Many couples opt for a destination wedding, but some are going a step further: They’re having weddings with all the local customs and fanfare.
A growing number of hotels around the world now provide cultural weddings and vow renewals, like a Hindu ceremony in India, a shaman-led Mayan celebration in Mexico or a traditional Maasai wedding in Tanzania.
Although they’re typically not legally binding, the ceremonies have become a big hit with adventure-seeking couples.
“We’ve seen a substantial pickup in the last two years,” said John E. Reed, the manager of Amankora Bhutan Paro, a resort in Bhutan’s Paro Valley that offers Buddhist ceremonies in a nearby ancient temple. Last year the facility hosted around 20 Buddhist weddings and vow renewals, a record number. “Before it was a once-in-a-while event,” Mr. Reed said.
Chablé Resort in Yucatán
Damari Rubio, 35, and Ian Lane, 32, of Houston had a shaman-led ceremony in January at Chable Resort & Spa in Mexico’s Yucatán region. The resort held nearly a dozen shaman weddings last year and has another two dozen booked for this year, according to Nicolas Dominguez, the chief executive of Hamak Hotels, which operates the property.
Ms. Rubio, a glove designer, and Mr. Lane, who works in construction, said they wanted to exchange vows in a nontraditional way.
“We had been to Mexico before and were fascinated with the Mayan culture,” Mr. Lane said, “so it wasn’t even a discussion about whether we should do this. It was more like, ‘How soon can we do this?’”
In the couple’s ceremony, which both described as “surreal,” four shaman men played sacred ceremonial instruments, including a conch, and a shaman priest chanted blessings in Mayan. “We’re not religious but we’re spiritual, and the ceremony embodied that,” Ms. Rubio said.
Cultural weddings are likely to resonate with couples who don’t have a strong affinity to any religion, said Lauren Kay, the deputy editor of The Knot. “They’re a way for couples to create their own customs and not fit into a box,” she said.
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