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Travel Buzz
Destination Weddings for All!
By Joe Boone

While the popularity of destination weddings may have soared in recent years, traditional weddings are still the norm and many couples are opting to say their "I do's" in novel ways that often include more informal settings and locations.

It’s estimated that one in four couples now choose a destination wedding to tie the knot, and the trend is quickly moving into the mainstream as couples of all backgrounds are now finding it easier than ever to create their dream event abroad. The beauty of a destination wedding is that it can be as lavish or low-key as a wedding couple desires, and more often than not, provides them the opportunity to share days, not just hours, with their guests in celebration of their union together.

Tropical, all-inclusive resorts are some of the more popular wedding destinations, offering the perfect backdrop for a truly relaxing and memorable occasion. Their all-inclusive pricing packages are perfect for stream-lined budgets and include flexible options to insure a stress-free experience. Each offers numerous wedding packages that range from casual to elaborate to meet a variety of styles and budgets. All have professional wedding consultants on staff that are eager to assist with personalized destination wedding themes, as well as cultural, faith-based, and LGBT wedding ceremonies and celebrations. Their idyllic tropical settings are perfect for nuptials, and their luxurious five-star accommodations include gourmet restaurants and an ample list of amenities, activities, and local attractions that await your full enjoyment during your stay.

Nestled among palm groves on an endless Caribbean white-sand beach in the Dominican Republic, Excellence Punta Cana is an all-inclusive adults-only resort where everything is taken care of and nothing is left to chance. Punta Cana's beaches consistently rank as some of the best in the world and beach weddings are extremely popular here. Just 35 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport, Excellence Punta Cana's guests immediately feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle back home.

From the moment you enter the resort, you're surrounded by all-inclusive luxury, with indulgence at your fingertips. Just steps away, the Caribbean Sea laps against the shoreline in rhythmic waves that sooth and nurture the soul, creating moments of bliss that you'll long remember when you find yourself back home. Crystal clear swimming pools wind through the grounds of the manicured estate and gourmet dining options beckon at every turn, including nine world-class restaurants and ten bars and nightclubs.

At Excellence Punta Cana, meals, snacks and alcoholic beverages are included and reservations are never required so you can decide what restaurant to try when the mood strikes you. With a vast array of outdoor activities and water sports available and lively villages to visit and shop at, you'll find plenty to do in-between siestas and sun worshipping. Before walking down the aisle, pamper yourselves with a visit to Miilé Spa and wash away the stresses of pre-wedding planning before setting off on a blissful course of new beginnings.

This classic colonial-style hideaway features 464 suites with more than a dozen styles to choose from. The resort's honeymoon suites are the epitome of romance, offering large private terraces with outdoor Jacuzzis, spectacular Caribbean views and king-size beds. Located on the VIP floor, they include superior Excellence Club amenities and upgrades like private concierge service, a private lounge, smart buffets & bar service, superior VIP amenities (Bvlgari), upgraded premium liquor selections, a private beach, fresh flowers, and more. In addition, the resort offers a spacious Honeymoon Suite w/Rooftop Terrace featuring separate living room area, walk-in closet, in-room round double Jacuzzi, fully furnished balcony and an expansive private rooftop terrace with plunge pool, comfortable lounge furniture, open-air shower and impressive views of the Caribbean Sea.

Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s highest-rated resort towns and one of the world's friendliest. Resting gently against the Pacific shoreline overlooking Banderas Bay, surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains, its known for its beaches, water sports, and energetic nightlife. Puerto Vallarta's cobblestone center is home to the ornate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Church, quaint boutique shops and a range of restaurants and bars. El Malecón, its infamous beachside promenade, showcases contemporary sculptures and a popular party scene.

Just a few minutes south of its downtown sits Barcelo Puerto Vallarta, a posh all-suite beachfront resort overlooking the ocean on Mismaloya Beach. One look and you will fall in love with this elegant, all-inclusive luxury resort. Its picture perfect views of the surrounding Sierra Madres, warm cobalt blue waters of tranquil Banderas Bay, and glimmering golden sands of its semi-private beach make it the perfect venue for a destination wedding. The resort's carefully planned wedding packages offer a number of different options including beachside and veranda services and attentive wedding coordinators insure that no detail will be overlooked.

Verdant gardens, 317 spacious luxury suites, five internationally themed gourmet restaurants, three bars, four swimming pools, a health spa, and a host of outdoor activities and water sports, only add to this captivating resort's appeal. Snorkeling, diving, and kayaking are worthwhile excursions, as humpback whale and dolphin sightings are common. In the nearby tropical jungle, you can also try more adventurous outings, like bungee jumping and zip lining through the forest canopy while exploring the wildlife, waterfalls, and vibrant rivers that have served as a backdrop for various Hollywood movies.

For a true taste of Mexico's past and present, consider the Riviera Maya for your dream destination wedding. An 80-mile stretch of Caribbean coastline that lies along the northeastern Yucatán Peninsula, it was once the stomping grounds of an ancient Mayan civilization. In more recent times it was home to quaint small fishing villages before developing into the more modern vacaion corridor that it has become today. High-end luxury resorts, fine restaurants, stunning nightclubs, spa retreats, and golf courses now dot the landscape along some of the most stunningly beautiful, powdery white sand beaches in all of Mexico. Along the way, ruins of ancient Mayan port cities lie perched on outcroppings and rich, colorful coral reefs teaming with a dizzying array of marine life straddle the shoreline. Further inland, a plethora of Mayan ruins and archeological sites await discovery and there are hundreds of amazing cenotes (underwater sink holes) and subterranean rivers found nowhere else in the world. Scuba diving, snorkeling, bicycling, hiking and zip lining are popular pastimes here, providing thrills for adventurers and extreme sports enthusiasts.

Midway down its coast, you'll come to Akumal, a small town in the heart of the Riviera Maya that's famous for its phenomenal green sea turtle population and home to Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya, one of the region’s best adults-only, seaside resorts. This stunning new resort offers a charming, picturesque escape, complete with an exceptional Unlimited-Luxury® experience that redefines the term "all-inclusive" by fulfilling your every wish and exceeding your every expectation. Each of its 434 luxury suites comes with its own private patio or balcony, many offering majestic ocean views, and include every amenity you’d expect from a world-class destination. Dining options include limitless access to nine gourmet à la carte restaurants and unlimited international and domestic top-shelf spirits. Endless daytime and evening activities include three sparkling pools, a swim-up bar, seven exceptional bars and lounges, a spa, live nightly entertainment and so much more.

When the time comes to tie the knot, you can say “I do” in a magnificent wedding gazebo, beach terrace or on a private beach overlooking crystal-clear Caribbean waters. Then adjourn with your guests to an elegant ballroom, terrace or the beach for a reception to remember always. Throughout your special day, you can relax knowing Secrets' professional wedding coordinators are there to attend to every detail. Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya offers three romantic wedding packages with abundant options to personalize your own.

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