Celebrations | Destination lifecycle events have a practical side too

With today’s families spread out across the country, the idea of a destination function has its appeal: Having guests travel to one location can be efficient and fun, and it can be a vacation as well.

The Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim Synagogue of St. Thomas. photo/anne kazel-wilcox.

When it comes to weddings, destination functions can actually be less expensive for the couple getting married than paying for 150 guests at a fancy venue. Hosts can choose the friends and family members they want to spend a week with (no need to invite the other 125 “less close” people). A week in a more exotic place can be smaller and more intimate, and people really get to know each other.

There can also be cost savings with a destination bar or bat mitzvah. It can cost less to go away for a week than to pay for one large three-hour event. All sorts of options are available. Among popular destinations for U.S. families having b’nai mitzvah are the historic synagogues in St. Thomas and Curacao, the Costa Rican rainforest, and the centuries-old synagogue in Barbados.

Another good option, especially for multigenerational families: b’nai mitzvah on cruises. A ceremony can be held in the St. Thomas synagogue during the port call, or in the cruise chapel. I work with a cantor who prepares the child for the ceremony and usually joins us at the resort or on the cruise ship. Families should choose the destination based on what is convenient for them and, more importantly, what is of interest to the special boy or girl.

Honeymoons are, by their nature, vacation affairs. Trendy destinations that I recommend exploring include Tahiti, Fiji and the Maldive Islands. Couples love the Costa Rican rainforest; its beautiful waterfalls make a perfect backdrop for photos.

And while the idea of booking a hall and caterer ourside outside your hometown — in another city, state or country even — can be intimidating, with the Internet you can go on “virtual tours” of venues. You can also maintain close contact with everyone you need to work with to make the day perfect.

Of course, the service of a professional can make things easier and provide access to places and people that you may not otherwise find. As I tell my clients, “Let me do your worrying.”


Ellen Paderson owns Smiles and Miles Travel, www.smilesandmilestravel.com. This story was first published by www.jewish.travel, a new online Jewish travel magazine.