With the popularity of destination weddings continuing to skyrocket, we check in with Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts to find out more about the inspiration behind their hugely successful Customisable Weddings concept
When Sandals Resorts, and sister company Beaches Resorts, launched ‘Customisable Weddings’, there was no doubt they had hit on a brilliant idea. Absolutely Weddings were guests of Sandals for the launch, visiting both its original and flagship Montego Bay resort and Jamaican sister Sandals South Coast to see wedding planning in action and explore the celebratory options.
Sandals Montego Bay is awe-inspiring, spanning an expanse of white sand and azure water on one the Caribbean’s most celebrated private beaches. This is where the Sandals romantic story started, and then blossomed into 16 resorts on six tropical-paradise islands. We visited Montego Bay’s charming and secluded wedding chapel with traditional wooden pews and an aura of perfect serenity. At Sandals South Coast, meanwhile, set in a 500-acre nature reserve, we toured the dreamy over-the-water chapel – the ultimate in romance with its far-reaching views out to sea. Over-the-water bungalows and a Latitudes bar mean couples who marry here are living the dream, right over the Caribbean ocean.
Your day, your way
Every couple staying at any Sandals resort for more than three days is able to add in a simple wedding ceremony and celebration for free, but Sandals Resorts Customisable Weddings enables them to take things a whole lot further, designing their celebration in a way that creates something completely personal. It brings together a set of inspirations and themes – not prescriptive, and spanning everything from tropical to pure white. Think of it as a pinboard of ideas that you can use as they are or rearrange to get the look you love – all, of course, perfectly suited to the dreamy Caribbean backdrop.
“One bride requested a white horse to take her down the aisle to her groom just a few hours before the ceremony – we made it happen”
Catching up with Marsha Ann Brown, Director of Weddings and Romance for Sandals and Beaches, we asked her which themes are striking a chord with couples. Marsha Ann says: “With 10 inspirations available to choose from there is something to suit every guest – however the classic White Romance often proves very popular”.
New inspirations are added to tap into wedding trends. “English Royalty, inspired by Meghan and Harry’s Royal Wedding in 2018, and Band of Gold, with metallic gold and royal blue hues, are also hits for 2019,” says Marsha Ann. “The best thing about our wedding offering is that couples can mix and match between inspirations to create their own bespoke celebration so it’s unique to them.”
Having witnessed weddings at Sandals and seen how the resort teams work, we can testify that celebrations are as different as each couple getting married. Marsha Ann says that uniqueness is at the heart of their whole approach. “There are often misconceptions that couples looking to tie the knot overseas will experience the same venue, décor and design as other couples who have married abroad but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We offer a completely personalised service for every guest.”
This begins when couples start planning – and Sandals’ fabulous Fulham Road store creates an immersive and ‘virtual’ Caribbean setting that makes it very easy for couples to see themselves there and decide on the design of their own celebration. There are also wedding planners on hand to help them choose and then fit the elements they love together. Marsha Ann says this creates countless options. “Couples are able to mix and match bespoke elements from as many or as few wedding designs as they please.”
In terms of regional differences and trends, British couples tend to have smaller parties accompanying them than couples travelling from the US (partly because it’s a shorter hop from North America to the Caribbean), but British couples also stay and play longer. “Island-hopping within the Caribbean is proving to be very popular, particularly twin-centre weddings which offer the option to have a ceremony in one location and honeymoon in another.”
Marsha Ann says that adding entertainment to the celebration is also a popular way to personalise things – from a steel band at the reception to fire dancers or other local entertainment. So too are the ‘after party’ or ‘pre party’ elements that ensure the couple and their guests explore their gorgeous surroundings. “Tours and excursions for the wedding party, such as a catamaran cruise around the island, can be a lovely treat for guests who are also enjoying the trip as their own holiday.
“There are often misconceptions that couples looking to tie the knot overseas will experience the same, but we offer a completely personalised service for every guest”
The team at Sandals and Beaches Resorts pride themselves on being able to deliver the heart’s desire of their guests and, when it comes to weddings, couples just need to ask. And the teams do get unusual requests. “Our team at every resort are very experienced and have the right contacts to ensure that we can pull off pretty much anything that the bride and groom desire at late notice,” says Marsha Ann. “In terms of unusual requests, there was one bride who requested a white horse to take her down the aisle to her groom just a few hours before the ceremony was due to kick off. We made it happen, though!”
Sandals Resorts has 16 resorts on six islands, offering multiple wedding, honeymoon and luxury holiday options. To find out more, visit its immersive Fulham Road store or check out the options at sandals.co.uk
MORE DESTINATION WEDDING INSPIRATION?