The Caribbean Wedding Association knows a lot about weddings..
But lately they’re seeing a new kind. “Many people are finding love later in life,” they say. “They’ve done the big formal wedding once, and now they want something different. When they remarry, they want to include their children in the wedding so they can all begin their new lives together, as a family. It’s not just a wedding between the man and woman anymore.”
Enter the Familymoon.
Since 9/11 it’s pretty clear that the trend is toward the kind of family travel experience that builds memories and creates bonds.
And the Caribbean with its mix of the sensual and the accessible is a perfect place for those tying the knot, again, but who are committed to sharing the event with their children and extended family.
Familymoons are a terrific success,” observers says. “We’re seeing them really grow because the Familymoon is a perfect way to blend families and seal the new relationship.”
In fact, as a sign of the times, some resorts have given birth to a uniquely designed Familymoon Package which includes complimentary room upgrades, bride and groom massages and family portraits.
According to a board member at the Stepfamily Association of America there are now as many stepfamilies as “intact” families.
The Association says a whopping 65 percent of remarriages are now bringing children into the new relationship.
The Brady-bunch-goes-Caribbean is an idea whose time has clearly come.
“Really, Familymoons are quite adorable,” says a Wedding Coordinator at Brac Reef Beach Resort (http://www.bracreef.com) on Cayman Brac.
“It’s fun to see the kids taking part in the ceremony. With one of our couples, there were thirty family members involved, and his daughter and her daughter, both teens, were bridesmaids. The ages ranged from one year to mid-seventies, and everyone loved being together.”
The family was Chrissy and Herb Strickland from Florida, a second marriage for both.
Chrissy is a strong believer in Familymoons. “Herb and I were not the only people getting married that day,” she said. “All of us are committed and all of us we were joining together. In fact my ring has five diamonds on it, one for each of our children.”
Experts say Familymoons ease the transition into new families because parents today don’t want to leave their kids behind when they get married.
And the children certainly don’t want to be left behind while their new parents take off without them.
Also, with the average age of the first time grandparent in this country just 48 years old, it’s easy to unite grandparents, kids, grandkids and siblings into the marriage experience.
Chrissy Strickland says that if the couple getting married doesn’t realize that the marriage has to involve the children, they seriously need to rethink their union.
As far as the choice of resort is concerned for a successful Familymoon, the experts say the resort must have activities to suit all members of the family.
And it must be a caring place.
Canadians Patsy Lever-O’Brien and her husband, Don, chose the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. It was a third marriage for both.
“The staff were terrific,” Patsy says. “They just couldn’t do enough…and they were right there crying with us. And we had adjoining rooms so we had our privacy.”
One of her sons, Adrian, 25, was the best man for her husband.
Don’s daughter, Shannon, 20, was Patsy’s maid of honor.
“The guys did guy things and Shannon and I did shopping and girl things. It was a long time since she had a woman in her life to share with. But when we came together for the wedding, it was a fairy tale come true. We created memories and shared feelings that I never thought possible. It was a wonderful, wonderful event.”
But how does the couple balance the need for intimacy and romance with “family togetherness”?
After all, it is a wedding.
The venue has to have flexible accommodations, in addition to a range of activities suitable for everyone.
This might mean the resort has separate villas or adjoining suites, or at least connecting rooms…so there can be privacy and romance too.
Advice for would-be Familymooners? Have plenty of patience, good humor.
Advice for Familymooners:
•Everyone in the family needs to be involved in planning the familymoon, such as deciding who will make the toast or what specific attractions to visit.
•Provide everyone with a disposable camera so the new family can create a “memory book.”
•Choose a neutral destination, not one where either parent has spent a family vacation or, obviously, a previous honeymoon.
•A sense of humor is a must. As is expecting the unexpected. This is uncharted territory. If things don’t go according to plans, roll with them.
•Be aware that single parents traveling with minors outside the United States must bring proof from the other parent that they have the permission to travel with the child.
•Kids will often become homesick, missing their biological parent or pet, even. Be sure they can phone home or email friends.
•And chose a destination that has significant experience in family travel, preferably familymoons.