Wedding industry 
‘recession proof’

Significant impact on tourism, the economy, wedding planners say

Cayman weddings are generally looking good this season, report industry insiders.

“The wedding season this year is proving to be one of the busiest seasons I have experienced on the island,” said wedding planner Rebecca Bateman-Green of Parfait Weddings & Events.

“Just when I think we have all our weddings for the season booked and squared away, more enquiries come rolling in.”

Lucila Leiva of Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort said destination weddings have grown at an average of 40 per cent at the property.

“[This shows] they are “recession proof”. At the same time, destination weddings for the Caribbean region have in general an average growth of 14 per cent per year.”

The impact on tourism and the economy can be significant with knock-on effects felt outside the immediate destination. Melissa Ladley of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman revealed that the hotel had noted big growth in wedding parties of 40 to 50 people in which the entire group stayed on island for a holiday averaging three to four days.

“This can result in 200 room nights for a hotel which is significant business. There is also a nice ‘halo effect’ of weddings of this size. Not all guests will choose to stay at the venue which is hosting all the wedding activities; most couples will get a group rate with us but also provide details on how to book at nearby properties like Sunshine Suites which may work better for some of their guests,” she said.

Perfect option

The average group number for cruise ship weddings has risen from around 10 to 15 guests in 2008/09 to 20 to 25 in 2010 and 2011, noted Desiree Evans, wedding coordinator at Grand Old House. However, the sector is still not quite back up to pre-recession levels in general, she said.

“2010 and this year prediction is a little lower then 2008/09 but still steady. Couples are more on a budget and watching expense,” said Ms Evans.

The main source for destination weddings remains the United States, said Ms Bateman-Green.

“Cayman is a perfect option for these guests as they get to experience a Caribbean country with just a short flight from home which leaves the holiday more economical and also convenient for work leave, et cetera.Canadian couples are also very high on the list with about 30 per cent of our enquiries coming from this country.”

The Marriott, meanwhile, reported a growing interest in Indian weddings, which Lucila Leiva said opened the doors of a growing potential market for the hotel and the island as a whole.