Destination weddings are all the rage. From romantic beaches to heritage castles and even exotic deserts, stylish and well-travelled couples are jetting off across the globe for their dream wedding. Although an overseas nuptials can tell a couple's unique story, the planning to ensure a perfect day doesn't come easily.
"[The trend] has been going on for a few years," says Bonnae Gokson, owner and founder of Sevva. "I'd say, 'why not?'. It's all about sharing wonderful moments with the people [the couple] want to share with. You need to have imagination and great fantasies of what the couple's dream is and work towards it for more surprises."
Gokson cites her own niece's wedding in Venice. "The party took over Cipriani Hotel and palazzo and we only used candles - 4,500 of them - for lighting. It was incredible," she says.
Catering to the rising demand, luxury hotels and resorts have designed all-inclusive wedding packages for overseas couples in popular destinations such as Bali, Santorini and the Caribbean. Banyan Tree Ungasan in Bali, for example, is one of Banyan Tree's most popular properties for weddings. Located on the cliff-top of the scenic peninsula, the resort features 73 pool villas. In September last year, the resort opened The White Dove - an intimate wedding chapel overlooking the Indian Ocean. Also famous for their oceanfront chapels in Bali are Bulgari Hotels and Resort, and Alila Villas Uluwatu.
For the more adventurous couples who opt to take their vows at much more historical and lush settings, heritage castles and chateaus are perfect choices. Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou married long-time model girlfriend Hannah Quinlivan earlier this year. The couple had their lavish wedding ceremony at a 1,000-year-old abbey in Selby, north Yorkshire, England, followed by a reception at the nearby Castle Howard. Weddings at the 4,050-hectare estate cost more than £8,000 (HK$98,400) with rental of the main house in the region of £15,000.
The old-school glamour and hospitality that castles and châteaux in England, the south of France and Tuscany in Italy provide, appeals to couples looking for something different on their big day.
Feeling overwhelmed by the choices and possibilities of destination weddings? Start your research by finding a venue that's "in season".
Denice Wong, the founder of Binc Photography who is constantly travelling for destination wedding photography and pre-wedding photo shoots, says that timing is important in order to capture the perfect moment. Make sure you make a booking in advance during peak wedding seasons.
"Depending on what time you are travelling, the scenery can be really different," Wong says. "It's best to go to Japan in March for the cherry blossoms, and in July to Provence for the lavender. If you love autumn leaves, go to [South] Korea or New Zealand."
Unlike in traditional ballroom wedding banquets, the couple should opt for a wardrobe that suits the destination.
"Pick a dress that's easy to steam and pack," says Yolanda Choy, co-founder of Central Weddings, the luxury boutique that stocks designer gowns such as Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa. "If you are going to get married on a beach, you don't want something that drags or stains too easily.
"Also, the colour of the gown is important. There are different shades of white."
Trinity Bridal's co-founder and managing director Cecile Chen agrees and says: "We'll recommend dresses featuring lighter and breathable fabrics such as silk chiffon, organza or tulle. Avoid fabrics that are too heavy and require ironing such as duchess satin."
Various unconventional styles and silhouettes are available for brides who opt for destination weddings. Local wedding gown designer Noel Chu created a unique bridal bathing suit for beach weddings. The piece doubles as a corset and can be paired with a more dramatic skirt to instantly turn into a gown. Bridal gowns that can be styled and worn in different ways are also embraced by mainstream brands such as Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta. Vera Wang's latest collection features boleros and removable tulle skirts and ribbons.
"Today's brides are independent thinkers who have a grasp of bridal trends," Trinity Bridal's Chen says.
"We are seeing a lot of nude underlays that provide a contrast between the lace and lining, giving the bride a slightly more natural and sexier look. Illusion necklines are also very popular."
Destinations weddings are popular, but some couples choose to throw another celebration in the city for friends and relatives who couldn't make the trip. For city-dwellers who can't get enough of the urban jungle, a traditional ballroom wedding banquet isn't your only option.
Opting for an elegant wedding ceremony at luxury penthouse restaurant Sevva in the heart of Central or an intimate reception on the lawn of Sai Kung's one-thirtyone restaurant could make your wedding an impressive and memorable one without travelling overseas.
Despite all the time and efforts dedicated to the preparation of a dream wedding, the key to a perfect wedding, however, is for the couple to enjoy the big day and to share their love and joy.
"Weddings are a celebration of love so the perfect wedding is one where love and joy are abundant," Chen says.
"Mistakes with catering, logistics or performances do not make or break a wedding. It's the ambience of the wedding party and, in particular, whether the bride and groom are having a good time that really counts. The couple's abundant joy will be shared with all those who attend."
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