Emily Ashwell looks at the best wedding/honeymoon combinations
Valentine’s Day always makes February a popular time for engagements, but as 2012 is a leap year, couples had double the chance to pop the question.
Hopefully, this will have brought some happy couples to your door, looking for the best options to marry and honeymoon abroad. Now it’s your turn to bring harmony to their plans.
Sarah Jackson, USA and Caribbean product manager at Kuoni, says: "Twin-centre weddingmoons are increasingly popular with couples looking for a unique wedding location followed by a relaxing beach break.
"Couples get the best of both worlds – a wedding abroad where they can invite all of their friends and family, followed by their own romantic escape when they jet off to a new location. While a twin-centre weddingmoon does increase the cost of the trip, it is still seen as an affordable way to get married and is often cheaper than a wedding in the UK."
Perfect Weddings Abroad marketing director Danny Waine says: "Most people want a short-haul wedding to keep family happy because they can afford to come, but would ideally like to have a honeymoon farther afield."
BEST FOR... BRINGING THE FAMILY
Where: A Cyprus wedding followed by a romantic Nile cruise.
Why: Planet Holidays managing director Mathilde Robert says: "Cyprus is popular and agents may feel they know it so well that they go into auto-pilot when making suggestions to couples. But we’ve seen couples choosing to marry there and then have an exotic honeymoon in Egypt, including a luxury Nile cruise."
She suggests staying at the stunning Old Cataract Hotel, which reopened at the end of last year after a two-year refurbishment, set on one of the most romantic spots on the Nile, and adds that some Nile cruises even let the second traveller go half-price.
Where else: If clients want the romance of a winter wedding, suggest Zell am See in Austria.
Sample price: A wedding at Palm Beach Hotel and Bungalows in Larnaca costs £650 including licence and registrar. A five-night B&B stay costs £745 per person, including flights and transfers. Next, flights to Luxor, Egypt, transfer to Aswan, five nights’ B&B at Sofitel Old Cataract and then return flights to the UK cost £1,279 per person with Planet Holidays.
0871 871 0405
BEST FOR... EUROPEAN ELEGANCE
Where: Get hitched in Malta and honeymoon in Gozo.
Why: Belleair Holidays weddings co-ordinator Shelley Perry suggests the lavish 24-carat gilded ballroom at the Palazzo Parisio for the ceremony and the classic baroque walled gardens for a romantic reception. "As couples need to be resident in Malta for two days prior to their wedding, I would suggest spending three nights at the Hilton Malta, then transferring to Gozo to relax away from it all in a farmhouse such as The Hamlet or Djar Ta Menzja – the perfect tranquil setting," she says.
Where else: Expressions Holidays suggests Italy’s Amalfi coast, with a civil ceremony in the 12th-century town hall followed by the five-star Borgo Egnazia in Puglia for honeymoon.
Sample price: Weddings at Palazzo Parisio start at £1,084. Three nights at the Hilton Malta plus a week at the Hamlet Farmhouse, Gozo, starts at £1,218 per person twin-share in October, including flights and transfers.
0845 365 3412
BEST FOR... LUXURIOUS LONG HAUL
Where: A wedding in South Africa then a Mauritius honeymoon.
Why: There’s little time difference between the UK and South Africa, plus there’s a great range of venues, from luxury tented safari camps to winery weddings. Lisa Fisher, product manager at Rainbow Tours, says: "We tend to do small, bespoke weddings, often just the couple, but we can cater for much larger parties too. Marrying in South Africa is all quite simple."
Where else: Thailand is a popular option. Couples need to marry in Bangkok but can then fly to an idyllic resort such as Pimalai, Krabi, as recommended by Seasons.
Sample price: All weddings are tailor-made but, as an example, Rainbow Tours offers three nights at the Grande Roche in the Cape Winelands for the wedding, and seven nights at The Residence in Mauritius from £3,395 per person, twin-share. This includes car hire in the Winelands, the wedding, half-board in Mauritius, flights and transfers.
020 7666 1250
BEST FOR... ENDURING POPULARITY
Where: Tie the knot in New York then honeymoon in Saint Lucia.
Why: New York and the Caribbean are crowd-pleasers. Kuoni marketing manager Sarah Jackson says: "Getting married in a US city often means guests can plan a short trip away rather than a seven-night holiday. This often makes it more affordable and appealing."
Where else: Twinning two Caribbean islands is another great way to book a weddingmoon. The region has no shortage of couples-only hotels, and romantic holidays are the bread-and-butter business of properties such as Sandals.
Sample price: Kuoni offers three nights at the four-star Eventi, New York, and seven nights’ all-inclusive at the four-star-plus Rendezvous, Saint Lucia, from £2,149 per person for June departures, including flights. Wedding packages in New York start at £920 at locations including Conservatory Gardens, Silver Towers and All Souls Chapel.
0844 488 0536
BEST FOR... SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Where: A Kerala blessing followed by a Rajasthan honeymoon.
Why: TransIndus can organise a blessing on the Kerala backwaters where guests can take a riceboat cruise and spend time on the beach. Honeymooners dress in local style – mandu for the men and saree for the women – for their blessing, followed by a traditional lunch. Point out to customers it would be a blessing rather than a legal wedding. In Rajasthan, sights include famous symbol of love the Taj Mahal and the pink city of Jaipur.
Where else: Western & Oriental Travel suggests a different take on a Vegas wedding, with a ranch honeymoon in Arizona – try Rancho de las Caballeros, which offers luxury with authentic ranch experiences.
Sample price: £1,985 per person for the honeymooners, including seven nights’ B&B accommodation – at Coconut Lagoon, on a riceboat and at Marari Beach Resort – flights and transfers and a local blessing for 10 guests with TransIndus (valid April-September). Guests pay from £1,095 per person. A Golden Triangle Extension costs from £685.
020 8566 3739