How Sweet It is: The Business of Love

Hilton Palm Coast-SJS Events

Despite the turbulence of the past two years, the $51.2 billion wedding industry is regaining its footing by adapting––offering micro-weddings and buddymoons and helping couples prioritize what’s important on their wedding day. 

Florida ranks second overall in the nation for weddings, and in 2020 there were 3,082 weddings in Volusia County alone, according to the Wedding Report. But with 144 wedding venues in Volusia County, the trick is to distinguish oneself from the crowd!

A few industry insiders share their tips on standing out in the business of weddings.

Connect & Communicate with Your Clients

“Personally, I love to entertain, and my passion for creating memorable events which become memorable moments for my friends and family grew into this amazing role where I am able to help others create unforgettable experiences at an incredible venue,” says Alyssa Palladino, sales and catering manager for the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort.

Alyssa
Palladino

As one of Volusia County’s premier wedding venues, couples can enjoy wedding events that range from opulent to intimate.

“First and foremost, our space is our biggest advantage,” shares Palladino.

“With over 60,000 sq. ft. of beautiful ballrooms and scenic outdoor venues, we have the ability to cater to grand events like South Asian weddings with multi-day ceremonies, as well as intimate gatherings.”

Tailoring their offerings to meet every need, the resort has made it a point to stay top of mind for couples who may have scaled-back plans for their big day.

“Our team has created all-inclusive Micro-Wedding packages to fit the evolving needs of our clients who are looking to have an intimate wedding on the oceanfront,” she said, welcoming guests for extended stays pre and post-nuptials.  

The resort has earned a reputation for their niche destination weddings and events, as well. 

“We cater to many South Asian weddings throughout the year, and it represents about 50% of our wedding business,” said Palladino. “We find that the majority of our leads are referrals from happy couples or family members who have attended previous cultural wedding events at our hotel.”

Palladino says the resort’s team takes the time to truly connect with their clients, showing care and consideration for all of the intricate details of the event.

“Taking the time to understand and communicate the specific needs and expectations of our clients is one of the most important factors in planning any wedding at our resort,” she said. 

Unique Touches Make Clients Feel Special 

“We view our uniqueness as the property itself being such a great hidden gem, as well as the fact that our clients have full-day access to the venue for the ability of decor or hair and makeup to occur here at the property,” said Cara Castelli, manager of the Estate on the Halifax, and granddaughter of the property’s founders, Douglas and Lois Clark.

This 10-acre modern-day fairytale venue resting along the Halifax River in Port Orange has been family-owned since 1968.

“We only ever host one event per day so we allow for exclusive access and privacy for our couples. We also have an included overnight stay for the newlyweds in Agatha’s Guesthouse, which is a three-bedroom, four-bathroom home with an indoor pool and hot tub. The home doubles as the bridal suite for the hair and makeup process to take place.”

Cara Castelli

With four ceremony sites on property, the 1897 fully restored Chapel is the most popular of the options, according to Castelli, and while hosting 130 weddings on site each year, she takes as much pride in helping each couple create a one-of-a-kind experience as her grandmother Lois does still tending the property’s gardens at the age of 93.

Estate on the Halifax
Photo credit: Jennifer, Juniper Photography

“We are a family-owned and operated business and have been in operation for over twenty years, which we have found is another reason so many clients and their families are comfortable making such an important life decision and hosting a wedding here,” said Castelli.

With more than 95% of their events weddings, it’s no wonder the property’s whimsical locations and versatility have captured the imaginations of couples and wedding planners alike.

Grand Ol’ Barn – Keaton and Campbell Wedding

Amenities Offer a Lasting Impression

It’s not just the ability to shoot whiskey with your significant other during a wedding toast or play oversized carnival games at the reception that makes the Grand Ol’ Barn an extraordinary location, according to founder Shauna Altes.

Transforming the 1914 citrus packing barn in New Smyrna Beach into one of Volusia County’s must-see wedding venues in 2019, Altes has earned rave reviews on The Knot starting with the venue’s very first bride, Caitlin K., calling it “The World’s Greatest Wedding Venue.”

“The Barn stands out as a wedding venue and destination location due to our unmatched amenities, beauty and location – our proximity to hotels and bed and breakfasts.  Oftentimes the bridal party can walk back to their bed and breakfast,” Altes said. 

Shauna Altes

Weddings make up 99% of their annual business, and Altes says a whopping 10% of their weddings come from out of state from places like Georgia, Tennessee, New York and Washington state.

“We love it because the local economy here in New Smyrna Beach receives a huge boost.  Cake bakers, hotels, gift shops, restaurants and more all receive a boost from the patrons coming to get married at the barn,” she said.

As the owner and founder of “Adventure Together Venues,” her business model has been so successful, she’s opening a second location an hour east of Atlanta, in Greensboro, Georgia, with plans to expand across the southeastern United States.

Activity is Accelerating

With many weddings delayed in 2020, tourism officials saw an uptick in wedding-related activity in 2021, confirming interest in Volusia County as a wedding destination.

“Area hotels and wedding venues have seen an increase in bookings as families decide that the time is right for them to travel,” said Kate Holcomb, Director of Communications for the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“This area is the ideal destination for families looking for a destination wedding. Not only is getting here easy and affordable, but the wide variety of accommodations and venues, along with knowledgeable, local wedding planners, offer options that can satisfy any style or budget from very casual to formal, with an abundance of beautiful outdoor spaces as well.”

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