Wedding tourism: why not get married in Boracay?
he wedding procession enters in a dragon-shaped boat. The wedding ceremony is held on the beach. A summer camp style gymkhana takes place between the wedding guests, the males against the ladies, but with caviar replacing the sandwiches. The turquoise sea as the backcloth to it all. A welcoming cocktail, flower arrangements, music and love. The novelty of marrying in Bali, on the Amalfi coast or in the Caribbean has worn off. If you are looking for an adventurous venue to say, “I do”, choose Boracay
It is only ten square kilometres in size, yet this Philippine island is one of the most visited of any in the world. Its beaches of fine white sand are the principal attraction, and the latest fashion is to go to this relaxing natural haven to get married. A number of the island’s resorts have wedding packages that cover everything down to the last detail, from accommodation for the happy couple and guests to end-of-ceremony celebration fireworks. Everything counts here, from the design aesthetics – chairs sunk into the sand – to the wedding banquet: the traditional cake is replaced by a chocolate souffle with gorgonzola cheese, though the signature of the bride are syill on top. And come the dawn, a post Wedding Brunch.
It’s colour time at the Dinagyang Festival
If you are in the Philippines on the fourth Sunday of January, don’t miss the Dinagyang Festival, one of the most popular and fun parties of the year. It commemorates the arrival of the Malayan immigrants, with brightly coloured fancy dress parades through the city of Iloilo on Panay Island,
The 5-star Shangri-La Boracay Resort’s Spa is one of the hotels that promotes these services. “Even the smallest details are taken care of”, they guarantee, “so the happy couple are free to relax and enjoy their very special day”. Under the slogan “Get married in paradise” Boracay Beach Club, Discovery Shores Boracay or Fairways&Bluewater are other holiday-hotel complexes that specialise in weddings.
From backpacking to package tours
There are 400 places to stay on this island that lies 300 kilometres south of Manila. Each has its own story to tell, and each story is linked to the development of tourism in Boracay. Casa Pilar is an example: it began as a small six-house development in 1986, and now there are over 80 holiday residences here.
In the 80s, the visitors were backpackers, but very soon the package tours became popular as word got around that the beaches on Boracay were among the very best in the world. Today the goal is to present it as the perfect place to get married. “We’re keen to promote the Philippines as a destination for weddings, especially Cebu and Boracay”, explains the Marketing Development Director at the Tourist Department, “We’re developing wedding packages that include hotels, organizing the event, and visas for the guests”.
White Beach has four kilometres of white sands bathed by crystal clear waters and coral reefs. It is the best known of 30 or so beaches. Bulabog Beach is also attractive: two-and-a-half kilometres of sand, a coral reef and the main centre for kitesurf and windsurf among other water sports. The beach is in the Barangay Yapak district, the richest of the city’s three neighbourhoods. The other two are Barangay Balabag and Barangay Manoc-Manoc, but they are better known as Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. Number 3 is the old Boracay, the least crowded of them.
Sailing in the traditional paraw with its bamboo masts, underwater diving, snorkling, kiteboarding, parapenting or golf are among the many other activities that Boracay has to offer. The surge in tourism to the island seems unstoppable: over 700,000 tourists every year from USA, 500,000 from China, and in third place Europe with some 400,000 visitors. Saying “Yes, I do” to Boracay is inevitable.