When talking to couples looking to plan for their destination wedding for the first time, one of the most common questions we get asked is “What are the top destination wedding locations available departing from Canada?”
Now please keep in mind the choices here were based on a majority of our couples that were departing out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and because we are classified as a smaller market, we don’t have the luxury of having access to many other destinations that bigger cities have, such as Toronto, Vancouver, and also Calgary. So our couple’s recommendations surely will be different than from other couples that live in the bigger Canadian cities. Overall though, no matter which departure city we talk about, the consensus is clear on the popularity of the locations we talk about in this article.
We have been planning and arranging weddings at destination for over 14+ years now out of Winnipeg and surrounding Provinces here in Canada, and we are lucky enough to have some of this hands on knowledge available to pass on to you! Here, we’ll give you the scoop on what we believe are the best locations expressed through our valued wedding clients, and to this day, still going strong is the Caribbean and Mexico for Canadians, which are currently the most popular destinations for tying the knot.
Picking Your Ideal Destination Location
Some key factors for wedding couples when selecting a certain destination, which normally starts with yours and your guests:
Duration of flying time from your home Province
Plus if you’re planning on inviting a lot of guests to attend your ceremony, the amount of services and activities to keep everyone busy is extremely important in your final decision making process.
Whether it’s a family oriented resort or an adults-only resort you’re looking for, here are the top locations we’ve compiled from our past brides and grooms.
The “Mayan Riviera, Mexico”
This beautiful beach and resort area in Mexico always comes out on top for several reasons, one being that many vacation suppliers from Canada offers direct (non-stop) charter flights from most Canadian popular gateway cities. You’ll be able to have your dream wedding while being surrounded by the historical charm and vibrancy of Mexico. From touring the Mayan ruins, and zip-lining into a cenote, to Golf and spectacular white sand beaches, there are so many things that make the Riviera Maya number one for destination weddings. Along the Riviera strip there are so many All-Inclusive Resort properties to choose from, and many of them offer fantastic and affordable wedding ceremony packages that meet all couples requirements and budgets.
When we talked to our past wedding couples and asked them to give us their top 5 reasons why they chose the Mayan, here’s what they said:
1. The white sandy beaches and the Caribbean Sea is what attracted them the most.
2. All the Resort options available that was able to fit their requirements and needs. You can easily find top 4 – 5 Star resorts that offer everything you need for your wedding and guests, which is important when groups can grow to large amounts.
3. The available direct non-stop flights out of Canadian cities. This was a very important criteria for many couples as they expressed that many of their guests were limited with holiday time and didn’t want to waste any of it having to do flight connections or take part in any forced overnights in other cities.
4. Amount of activities and tours in the Mayan and Cancun area. As the couples understood that they were having a good number of guests joining them at destination, they wanted to ensure there was enough for them to do. Nothing worse than having over 40+ family members and friends complaining that there is not enough to do. In the Mayan you have everything from top Golf courses, and Cultural Parks offering local entertainment, to Adventure Parks with included snorkelling, zip-lining, and more. You have access to Playa Del Carmen and Cancun where guests experience exciting nightlife, shopping, and restaurants.
5. Most important was that our couples were happy to find everything they wanted and needed in the Riviera Maya and it was all within the budget they expected for them and their guests.
The Caribbean Island of “Jamaica”
Ya Mon! Jamaica is the place to go if you’re looking for that laid back, lush picturesque backdrop for your nuptuals. You can experience the Seven Mile Beach in Negril known to be one of the most famous stretches of beach in the world! It is home to some amazing boutique style hotels and Luxury Resorts such as the Rockhouse and Sandals and Beaches Negril. If you’re looking for something a bit closer to Montego Bay, we suggest the Grand Palladium Jamaica which is a resort selection that was just made for amazing wedding pictures to be taken.
Other areas of Jamaica include, Ocho Rios where you will find many of the top Tour excursions available, including the Mystic Mountain and Dunn’s River Fall’s which is a must see and to be experienced if you’re in that area. Plus the town of Ocho Rio’s provides plenty to do for shopping in the local markets, and has a vibrant nightlife. For a more secluded and relaxing experience, consider the Whitemouth area, which we normally recommend to couples that are planning to have their wedding ceremony with not a lot of guests attending. It is more laid back and not much to do in the area, but offers lush landscapes and tranquil beach areas.
When discussing with past wedding couples on why Jamaica was most appealing to them, here were their top reasons.
1. Locations were most of our couple’s top reason why they chose Jamaica, as there were no shortage of amazing powdery white sand beaches, and the views to die for. Couples that wanted Negril for their wedding focused on the fact that that area offered the most spectacular sunsets in the Caribbean.
2. Culture and Food was also a top choice for the couples selecting this Island, as you will quickly notice that the Rhythms of the Caribbean and the local cuisine are top notch. If you love Reggae and the Jamaican vibe, then this is the location for you.
3. No language barrier. This was extremely important to many of our couples as they felt during their stay leading up to their wedding day, that communication was crucial to them. The joy of having an island where they spoke English fluently assured the couples that they would have no miss-communications during their important special event.
4. Many of the couples that did choose Jamaica were not so much concerned about budget for them and their guests, but when compared to other Islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica offered a lot of value.
The Island of “Punta Cana, Dominican Republic”
Located on the Southern coast of the Island, this destination is famous for its powdery white sand beaches with endless turquoise waters. Add in mega-resorts such as the Hard Rock Hotel, the Barcelo, and the Majestic resorts and you’ve got the tropical paradise that is Punta Cana with all the amenities, services, and cultural experiences you would want and need. Punta Cana is easy access from several Canadian cities, and when you finally arrive at the PUJ airport, you will quickly realize you’re about to experience the Caribbean first hand.
If you were to speak to any of our couples that decided to have their wedding in Punta Cana, here’s the main reasons they expressed:
1. Beach, beach, beach! When couples chose Punta Cana it was all about having the most spectacular beach available to them. They are huge, powdery soft, and as far as the eyes could see. If you want to have a beach ceremony with the most spectacular views, this is the very reason this destination is selected.
2. A wide variety of top notch Resort options. As Punta Cana is known for having mega-resorts, this appeals to couples that are looking to invite large numbers of guests, and they want to make sure the property has all the amenities and services to accommodate them and their guests.
3. Direct flights were very important, and via many Canadian cities, there were options for non-stop flights, however, some of the smaller cities had direct flights with a short stop in another city. This was acceptable as they did not have to do any long layovers or forced overnights.
4. Budget was on the forefront of the couples minds, but compared to some other Islands it was not the most important when selecting Punta Cana. It was more based on the beach, location of the resort on the beach, and what the resort had to offer during their stay.
As mentioned earlier, there are so many other destinations available throughout the Caribbean and Mexico that could also be considered a really good choice for your wedding, however, based on our couples needs and the convenience they experienced from their departure city made the above destinations the top choice for them. Depending on where you live, you may have access to many other options, but our overall experience and feedback seemed to always tell us that the above locations were the best when it came to meeting all the wedding couple’s criteria. So by saying this…
Which Island Suits You the Best?
As we are fully aware that each island or popular areas of Mexico has so much to offer in its own unique ways. Your next step would be to sit down with your partner and write out the pros and cons, including all the criteria our couples mentioned above. Find out which one suits your style and tastes the best? Choosing your destination and resort may seem to be a hard task, but when narrow down what is most important for you and your guests, the rest will be smooth sailing and you’ll then realize why you’ve picked a particular destination for your wedding. We hope you keep this top destination wedding locations list in mind for when you make your big decision, and that it helps you achieve your goal in having the most memorable ceremony ever!
Bill Parise (ACC) has been involved in the travel industry offering trip and vacation advice since 2000. Bill and his wife Maria currently run their own home-based travel business and have been doing so since 2007.
As a Destination Wedding and Group Vacation Specialist, Bill has helped plan and arrange a number of wedding ceremonies over the years for couples to several exciting destinations such as Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe as well.
Not only has Bill and his wife Maria been assisting couples plan their dream ceremonies at exotic locations, but they also planned their very own destination wedding ceremony that took place in Varadero, Cuba back in 2004. So Bill truly believes that it’s extremely important in being well rounded in this ever growing market.