The Luxury Travel Bible loves a good wedding... and if we can combine one with travel, all the better.
It would seem that many others share this sentiment. More and more luxury-loving couples are turning their backs on 'traditional' weddings (and the inevitable stress that goes along with them) and instead are chosing to jet off for a wedding abroad.
TLTB went to wedding expert, Rachel Southwood to learn more about this new trend. As owner and MD of Wedding Ideas, the UK's leading wedding magazine she knows all the insider secrets for a stress-free destination wedding.
And for the traditionalists amongst us she also explains why destination weddings can be very special and personal.
Rachel Southwood, Editor and MD of 'Wedding Ideas' magazine
Luxury destination weddings are my thing. Just putting that out there... In eight years as the founding editor, publisher and now MD of Wedding Ideas I have seen probably near-on 1,000 weddings, over which I reckon around 150 of which have been weddings abroad. Recent research tells us that more and more couples are jetting off for their nuptials so it looks like we're going to be seeing a whole lot more, which pleases me a lot.
I'm a traditional girl at heart, with a deep love of the traditional English country garden wedding where the bride wears a lace dress with sleeves a la Kate Middleton, the knock of croquet balls and laughter hangs in the air and children knee slide along the dance floor before, finally, everyone including Great Grandma Ivy gets up for a boogie...
Despite this, I chose to marry my late husband in Tobago. We wanted to do something different, and to be honest we thought it would be simpler with huge families on both sides. In fact, 24 people joined us from all four corners of the world, and we had a huge 10-day celebration. The big day itself started with a walk along the beach with my mum and dad. It was dreamy - we watched the local fisherman pulling seine (traditional net fishing), then we took breakfast on their huge verandah overlooking the dense forest, teeming with squawking parrots. My mum - a florist - walked through the villas' gardens picking exotic flowers for my bouquet and two local ladies pampered me to my most gorgeous best. Soon I was stepping out onto the terrace of the Seahorse Inn in Stonehaven Bay to the sound of 'Here Comes The Bride' played on the steel pans. Our minister Brent Hart is an ordained free-thinking minister who rents bikes out in his spare time. He made it such a personal, emotional ceremony - so far removed from the stuffy traditional church wedding ceremony I had always assumed I would have. So special was this man Brent that I have kept in touch with him all these years since, and I took my seriously ill husband out to Tobago shortly before he died, partly because Brent wanted to bless him.
Then there was our friends' wedding in the Seychelles. It was stunning - the bride wore Jenny Packham, the shoes were Jimmy Choo. The father of the bride paid for everyone to stay at the Four Seasons and, while the ceremony and celebrations were simple, fun and relaxed, it must have cost an absolute fortune. My over-riding memory of the day was seeing the children lying on the grass (while the grown-ups ate the most amazing banquet of fresh fish and sipped Champagne) gazing up to the sky as the light faded, watching huge fruit bats circle around us. As the sun finally melted into the horizon the surrounding trees came to life in a sea of fairy lights, twinkling and gently swaying in the trees. It was surreal and beautiful. Quite unlike anything I'd ever seen.
So, as you can see, I'm something of an expert in weddings abroad. If you're planning to wed on a beach, on the snow or even under the water... Anywhere other than at home, you might want to take a look at my top tips:
Ten Top Tips for Destination Weddings
1 If you have the budget, it might be worth taking your own photographer, or at least invest in a good camera and entrust it to someone. Resident photographers can't always be trusted.
2 Check out your airline's policy on transporting your wedding dress. You don't want to be putting it in the hold, and if you have no other option, pack it in your case with acid free paper. Hang it up as soon as you arrive to let the creases drop out.
3 Don't be surprised if everyone you've ever known wants to come with you. It's not a fool-proof way of avoiding inviting people, believe me. Also, you can expect some point to invite themselves.
4 Mention your wedding to everyone you speak to in relation to the trip - you'll be surprised what little treats might await you along the way, even if it's just a glass of bubbly on the plane.
5 Be kind to your groom if you're going somewhere hot. Full blown tails or a suit are going to leave him sweltering and uncomfortable - not a good look.
6 Like me, you will often find your minister or celebrant more consultative than they would be over here. As soon as you get to your destination arrange to talk to them about your wishes and dreams for that big moment.
7 Good hotels and resorts will have an onsite wedding planner who has all the best contacts in the area. This person is going to be really important in the lead-up to and on your big day so keep communication going and be friendly in all correspondence. Remember that emails can easily be misconstrued.
8 Post pictures on Facebook as soon as you can - there will be lots of people back home desperate to see you in your dress.
9 One of the beauties of having a wedding abroad is that you're already on honeymoon! If you have a big group with you, make sure you get at least a day away from them - it might be worth considering at least a night in another hotel after the wedding.
10 Don't forget a high factor sun cream before you step outside on your wedding day. It's a tale of woe we often hear... The last thing you need on your wedding night is scratchy, blistering sunburn.
Rachel Southwood, 15/5/12