Wedding Travel Forecast for 2014

The ‘Elope’ wedding option at Rendezvous includes a secluded picnic for two.

The ‘Elope’ wedding option at Rendezvous includes a secluded picnic for two.

Every January 1, millions of couples ring in the New Year wearing new rings — engagement rings, that is. That’s because December is the most popular month for marriage proposals, with more than one out of every eight taking place during the holiday season, largely on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Brides magazine’s 2013 American Wedding Study and TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com’s 2013 Real Weddings Study put the number at 13 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Chances are, therefore, that you may have new potential clients for destination wedding bookings. And don’t forget that just around the corner is Valentine’s Day (February 14), the primary reason why the shortest month of the year accounts for another 8 percent of all proposals, according to Brides. Last year’s American Express Spending and Saving Tracker estimated the number of couples getting engaged on that date at about 6 million.

Just as “engagement season” was getting under way, a number of hotels and resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico — the two most popular wedding destinations outside the continental U.S., according to TheKnot.com — made announcements of interest to this market and the agents who sell it. Following are some highlights.

Caribbean for Couples

“Soon to Moon” is a brand new service from Sandals Resorts, designed to help clients customize the special moment that begins the journey to marriage. It offers the assistance of a concierge, who will help couples bring their proposal dreams to life. From setting up a picnic lunch on a private island in Exuma, to carving “Will You Marry Me?” into the sands of Negril’s famed Seven-Mile Beach, the Soon to Moon concierges will ensure all proposal requests are fulfilled. Soon to Moon, an extension of Sandals’ popular WeddingMoon program, is available to guests in all room categories. Preparations will be organized on-site by the individual resort’s wedding planner. Sandals has all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, Barbados and Grenada.

RELATED: Sandals Rolls Out New Engagement Concierge Service

Rendezvous, a couples-oriented boutique hotel in St. Lucia, just launched its premium “Ever After Wedding Collection.” From a sunset cruise along the coast to a pampering couple’s massages, the customized collections offer tailored experiences to personalize each couple’s special celebration.

A Pacific Ocean sunset creates a romantic mood at the brand new Iberostar Playa Mita.

A Pacific Ocean sunset creates a romantic mood at the brand new Iberostar Playa Mita. 

“Island Romance,” for example, allows couples the privacy of celebrating on a private isle with close friends and family. For a more intimate ceremony, couples can “Elope” to a secluded hideaway on the property and enjoy a beachside dinner or island picnic. The Middle Eastern-themed “Exotic Oasis” surrounds guests with antique lanterns, lush carpets and plush ottomans, while they sample international delicacies. Other themes include “Romance in Bloom,” and “Romance by the Sea.”

The collections build upon the inclusive Rendezvous Romance package and include a personal pre-planning wedding consultant, on-site wedding planner and dedicated resort wedding team, champagne breakfast, couples massage, VIP arrival and check-in experience, and much more. Rendezvous’ wedding coordinator will assist in personalizing the big day. Rendezvous limits the number of weddings held each day to guarantee an atmosphere of individuality. The resort’s dedicated wedding planner is Sandra ([email protected], 758-457-7900). (Using only first names is part of the personal touch at Rendezvous.)

A new option in Turks and Caicos, especially for couples who are outdoors or water sports enthusiasts, is Blue Haven Resort and Marina, which had its official grand opening on December 6. Tucked away in the Leeward side of Providenciales, it has 35 suites and 16 premier guest rooms, its own marina, and convenient access to the world’s third largest barrier reef.

Blue Haven’s setting — surrounded by aqua blue water and luxurious yachts — provides a fitting backdrop for destination weddings where nuptials can be exchanged in the waterfront gazebo, on the beach, or on the 2,000 square-foot ocean-view patio that graces the resort’s penthouse suite. An on-site wedding coordinator can assist in arranging ceremonies and receptions.

Blue Haven also has a spa with two treatment rooms, which may be just the thing to calm pre-wedding jitters or unwind after the excitement of the big day. For more information, contact the hotel directly at 649-946-9900.

‘Metallic Dunes’ is one of the nine Colin Cowie Wedding Collection themes available at Hard Rock hotels.

‘Metallic Dunes’ is one of the nine Colin Cowie Wedding Collection themes available at Hard Rock hotels.

Seven Stars Resort, on Providenciales’ Grace Bay Beach, recently invested $750,000 in property-wide upgrades, including enhancements to its wedding program. The resort expanded its beachfront ceremony/options, revamped its catering program and is launching additional venue space — a 3,000-square-foot pavilion for wedding receptions and other special events. This new tented space accommodates up to 100 guests and is equipped with air conditioning. The Spa at Seven Stars Resort provides an extensive menu of services. Reach out to Ken Patterson, ([email protected], 649-941-7777), managing director, with any queries. 

Radisson Grenada Beach Resort has opened on the “Island of Spice,” bringing Radisson’s signature “Yes I Can!” service to the former Grenada Grand. The resort offers a beachside gazebo and pavilion for wedding ceremonies and receptions. The venues are surrounded by tropical gardens and fruit trees against a backdrop of white-sand beach and turquoise sea. For details, the go-to person is Arleen Redhead ([email protected], 473-444-4371, ext. 685), sales manager.

Mexico Sampler

Destination wedding news on the Mexican front includes last month’s grand opening of the five-star Iberostar Playa Mita in Riviera Nayarit. The newest member of the Iberostar family — like its siblings in Cancun, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic — offers the Star Weddings program.

RELATED: Where to Wed on Mexico's Caribbean Coast

With the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, couples can choose from three wedding packages, or even create an à la carte wedding of their choice. Wedding coordinators are on hand to help with the planning and execution of this special day. Iberostar Playa Mita provides banquet services and space to accommodate up to 560 guests, and couples can build their own menu of local and international cuisines. The wedding party can take advantage of the on-site SPA Sensations and three nearby golf courses: one adjacent to the property and two a couple of miles away.

Direct any queries to Samuel Barajas ([email protected], 011-52-329-298-4280 ext. 8059).

Riviera Nayarit is also home to the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, one of several all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico (and the Dominican Republic) that last year introduced the Colin Cowie Wedding Collection for newlyweds-to-be. Wedding specialists are there to coordinate details from ceremony location and structure to set-up. Guests can also customize their wedding cake, champagne, dinner reservations and more.

For U.S. residents, the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta incentivizes couples to bring their wedding party by offering one complimentary room night for every 10 room nights paid up to a maximum of seven room nights.

Reach out to [email protected] or call 322-226-8470.

At the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa, a Romance Expert team can help you create the ceremony and reception that fits your clients’ personal style. They also ensure that your couple will be the only one walking down the aisle that day. The bride and groom can exchange rings under a palapa, on the sand (Cancun’s only private beach), or on a private terrace overlooking the Mexican Caribbean Sea. The service can be civil, religious or ethnic, formal or personal — whatever suits them.

For details visit www.coralbeachromance.com, contact an on-site wedding coordinator at [email protected], or get in touch with Marcela Maldonado ([email protected]), leisure sales manager.