I Do: 10 Trends Defining Destination Weddings


3DHoneymoon-Destination-Wedding-SpecialistDestination Hotels & Resorts recently polled its team of wedding and event planners to determine the year’s top 10 Trends.

Experts have weighed in from across the company’s portfolio of more than 40 luxurious, locally-inspired and experience-driven hotels and resorts on what couples want today and in the year ahead. From large lavish weddings and small intimate ceremonies to traditional and modern receptions, weddings are more diverse than ever before.

1. Never Ending Wedding Weekend

In the year ahead, wedding experts expect couples to expand upon the traditional wedding timeline and encourage their guests to “make a weekend of it.”

More and more newlyweds are adding elements such as after parties, day-after breakfasts and brunches and increasing the size and scale of rehearsal dinners.

At Wild Dunes Resort, located on the stunning oceanfront of Charleston, South Carolina, many clients are creating a full weekend of activities for their guests, such as special welcome parties.

Planners at Vermont’s picturesque Stowe Mountain Lodge and Tarrytown House Estate in New York have also seen the additions of larger rehearsal dinner events, next-day breakfasts, after parties, and longer guests stays.

2. Traditional is Out, Imaginative is In

The days of stuffy rehearsal dinners, regimented plated meals, and suit-and-tie norms are numbered according to wedding experts at Destination Hotels & Resorts.

Couples are shaking up the concept of a rehearsal dinner with new ideas such as dessert and champagne receptions or even an elaborate “Lowcountry Luau” featuring oysters, shrimp and grits, a whole roasted pig and tiki torches. The master chef at Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center has created an interactive and imaginative liquid nitrogen ice cream station to spice up any desert service, and planners at Wild Dunes Resort have redefined poolside chic with a luxuriously sophisticated yet informal tapas menu.

One couple of wine enthusiasts at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, celebrated their wedding with an elaborate wine tasting menu.

3. Communal, Family-Style Meals Replace Old-School Catering Hall Staples

Modern couples are rebelling against the catering-hall norms of decades past with menus to match their more casual, informal lifestyles. With the popularity of family-style restaurants and renewed importance of families dining together as a whole, planners have seen an influx of requests for family-style meals.

One couple at The Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Denver, Colorado, recently held a warm and welcoming family-style rehearsal dinner with big bowls of hearty pasta, assorted salads and house wines to create an intimate evening.

Weddings at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California and Rizzo Conference Center in North Carolina have also seen an increase in family-style concepts, from rustic shared dishes to high-top tables and furniture arrangements designed to boost informal flow and mingling.

4. Food Trucks and Barbecue Are In, Your Grandparents’ Prime Rib is Out!

Custom menus are all the rage at Destination Hotels & Resorts’ collection of outstanding wedding venues and chefs and planners have become increasingly creative when it comes to concepts, options and offerings.

Food Trucks continue to be popular and trendy, popping up in cities across the country, landing on the pages of magazines and ranking in prestigious restaurant guides. It’s no surprise then that weddings at properties such as the Carolina Inn and Hotel Derek in Houston, Texas, have included a selection of food trucks serving up unique cuisine for guests.

Barbecue is also an emerging trend with more and more couples opting for informal yet delicious smoked, grilled and interactive entrees. Chefs at Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center and Skamania Lodge, located on the majestic Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland, Oregon, have mastered the art of the fire pit for weddings throughout the year, serving guests down-home food and s’mores for dessert.

5. Themed After Parties

Gone are the days of surreptitious cocktails at the lobby bar. Couples today are paying attention to the after party with whimsical themes and paying extra attention to this guest favorite. Newlyweds at L’Auberge Del Mar recently planned a unique piano bar-themed after party to celebrate their nuptials into the night, while the Boardwalk Inn Club Room at Wild Dunes Resort is a hit for its jazzy house music, lounge furniture, local beer selections, and French fry bar.

6. Interactivity is King

Destination Hotels & Resorts experts have seen an influx of interactive ideas and DIY involvement from their wedding clients. From group cooking classes at Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center as rehearsal dinners to home-made elements, couples are increasingly apt to leave their own personal stamp on their special day.

7. Intimate is In, Crowds are Out

As online social circles continue to expand, people increasingly long for genuine relationships with those closest to them. Properties such as Miramonte Resort & Spa and The Gant have seen a recent resurgence of smaller, intimate affairs.

8. Embrace the Individual

Couples are increasingly likely to choose menus and themes that are personally meaningful to them. From ethnic cuisine to vegan menus and everything in between, Destination Hotels & Resorts’ team of experts can accommodate a wide variety of cuisine visions. Hotel Derek and Terranea Resort have created full Indian and Chinese menus for their clients in the past year, while Stowe Mountain Lodge has executed completely vegetarian affairs for couples.

9. Social Media

Social media has become a massive part of people’s lives and a primary source of information. Couples are continuing to create unique hashtags and to crowd-source photos from their guests’ posts, while planners at L’Auberge Del Mar, The Carolina Inn and Suncadia Resort point to Pinterest as being critical and important to their clientele.

10. Craft Breweries, Wine Tastings and Bespoke Spirits

The foodie culture permeating the country has found its way to the bar. Couples today are more intimately involved with choosing unique spirits, wines and beers to be served to their guests with an emphasis on local offerings, boutique labels and inspired tastes. Over the past year, properties such as the Carolina Inn have seen a boom in local tastings from rehearsal dinners to receptions.

Additional information about wedding offerings within the Destination Hotels & Resorts portfolio as well as tools for research and planning can be found at www.DestinationHotels.com/Weddings.

By Ryan Rudnansky, Travelpulse.com, March 18, 2014