Destination weddings account for nearly 25% of all marriages, with the Caribbean continuing to be the most popular international destination among couples. In recent years, this has become particularly true for Indian couples who are looking to islands like Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Aruba for hosting their weddings.
“The trend started about 3 years ago and I would guess that 10-15% of US-based South Asians are now opting for destination weddings,” said Ayesha Hakki publisher of Bibi Magazine, a bridal outlet aimed at Indian and South Asian women.
According to Hakki, there are a lot of reasons for this increase. “More and more South Asian bridal vendors are equipped to do destination weddings, and on the flip side, more local vendors have also added South Asian-slanted services, hence making the process much easier,” she says. “Additionally, Indian weddings are already about 3-4 days long and cost, on average, $75K (as opposed to the national average of $25k), so a destination makes sense since the bridal party will already be together for those days and properties usually offer additional value for the money.”
La Concha hosted eleven Indian weddings in 2013, working with couples to create customized Indian menus and decorations in addition to incorporating traditional elements with a twist, such as arranging for the groom to arrive by jet-ski, horse or ATV in place of an elephant. The hotel’s on-site wedding coordinator will also arrange family rituals such as Vidhi and Grashanti and connect the couple to dance groups on island to participate in the Sangeet ceremony.
In 2013, two Indian weddings were held at the Hyatt Aruba, both of which included upwards of 200 guests—many more than the typical destination wedding. For each wedding, the hotel helped to coordinate traditional events such as the Baraat, Sangeet and Pujas as well as rehearsal dinners, beach-front ceremonies, cocktail hours and receptions. While the Hyatt Aruba doesn’t offer Indian menus, they work with a local Indian restaurant to cater the traditional weddings held on property. On-site wedding planners will also help create special experiences like a Sunset Sail cruise for wedding guests or arrange for the groom to arrive by boat on the day of the ceremony.
La Concha has already confirmed 3 Indian weddings for 2014 and Hyatt Regency Aruba has several Indian weddings lined up. Says Hakki, “This trend is going to be around for a long time and properties will continue to see growth in this area over the next several years.”