With travel restrictions loosening and many destinations open, we’re about to see a big surge in destination weddings. In fact, The Knot reports that at least 2.6M couples will throw a wedding event in 2022. When it comes to planning a beautiful destination wedding a ton has changed since before the pandemic, whether it’s the best locations, resort wedding packages, or how to best plan for uncertainty, it’s an evolving world of wedding planning and it feels more confusing than ever! With 30 years of experience planning destination weddings for couples, we’ve noticed a few trends that we wanted to share as we head into this busy year jam-packed with weddings.
When picking your date expect to be flexible. Prior to the pandemic, most weddings were on Saturday afternoons and evenings. Now, couples are being flexible with their event schedules to secure the venue and resort they want and sometimes that means a wedding during the week or earlier in the day. Being flexible is key when planning your destination wedding as this will open up the most options to you.
If you know exactly what you want and being flexible on the date isn't an option we can’t stress enough the importance of planning early. Most resorts are nearly booked up for 2022 and are starting to fill up weekends in 2023. When planning a destination wedding it’s not just the venue you need to think about but also the room block for your guests. Sometimes the venue may be available but the resort is sold out because an event the day before or after yours has reserved a majority of the rooms. These are considerations you need to think about and why planning early is essential. Prior to the pandemic, we’d say 9-12 months was enough, but now we’re recommending 16-24 months as the timeline to start planning your destination wedding with the goal of having your venue and resort details finalized at least 12 months in advance.
Many couples are thinking about how to involve the whole family, even if that means they’re welcome at the resort, but not the wedding events. We’re seeing couples combine two side-by-side resorts (like Generations Riviera Maya and El Dorado Casitas) where one is family-friendly and the other is adults only so that everyone can hang out together for the duration of the trip.
In the past, couples planning destination weddings could expect 50% of guests invited to attend. Since many people have been stuck at home for the past two years they are looking for reasons to escape to a luxury beach destination. We are now seeing 60% to 70% of people invited actually attending tropical events.
Prior to the pandemic, it was easy to add more rooms to your room block for last-minute guests or if you wanted to invite additional people. Resorts have cracked down and it’s become more strict with expanding your room block due to high demand. With more people attending and resorts selling out we are suggesting holding a few extra rooms upfront to make sure all your guests can stay at the resort together.
Many couples are hoping for a “deal”, but the pricing of resorts for 2022 and 2023 keeps rising. The sooner you start planning the sooner you can finalize details and give your guests a heads up about the wedding. This will help them plan accordingly to pay for their travel.
Couples no longer want the standard cookie-cutter wedding packages the resorts offered prior to the pandemic. Couples are up on the latest wedding trends like themed welcome parties, more formal dress codes, and virtual invites, and they expect resorts that can customize the experience they have been dreaming about.
2020 was the year of intimate affairs, 2021 was filled with lots of confusion, and 2022 and 2023 will be when big weddings return. Our average destination wedding in 2021 was about 60 guests and in 2022 our average is likely to be closer to 80 guests. People are eager to travel and couples are eager to be surrounded by all of their family, friends, and loved ones to celebrate together.
During the pandemic, resorts were offering many wedding perks to entice couples to host a destination wedding at their resorts. Now that resorts are booked up they’ve cut back on some of the biggest perks, but resorts still offer benefits and amenities that can help with the cost of a destination wedding.
Prior to the pandemic, about 5% of our guests would take advantage of travel protection plans, but that number is closer to 30% now for some of our weddings. Travel protection plans provide peace of mind and flexibility that allows you to reserve a room at the group rate and decide to change your plans later. Resorts are less flexible than they were in 2020 and 2021 and aren’t offering future travel credits or free cancellation without insurance so this is one of the top recommendations we make to our guests. In many cases, travel insurance starts at $50 per person, so this is a simple way to protect yourself in case things change.
We’re all eager to plan and expect things to be done quickly. The resort teams are dealing with more weddings than ever before and cannot hire well-trained staff quickly enough. This means that from start to finish we need to be patient and expect slower than usual responses, whether it’s waiting for floral and decor proposals or change requests to the room block.
Planning a wedding is never simple, now combine that with a venue you may never visit until right before your wedding day. Add on top of that dealing with a gazillion questions from friends and family about the room categories, pricing for 4 nights versus 5, how does travel insurance work, can my auntie stay in the room with my kids, etc. It's exhausting just thinking about it! Instead, depend on a trusted destination wedding planning team that has traveled to these resorts dozens of times, knows the staff (eats all the food!), and understands the nuances of planning these complex events.
Our team at Vacationeeze has been planning destination weddings for 30+ years and we know how to advocate for our couples, communicate with guests, and plan dream destination wedding events.
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