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Ask a Pro: Destination Wedding Tips from a Luxury Resort Director of Weddings

Ask a Pro: Destination Wedding Tips from a Luxury Resort Director of Weddings

Ask a Pro: Destination Wedding Tips from a Luxury Resort Director of Weddings

Ask a Pro: Destination Wedding Tips from a Luxury Resort Director of Weddings

All weddings require exacting vision, both when it comes to creativity and attention to detail. Destination weddings are no exception. However, the good news is that if you Ask an Advisor who will then Plan with a (vacation property) Pro, you might just find that the onus for both might not be on the couple and their families at all.

We spoke with Gilberto Machain, Director of Weddings for famously Gourmet Inclusive® Karisma Hotels & Resorts, and learned that if the couple works with an experienced travel advisor that knows exactly what cards are in their deck and can plan how to use them strategically, having the perfect beachfront dream wedding might actually be easier than trying to put a generic one together stateside.

Because here’s the thing: People who aren’t familiar with them might feel like they have more moving parts because of the travel components involved. This is where the group travel advisor comes in to take over management.

They might also feel that it might be cost-prohibitive. However, it’s important to consider that a smaller wedding automatically creates cost savings, and many – often customizable – resort wedding packages come with robust inclusions and perks.

Others might worry about the challenges finding local vendors might be … not even realizing that the hotel or resort already has resources in place, and that couples not need to shop around for florists, negotiate with rental companies for linen and chair rentals, look for a rehearsal dinner, etc. They can just opt for a resort that puts those inclusions under their “all” umbrella for a price tag lower than having a “home” wedding.

But that’s all from travel industry insider perspective, and things experienced pros know. We decided to add to this intel tips from an expert on the hospitality side, which is why for this feature of our Ask a Pro content series, we sat down with Machain to have him personally offer his insight on how to make sure getting hitched in paradise goes off … well, without a hitch.

Do the recon. Take the trip.

According to Machain, visiting in advance is one of the most important first steps couples should take to ensure that the venue – and team! – they’re choosing is right for them. “It will help the couple visualize their events and gives them a better idea of the wedding options and packages offered by the resort. It will also reassure them to know that they will be working with a team of professionals.”

“Meet with the wedding team to go over all the wedding options they offer, taste the wedding reception menus, taste the cake flavors!” He says. “You will feel at ease once you experience the resort services and meet with the staff that will help you plan your wedding.”

In fact, he believes in this so much that Karisma Hotels & Resorts offers a unique program called Wedding Dress Rehearsal, allowing couples considering El Dorado Spa Resorts, Azul Beach Resorts, Generations Resorts, or even the themed Margaritaville Island Reserve or Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort in Punta Cana with a special rate for advance visits.

With this package, availability permitting, the affianced guests can stay at any of the abovenamed collections and their properties (exceptions being the Villas, Palafitos, and Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya) for three nights/four days to scope out the venues and locations; sample chef-inspired menus, wedding cakes, and signature drinks; and meet with the team that will be making their event extraordinary.

 At $699 per couple, it’s a steal for any vacationer. But with a packed pre-planned itinerary, it’s also the most efficient research trip engaged couples can take.  

Potential guests can request the Wedding Dress Rehearsal package with Karisma Hotels & Resorts using this form.

Make it special by infusing the destination’s culture into the wedding.

One of the best things about destination weddings is that they’re set somewhere out of the ordinary for the guests and special to the couple. Perhaps they’re starting their new lives in Punta Cana because their first trip as a couple was there, or in Riviera Maya because that’s where they got engaged. Or maybe they’ve just always wanted to go to Jamaica and want to start their marriage feeling “irie.”

Whatever the reason might be, Machain suggests that couples, “Infuse a bit of the destination’s culture into your wedding events, like the cuisine, drinks, music, and décor. This will make sure your guests experience a new culture and try new things … and make your wedding unforgettable.”

“We offer multiple options within the many destinations that Karisma Hotels & Resorts has,” he tells us, which makes it easy to add a sense of place to any nuptials. “For example, a live taco station for your private event in Mexico. Rum tasting in the DR, or how about a Jamaican family style menu accompanied by a live steel drum band in Jamaica?” Touches like these amplify the celebratory mood and the once-in-a-lifetime specialness of the event.

Don’t feel tied down to a traditional “wedding season.”

“In recent years, there have been many changes and one of them is that there is no longer really a high or low season for weddings,” Machain says. “Nowadays, couples are more aware of their guests’ free time, which has made weddings a pretty stable occurrence year-round. This means any time of the year, any date of the week can be perfect for celebrating a memorable wedding,” especially since warm temperatures are reliable in the destinations Karisma Hotels & Resorts have a presence in. “Weather is more or less the same throughout the year in Mexico and the Caribbean,” he assures us.

Plus, their brand’s wealth of weather-proof options means even rainy season “is no longer stopping couples from booking their wedding,” he reports. Plus, “We have amazing back-ups for couples so rain is no threat for them.”

However, he does have one strong time-related recommendation: “Have your ceremony at sunset, as this is the best light for perfect photos!”

Consider all the individual aspects of the resort and/or destination.

Just because a few hotels are in the same place or owned/managed by the same company doesn’t mean they’re created equal. While choosing a specific destination or brand name may guarantee certain things (e.g. golden beaches in Uvero Alto, Gourmet Inclusive® food and service across the board at Karisma Hotels & Resorts), every property is different.

Many resorts have a lot of different ceremony and reception locations with different views, landscaping, and layouts and it’s important to see all of them to see how they jive with your personal vision. For example, the floating Aqua Terrace at the romantic adults-only El Dorado Casitas Royale will offer a completely difference ambience from the traditional chapel, which in turn, feels totally different from the beach chapel at neighboring Generations Riviera Maya. A rooftop garden ceremony, such as that of Azul Beach Resort in Riviera Cancun, will have an entirely different vibe than even the rooftop Sky Deck at that same property.

This impacts the type of wedding you’ll have, Machain advises. “For example, pick the beach if you want a more laid-back or relaxed kind of wedding with your toes touching the sand. Or if you’re looking to wear high heels, choose one of our sky wedding locations, which can be more formal and modern, offering panoramic views of the sea.

“All of our locations can create a perfect setting,” he says; they’re all someone’s idea of that, and only you can decide if you’re that someone. All venues have their own pros and cons, and what they are depends on who you are. As he puts it, “We see this more as multiple environments and options for couples of all kinds.”

Apply the above also to wardrobe.

Wedding attire is traditionally very thick and heavy, from unbreathable suit jackets to multi-layered gowns with layers of tulle and silk. For warm-weather destination weddings, that can be a challenge, but Machain has some tips.

“Our best piece of advice is to wear light fabrics,” he says laughingly. For those suiting up, “linen is the most popular as it is both formal but not too formal!” For anyone opting for a dress, he says, “Wear a light one and skip the veil – there might be wind or a breeze,” making that particular accessory particularly annoying.

If you’re dead set on traditional attire, Machain reminds us, “You can always change into a different outfit for the dinner reception. Make that wardrobe change fun and unforgettable!”

Packages mean a lot of inclusions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t customize them!

For some couples, a turnkey wedding where all the components have been professionally curated and combined offers a sense of relief. They know exactly what they’re getting and can take nearly everything off their wedding to-do list. Machain tells us, “The most common inclusions are the white (folding) avant garde chairs for the ceremony, minister, sound system, and more.”

Depending on the package selected and the resort partner, it often also includes basic flowers like a centerpiece, bouquet, and boutonniere(s), small cake and sparkling wine for immediately after the ceremony, special turndown and/or breakfast service around the big day, and maybe even a room upgrade if available. They really do all they can to make it special, even if it does follow a failsafe formula.  

However, one concern some people might have about choosing a wedding package is that they might not be able to put their own stamp on the experience. But that’s simply not true, as Machain confirms. Many couples choose upgrades like specific flowers or gazebo decorations, he says. “They also add on additional private events – one of my favorites are romantic candlelit dinners on the beach.”

Ultimately, he says, “My best piece of advice is to let your Karisma Signature Wedding Designer know how much you want to invest in your wedding and what you want included in the experience. They will be your best ally and recommend amenities based on your wedding style.”


We all know how important it is to Plan with a Pro when it comes to travel. After all, Travel Advisors Get You There. But equally important is making sure advisor pros are supported and surrounded by pros themselves, particularly when it comes to topics peripheral to travel. That’s where TravelBlogue comes in as we Ask a Pro on your behalf to provide you with tips and advice from fitness, health, nutrition, mental health, beauty, wellness, and travel gear experts from around the world … and put it all at advisor fingertips.

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