In a traditional wedding, it is common to see a tiered wedding cake in the center of the reception symbolizing the union between bride and groom. But what about those non traditional couples who want to celebrate their wedding in a different way — by tying the knot in an exotic locale instead of a reception hall? It looks like a recent disease outbreak is putting a damper on their plans.
The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that is exceptionally dangerous to pregnant women and those of child-bearing age, has made headlines recently, especially as it may affect attendance at the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Spread through sexual intercourse or via insect bites, Zika can cause extreme birth defects and even infant mortality, but typically the infected person does not know they are carriers until too late.
Now, fear of the virus is making some couples think twice about having a destination wedding in a tropical location. Yet couples who have already booked the venue, hotel rooms and services for their destination weddings — usually with the help of a specialized travel agent — aren’t able to change their minds, since they have already signed the contracts and paid deposits.
Many popular wedding destinations in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean are also areas where the virus has been most active. Guests and wedding-party members who are pregnant are bowing out, as are some people who are just planning to conceive, as Zika may present a risk to them, as well. Unfortunately for the happy couples — and any parents who are footing the bill — changing the location of a wedding, or having fewer guests than booked hotel rooms, will cost thousands of dollars in lost deposits and other expenses.
Others are going ahead with their ceremonies as planned, mosquitos and all.
“The majority of brides and grooms committed to getting married in Puerto Rico are just asking for more citronella tiki torches and putting bug sprays in the welcome bags,” wedding planner Sandy Malone told The New York Times.
Destination weddings in foreign countries can sometimes be more cost-effective than getting married back at home. Weddings stateside can be extravagantly expensive, with the average cost of a wedding in central New York costing over $27,000 as of 2016. A ceremony of the same size could cost as little as $20,000.
For those willing to risk the possibility of catching the virus, destination wedding resorts have significantly dropped their prices in hopes to lure more blushing brides and grooms abroad.