For Stephanie Gottlieb and her husband Brett, there was only one place to celebrate their life changing moment: the romantic beach side location of Mayakoba in Mexico. The couple, from New York, are childhood sweethearts, and have been regular visitors to Banyan Tree Mayakoba for the last few years. When it came to getting married, Mayakoba was where they wanted to be. "What really sold us was during our visit to decide which hotel we wanted to have our wedding at, the Banyan Tree arranged for us to have a private evening cruise with champagne and dessert, followed by wish lanterns — and our room was prepared with rose petals. They really made us feel like we would have the wedding of our dreams if we chose to do it there," explains Gottlieb. And it was, despite the lead up to the ceremony seeing some ominously stormy skies. "In fact, two nights before the wedding it poured, and the following day was grey. But when I opened the blinds on the Saturday morning, there was the most perfect blue sky, with not a cloud in sight," she added. "It really set the scene for the most perfect day." In such a romantic setting, how could anyone fail to be charmed?
The Magic Makers
Visualise your dream wedding, and you might imagine yourself taking part in a traditional Creole ceremony on a sandy Seychelles beach. Or exchanging vows in a scenic Koh Samui cliff top service. All these dreams can be fulfilled — and it's not even necessary to get betrothed on dry land. There's even the opportunity to exchange rings underwater, in the jewelled aquamarine splendour of the Maldives. Today, the global wedding market is worth some US$298 billion. With the average bride spending around US$25,000 on their wedding alone, a destination marriage is the ideal way to combine the event and the honeymoon, in a place that serves as a memorable occasion for all.
Managing expectations and cultural differences is key to a successful event, even if the backdrop is somewhere as beautiful as Sanya, its picturesque landscape known around the world as the Hawaii of the East. At Banyan Tree Sanya, romance concierge Ema Chen has been helping arrange weddings since she joined the romantic beachside resort last year. "For the Chinese, their wedding is the biggest day of their life, I help to organise that memorable and unforgettable day and I really enjoy the fact that I can see and be part of it." Over in Indonesia's best loved gem, Bali, the palm fringed splendour of Banyan Tree Ungasan is another of the world's most desirable locations for destination weddings. Here hundreds of wedding guests call on the expertise of Sherly, who has been the resort's romance concierge for four years, having spent a decade in the bridal industry. Sherly organises around 50 weddings a year at Ungasan, and with years of experience, is adept at finding ideal solutions to even the most difficult of requests. "One couple wanted to have an elephant in the resort as part of the wedding. Unfortunately, we couldn't arrange that, so instead we arranged to send them to the elephant park for a pre-wedding photo."