Big destination weddings – let’s talk about it! It’s a BONUS blog post – Big Destination Weddings FAQ if you will! In addition to our weekly Friday blogs, we wanted to release this one a *bit* early to answer on of our most frequently asked questions. When you start planning your destination wedding, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the fact that most resorts offer packages that host 30 guests. But what if you are expecting 50? Or 100? Or 500?. You have a big guest list and we like it! More the merrier or as the French say “the more fools there are, the more we laugh”. We like the sound of that!
This post was originally published in 2019 but has been updated in 2023.
Well first, we are going to start off by asking you to define “what is better”. Do you want a smaller hotel you could potentially buyout? Do you want a resort where the wedding is more affordable for larger groups (ie. you are not paying 70USD+ per person after your initial 30). Or maybe you want a resort that’s affordable for your guests that has “a little something for everyone” so you know your large guest list will all have a great time. Do you have specific wedding needs? South Asian Destination Weddings often attract a large guest list… but you don’t want to just chose “any” resort for such an intricate event! Yikes.
Our favorites are from the Palace Resorts or Hard Rock chain. Hands down. Didn’t even have to think about it. Not only do they each offer incredible VALUE for the wedding, your guests will be happy here. They aren’t the least affordable but you do feel like you got what you paid for with their resort credit promo for your guests. On top of that, their wedding packages are largely based on your guest count. This means: the bigger your guest list, the more affordable it is. Of course with larger guest lists usually come with more “add ons” but you would be AMAZED at how far your wedding budget will go here. It is fairly easy (especially for Canadians) to score a 5 hour private wedding reception for next to nothing. Seriously.
Although really no resorts can compare to Palace and Hard Rock for wedding affordability, if you want a resort that is a bit more affordable for guests, we would actually encourage you to check out Iberostar A la Carte weddings. There are SO MANY Iberostar resorts and some may be a better fit for your actual group than others so please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.
Another resort that is more affordable for guests is BlueBay Grand Esmeralda. Although their top package including a 4 hour private reception is a bit higher than others, their extra guest cost is only $45USD/person. On top of that if you want something more affordable, you can opt for a semi-private dinner and add a private beach party to dance the night away after!
We know this is a HUGE category of specific needs but there are certain resorts that are extremely well trainedin the specific needs of a variety of South Asian wedding traditions. You need to have an on site coordinator AND a resort brand that you can trust to know what you need. We have a few favorites, but because things are constantly changing in the destination wedding world, we would really encourage you to contact us.
Hard Rock Resorts and Palace Resorts (both I mentioned above) are two brands that have developed an excellent reputation for South Asian weddings. With a larger guest list, you truly can’t beat the incredible value mentioned earlier (both for yourself and for your guests). For big destination weddings, they are a great choice. There are other options though!
Sandos resorts are also well known for training their coordinators although Sandos Cancun would likely be your resort of choice for weddings between 100-300 people (the other resorts can only accommodate up to 100). Sandos also frequently hosts South Asian Wedding Certifications for Destination Wedding Specialists who want to learn more! Palladium Resorts are also well known for accommodating South Asian weddings are are generally larger properties which helps with a large guest list. Both Palladium and Sandos Resorts generally price fairly competitively for travel for your guests as well.
Last but not least, AMResorts (these are your NOW or Dreams resorts) have great packages although some locations are significantly more accustomed to hosting South Asian Weddings than others! Just something to keep in mind 🙂
Not all resorts actually want your big guest list, to be honest. It is surprising, but some resorts actually prefer to work with smaller groups – especially if they are limited in number of rooms. How do we know that they don’t want your large destination wedding? Easy. Some resorts have lots of hidden terms and conditions and will make it hard to get a contract for a large group (ie. require higher deposits, full payments quickly, etc.). There are a few resorts however, that not only would LOVE to book your group (and therefore make it very easy), but also have enough rooms and entertainment that they have “something for everyone”. After all, a big guest list is only fun when they are HAPPY guests!
Looking for more? Explore our comprehensive destination wedding planning guide!
First, Sandos Caracol Eco Resort! If you have been following us for a while, you probably knew this one was going to come up because it is one of our all around favorites. Actually, two out of the three of us got married here. It really has such a unique eco vibe that even your guests who have “been to Mexico before” will feel like they are experiencing something new.
NOW Jade is another favorite. Even though it is only medium in size, guests come back happy from NOW Jade. We actually just had a wedding come back last week from NOW Jade and one of the couples had so much fun they are considering booking it for their wedding next year. They have a Beyond Memorable wedding package that works VERY well for groups of 50-100+ guests. We recommend upgrading to the preferred club to enjoy the adults only pool #justsaying.
RIU resorts are exclusive with Sunwing and are great with large groups! They usually offer perks like “one in every 12th guest flies free” which comes back as a refund to help you pay for the wedding (or honeymoon – whatever you want). They also offer additional planning assistance for the wedding which is great for couples who don’t purchase our planning services. We specifically love RIU Palace Cabo San Lucas and RIU Ocho Rios!
When you reach a certain guest count (usually around the 150+ range), you might start to consider a hotel buyout. It is actually getting harder and harder to get a resort to commit to a buyout. And penalties can be steep. This means you will be paying for all the rooms even if you don’t fill them. Or, you may be paying double occupancy rates for single guests in order to “fill” the hotel. They may also insist you cover a few days before and after as well. With that in mind, you also have the huge advantage of complete control of the hotel. The entire staff is focused on what you and your guests desire. We love the sound of that!
Every boutique hotel is different and this option may be worth considering, but there are pros and cons that certainly need to be considered. The reality is, especially in Mexico and the Caribbean, resorts do sell out and they are not as eager to fight for your business without a substantial return. That being said, a hotel buyout with your family and friends is an experience of your own. Just imagine spending a week at Hotel Chocolat (pictured above). We would be in heaven. You would need a smaller guest list though!
We are up for the challenge ;). Send us some details and we will get back to you within 24 hours with resort options. Including but not limited to the resorts above. We love getting creative. We can’t wait to get started!
January 29, 2023
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