Big rise in tourists tying the knot
The number of tourists tying the knot in Bermuda has rocketed in the past four years.
More than 7,500 people visited the island for weddings last year, compared with fewer than 4,000 in 2015, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
The weddings have also boosted Bermudian businesses.
But Yolanda Furbert, owner of To Have and To Hold, said the number of tourists who married in Bermuda was even higher because the BTA figures did not include hundreds of marriage ceremonies conducted for cruise ship passengers.
She said: “They are coming to Bermuda, getting off the ship and going to the beach or the church to get married.”
Ms Furbert said her business had been inundated with calls and e-mails about weddings for this year and 2020.
She estimated that she had seen a 10 per cent to 15 per cent increase in destination wedding work, which benefited a range of businesses.
Ms Furbert said: “I had one in June who brought 85 people with them. They came a week before the wedding and stayed four nights afterward.
“This is not just benefiting the wedding planners, it’s benefiting the hotel people, the Airbnbs, the photographers and others.”
Nikki Begg, founder of Bermuda Bride, has also seen a sharp increase in demand from couples who want to tie the knot in Bermuda
She said: “We have found in the past two or three years the number of people planning destination weddings in Bermuda has dramatically increased and we have had to adjust our business model to adapt to these changes.”
She said the increase had helped her launch a second company, My Bermuda Wedding, to allow Bermuda Bride to focus on larger-scale celebrations.
Ms Begg said: “With Bermuda Bride, we have increasingly recognised that people are coming down for three, four or five days.
“They want to create an experience for their guests, and this is huge.
“They want to do more than have a nice dinner and dance the night away and go home married.”
Ms Begg said the median number of guests for a Bermuda Bride wedding was about 120, but as many as 230 people can come to the island for a larger event.
The company has rented out entire spas, organised gin tastings and cruises for wedding parties in the days before and after the wedding.
Ms Begg said: “They are not just staying at the resort and going to the wedding any more. They are seeing Bermuda as a vacation for their guests.
“This is one of the things that I am really excited about for the sake of Bermuda’s tourism because it means the impact is not just for hotels and the wedding planners.”
She said Bermuda Bride had already booked weddings for 2021 and now had to limit the number of bookings to ensure a quality experience.
Figures released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority last week showed that 7,509 couples and guests flew to Bermuda for a destination wedding in 2018.
That was a 34.6 per cent increase on 2017, when 5,538 visitors flew to Bermuda for a wedding, and an 89 per cent increase on the 2015 figure of 3,965.
Ms Furbert has also been asked to help organise marriage proposals for guests.
She said: “We had one gentleman come down here to propose. He wanted to do it at the stroke of midnight on Horseshoe Bay.
“All of her family was there. That was another 15 people who wouldn’t have been here otherwise. They were only here for the proposal.”
She added that the island was the perfect destination for weddings.
Ms Furbert said: “We are absolutely gorgeous. You can come and get married on the beach in January. It is a little chilly, but we have had weddings on the beach in February.”
Glenn Jones, the director of strategy and corporate communications at the BTA, said: “This area has been a focal point for the sales and marketing team for the past few years so it’s very rewarding to see these results because we know it means we’re keeping wedding suppliers busy and giving them opportunities to grow their businesses.”
The BTA has released a Lost in the Moment Bermuda destination weddings video, hosted Munaluchi Bride’s Coterie Retreat in Bermuda and secured coverage in American magazine Town & Country.
Mr Jones said that the BTA would continue to focus on destination weddings, particularly among the “jet-setter audience”, as part of the National Tourism Plan.
The island will be highlighted by Modern Luxury Weddings as part of a partnership with the BTA and that David Tutera — a “powerhouse” in the wedding planning industry — will run a symposium in Bermuda in April.
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