As weddings and honeymoons in faraway destinations are back on the agenda, Madeleine Barber speaks to operators to find out what lovebirds are looking for in 2022

While the overseas wedding and honeymoon market has been hit hard during the pandemic, it’s safe to say that international nuptials and the far-flung celebrations that follow are back for 2022 – and in a big way.

Operators are reporting that more couples are looking to walk the aisle abroad than ever before, with Perfect Weddings Abroad predicting its biggest year for the next 12 months, and Sandals and Beaches Resorts saying this rising trend was detectable even last year, with 30% more weddings booked in its establishments in 2021 than in 2020.

“Feedback from our customers and travel agents has confirmed that many couples marry abroad because they were unable to plan the wedding they had planned at home, or because they are afraid of more [UK] restrictions affecting their big day,” says Leah Marshall, sales manager for Unique Vacations, Sandals’ UK tour operator.

The fact that the market is booming isn’t the only development wedding and honeymoon operators are noticing either, so here are some additional trends to consider when selling trips to future husbands and wives. In the coming months.

TREND: COUPLES HAVE FUN

According to the latest figures from Kuoni, average honeymoon spending has increased by 13% from £7,985 in 2019 to £9,045 in 2022, largely thanks to couples upgrading their flights, room types and experiences at destination. Five-star properties also feature in a larger share of the operator’s honeymoon bookings, now at 40% compared to 28% in 2019.

Perfect Weddings Abroad says more and more of its guests are having a blast on their big day, particularly in the Caribbean: “Many Caribbean hotels offer complimentary wedding packages, which is very appealing to married couples and means that ‘they often spend more on holidays. , for example by upgrading their flights or their room category”, explains Lauren Staley, wedding specialist at the operator.

Kuoni and Sandals and Beaches Resorts agree that honeymooners are increasingly choosing economy class or premium business class in favor of economy flights, with the latter adding that he is also seeing improvements in accommodations and amenities. experiences.

Marshall explains, “Most guests have chosen the LoveNest Butler suites to have the most luxurious and private honeymoon possible, while we have seen an increase in bookings of Sandals Extras, such as spa treatments. , private candlelight dinners, excursions and private luxury transfers.

“Private pools are always in demand, and guests will up their budget to ensure they get one,” adds Kuoni honeymoon expert Stacey Owens, with Marshall quoting “guests wanting to make their honeymoon honeymoon after missing other celebrations throughout the year due to Covid” as a possible reason for this.

TREND: ELOPPEMENTS ARE ON THE RISE

Perfect Weddings Abroad and Sandals and Beaches Resorts saw more couples looking to get married abroad in secret this year. “I’ve noticed an increase in requests for elopements in the Caribbean,” Staley reports. “Couples are looking to get away from it all, just the two of them, and combine their wedding and honeymoon.”

Marshall suggests this isn’t just happening in the Caribbean – she found that Google searches for the term ‘elopement’ have increased 22% since September 2019 compared to the same month in 2021. “This suggests that weddings in intimate destination become more attractive for couples. ,” she says.

TREND: LAST-MINUTE BOOKING IS THE NEW NORM

As with all travel industries over the past two years, last minute honeymoon bookings are on the rise, with days in advance bookings being the norm that has yet to return. Marshall of Sandals and Beaches Resorts says it’s because ‘couples want to wait and see which destinations are open and have the least complicated entry protocols’, while Kuoni says he’s booked more honeymoons luxuries late than ever before in 2021, as many couples who tied the knot in the summer sought last-minute departures in September for their first getaway as husbands and wives.

Trending: Classic Destinations

TRENDING: CLASSIC DESTINATIONS

The Indian Ocean continues to be one of the most popular destinations for weddings and honeymoons thanks to its picture-perfect beaches, palm trees, and warm, translucent waters.

“The Maldives is still a favorite hotspot for honeymoons and, due to its ‘isolated’ nature, it continues to be popular for bookings as we look to 2022,” says Zoe Saunders, Senior Product Manager for the Indian Ocean and the Middle East at The Inspirational Travel Company.

wedding on the water

wedding on the water

Brides-to-be who want to keep the ocean at the heart of their big day can choose to get married in one of Sandals and Beaches Resorts Serenity Overwater Wedding Chapels. These venues, which feature a glass-bottom walkway, can be enjoyed at Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals Ochi Beach, Sandals South Coast in Jamaica, and Sandals Grande St Lucian for $750. According to Leah Marshall, sales manager for Unique Vacations, the UK-based tour operator of the Caribbean resort brand, chapels are becoming increasingly popular. “These venues offer a true Caribbean wedding experience with an intimate ceremony for their closest family and friends,” she says.

The operator says dual center honeymoons also remain popular and recommends the Seychelles for such enquiries.

The Maldives also topped Kuoni’s list of most popular honeymoon destinations for 2022, with the archipelago now accounting for just under half of all honeymoon bookings with the operator. Sri Lanka and Mauritius are also popular, closely followed by Indonesia (Bali and Lombok) and Thailand.

In Europe, Italy and Greece remain top sellers for weddings and short-term honeymoons, report Kuoni and Perfect Weddings Abroad. The latter says that the Amalfi Coast is a trendy choice because it “exudes romance” and that Greece and Cyprus are particularly popular, especially for large weddings, for their competitive prices, their easy accessibility and their short flight times.

The Caribbean is Perfect Weddings Abroad’s third destination, with Sandals and Beaches Resorts naming Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Jamaica, Sandals Royal Barbados and Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa its top three properties for couples with upcoming or recent nuptials.

“Jamaica and Antigua’s entry protocols are relatively simple, and Barbados has dropped the requirement for Covid testing on arrival, which may have had a positive impact on bookings,” says Marshall.

As more countries ease entry rules as their vaccination rollouts continue, we can expect a wider range of destinations to be available for couples seeking a wedding or a honeymoon in the sun – it does indeed look like a bright future for the sector.

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