AT a time of year when many people are flying off to the sun for much-need summer holidays, a growing number are taking flight for an entirely different and life-changing reason - to get married in an exotic ceremony abroad.
Northern Ireland’s number one travel agency when it comes to helping couples tie the knot overseas is Clubworld Travel whose owner, Delia Aston, has organised countless romantic wedding packages for locals over the years.
Today, she says the trend is more popular than ever, with young and not-so-young couples choosing far-off destinations and ever more adventurous settings to say ‘I Do’.
“The list really is endless when it comes to getting married abroad and people can tailor the service to suit their own requirments,” she says. “I have helped happy couples tie the knot on beaches, during safaris and even in an underwater ceremony once which was interesting.”
These days, the sky - and your budget of course - is the limit and popular locations include New York, Barbados, Mauritius, Las Vegas and New Zealand. “Cyprus is also become more popular, as it is still seen as hot and exotic but more affordable,” Delia adds. “At the moment, Cyprus is very much on the up when it comes to booking a wedding package with honeymoon included.”
Clubworld Travel have offices in Banbridge, Newry, Portadown, Lurgan and Belfast - with a new one set to launch in Carrickfergus within the next few weeks - and Delia and the team have years of specialist experience in organising this most imporant of occasions.
Detailed packages can also be fitted around a ‘two-centre’ type holiday - with the marriage ceremony taking place in one location and the honeymoon in another.
This allows the traditional wedding and honeymoon to take place separately, providing the bride and groom with the chance to explore more of the country of their choice. For instance, couples who marry in New York can honeymoon in the Caribbean, or those who exchange vows in Orlando can follow the ceremony with a relaxing week on the Florida coast.
Alternatively, you can choose to plight your troth at sea on an ocean-going liner and have the best of both worlds - or you can opt to organise the wedding ceremony during one of the ship’s many ports of call.
With cruising now a popular and more accessible type of holiday for all budgets, this choice may suit couples who would like to take a honeymoon cruise, but would prefer to get married on dry land.
Whatever type of combination you settle on, Delia will make sure every detail is taken care of and couples will be advised on everything they need to know in the pre-planning stages - from the necessary offical documents, to witnesses and specialised wedding dress carriage boxes.
Packages vary according to the price, but most include wedding photos, bouquets and buttonholes, transport and even a live internet broadcast of the event itself.
So, whether you choose to get hitched in a historic plantation house on Savannah Beach in Barbados, in the floral surroundings of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park, New York, or in the perennially popular Chapel of Flowers in Vegas (voted ‘Best Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas 2010’) you are sure to have the wedding - and holiday - of your dreams.