10 Dream Wedding Destinations Around the World
From out-of-state weddings to farther flung nuptials, 25% of brides identify as having destination weddings. Here are 10 dream destinations to consider when planning a wedding away from home, for any and every type of bride — whether it’s a picturesque island backdrop you crave or rustic mountaintops and lakeside lodges for your reception retreat. Get inspired by these idyllic destinations.
Why get hitched here: If the words “fairy tale” define your idea of a dream wedding, get thee and thine (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves!) to Ireland. Amid the mist, not only does your chariot await, but so do your rolling hills, oceanside cliffs, quaint seaside villages, lush gardens, grand castles and country manors. The combination of the symbolic traditions, the genuine hospitality of the Irish people and the natural beauty of this richly romantic country make it an amazingly memorable spot to say your “I dos.” And dramatic settings for your walk down the aisle abound, from breathtaking cliffs to Tudor-style churches and the hallowed splendor of a 15th-century castle. Meanwhile, the mix of culture, museums, sports, pubs and golfing will keep guests busy between wedding events.
US: Sea Island, Georgia
Why get hitched here: With its turquoise waters and pristine beaches, Sea Island feels like the Caribbean, only without all the tourists cramping your wedding style — the island’s only visitors are guests of its two resorts. And the oceanfront setting on five miles of private beach couldn’t be a more beautiful spot to say your “I dos.” In addition to world-class fare and amenities, this tiny Georgian retreat has plenty of activities for your guests to enjoy, including golfing, tennis, horseback riding, boating, fishing, spa going and more.
Europe: Amalfi Coast, Italy
Why get hitched here: When the backdrop for your wedding is a citrus grove that overlooks Italy’s jaw-dropping Amalfi Coast, great wedding pictures take care of themselves. The Amalfi Drive is one of the most scenic stretches of Italian coastline, consisting of a winding cliff-top road offering dramatic views of the sea. Your guests will certainly enjoy the food and surroundings, so there’s no need to stress over the menu or decor. And an itinerary filled with one-of-a-kind experiences, like a visit to the ruins of Pompeii, a boat trip through the Blue Grotto off Capri or a walk through the ancient, narrow streets of Naples’s Old Spacca Quarter, will make for an unforgettable wedding weekend.
Why get hitched here: If you’re craving a more low-key and secluded spot over action-packed resort cities and tourist crowds, this quaint fishing town on the Pacific coast (near Ixtapa) will satisfy big-time. The unspoiled beaches and colorful sunsets of this rustic beach locale make for an utterly romantic ceremony setting, and you’ll have your pick of luxe resorts and boutique hotels — all with an authentic local feel — for celebrating your nuptials. Though it’s a bit of a haul compared with other destinations in Mexico (there are no direct flights from the US), as soon as your guests land, they’ll understand why you picked this off-the-beaten-path spot (and they’ll be glad you did). Yours certainly won’t feel like any other destination wedding in the always-popular Mexico.
Why get hitched here: There’s a reason why French painter Paul Gauguin staged his most famous works in Tahiti — the island is known worldwide for its picturesque landscape packed with palms, fragrant vanilla farms, vivid blooms and postcard-worthy rain forests. And there’s an even better reason why it makes the far-flung list: It gets relatively few tourists (more people visit Hawaii in 10 days than visit Tahiti in a year!). So you and your guests will enjoy great service and crowd-free beaches. Recommend that your guests tour the capital city of Papeete and hit the Marche du Papeete (central market) for black pearls, carvings, shells, vanilla, coffee and perfumes, or make their way to popular spots like Papenoo, Punaauia and Paea for surfing. And for a fun welcome activity, treat guests to a Polynesian show with traditional music and twirling flaming torches.
Caribbean: St. Thomas and St. John
Why get hitched here: Along with Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands may be one of the most hassle-free places to have a Caribbean destination wedding. There are lots of direct flights to St. Thomas (and St. John is a short ferry ride away), airfare is usually competitive, the US dollar is the official currency, and you should have great cell phone service. St. Thomas can sometimes feel a bit crowded, since it’s a main stop on the itineraries of many cruise lines, and it’s quite developed for the Caribbean. But it’s nonetheless brimming over with natural beauty. St. John, while a bit harder to reach, is more rugged, unspoiled and higher-end, with fewer big resorts. Active guests will be in heaven: St. John is known for its plentiful and easily accessible snorkeling sites, as well as its national parks. In St. Thomas, suggest that guests visit the capital city of Charlotte Amalie to see historical sites such as Fort Christian and for tons and tons of duty-free shopping.
Far-flung: South Africa
Why get hitched here: South Africa has been called “A World in One Country,” and it’s easy to see why: Towering mountains rise over a vibrant and trendy Cape Town; ostrich-dotted grasslands stretch to connect quaint villages; monkey-filled forests line the deserted beaches of Natal; and the Stellenbosch wine route tucks vast vineyards into lush, fertile valleys. Then, of course, there are the lions (and giraffes and crocodiles…). South Africa’s stunning landscapes, wildlife preserves and pristine beaches along the 2,174 miles of coast and rolling vineyards have made it an ideal vacation — and exotic destination wedding — spot. So it’s the perfect locale for adventurous couples to throw a unique wedding for guests willing to make the trek.
Mexico: San Miguel de Allende
Why get hitched here: For old-world charm and romance (think: narrow cobblestone streets, tall, red stucco walls and Spanish-colonial style architecture) with a mountaintop backdrop and year-round sunny temps, you won’t have to ask your guests to travel very far. Located just outside Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende is Mexico’s newest hotspot, but this historic town dating back to the 1500s, is far from new. In fact, you’ll find more historic buildings and monuments than modern mega-resorts in this provincial town brimming with culture. From gardens, centuries-old chapels and churches, Spanish-style courtyards and an array of boutique hotels that define understated elegance, charming ceremony and reception spots abound in this nearly 500-year-old town. And you won’t have to worry about entertaining your guests between events — the local galleries, restaurants, shopping, spas and numerous festivals that take place throughout the year, will keep them plenty busy.
Europe: Loire Valley, France
Why get hitched here: Just an hour outside the world’s most romantic city (yep, we’re talking about Paris) and its international airport (that would be Charles de Gaulle) is the chateau-rich and rolling Loire Valley, cherished for its fairy-tale castles, historic villages, charming people, wines and food. So basically, you’ve got everything you need for a dream destination wedding. You and your guests can also enjoy the country life: Take a wine-tasting tour; pay a visit to the Chateau d’Usse, said to be the setting of the French fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, in the village of Rigny-Usse; or take a taste (or two) of the beloved tarte Tatin (upside-down apple tart), which also makes a great dessert alternative.
US: Lake Placid, New York
Why get hitched here: Can you say “winter wedding”? Despite its location in the heart of the Adirondacks in upstate New York, this alpine village (and two-time Winter Olympics host) is anything but remote, with loads of activities and attractions — and snowcapped settings backed with mountain vistas. Leave the glitz at home and choose a venue from among the cozy rustic-chic resorts and luxe lakeside lodges. You can even incorporate a gondola ride up Whiteface Mountain into your wedding. And if you’re not feeling a wintry occasion, go for an outdoor fall ceremony surrounded by some of the country’s most stunning foliage — and get an even better view of the changing leaves by saying “I do” in a hot-air balloon! The region is dotted with 3,000 lakes (popular choices are Saranac Lake, Mirror Lake and, of course, Lake Placid), plus mountain streams and waterfalls that come to life in the spring — providing a picturesque background for April or May nuptials.