Weddings are a billion dollar business, and Renée Strauss and Pamela Strauss-Goldman, the co-founders of Wedaways.com work with couples all around the country as well as luxury hotels, resorts, and other wedding venues all around the world, for destination wedding and honeymoon planning, so the company truly has their fingers on the pulse of what couples seek.
Wedding industry expert Renée Strauss, who was host of TLC’s Brides of Beverly Hills, and her daughter, Pamela Strauss have personally vetted each of the curated luxury properties they work with.
We chatted with them on what is trending, and what you will see in 2019:
- Heritage Return: one of the top initiators of a destination wedding today is what is known as “heritage return”. The wedding will often be the first opportunity a couple has to return to their land of origin (or the land of ancestry for one of the partners). This is why Ireland and Italy are incredibly popular for destination weddings.
- Most Popular Wedding Destinations: the most popular wedding destinations are Tuscany, Italy; Amalfi Coast, Italy; Provence, France; Paris, France; County Kildare, Ireland; County Waterford, Ireland; Marrakech, Morocco; and Napa Valley, California
- Honeymoon Destinations Gaining In Popularity: Wedaways is seeing more and more requests for honeymoons in Marrakech, Morocco; Santorini, Greece; Algarve, Portugal; Swiss Alps.
- Advance Booking: Couples are starting the booking process for a destination wedding approximately 15 months out and only 5months out for the honeymoon.
- Guests Attend Based Upon The Destination: Guests often decide to attend based upon the destination versus if they actually want to see the couple wed!
- Pre-Wedding Planning Trips Are On The Rise: Couples take the time and spend the money to visit the destination and venue prior to the wedding date. They want to see and feel the overall venue experience so they can plan around it accordingly.
- Wedding Guests Are Booking Pre- And Post-Wedding Stays: Because guests are traveling great distances to attend a wedding, they take advantage of the opportunity to build their own travel into the trip. Wedaways is seeing many guests either departing for the destination earlier or staying on after the event. Guests are timing a cruise to coincide with the wedding, going from the wedding to a safari, or a scenic road trip in and around the wedding destination.
- Fewer Couples Want Pre-Packaged Anything: Even though a couple might be going to a hotel or resort that specializes in destination weddings and offers a wedding package, most don’t want a “cookie-cutter” experience and tend to stay away from a hotel’s “wedding package.” They seek out preferred wedding planners in the destination to ensure a truly bespoke experience.
- It’s Not Just A Wedding, It’s A Multi-Day Celebration: a destination wedding is much more than just the actual wedding day. Couples are now including itineraries in the guest’s welcome bags which include details on all of the events the guests can participate in as well as suggestions and options of activities guests can do to best experience that particular destination over a few days for the wedding celebration.
- Authentic Destination Guest Gifts: Couples are after authentic guest gifts which represent the destination of the wedding versus something generic. For example, for a recent wedding in Japan, one couple gave away gorgeous Japanese silk fans for their guests as a keepsake.
- Delayed Honeymoon Trips: Couples are not in a big hurry to depart on their honeymoon immediately following the wedding. They don’t mind planning an extended honeymoon for months after the wedding if it might mean they can get better deals in shoulder season and then take longer trips using accrued vacation time. They also delay a honeymoon in order to travel at the time of year they prefer or that is most popular for a specific destination like an October safari, an early April cherry blossom visit to Japan, a December ski holiday in Aspen, Vail, or St. Moritz, or the September wine harvest in Tuscany.
- Honeymoon Savings and Splurges: Couples want to travel farther and stay longer at exotic destinations and therefore might stay at an more affordable property in a region they’ve not been to like Thailand, in order to reserve their funds to splurge on a few days at a $2,500 a night five-star plus resort in the Maldives.
- Instagram One-Ups: Millennials are determined to get the better Instagram pic than their friends. They recognize destinations their friends post in photos of noteworthy hotels, famous sites, etc. and often will go to great lengths to select a destination wedding or honeymoon location that will offer them the best photo options to post on Instagram.
- Destination Bachelorette Parties Are Getting More Popular: Destination Bachelorette parties continue to grow. Wedaways is seeing brides and their friends depart on a Thursday afternoon and return on Monday, flying for up to 8 hours to the destination. East Coast brides are choosing Cape Cod, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Ireland, Scotland, and even as far as Croatia for their getaways. Activities typically include spas, wine tasting, and even golf.
Kimberly Fisher is a Pursuitist contributor. As a freelance writer and on-camera host, Kimberly has traveled the world and has published over 400 articles in over 44 publications including Sherman's Travel, Huffington Post, JustLuxe, Luxury Lifestyles UK, eHow, Examiner, Food Wine Travel Magazine, Luxe Beat, NiteGuide, Ocean View, and USA Today. Disclosure: Kimberly is under contract with Casa Del Sol.