Vows with a view

Vows with a view
Rachel and Eric Petersen were married in Jamaica at the Sandals Grande Ocho Rios resort.

It used to be that choosing a wedding site was pretty simple for the bride and groom. It was either a church, a garden, a club or at home.

These days another option has entered the wedding picture: destination weddings. A growing number of couples are opting to exchange vows in far-away places like Costa Rica, the Caribbean, Mexico or on the beaches of Hawaii.

Though it may seem like a break in bridal tradition, those who have chosen this type of wedding are extremely positive about the experience, such as Rachel and Eric Petersen of Rochester. They were married two years ago in Jamaica at the Sandals Grande Ocho Rios resort.

"We both lead very busy lives and we wanted something simple and stress-free," Rachel says. "This seemed like a wonderful way to us. Even though our families were a little skeptical in the beginning, when it was over, they agreed it was a wonderful decision and a beautiful wedding."

"It turned out to be a great family time because there were not the usual pre-wedding and wedding-day distractions," Rachel adds. "On the actual wedding day, Eric went scuba diving and I lay by the pool."


Several wedding options were offered to the couple, ranging from the simple to the most extravagant. They wanted something simple and religious.

"The wedding planner at the resort took care of all of those details, including getting the minister," Rachel says.

A destination wedding by its nature is smaller since not everyone has the time or finances to attend. The Petersens solved that problem by hosting a reception in Rochester a month after the wedding.

Though the resort takes charge of the planning and details, a bridal couple does need some direction. Kathy McKeon of KM Travel in Mazeppa has offered her expertise to many couples planning weddings and honeymoons. She regularly works with resorts and hotels, though she emphasizes that she is more of a facilitator, not a wedding planner. The resorts often have their own wedding planners, she says.

"The first thing I do is meet with the couple and go over everything like their budget, the kind of wedding and surroundings they want, everything that is on their minds pertaining to the event," McKeon says. "What makes (destination weddings) so attractive is that they are all inclusive — everything is bundled together. You know what it is going to cost and there are no surprises. In addition, there are often upgrades and perks for the couples."

What are the most popular destinations couples choose? Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

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