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Marriott International's Certified Wedding Planners Share the
Latest Trends In Destination Weddings

Bethesda, MD -March 22, 2012- The Certified Wedding Planners at JW Marriott, Renaissance, and Marriott Hotels & Resorts plan thousands of weddings each year. These men and women are on the front lines of the wedding planning business and have identified some noticeable trends with regard to destination weddings. Most of the planners agree that one of the most notable trends is the addition of "afterglow parties" following the reception which are usually held in a different space and enable guests to party long after the reception is over.

Nedra Peterson, Senior Catering Sales Executive at The Lodge at Sonoma, a Renaissance Resort & Spa, notes that destination weddings tend to be smaller and more intimate, with about 50 to 70 guests total. "We are finding that the typical destination wedding client is often a couple who has a connection to the destination and who want to incorporate that into the story of their wedding." Ms. Peterson notes that destination weddings often include the bride and groom's thoughtfully arranged itinerary so that friends and family get to really experience the area with tours, biking, golf, etc. Typical destination wedding events include welcome receptions on the day of arrival, afterglow parties with drinks and snacks following the wedding, and a post-wedding brunch so that all guests can gather together one last time before departure.

Joe Ibarra, the Wedding Event Manager at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa in Oahu notes a marked increase in Indian and Korean weddings as well as commitment ceremonies. "'We are also seeing an increase in 'afterglow parties' to extend the socializing phase of the event," notes Mr. Ibarra.

Tracy Flanagan of A Dream Wedding; Maui Style LLC who works at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa notes that "The wedding itself becomes the 'icing on the cake' and the highlight of everyone's trip, but it's also about the fun activities they do as a group (e.g., whale watching, snorkeling, ziplining, golfing, etc.) that create those special memories that everyone is talking about for years to come." Ms. Flanagan adds that couples who are shopping their destination wedding dollars are much more sophisticated and savvy these days with regard to what they are looking for and what they expect and they have also done a significant amount of research beforehand to educate themselves.

Amber Palmer, Senior Catering Sales Executive at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa sees an increase in more driveable destination weddings. "For our location in San Diego, we are seeing weddings from Los Angeles, Orange County, and even Arizona. We are close enough for their guests to drive, but yet they can still experience an island ambiance that makes attendees feel like they are on a tropical vacation." Ms. Palmer notes that more and more couples are also opting for outdoor receptions versus in an indoor ballroom and afterglow parties that enable dancing, late night snacks, and drinks well into the wee hours of the morning.

Natalie Hall, Senior Catering Sales Executive at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa notes a significant increase in weddings booked on days other than a Saturday. "Many brides are selecting a Friday, Sunday, and in some cases even a Thursday to reduce overall costs. Also heavy reception stations (action, carving, sushi) are becoming more popular versus your standard sit-down dinner." She also notes that 90% of the weddings held at the resort involve a non-denominational wedding in an outdoor setting as today's bride wants something truly unique.

Alexis Castle, Catering & Events Manager at the Hutchinson Island Marriott in Florida, notes that a high percentage of today's engaged couples are paying for all or most of their wedding reception and related expenses and therefore want the biggest bang for their buck. "One of the first things they will do away with is an open bar in favor of a cash bar. With 100 guests, that's an estimated savings of $4,000." She also notes that couples are choosing domestic locations that offer the "feel" of a destination weding without the expense of travel to another country. Ms. Castle adds that "second or third timers — regardless of age — typically want a less formal affiar and will host a brunch buffet or cocktail party with stations as opposed to butlered hors d'ouevres or a sit down dinner."

Engaged couples who are looking for a great value on a destination wedding, should consider the Vow to Get Away at Marriott promotion, where they can earn up to 150,000 Marriott Rewards ® points – enough for a free honeymoon. Participating hotels include JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Renaissance Hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica, Florida, Hawaii, Arizona and California. For more information, visit

Visit Marriott International, Inc (NYSE: MAR) for company information. For more information or reservations, please visit our website at, and for the latest company news, visit For more information about our sustainability efforts, visit


Paula Butler
Phone: (240) 328-7207

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