March 3, 2011 3:17 pm

Destination weddings all the rage for Winnipeg residents

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After dating for eight years, Winnipeg residents Hayley Strecker and Jeramie Lavallee will finally tie the knot next winter. But they’ll be saying their vows far away from the cold and snow.

They’re just one of many couples jumping on-board the destination wedding bandwagon, heading to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for their wedding.

Jodie and Jeremy Chance had their dream wedding in Huatelco, Mexico last January, joined by 40 of their closest friends and family members.

“Every little girl dreams of what they want for their wedding and it was always my dream to get married on a beach,” Jodie said.

And that “dream” came at a fraction of the price that they would have paid for a wedding here. Destination weddings cost between $900 to $5,000.

“With the kind of wedding I was looking at, I probably saved between $20,000 and $30,000 by going away on a destination wedding,” Jodie said.

Hayley and Jeramie are also expecting to save money by heading south.

“We’re getting married on a island for a quarter of that price – less than a quarter – and it’s going to be the most beautiful thing ever,” Hayley said.

Bill Parise, a destination wedding specialist, said business has never been so busy here in Winnipeg.

“One out of four weddings currently now are destination weddings,” he said.

“Back when I booked destination weddings, we had maybe three a year. Now we’re looking into the dozens, so the growth is just phenomenal,” Parise added.

It’s not only the lower cost and hot weather that’s attracting Winnipeg couples: many also like the fact that a wedding planner will be taking care of the details.

“This is more of a casual experience,” said Parise, “It’s stress-free and it’s something that is growing leaps and bounds.”

All the couple needs to do is show up with their guests.

“We don’t enjoy planning things; I don’t want to, it stresses me out,” Strecker laughed.

“It’s more of a wedding week instead of just one day,” Jodie confirmed.

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