooni n g tropical wilds in the

By Charlotte New

Romantic beach in Sri Lanka

When it comes to starting a new life with your forever person, it only makes sense to do so in the most paradisiacal locale possible. And now more than ever, honeymooners are willing to travel further afield to find their bliss. Might we recommend Sri Lanka? Here’s how to do it right:

54 | Honeymoons 2019

Herd of elephants enjoying a wade in the river

Be beachy keen

To make the most of a romantic escape to Sri Lanka, your journey must start and end at the same place: on the beach. Depending on where you call home, travel time to this destination could take up to 30 hours, so no doubt you’ll be wanting to kick up your feet when you land and simply enjoy some R&R. Just the same, be sure to plan a few days to take it easy before returning home – especially if you’re counting on copious amounts of exploration.

Lucky for you, Sri Lanka’s beaches make for an inviting reprieve, and there’s no shortage of choice. For easy access from the country’s hub of Colombo, opt to stay in Beruwala (about two hours south). Check-in to any of the area’s chic boutique hotels and melt into a beach chair, marveling at the blues and greens of the ocean in front of you, cocktail in hand. Up for an adventure? Plan some time for windsurfing, kayaking, yachting or diving. Insider tip: While in Beruwala, pay a visit to Kechchimalai Mosque – it’s one of the oldest mosques in the country. 2019 | 55

Tea fields in Nuwara Eliya

Take time for tea

Once you’re well rested and set to explore, make your way inland to Kandy, with a stop at The Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya. There, you’ll find local lovers whiling the day whilst surrounded by unique, natural flora – why not do as they do? Continue your journey on to Nuwara Eliya, where the views of tea fields sprawling over mountainous terrain will make you fall in love all over again. Plan a tour at a local

estate to better understand how Ceylon Tea is grown and manufactured, and enjoy a ‘cuppa’ while you’re at it. During your stay, wake up early and hike to World’s End in The Horton Plains National Park – the perfect setting for that honeymoon selfie with your sweetie. Insider tip: Guidebooks will often highlight Ella as the primary tea destination but trust us on this one: Nuwara Eliya is the supreme choice.

Go where the wild things are

Fair to say that one of the best parts of marriage is checking things off your bucket list with the love of your life. And what better bucket list experience than a safari? Spend a day (at least!) in Sri Lanka’s Udawalawe National Park, where you’ll no doubt cross paths with elephants, water buffalo, and if you’re really lucky, leopards. Navigate the topography with your partner by your side, catching each other’s eyes as you share in the amazement of being so close to these wild wonders in one of the most beautiful countries on earth. Insider tip: Time your visit right to witness “The Elephant Gathering” at Kaudulla National Park, a once-a-year congregation of the elephants in the area (typically in the dry season, July to early November). 56 | Honeymoons 2019

On safari in Udawalawe National Park

Know bef o re you go

Ruins of Anuradhapura


Really, there’s no bad time to visit Sri Lanka. Weather patterns vary from one region to the next but generally speaking, December through to May is a safe bet for hightourist areas.


Travelers require a visa upon entry to Sri Lanka. The application process is quick and painless, available online. Ask your travel advisor for the link.


When planning your movement from one destination to another, rail travel is the most common choice in Sri Lanka. But let us be the first to suggest you put away any romantic notions; trains here are solely utilitarian and more often than not, overflowing with passengers (if you’re hoping to catch a view, you’ll be lucky if you even get a seat). All that said, trains are the most efficient and economic mode of transportation; the first of many sacrifices you will have to make together as a married couple.


Ultimately, there is a lot to see and do in Sri Lanka and the best way to ensure you don’t miss out is to leave the planning to the pros. Let your travel advisor know what you want from your honeymoon and they’ll set you up with a refined itinerary, either with a trusted tour operator or something specially curated for you (perhaps a little bit of both!). Weddings are stressful; honeymoons shouldn’t be!

Practice cultural appreciation

Wherever your journey takes you in Sri Lanka, you’ll never be far from one amazing piece of history or another; after all, the country dates back more than 35,000 years. A few must-see sights include the ruins of Anuradhapura or the ancient palace and fortress of Sigiriya Citadel Rock, both of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage

Sites. Just the same, the best way to get to know Sri Lanka is through your belly – and great food is easy to find. Indulge in local cuisine like kottu roti, eggplant aubergine, dhal curry and coconut sambol, most often made with fresh, locally-grown resources. Insider tip: Sunset from the top of Sigiriya might be one of the most romantic views of your trip. 2019 | 57

19 Fall M2u0jeres Playa xico Me



When you book 15 or more rooms for 7 nights^

• On-site wedding planners facilitating all of your wedding plans both prior to arrival and during your stay • Several ceremony locations to chose from, starting with our beautiful white-sand beach, a magnificent wedding gazebo or our on-site chapel • Room upgrade for the Bride & Groom* • Early check-in & late checkout for the Bride and Groom* • Special bracelet for the Bride and Groom with exclusive access to all 3 resorts • Services of a Civil Judge • Beautiful wedding cake • 1 tropical flower table arrangement • Tropical bouquet for the Bride and boutonniere for the Groom • Ironing of Groom’s tuxedo and Bride’s gown • Sound system and simultaneous translation of the ceremony if needed • Marriage certificate in Spanish delivered by DHL • Champagne for the group after the ceremony • Romantic candlelight dinner with champagne for the couple • Romantic breakfast in your suite • Complimentary massage for the couple and use of water circuit • Basket of fruit in your room during your stay • Bottle of champagne in the room, twice during your stay • Room service included for the couple • Additional services available

* Subject to validation at time of arrival. ^ Valid for travel from Nov. 15, 2018- Dec. 23, 2019




Wedding Checklist. Planning a wedding can be trying at the best of times, but throw in an unfamiliar wedding destination and then add the many tasks that lay ahead of you and it can become somewhat overwhelming to say the least.

Here’s a checklist with timelines that will help manage your time better.



o Determine your budget, including any wedding related costs, travel expenses and your accommodation. Many couples are also concerned about what their guests will be paying and will sometimes determine a guest budget as well. o Contact a DestinationVows Specialist to help plan the big event. o Choose a wedding destination and resort. o Choose a wedding date. o Choose your wedding location (the earlier. the better, as locations book up quickly) o Choose your wedding party. o Create a guest list. o Send out a save-the-date notice to guests. o Block rooms and airseats. o Create a honeymoon registry. o Shop for a wedding dress. o If possible, visit your wedding resort.



o Send out formal wedding invitation with details. o Confirm rooms and airseats required. o Confirm your wedding ceremony location, if not already done. o Confirm dinner/reception area with the resort. o Launch a wedding website. o Select wedding package/style. Discuss any add-ons you want to include or customize the wedding package with your own personal style. o Choose an officiant. o Book a photographer. o Select attire for your wedding party. o Research excursions for your wedding group.





o Finalize food menu, décor, flowers, cake, etc. o Confirm hair and make-up appointments on wedding day. o Make sure passports are in order. o Purchase wedding rings.

o Plan welcome party and rehearsal dinner (if required). o Prepare welcome letter for your guests. o Purchase items for welcome bags. o Confirm honeymoon plans.



o Write your vows. o Finalize wedding ceremony. o Create any signs needed.



o Re-confirm flight and hotel booking. o Review and confirm wedding details. o Create a seating chart and place cards. o Create wedding program for guests.


o Meet with the resort’s wedding coordinator, go over wedding details and an inspection of your ceremony location and reception sites. o Apply for marriage license (sometimes this can be done ahead of time, ask your DestinationVows Specialist for details). o Do blood tests (if required). o Create welcome bags for guests and drop them off. o If required, get your wedding dress steamed.


WEDDING DAY o Deliver wedding gift to your fiancé. o Have the time of your life… it’s your wedding day! 2019 | 59


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DestinationVows magazine - US 2019  

DestinationVows magazine - US 2019  

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