Today, 35 percent of weddings are destination affairs. Brides and grooms want to get away from it all and get married in a gorgeous, exotic setting for the trip of a lifetime... and they want to do it with just a small handful of guests in attendance.
Big, overblown weddings of 300, 400, even 600 guests in a cavernous ballroom are a spectacle, to say the least. With the 45 people it takes to pull off such a grand-scale wedding, scurrying about and ten million details to plan, in the end, there's no time for the bride and groom to mingle and spend quality time with all of their closest friends and family. Today's wedding dream is not necessarily the huge wedding at a hotel, but rather a getaway celebration in paradise with 10 to 15 of the couple's nearest and dearest with plenty of time to talk, laugh, dance, and dine with them.
The advantage is not just social, however. The intimate wedding opens up amazing locations that big-wedding couples can't even consider. In the world of destination weddings, private beaches and coves, glass atriums, and picture-perfect bed and breakfasts become a reality. Couples don't want their weddings in the same or identical-looking ballroom, where all their friends and family were married. They want to go out into the world and find their own place, perfect for the close friends and family on their petite guest list.
Travel Together: Secluded Settings For Smaller Weddings
One such perfect place is in the Texas Hill Country, an area rich in history and very long on scenery. Capt. Matthew Carinhas has been overseeing weddings at the Full Moon Inn in Fredericksburg for 14 years. "The Inn's rooms, lawns, and reception areas offer couples and their families a venue that keeps them together and offers their guests a private and safe place to enjoy themselves," Carinhas says. "There is no need to reserve different venues to accomplish the wedding weekend events. The bride and groom can arrive on a Thursday and get settled in. The families arrive on Friday and commence that evening with a rehearsal dinner to prepare for the big day. Saturday the ceremony will start, followed by a great reception that celebrates the family's unity. Sunday morning there is normally a big breakfast; it's time to reminisce about the party!"
The quaint German settlement of Fredericksburg, which more than a century and a half ago was caught in a battle between unscrupulous businessmen and Native Americans, offers great shopping, restaurants, and an unhurried ambience, all framed by the area's famous bluebonnet wildflowers. Nearby is Enchanted Rock State Park, named for 640 acres of solid, protruding granite that once was said to emit mysterious sounds.
"The Texas Hill Country offers a very scenic backdrop of trees and hills for unique destination weddings," Carinhas says. Nearby are the Guadalupe River, the Admiral Nimitz Museum, and Lady Bird Johnson State Park, just to name a few.
Lisa Light, CEO of DestinationBride.com and author of the bestselling book Destination Bride, says that most locations preferred by Destination Bride offer such unique settings like the Texas Hill Country and adventurous opportunities like private islands. "My first choice? Fiji, without a doubt!" she says. "Many couples rent the entire Turtle Island. It is a true 'experience,' since it was the site of the famous Blue Lagoon movies. On their wedding night, couples sleep under the stars in a private bure on a private beach."
For a truly rare, adventurous setting, she suggests the Costa Rica Tree House on famous Punta Uva beach. The Tree House has two rooms built in ancient trees and sleeps up to six, while its Beach House has one room, which sleeps up to four guests. What local hotel ballroom can even come close to sleeping in the trees with lush surroundings and a refreshing tropical breeze? My guess is none.
When you keep your guest list short, you are not separated from those who want to share the special day with you. In large-scale weddings, the bride and groom are disconnected from guests as they arrive and depart in their transportation of choice -usually a classic car, limousine, or horse-drawn carriage. An intimate destination wedding allows couples to remain with guests as they ride via trolley, yacht, or limousine. For the ultimate group traveling experience, try a private jet that carries up to 15. Your party will be thoroughly impressed by flying with such first-class service. Check out Blue Star Jets' destinations, packages, and fees for more information.
The Sentimental Factor
Beyond stunning private locations, adventurous destinations, and exclusive-group transportation options, there's a sentimental edge to an intimate destination wedding. "Smaller weddings are definitely more romantic," says Larry James, a wedding minister who performed more than 50 destination weddings last year, with an increase in bookings this year. "With fewer guests and fewer details, there's more room to add sentimentality to the ceremony," says James. "The guests are up close, perhaps in a circle around the couple, everyone near enough to hear, and we can take more liberties to have a customized ceremony. For instance, I'll soon be performing a destination wedding in Sedona, Arizona, for a couple who is flying in with their guests from Washington state. They want their ceremony to be humorous and personalized, which is something that couples in larger, more formal weddings are not likely to do because they feel they should be more proper."
Couples want to be closer to their guests, which is why bed and breakfasts have become one of the most popular choices for intimate destination weddings. "The Full Moon Inn offers brides, grooms and their families a venue that will do turn key weddings," says Carihnas. "We take care of all the details so you can enjoy your special event with family and friends. The Inn is very private and creates an atmosphere of family and connection."
The Full Moon Inn does nearly all of its own wedding planning; however it is also affiliated with local wedding planners and coordinators to accommodate unexpected personal preferences and requirements.
The Inn maintains a professional staff that is experienced in making weddings easy and stress free. "We help the new couple plan and execute their wedding dreams without overwhelming them, and we do it in a very cost effective manner," Carinhas says.
He brings up an excellent point. Whatever lodging you choose, the establishment needs to be as informed as possible of your wedding plans. Make good use of destination wedding planners, whether they are independent or on-staff at the resort. They know the best locations, activities, and vendors. They can also arrange extra perks and sentimental surprises at your request, and they know the legalities and paperwork issues to keep everything legit. For additional wedding coordinator help, call the resort you have in mind, or locate a professional wedding coordinator through the Association of Bridal Consultants. Most coordinators love doing destination weddings, and working with a bride who only needs to meet the needs of a dozen guests is a relief. Weddings shouldn't be harried affairs with more work than celebration; they should be personal events where the bride and groom are close to everyone invited. A guest list of 500 could limit your choices to a big hotel or a warehouse. But with just 15 guests, no destination is off limits -- the world is open to you.
"Couples and families planning weddings or special events can count on the Full Moon Inn and its staff to accomplish all the details and make their event stress free," says Carinhas. "From the first meeting to creating just the right look and all the best culinary specialties, we create a memory that all will rave about for years to come."