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Destinations: Cultural Weddings

A growing number of couples are choosing unique rituals for ceremonies south of the border and beyond.

Destination weddings are nothing new. Brides have long ditched the traditional wedding in the hometown church, opting instead to bring the pastor to the beach, ranch or golf course. But a new generation of couples are grabbing their passports and having global ceremonies with cultural significance.

Just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Enrique Alejos is the cultural concierge at the Four Seasons Punta Mita—the only resort in the world with a cultural expert available to guests every day. “We find that travelers are seeking unique and diverse experiences when exploring new cities,” says Alejos. “The majority of our amenities, spa treatments, meals, and drinks have an ethnic connotation.”

In addition to orchestrating lectures on Mexican history, art, and traditional cuisine, Alejos oversees sun ceremonies performed by local Huichol Indians, as well as special wedding ceremonies.

“The Amarre de Tilmas ceremony has diverse roots—Huichol, Nahuatl (Aztec), Mayan—but all the rituals share the same meanings. It is not religious, it is a spiritual ceremony where through the elements the ancients instruct a couple to unite their existence.” An elder or medicine man will teach this concept to the new couple. He will mix water from two clay vessels into a third, explaining that from now on they are no longer two. “Like the water that was mixed, they are one.”


Photo by Adriana Gonzalez

When in Rome

Brett Charles Rose, a local photographer who has shot destination weddings in Costa Rica, Kauai, and Playa del Carmen, says many of his brides will incorporate local wedding traditions, either as dictated by the culture they’re visiting, or sometimes slightly modified.

“The night before a wedding in Costa Rica, the groom must go to the home of his bride-to-be, stand outside her window, and serenade her. In Tamarindo, my groom John serenaded Cindy the night before their nuptials,” he says, “although they were both floating with all of their guests in a moonlit beachfront pool.”

If you can’t travel, you can always bring the culture home. Recently, the Westin Gaslamp in downtown San Diego hosted the first Ethnic Wedding show. The multicultural wedding showcase brought together vendors who specialize in celebrations with an Asian, Persian, and Middle Eastern flair.


The Perks of Travel

If you’re able to travel, it’s still possible to have all the comforts and Wi-Fi of home.

While destination ceremonies often take place outdoors and on the beach, the Four Seasons Punta Mita just debuted a 4,310-square-foot, $1.5 million palapa, with thatched roof and retractable walls. The Takua Event Palapa can hold up to 400 guests and is equipped with Wi-Fi, built-in screens, and other audiovisual necessities.

The food that’s served is just as sophisticated. Guests might try a trio of mushroom, zucchini, and rajas empanadas or pescado a la veracruzana. For dessert, one bride even requested a cake made of churros. Como se dice “yummy”?


A churro cake

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