Planning a wedding can be daunting. Even more so when every single detail hinges on your decision, every vendor is one you have to hand-pick, and every choice you make is just more dollars added to your total bill.
But we have a cheat code. Because did you know that planning a destination wedding can actually be loads easier than planning a local one? And more cost-effective for the nuptial couple, too! The key is to go with a resort brand or property that’s a pro at planning these kinds of shindigs, and all the logistics that go with it. Brands, for instance, like RIU Hotels & Resorts.
Through our years of experience with groups, ALG Vacations® has found working with RIU to be among the most turnkey for wedding packages. They have a sizable list of resorts we’re comfortable recommending, but not so many that you’ll face decision paralysis. And best of all, every wedding package across the board comes with a wide range of bonuses for the couple and even their guests. Today, we’re going to talk about both, and the key features of the properties we highly recommend as best of the brand for destination weddings in Mexico, the Caribbean (including Jamaica and Dominican Republic), and Costa Rica!
When it comes to wedding groups, at RIU, the occasion is super special for everyone. There are a ton of extra perks that come with getting wedded at RIU, and all of the below are designed to be as stackable as an engagement ring and a wedding band.
- Baseline of All Current Offers: Whether it’s resort credit, free stays for kids, or room rate discounts, they’re all combinable with the group offers.
- Even More Group Offers: Group goodies for contracted groups are also added on to Wedding Collections and Social Packages inclusions, which may tack on two semi-private dinners (one from each of the group deals). Whether you use it for a rehearsal or something else, either way, it’s double the fun.
- Free Stays: Every 6th or 11th passenger stays with the resort’s compliments, making it truly “the more, the merrier.” And for anyone splitting costs or worried about the expense, this is a fantastic way to bring down the overall total for the group.
- Upgrades: The bigger the party, the greater the perks. Every 10th room booked as part of a contracted group, such as a wedding group, gets upgraded to the next room category. Swanky!
- Big Entrance: Wedding guests start their stay VIP fashion, with a welcome sign just for them and private check-in services for bookings with at least 20 rooms.
- Meals to Linger Over: Groups get a semi-private group dinner for up to 40 folks, but weddings also receive a complimentary cocktail hour with a selection of canapes. Details for the latter vary per wedding collection for tailored experiences!
- Group Leader Perks: Whoever brought the group together receives the added benefits of … well, added benefits! Fruit and wine in the room upon arrival and a complimentary 25-minute Relaxing Massage at the Renova Spa on the property fast track flipping the switch to “vacation mode.”
- Full Portfolio of Packages: From free weddings with basics and then some to the whole shebang for larger groups and even more premium inclusions for the soon-to-weds, there’s the right event size and perks for everyone. Choose a nearly turnkey collection from five options for the best fit for your celebration.
Where to Stay
There are a lot of RIU Hotels & Resorts to choose from for a destination wedding. So many that it can get overwhelming. To help you narrow it down, these are ALGV’s top picks for who you should pick to host the big day and why.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Located on Arena Gorda beach in Dominican Republic’s most famous sun and sand destination, this 600-room resort is a crowd pleaser. Four outdoor pools and five bars let you decide how much or how little time you want to spend together as a collective, and no end of amenities for children make it easier for families to attend your nuptial celebrations. As part of the Riu Resort in Punta Cana, guests have access to Splash Water World, RiuLand Kids’ Club, and a full slate of entertainment and activities that are suited for a range of ages. Plus, for adults, themed RiuParty events keeps the festivities going even outside of the wedding group, with DJs and performers keeping energy high.
Riu Palace Riviera Maya
The convenience and availability of flights into Cancun makes this destination an easy one to choose, but the resort itself stands on its own. It has roughly 460 rooms, all of which feature the brand’s signature in-room liquor dispensers. Plentiful pools and a kids club and children’s pool with slides round out the daily entertainment program, and proximity to Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Xcaret, Xel-Ha, and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve lure guests off-site to explore this enchanting region. Closer but no less novel is the Riu Get-Together Party held at neighboring Riu Tequila, which features nationally known DJs and top entertainment for all-night dancing.
Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas
Say your vows at the gazebo or on the Medano beach, which is notable for being one of the only ones in this West Coast destination that is safely swimmable at a short walking distance from the resort. Romantic walks on this stretch aren’t reserved only for the newlyweds, as the private stretch, encompassing land enough to accommodate 600 rooms, extends for quite a bit. On-property are seven bars and a new bakery and ice cream shop; just across the street at newly renovated Riu Santa Fe, more venues abound to keep the excitement going even beyond the RiuParty hosted by that resort. For those looking to indulge without little ones in tow, nearby Riu Palace Baja California is for adults only and adds even more possibilities to a plate that will already overflow with fun and memories.
Riu Palace Costa Rica
Set on the seafront of Mata Palo Beach, this sizeable 538-room resort is a bubble of vacation pleasure, complete with its own entertainment, RiuParty, and even a climate that’s different from most of Costa Rica. It’s less tropical, less humid, and more dry, which means better hair days for those wedding trip photos! Its landscape is more reminiscent of the African savannah’s grasslands and woods … until you come across the picturesque scene of a real gaucho with their herd. For more authenticity, the Rincon de la Vieja nature park and the capital of Guanacaste, Liberia, are both within easy reach.
Riu Ocho Rios
While the nation of Jamaica is sadly not an option for same-sex couples, the party planning committee certainly does throw down in the island of irie, set in one of the most popular beach destinations, Ocho Rios, this 900-room mega-hotel does things up big with five pools, a reserved beach area, multiple swim-up bars, a Splash Water World on site, and destination-specific dining like a jerk station for lunch, in addition to the several buffets and restaurants. Wedded bliss can begin at a gazebo either on the beach or by the lagoon here.