Latest trends in romantic travel

21 February 2012

As I watched the flurry of heart shaped muffins and chocolates flit across my Facebook page and read about female friends asking their partners to marry them this leap year, I thought it was a good week to reflect on romantic travel.

 Since 2005 the number of UK people marrying abroad has risen 27% and almost 18% of all weddings are estimated to take place abroad according to Mintel[1].  UK weddings  actually declined 11.5% over the ten years to 270,000 in 2008.  Future prospects look good as Mintel shows almost 4 out of 5 of those couples expecting to get married also want to have a honeymoon abroad. 37% of adults also state an interest in marrying or renewing their wedding vows abroad[2]. Travel Weekly[3] reckons the UK overseas wedding market is worth £333million a year.

What’s driving the increase?

A few factors could have triggered this rise such as:
·        Lower average cost of weddings abroad with fewer guests at £6,585[4],
·        Internet dating sites forecasting revenues up 16% to $1.9US billion in 2012,
·        Intra EU employment rights as more countries join the EU,
·        Immigration increasing the ethnic diversity of the UK population,
·        More countries marketing themselves as wedding and honeymoon destinations.   
Trend to older couples  
Whilst the average age band for getting married first is still 20-29 years, the second most popular age band increased to 35-44 years old in 2008.  
Booking patterns changing
Danny Waine at Perfect Weddings Abroad said “Couples are also keen to know down to the finest detail how much things are going to cost before committing… they either want a ‘last-minute’ wedding and get married in the next few months, or they want to book two years ahead, in order to be able to budget and save up. The main downward trend that we have seen is in the winter weddings ..which tend to be confined to ski groups.” 
Wedding campaigns

Some tourist boards such as The Bahamas have invented the alluring title of “Director of Romance” and you can ask her about getting married on their 16 islands. On Valentine’s Day many of the lucky 16 couples who won a free wedding in The Bahamas on 16th May 2012 were selecting their rings at Goldsmiths in London. Source: Bahamas 16 islands wedding invitation   Lucky couples at Goldsmiths Victoria, London.

In 2011 Thailand targeted the weddings and honeymoon market with sites such as Honeymooning-in-Thailand  and a reality TV series called The Bachelorette™.

Civil partnerships and commitment ceremonies abroad

A handful of tour operators such as Kuoni, Amro worldwide and Perfect Gay Honeymoons  (PGH) offer these ceremonies in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and US and PGH claim this is more than 10% of their overall wedding business.[1]    

Wedding destination trends

Traditional white sand wedding markets are facing new competition. The latest Kuoni report shows the increasing popularity of UAE, Indonesia, Singapore and US for honeymoons. Rankings for Antigua, Jamaica, St Lucia and Seychelles also improved .

Danny Waine at Perfect Weddings Abroad  has seen family pressures to marry in a short-haul location. “What they do is go to Cyprus for as short a period as possible, come home for a few days and then fly out on their long-haul honeymoon anyway.” Lesley Dean of White Sand Weddings claims that Mauritius is still their most popular destination, followed by the Caribbean. She sees smaller wedding groups of about 10 going abroad as it’s cheaper than a larger UK wedding .

Adventure Weddings

Countries are getting more inventive and you can now have an ice or underwater wedding, a dolphin encounter or weddings with “bungee jumping” and any number of adventures as part of your big day.  

What unusual weddings abroad and trends have you heard about?


[1]Travel Weekly Weddings Abroad civil partnerships and commitment ceremonies June 16, 2009

[1] Mintel “Weddings and Honeymoons Abroad - UK” October 2010

[2]&4 TTG Digital “Marketing – Think like a bride” 25 January 2012

[3] Travel Weekly Weddings abroad: Market update and trends for 2009/10”


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