"DESTINATION WEDDINGS" HOW TO GET A BANG FOR YOUR BUCKS
Why not try an All-Inclusive?
They make budgeting easy. Wedding planning isn’t just time-consuming; keeping track of the cost of every detail down to the number of sweetheart roses in your bouquet can be downright mind-boggling. That’s not the case with an all-inclusive resort, where rooms and wedding packages in a variety of styles and at different price points let you choose a look, plan your stay and determine your spending — all for one set total.
Your guests will appreciate the upfront pricing as well; they can park their wallets for the duration of their visit, raid the mini-bar with abandon and take in live entertainment without paying an extra penny. What’s included varies from resort to resort and even within the same resort by packages. But most all-inclusive's include all meals and snacks; alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages; and activities like pool games, theme-night parties and sports equipment from kayaks to sailboats.
There’s an all inclusive resort for every style. These days, all-inclusive come in every size and shape, from exclusive hideaways like Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch, a 23-cabin escape (and a member of Relais & Chateaux), to sprawling cities-by-the-sea such as St. Lucia’s 331-room Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa, which offers dozens of choices for dining and drinking, plus villa-style rooms complete with butlers and private plunge pools.
Derek and Lisa Holmes of Bakersfield, California, wanted to hold their May 2015 Dominican Republic wedding at an intimate hotel but didn’t consider an all-inclusive because they thought all-inclusive meant big — and probably impersonal. But when suggested that they take a look online at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana’s thatch-roof cottages, pretty gardens, and quiet beach, they were pleasantly surprised. Further research into the specifics — the couple had established a no-buffet rule when they started looking — sealed the deal. “When we realized we could have the experience we wanted at an all-inclusive, we were excited,” says Lisa. “They even let us personalize turndown service each night by delivering meaningful quotations we’d had printed to our friends and family, and they allowed us to decorate the public areas with photos and other mementos for the duration of our stay. We never could have done that at a larger property.”
Most all-inclusive's offer a wide range of extras: special lighting, extra flowers — even day-after, trash-the-dress photo shoots. Excursions, after-parties, and other events also take on no-hassle status when they’re part of the program. At Grand Velas Riviera Maya, in Mexico, wedding groups (up to 40) can reserve a section of Chaka or Frida restaurant for the rehearsal dinner without extra cost, while at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, in the USVI, couples can marry barefoot on the beach or aboard a 53-foot sailboat. One of the most popular packages at Couples Tower Isle, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, includes a ceremony and party on the resort’s private island; that’s what appealed to Carla and Mike Shivers of New York City, who held their Dec. 10, 2013, wedding here. “Marrying at Tower Isle gave us the best of both worlds,” says Carla. “We had the run of a big, fun resort with lots of activities, plus a private island for the actual wedding. Even our rehearsal dinner was special — all 26 of us went on a catamaran cruise