Include Local Customs in Your Destination Wedding

Trend report: Hotels are going local, offering wedding packages that reflect the destination’s unique culture.
By: 
Jenna Mahoney

Ayana Resort and Spa Bali

You can go all-out traditional or island-style with a modern twist when you marry at this sprawling property on the island of Bali. The oceanfront resort offers six ceremony site options that range from the traditional Balinese thatch-roofed gazebo and a 350-year-old Javanese palatial structure to the two all-glass wedding pavilions perched on a rocky cliff above the Indian Ocean. All can feature local frangipani and roses among other native flowers, an archway made of coconut palm leaves, musicians playing rindik (the instrument, which is made of bamboo, is most similar to a xylophone) and a customary wedding blessing and offering by a resident priest. Couples can also opt for a dove release, traditional costume and a dance presentation. More modern add-ons include fireworks and a decorated car to whisk you off post-celebration (room rates start at $215 a night; ayanaresort.com).

ayana resort and spa
Photo Credit: Ayana Resort and Spa Bali

Hilton Bora Bora, Nui Resort & Spa

Get hitched Tahitian-style in a ceremony that features tropical flowers, local musicians and dancers, a tribal elder and you and your guy donning white pareos (sarongs). At this 122-room resort, you can swap vows on the property’s stunning beach, the private Motu Tapu (a small island) or the hotel’s intimate chapel set high on a hill overlooking Bora Bora’s brilliant blue waters. The overwater presidential suite, a sprawling two-bedroom villa with loads of deck space set on the edge of a floating pontoon, is ideal for hosting any other wedding weekend events. The ultimate Tahitian wedding custom — getting a tattoo — can also be arranged (room rates start at $725 a night; hilton.com/bora-bora-nui).

hilton bora bora nui
Photo Credit: Hilton Bora Bora

El Dorado Maroma

For an all-inclusive, adults-only wedding with a Mayan touch, host your celebration at this beachfront resort in Playa del Carmen. A traditional Mayan ceremony can be performed on the golden sands or in one of the resort’s two pretty wedding chapels. Brides often arrive via canoe, as is customary. A shaman officiates the ceremony that combines the universe’s four elements—earth, fire, water and air. If you prefer a more contemporary celebration, you can still opt for some Mexican flair with a live mariachi band (room rates start at $235 a night and are all-inclusive; karismahotels.com).

el dorado maroma
Photo Credit: Karisma Hotels and Resorts

Vomo Fiji Island Resort

Long ago, Fijian royalty used this 225-acre island as a retreat. Today, the lush Southern Pacific isle is home to a resort of just 39 villa accommodations, a spa, golf course, watersports center and more. Here, brides are carried down the aisle by local warriors dressed in grass skirts and body paint. A Fijian choir accompanies the ceremony that’s presented by a priest dressed in a formal sulu (sarong). To conclude the event, you can release a hawksbill turtle after you swap vows. Frangipani blooms, alfresco dining and unbeatable natural scenery are other hallmarks of the experience (room rates start at $802 a night; vomofiji.com).


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