SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Esmeralda Swartz, Kevin Jackson

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Brides Prefer the Beach: Expedia Study Shows Americans Perceive Destination Weddings as Less Stressful and More Romantic than Traditional Ceremonies

Expedia's American Altar Report finds 69% of Americans believe a destination wedding would alleviate stress; 42% of married Americans would choose destination wedding if they could do it over

BELLEVUE, Wash., March 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Expedia.com today revealed the results of a study, conducted by Northstar that examined American attitudes towards weddings. Expedia's 2014 American Altar Report found that Americans find traditional wedding planning to be hugely stressful, ranking it ahead of such stress-drivers as paying taxes, going for job interviews and taking driving tests. Eighty-four percent of Americans believe that destination weddings are more fun, and among those who have had a destination wedding, 76 percent believe they are far less stressful than traditional ceremonies.

Expedia Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Expedia, Inc.; US Airways)

Forty-two percent of married Americans, if given the chance for an "I Do-Over," would choose a destination wedding the second time around. That figure jumps to 63 percent among Americans under 35 years of age. A full 67 percent of married Americans say they are likely to renew their vows at some point during their marriage. An equal proportion of Americans (67 percent) report that if they were to ever renew their marriage vows, they would choose a destination ceremony.

In response, Expedia has introduced Expedia Weddings, a service that gives couples the resources to plan a low-stress destination wedding in Hawaii, Mexico (Cancun, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos), Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. Expedia destination wedding experts are available to help prospective couples access special rates and packages, and find the perfect venue.

Couples who have had a destination wedding report that "easier to plan" (37 percent) and "less stressful" (48 percent) rank among the potential benefits of planning a destination wedding. In comparative terms, traditional weddings fared poorly in the 2014 American Altar Report, with "long church ceremonies" (32 percent), "experiencing the same rituals over and over" (26 percent) and traditional weddings' failure to feel "unique or special" (25 percent) among the top list of gripes.

"Destination weddings are one of those dreams that most people have, but few people experience," said Sarah Gavin, director of public relations and social media, Expedia.com. "We set out to learn why people fail to follow through on this, and we found that turnout and cost were two top worries. We have created a service in Expedia Weddings that works to solve both of those issues, offering wedding experts to help brides and grooms with every step of their guest's travel planning and to help guests save a lot of money on their travel. When guests book their flight and hotel together through Expedia, they can save up to $525 or even more to places like Cancun or Maui where they can save up to $912 and $1572, respectively. Imagine the relief of knowing your guests can save that kind of money to join you for your special day all while taking travel planning off your own to-do list."

The New Rules of Destination Weddings
Expedia's American Altar Report found a wide range of opinion as to rules of decorum, as they relate to a destination wedding. These include:

  • Should destination wedding guests be expected to give a gift?
    • The study found that Americans spend approximately $103 on wedding gifts, for both traditional and destination ceremonies. Forty-four percent believe a "smaller gift" is appropriate at a destination wedding.
  • Is "no gifts expected" a binding request?
    • It appears not; 66 percent of Americans report that they would bring a gift even if the invite advised against them.
  • Should Americans pay for the travel costs of their destination wedding guests?
    • America was roughly split in response: 47 percent of Americans believe that hotel costs should be covered by the wedding hosts. Forty-three percent say meals should be completely covered. Thirty-one percent expressed the belief that flights should also be paid for.
  • How far is too far?
    • Sixty-two percent of Americans say a flight up to six hours is an acceptable distance to travel for a destination wedding. And 51 percent of Americans believe the couple should give guests at least seven months' notice.

Distance Between Desire and Reality
According to the study, 69 percent of Americans who are single, in a relationship or engaged report that they would consider a destination wedding. The desire to actually plan and book one drops off somewhat, with 39 percent saying that they likely would not follow through on the option. Reasons include:

  • Cost: 68 percent of Americans believe that planning and hosting a destination wedding would be more expensive than a traditional wedding.
  • Turnout: 42 percent cite being "afraid guests won't come" as the primary reason dissuading them from a destination wedding.

Beaches are Free of Bridezillas
The perceived lower-stress option of a destination wedding has emotional implications for participants. Fifty-four percent of survey respondents agree that "you are less likely to come across a Bridezilla at a destination wedding." And opportunities for romance are perceived to be more plentiful – 50 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 believe the likelihood of becoming romantically involved is greater at a destination wedding.

Expedia's American Altar Report found that beaches are perceived as the ideal location for a destination wedding, with 43 percent citing it as their preference. Among beach destinations, Hawaii (30 percent) topped the list, with the Caribbean (22 percent) placing second. Mountain lodges and vineyard/countryside venues tied for second, at 18 percent.

About the Study
This study was conducted on behalf of Expedia by Northstar, a globally integrated strategic insights consulting firm, among 1,000 adult Americans. Surveys were completed between February 7 and February 12, 2014. Sampling quotas and weighting were used to ensure the sample is representative of the US population in terms of age, gender, region, household income and household composition. Assuming a probability sample, the margin of error would be +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Expedia.com
Expedia.com is the world's leading full-service online travel site, helping millions of travelers per month easily plan and book travel. Expedia.com (http://www.expedia.com/, 1-800-EXPEDIA) aims to provide the latest technology and the widest selection of top vacation destinations, cheap tickets, hotel deals, car rentals, destination weddings, cruise deals and in-destination activities, attractions, services and travel apps. With the Expedia Best Price Guarantee, Expedia.com customers can get the best rates available online for all types of travel. Whether you want to relax in St. Lucia, explore Heavenly or kick off the ski season at the Park City mountain resort, we know every trip and every traveler is unique and we want to help you Find Yours™.

Expedia, Expedia.com, Expedia Rewards, Find Yours and the Airplane logo are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners © 2014 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved. CST # 2029030-50

About Northstar
NORTHSTAR is a strategic marketing insights and consulting firm that aligns leading edge, customized research techniques and cultural context with proprietary and proven strategic marketing frameworks and models to drive insights to impact. Northstar's suite of services relate to the most critical elements of brand, customer and marketing strategy, with sector expertise in travel and tourism, retail, automotive, CPG, food & beverage, financial services, pharma / health care, transportation and fashion / luxury. For more information, please go to www.northstarhub.com.

SOURCE Expedia.com

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