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Domestic Bliss

May 18, 2012 By: Meagan Drillinger Travel Agent


A wedding couple at California’s Pelican Hill
A wedding couple at California’s Pelican Hill take in the romantic view from under the resort’s Renaissancestyle rotunda.

The term “destination weddings” may bring to mind exotic climes and foreign shores, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Such an affair can be domestic, and indeed there is a major market for this particular niche.

According to The Knot Market Intelligence: 2012 Destination Weddings Study, more destination-wedding couples (70 percent) chose a domestic site in 2011/2012 over an international one, traveling an average of only 670 miles away from home. International destinations (among which The Knot includes Hawaii) are almost four times that distance on average—2,605 miles.

The Client

So, who is the domestic destination wedding bride? According to The Knot’s study, she is on average around 30 years old with a median household income of $62,500. Seventy-three percent of domestic destination wedding brides have graduated college, as well.

These brides are more likely to live in the southern and mountain regions of the U.S. The majority (27 percent) hail from the South Atlantic states, followed closely (17 percent) by the Pacific coastal states.

Couples tend to choose domestic destination weddings based on areas that are special to them as a couple. Twenty-three percent of these clients want their weddings to be where one, or both, of their families live or where they grew up. Destinations are also chosen based on what is a central location for their guests.

The Location

Sixty-one percent of domestic destination weddings take place in eight top locations in the U.S. The top three locations are Florida, California and Nevada, followed by North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, Texas and New York.

Florida is the No. 1 destination in the U.S. for domestic destination weddings. If your clients have Floridian nuptials in mind, consider selling them on the

Turnberry Isle Miami

. Formerly a


property, this 300-acre resort has taken control of its ownership and management and is in the process of reemerging revitalized.

The property has several romantic locations for the perfect wedding. In addition, the resort is equipped to handle every last detail, from spa treatments to cocktail cruises up the Intracoastal Waterway.

Turnberry Isle Miami has been built and expanded around a 100-year-old banyan tree, which has become iconic to the property. Couples can get married or renew their vows under the banyan tree in a Mediterranean-style ambiance.

The Magnolia Courtyard is a private outdoor event space near the resort’s Soffer Golf Course. The space is perfect for ceremonies of up to 550 guests, and can also host breakfasts, luncheons, cocktail receptions and dinners from 50 to 300 guests.

For indoor festivities, the resort offers the Grand Ballroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows, crystal chandeliers and more. The foyer opens to an outdoor porte-cochere with views of the hotel’s 64-foot waterfall. The space can host parties from 230 to 650 guests.

Other venues include Veranda East & West, the Garden Room, the Beach Club and the Laguna Pool.



To assist in the planning of your clients’ dream wedding, Turnberry Isle Miami asks that guests choose from a selection of hors d’oeuvres, a three-course plated dinner and a customized wedding cake.

The resort is also home to a 25,000-square-foot Spa & Fitness Center, private Turnberry Miami Beach Club, 40,000-square-foot conference center, tennis center and celebrity Chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak. By 2014, guests can expect the addition of a 200-room tower. A $2 million spa renovation is also in the works.

Travel agents can reach out to Director of Sales and Marketing James Gelfand ([email protected], 305-933-6516).

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa is another great option for Florida weddings. Whether your clients are looking for beachside nuptials or a ballroom ceremony and reception, this 250-room hotel on the Gulf of Mexico can accommodate every wish. There are six function space choices, but agents should ask about the Belleair Ballroom, which is the most requested option. The 1,800-square-foot ballroom has floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace that overlooks the gulf. The Promenade, on the beach with 5,000 square feet of covered, outdoor space, is another option.

The resort has a wedding consultant, in-house audio/visual experts, in-house menu options or off-site catering, and valet and self-parking options. Couples and their guests are also entitled to a complimentary champagne toast at the celebration.

Note: When you celebrate your wedding at Hyatt Regency Clearwater, you receive free honeymoon nights at any Hyatt Hotels & Resorts worldwide. Book your wedding at a Hyatt hotel by December 31 and earn Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points redeemable for free nights at hotels in 45 countries.

Contact Director of Sales and Marketing Nancy Longstreth ([email protected], 727-373-4432).

For a destination wedding in an upscale, urban environment, your clients may wish to consider The Inn on Fifth in Old Naples, within walking distance to the city’s cafés, shops, galleries and jewelry stores.

The hotel has six options for weddings, both indoor and outdoor. The three to ask about are the 3,600-square-foot Pool Courtyard, the 1,500-square-foot Fifth Avenue Terrace and the 1,876-square-foot Palm Ballroom. The Courtyard’s poolside setting is complemented with waterfalls, while the Terrace has views of palm trees and downtown Naples.

If it’s an indoor setting your clients crave, the Palm Ballroom is decorated with chandeliers and mirrored walls.

Note: The Inn on Fifth only hosts one wedding at a time so the event and catering staff can be fully devoted to your client’s needs—but this makes availability something to keep in mind.

Wedding guests, when staying at the hotel, will have access to the fitness center, rooftop pool, two restaurants and the Feng Shui Spa on Fifth. Be sure to inquire about the “Sparty” at the spa, which is ideal for wedding groups and bridal parties, approximately four to eight people.

Travel agents can contact Sandy Lacefield, director of catering ([email protected]).

Golden State Nuptials

California is the second most popular destination for domestic destination weddings. With such diverse array of topographies and climates, couples have their choice of dream destination wedding backdrops.

Couples looking for a SoCal wedding should look into The Resort at Pelican Hill, which sits on 504 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The resort’s indoor wedding venue, La Cappella, is a free-standing building with sea views. It is separate from the hotel and can accommodate 120 for banquets and 180 for receptions.

Another option is the Mar Vista, with high ceilings and glass walls. The room opens to an oceanview terrace so couples can have both an indoor/outdoor setting. Up to 220 guests can be accommodated for dining and dancing.

For something completely outdoors, opt for the Wedding Lawn, which has a Renaissance rotunda and views over the resort, the golf courses and the ocean. It can host up to 270 for a banquet and 350 for a reception.

Agents should note that Pelican Hill limits weddings to one per day, so clients can have a highly personalized experience. Each bride has her own wedding butler and catering/event manager, as well.

Each couple that books a wedding at the resort receives a complimentary two-bedroom oceanview villa during their stay after the main event, as well.

Contact Fran Bruun-Anderson, associate director of weddings (949-467-5292), with questions.

You can head up north to Napa Valley for a beautiful vineyard wedding. Betrothed couples looking for a Northern California ceremony should check into the Vintage Inn or sister hotel Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville. Both properties sit on the 23-acre Vintage Estate, which has event spaces, including The Pavilion, Historic Barrel Room and the Groezinger lawn, all situated between the two hotels.

The Pavilion is complete with green lawn space, bordered by brick walkways and patios, stone walls, a waterway, fountains and vine-covered walls. Combined, the total space measures 16,000 square feet.

The Historic Barrel Room measures over 2,700 square feet with 36-foot high wooden beam and rafter ceilings. The eight-foot diameter wrought iron chandeliers add a vintage look to the space, as well.

Finally, the Groezinger Estate House, built around 1870, provides both outdoor and indoor options for ceremonies and receptions. The lawn outside is perfect for an outdoor ceremony, while inside, an antique bar makes an ideal location for a cocktail reception. The adjacent Sunroom has wall-to-wall windows and can seat up to 20 guests for intimate luncheons or dinners.

The Vintage Estate is also home to V Marketplace, V Wine Cellar and Chef Michael Chiarello’s Bottega restaurant. The plot was once a former winery that dates back 130 years.

Vintage Inn is bucolic at its best (think Provence in the spring), while Villagio Inn & Spa is reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside. The properties have outdoor heated pools, tennis courts, full-service bars and more. The Spa Villagio is 13,000 square feet, with 16 treatment rooms.

Travel agents can contact JoEllen Felmann (707-948-5070), director of group sales, with questions.

Heralded as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara provides another great backdrop for your clients’ big day.

The Canary Hotel Santa Barbara, a Kimpton Hotel has both indoor and outdoor options for wedding, from its Rooftop Perch to its Riviera Grand Ballroom. The Perch is a spacious rooftop terrace with views of Santa Barbara’s iconic red-tile roofs, Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands and the Santa Ynez Mountains.

For an indoor reception, guests can move to the Riviera Grand Ballroom, which accommodates 130 guests.

All ceremonies include setup, wedding chairs, lemonade service and a sound system. Wedding packages include everything from an hourly hosted bar to wine service with dinner to a wedding cake.

Note: A one-bedroom suite for the bride and groom is provided for the evening of their wedding, provided there will be 50 guests or more.

Travel agents can reach out to Alison Manna ([email protected], 805-879-9174).

Las Vegas Weddings

Nevada comes in at No. 3 for the most popular domestic location for weddings, specifically Las Vegas. Vegas weddings run the gamut from small, intimate (sometimes impromptu) ceremonies to larger celebrations. There is a wealth of options available to your clients booking a Las Vegas wedding. Be sure to check out the feature story here:

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About the Author

Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger has been with Luxury Travel Advisor and Travel Agent since 2009, covering both Asia and Mexico. A fan of both fabulous hotels and culturally immersive...

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