MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The popularity of destination weddings is on the rise and local wedding planner Cheryl Cox has experienced the growth first-hand. She started planning weddings in Myrtle Beach in 1980 and she's been keeping up with local trends ever since.
"It's always been a honeymoon location for years, and then we moved to weddings, and now it's destination weddings," explained Cox.
Sarah Wise is also a local wedding planner who says it's the bulk of her business. "About 70 percent of my clients and all the leads I'm getting are destination brides."
Recent statistics show more out-of-town brides shouldn't be surprising. According to a top wedding website, TheKnot.com, one in four couples is choosing to have destination wedding. TheKnot.com also recently ranked South Carolina as one of the top five states for destination weddings in the country.
Wise says Myrtle Beach offers the dream of a seaside wedding without having to break the bank.
"There are a lot of options here that are affordable. So they can still have the destination wedding here, but not the expense they would incur if they went to say, the Bahamas."
More wedding bells ringing could be the sound of sweet music for the local economy. According to TheKnot.com, on average, destination weddings last three or more days. This means more time for wedding guests to spend money on local businesses.
"They come with families, they come with friends. Those are room nights what wouldn't otherwise be occupied. Those are restaurants that have people eating that otherwise wouldn't be," explains Nora Battle, spokesperson for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Now the chamber wants to walk more brides down the aisle in the Grand Strand. For the first time it will include destination weddings into its marketing mix. "We certainly hope to be promoting weddings more," added Battle. The chamber is currently working on the marketing plan for destination weddings and according to Battle, they plan to launch the effort in Spring of 2013.