Say yes to a destination wedding: five big trends for the most special occasion

Canada 21 August 2021
Expect a wedding boom in the near future — destination celebrations included. OLEG BRESLAVTSEV / ISTOCK
Article by Alison McGill The Kit

Weddings are back and booming, and although the world is still emerging from travel restrictions, industry experts report that destination celebrations are on track for a major comeback.

“So many of us have not seen, touched or hugged family and friends in over a year,” says Treasa Leigh Brown, founder and creative director of Leigh Event Group, a boutique event-planning company, with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. “We can’t wait to be together again.”

If you’re getting married next year (or even the year after that), here are five of the most noteworthy trends to know.

Anniversary receptions

The pandemic has thrown a wrench in everyone’s game plans, but the party can go on — even if it’s a bit delayed. That’s the idea behind an anniversary reception: “This is a celebration held a year after the official wedding ceremony date, where couples are having the wedding they dreamed of, but couldn’t have [earlier] because of COVID,” says luxury wedding and event planner Melissa Andre, principal at Melissa Andre Design Company, based in Beverly Hills, with outposts in Toronto, New York and Miami. “Everything about these parties is bigger: the size, the design elements and an over-the-top location.”

Andre is currently working with clients planning anniversary receptions in Italy and Hawaii, and these parties include a large guest list. “To date, it’s been my experience that everyone who’s invited is saying yes, so my advice is to plan for a big party as there won’t be a lot of guests dropping off the invite list.”

Multi-day parties

While this is not an entirely new trend, watch for multi-day parties to become increasingly common. “The extended party has become amplified,” says Brown of Leigh Event Group. “Couples have had time to marinate on ideas and want a party that’s completely extra. The size of the wedding remains small, but the scope is large, with couples looking to create an extraordinary trip for guests.”

Finding a location offering a host of activities and amenities for guests to enjoy is a key consideration, and boutique resorts like Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province are an idyllic choice. With just 21 villas on property, each with private plunge pools, it’s also intimate for creating a bubble environment. Complete property buyouts are available, ensuring a comfortable and exclusive experience for all.

Private venues and locations

“Exclusivity has become a big priority for couples,” says Jo-Anne Brown, founder, CEO and creative director of Celebrations Weddings and Events in Grand Cayman. “Our top venue requests recently have been for private homes, where you can truly create a customized party as you are bringing in every element, from decor to catering, into the space.”

Of course, the ultimate in special-occasion exclusivity is the tiny island takeover. At Kamalame Cay, located in the Andros Great Barrier Reef in the Bahamas, you can book the whole luxury resort — along with the private island’s entire 97 acres — for your invite-only affair. Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian famously honeymooned here in 2017 for the unparalleled privacy.


True elopements — as in just the two of you — are big when it comes to destination weddings. “Couples want to get married and are making plans to do it on their own,” explains Marsha-Ann Donaldson-Brown, director of weddings and romance for Sandals Resorts International. “There is something so precious about just you and your person standing beside each other and reciting your vows. Saying those ‘I dos’ against the backdrop of sun, sand and blue sea makes a dream day even more perfect.”


Sandals Resorts offers customizable, all-inclusive Elopement Packages at each of their 16 Caribbean resorts (the newest, Sandals Royal Curaçao, opens April 2022). Couples can start planning a bespoke elopement experience from home via Sandals’ virtual service, where they can “meet” their wedding planner, check out a digital showroom of decor options and curate all details, from flowers to food to photography.

Supporting local

“In order to experience everything a destination has to offer, hiring locally based wedding service providers is a must,” advises Brown of Celebrations Weddings and Events. “The location you choose is not just about the sights but also about the services available in that place — this will bring a beautiful and important cultural element to the event.” She recommends hiring as much local talent as you can because these pros know the destination best and what’s possible to create with every day-of detail.

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