The West Coast Wire
Destination weddings back on the rise
Bride says she’d do it all over again despite comedy of errors
During the COVID pandemic, destination weddings were often replaced with tiny at-home ceremonies.
Some Atlantic Canadian couples, however, are still opting for destination weddings to a variety of international locales.
Holly and Matthew Marsh now live in Carbonear, N.L., but were living in Happy Valley-Goose Bay (HVGB) when they were legally married on March 27, 2022 in their living room.
They used a gold ribbon to symbolize rings as they wanted to save the rings for the ceremony they were planning to have at a future destination wedding.
The Marshes had their destination wedding on their first anniversary, March 27, 2023, at the Royalton Bavaro in Punta Cana, where they were joined by 30 family members and friends.
There are a few reasons the Marshes chose a destination wedding.
“We have a pretty hectic schedule, between my husband being a rotational worker and myself working in a health-related field,” Holly explains.
“The thought of having to plan a Bay wedding, coordinate vendors and find a suitable venue wasn’t something I was up for. We liked the idea of minimal planning, and just showing up, spending the week with family and friends and leaving the work to somebody else."
Marsh and her husband wed in the Dominican Republic. Planning a destination wedding is fairly easy, she says.
“You pay the deposit, and around three months before the wedding, you pick your colours, the decor and make the final payment.”
IT’S NOT FREE
One common misconception, she says, is destination weddings are cheap or free.
“Once you account for the number of guests, planning the reception, the DJ, wedding attire, rings, and all the small details, the costs quickly add up. Another thing to keep in mind is sun destination resorts operate using the USD (American dollar), which, compared to CAD (Canadian dollar), adds on approximately .30 cents on the dollar.”
As a comparison, Marsh says that for a 30-person destination wedding, “we could have easily had a Bay wedding with 150 guests.”
ALL THE CURVE BALLS
She also points out you can’t plan for the unexpected.
“Travelling with a group is complete chaos. For us, it started the minute we arrived at the airport. Shortly after we checked in my daughter became faint and vomited. I had no idea how we would make it through security.”
A few more curve balls also came their way.
“Just as we were boarding, one of our guests received a call that their step-parent had passed away and the plane was delayed by a few minutes while we tended to the needs of our guest,” Marsh said.
‘WHATEVER COULD GO WRONG’
Going over the Bermuda Triangle their entourage hit severe turbulence.
“Then, we had lost baggage, delays getting to the resort, hurt feelings, family drama and a whole lot of chaos. It seemed like whatever could go wrong, did go wrong. Then, one of our groomsmen fell off the hot tub, knocked himself out and landed in a Dominican hospital.”
Luckily, the wedding and reception were wonderful.
The Marshes had one more hiccup before leaving, though.
“Just before we were set to return, I became extremely ill and was sent by ambulance to the hospital, where I was declared not fit to fly.”
But she would do it all over again.
“My best piece of advice is to make sure you have travel insurance … and do not eat the salad.”
Morgan Kaiser and her fiancé Steven Alcorn, from Porters Lake, N.S., are having a destination wedding on Sept. 23 in Las Vegas at the iconic Little White Chapel, where many celebrities – such as Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jordan, Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra and Joe Jonas – have been married. And yes, Elvis is officiating. Kaiser says they are opting for a destination wedding becauase they don’t care about planning a wedding; they don’t want to spend tens of thousands on one; and they want something that is fun and unique with a casual feel.
“We chose Vegas because it’s fun and kinda tacky in a good way,” she says.
Kaiser and Alcorn will be joined by 50 family and friends who will be coming from across Canada and the U.S.
After their wedding ceremony, the couple are planning to tour the city in a vintage convertible and get photos taken at iconic Las Vegas locations. Afterwards, they will join their guests at a Las Vegas restaurant/bar for dinner, followed by a visit to Club XS to see the Chainsmokers perform.
As for the Elvis impersonator who will marry them?
“He’s supposed to be one of the best impersonators around. He’s going to sing Can’t Help Falling in Love With You and Viva Las Vegas to us and our guests after the ceremony,” she says.