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For wedding couples seeking a more exotic wedding destination, consider Brazil. The world's fifth largest nation is known for its care-free tempo, beautiful beaches, and lilting music. The city of Rio along the southern coast also boasts one of the world's most festive Carnivale celebrations, right before Lent each year.
Among the many all-inclusive resorts in Brazil are the Ponta dos Gonchos Resort on the southern coastal area of Santa Catarina. Guests here stay in private bungalows overlooking the ocean and the resort has a private island, just offshore, where it hosts romantic, candlelit dinners for two.
Other Brazilian all-inclusive resorts include Blue Tree Park Eco-Resort, about 90 miles outside of Rio and known for its excellent diving and canopy tours; the Breezes in Costa do Sauipe, in Bahia; and the Club Med on Itaparica Island in Bahia.
Packages vary from resort to resort, but most include accommodations, meals and at least some drinks, activities and (generally) non-motorized water sports, transportation to and from the airport, and taxes and service charges. All offer beautiful sites for a wedding ceremony.
Okay, a destination wedding package sounds great, but what does it include? What other expenses should you expect? Is there anyone available to help you with your wedding plans? All good questions. Here are a few answers:
What's included in an all-inclusive wedding package?
Destination wedding packages generally include accommodations, meals and drinks, transportation to and from the airport, nightly entertainment, a variety of water sports and activities, and all taxes and service charges. In addition, the wedding package includes the services of an officiant or clergyman, a decorated wedding site, all of the necessary paperwork, flowers for the bride and groom, a Caribbean-style wedding cake, and taxes and service charges. Some resorts add extras, such as breakfast in bed on the first morning after the wedding, a Champagne toast following the wedding, or a wedding photograph.
What other expenses should I expect?
Most expenses are covered by the destination wedding package. Extras would include your wedding attire, music (if desired), flowers other than the bride's bouquet and the groom's boutonniere, any spa or salon services, and food and beverage service for a reception (if desired).
Is there anyone to help me with my wedding plans?
Yes! Most larger resorts employ designated wedding planners to assist with all of the details. Or, enlist the aid of a destination wedding specialist, such as those with Destination Weddings.com.
Sandals Resorts all but invented the all-inclusive destination wedding package. In fact, they coined the term, "weddingmoon." The company is the largest all-inclusive resort operator in the Caribbean, with 12 resorts -- seven in Jamaica, three in St. Lucia, one in Antigua, and one in Nassau, in the Bahamas. All Sandals resorts are designed for couples only.
The basic Sandals package includes a choice of accommodations (from a basic room to a deluxe, private cottage or a well-appointed suite complete with butler service), all meals, bar drinks and wine, a variety of water sports and other activities, nightly entertainment, transportation to and from the airport, and all taxes and service charges.
For wedding couples, Sandals offers a variety of pre-planned packages that include the services of a local officiant, the wedding site, a Caribbean wedding cake, flowers for the bride and groom, and all of the paperwork. But that's just the beginning. Sandals employs a team of wedding planners at each resort that can customize your wedding to suit your taste and budget. They also partner with Preston Bailey, Oprah's party planner, to offer coordinated theme weddings and other upgrades. For wedding couples spending at least six nights at a Sandals resort, the company offers a complimentary set of Waterford china.
Club Med Resorts used to have a reputation as "wild and crazy" resorts that catered to singles, with an emphasis on activities rather than accommodations. The company has evolved since the 1960s and 1970s into a diverse collection of resorts, many of which welcome families, seniors, honeymooners, and, yes, wedding couples.
Particularly geared towards couples are their resorts on Columbus Isle in the Bahamas, on Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and on Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Those with more time and money to spend will also enjoy their properties in Bora Bora, in the Maldives Islands, and on Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.
All of the Club Med Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico offer a variety of beautiful sites for a destination wedding -- on the beach or in one of the landscaped gardens. To make sure every detail is perfect, consider using the services of a destination wedding specialist, such as those at Destination Weddings.com. Their years of experience in planning weddings and honeymoons is free to you.
Club Med packages include everything: airfare (if desired), transportation to and from the airport, excellent French cuisine, wine and beer at meals, a plethora of activities, nightly entertainment, and all taxes and service charges. All of the resorts mentioned above are located on the beach and some offer unique activities, such as the trapeze training at the Turks and Caicos Resort and the diving center at the Columbus Isle resort.
Mexico's popular new resort area, Riviera Maya, the 75-mile stretch south of Cancun, rivals Jamaica for the number of all-inclusive resorts. This scenic area, known for its beaches, diving and snorkeling, and historic Mayan ruins, is home to more than a dozen all-inclusive properties -- and more are being built each year.
Among the best of Riviera Maya's all-inclusive resorts are:
Allegro Playacar: This 300-room resort is located just a 20-minute walk (or 5-minute drive) from shopping, dining, and nightlife in Playa del Carmen. The resort is also near the popular eco-theme park, Xcaret. Facilities include a beach, two freshwater swimming pools, tennis courts, and an exercise room.
Dreams Tulum: Set on 23 acres, this spacious resort has 430 rooms and suites, most of which have an ocean view. Facilities at this upscale resort include three freshwater swimming pools, two miles of beach, a rock-climbing wall, tennis courts, and an ocean-side trampoline. The resort is within biking distance of the Mayan ruins at Tulum.
Iberostar Playa Paraiso: Located about 20 miles south of Cancun, this Spanish-owned property features 300 suites and 12 honeymoon suites with private butler service. Facilities include four restaurants, three freshwater swimming pools, and a full spa.
Not every all-inclusive destination wedding has to be expensive. There are several affordable options for those seeking an all-inclusive wedding package. In addition, all-inclusive packages carry the advantage of letting you know exactly what you'll be spending before you depart on your wedding trip. Your meals are included. So are the transportation, tips, drinks, and taxes -- one price covers everything.
One affordable all-inclusive option is the Sandals Inn in Montego Bay Jamaica, part of the Sandals Resort family. This 52-room, beachfront hotel is more like a country inn than a sprawling resort. There are fewer restaurant options and amenities here, but you have the option to dine or use the facilities at the other Sandals Resorts at no additional charge.
Another way to save on all-inclusive wedding packages is to travel during the off-season. This means from mid-April to mid-December for Caribbean and Mexican destinations. Prices can be as much as 40 percent lower than high season rates. Be careful, however, to avoid the middle of hurricane season -- from mid-August to mid-October -- if you are traveling to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula or the upper Caribbean.
Using the services of a destination wedding planner can also help you save money on your all-inclusive wedding. Because they deal with wedding packages on a daily basis, wedding planners, such as those at Destination Weddings.com, are ideally placed to be able to find the best prices and packages to suit your tastes and budget.
Hawaii combines the beauty of Polynesia with American food, language, and customs. The islands are known for their beaches, sunsets, lilting music, and friendly people. The islands also boast a number of excellent resorts.
One such resort -- and one of the few all-inclusive resorts in Hawaii -- is the Kona Village on the Big Island of Hawaii. This romantic, luxury resort on the Kona Coast is ideal for those couples wanting to get away from 24-hour information overload. Guests of the resort stay in "hales" (private, well-appointed huts). There are no televisions, out-going telephones, Internet connections, or even clocks -- just the music of the water lapping the shore.
Destination wedding packages at Kona Village include getting married on the black sand beach, on the lava rock promontory, or in one of the beautiful gardens. In addition, the basic wedding package includes the marriage license and the ceremony by a licensed officiant, the services of a Kona Village wedding coordinator, the services of a professional photographer and 50 4"x6" photos, a traditional lei for the bride and groom, and a wedding cake for two.