Destination unknown | Special events

2020 was the year of the yard wedding, and 2021 is shaping up to be the year of the destination wedding, unbelievably as it sounds considering we’re still in the middle of a pandemic.

“I think there is something special about destination weddings,” says Jamie Chang, owner of Mango Muse Events in San Francisco. “Right now everyone is so repressed they are desperate to do something special. I think people are going to go crazy this year.

In a typical year, up to 25% of couples who marry choose a destination wedding, and for American couples, about 40% of destination marriages take place internationally, according to a study by Research and Markets. But, as you can imagine, it has been a tough road for destination weddings over the past year or so.

“Destination weddings in particular have taken a huge hit because it’s a combination of travel and parties, and this combo is the worst possible combo for COVID,” Chang said. “Until recently it was just sort of sleeping like
to hibernate.

In January, a Florida Panhandle survey said more than 50% of people would not fly to a wedding under any circumstances.

But that was then. “Destination weddings are making a comeback,” Chang says.

Why a destination wedding?

Destination weddings are expected to continue on an upward trajectory in popularity for a number of reasons. Not only are they often considered cheaper than traditional weddings; they can also help cure increased cases of cabin fever for couples and guests who may also face paid time off caps. Additionally, couples are looking elsewhere for their nuptials as they continue to find that their local wedding venues are closed, have limited availability on weekends due to increased competition between postponed weddings, or they cannot accommodate the. number of guests desired due to state capacity restrictions.

While some couples are taking the plunge this summer, many are aiming for Q3-2021 and beyond.

Working with couples to organize a wedding near their home over the past year has been a challenge in itself. Adding a destination to the mix offers even more challenges and considerations.

“Couples are a bit more intentional about how they plan their destination weddings,” Chang said.

Join us at the Catersource + Special Event
Do not miss Deborah Elias’ session, “Planning a Destination Wedding from A to Z” on Wednesday, July 21 at 2:30 pm, where she will outline the important steps in planning a destination wedding. There is also a full range of additional wedding focused sessions, both on the special event side and on the Catersource side, and the All Access pass will give you access to all of them. Learn more

When working with couples, Chang says planners see two extremes: those who focus on comfort and those who focus on the party.

“On the one hand, you have the couples who want all there is to COVID: comfortable seats, lots of space, different options for after-dinner activities, easy to access and participate”, she says. “But you also have those who are going in the opposite direction: this is their chance to go crazy.”

Location, location, location

One of the first things couples need to decide on when planning their destination wedding is obviously location, which has become even more important as planners and couples assess venues based on local COVID guidelines. -19, federal flight restrictions and venue availability.

For example, several destination wedding venues are considered low risk, and in some cases risk free, compared to COVID-19. The other destinations do not have the same mask or capacity mandates.

“Location is definitely part of that decision-making process,” Chang says. “It’s kind of a function of choosing a place whose rules are something you feel comfortable with. You can look at a place like Hawaii where you can feel safe, or a place like Idaho where they don’t need masks. It just depends on the couple.

Flights are also a major consideration, for example whether negative COVID-19 tests are required to board, as well as the duration of flights.

“They want to make it easier for their guests to come,” Chang says.

In terms of locations, many couples stick to outdoor locations, such as beaches, mountain ranges, and even the wine country.

“They want places that are naturally outdoor locations rather than cities,” Chang says. “Places where it’s easy to spread out and be outside. “

Jen Avery, vice president of marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Group, says she has seen many couples opt for the larger resorts also because of the convenience.

“Couples and their guests are now free to go to their dream celebrations, and resorts have protocols in place to ensure all travelers stay safe while enjoying their vacation,” she said.

Regardless of the location, destination wedding couples, like most couples today, need to be flexible as restrictions keep changing.

“Destination wedding couples are known to be laid-back,” Avery says, “but now the“ bridechilla ”mindset takes on a whole new meaning, with travel demands and guest comfort levels changing at times. any time. ”

Who to invite

When choosing a destination wedding, many couples are drawn to the idea of ​​being able to spend more time with guests beyond the ceremony and reception. Maybe there will be a welcome drink or brunch the day after the wedding. Destination weddings offer the opportunity to make memories with those present, and this has become even more important after a year of separation.

“It’s always the idea of ​​being able to spend more than just a wedding day with those they love, they want to discover a place and share that place and this time with people for more than five hours,” Chang explains. . “They still want this now, maybe more than ever, because they haven’t seen these people in a year, maybe more. It’s the opportunity to be together in a way they’ve been denied.

When talking about guests who are invited to a destination wedding in the COVID-19 world, Chang says they generally fall into two camps: those who are still a little hesitant to travel and those who are ready to make the cut. Party.

“People are still very scared and will be for a very long time to come, but there are also guests who say to themselves, ‘I’m all for it and I’m ready for anything,’” she says. “They’ve been locked up for so long, and the thought of going to a real wedding, dancing, eating, seeing people and traveling on top of that, it’s almost too hard to pass up – if they can do it, they I jump with both feet in it.

In a typical year, destination weddings typically have a guest list of around 50 to 100, and Chang says she sees that remain the norm in the long run, but in the short term, that number could potentially increase.

“In the past, some guests might have thought it was selfish to have a destination wedding,” Chang says, “but now the lack of travel and the lack of gathering has changed the guests’ perspective a bit. because there is a lot of appeal there. ”

Avery thinks it’s too hard to anticipate how guests will feel and act as destination weddings come to life.

“At this point in the pandemic, choosing to travel is such a personal decision, so the mood of the guests really goes from shy to excited,” she says.

What to consider

Planning a destination wedding in the COVID-19 world comes with many additional considerations. While couples should consider conventional wedding planning details like group flight bookings, hotel block bookings, and other logistics such as wedding ring declarations to customs (if traveling to abroad). But on top of that, couples should add COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and social distancing to the list of considerations.

This is where communication with customers becomes
so important.

“Communication between couples and guests is more important than ever,” says Avery, “and it has always been very important! “

What COVID-19 Precautions Are Airlines Taking? What are the test requirements for getting to their destination, as well as for returning home? What transport is there from the airport? Are there on-site tests at the hotel? What are the capacities of the guests?

“It’s all these kinds of pieces that customers want [to know] when they are preparing to travel, ”Chang says. “Being able to make the safest decisions for themselves has been helpful. ”

One thing is for sure though, destination weddings are making a comeback.

“Weddings are so happy,” Chang says. “Being able to be a part of that again and being with horny couples is wonderful. I am so excited that the happy ones are coming.

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