If you’re going to have a huge wedding, then why not get a trip to Italy out of it as well? How about Cabo, Hawaii or even Bar Harbor, Maine? After all, nothing looks better with white than a ripe tan and an endless blue ocean behind you. With a whole world of wedding destination options, it’s hard to decide which angle of the sun you want to catch, among other dilemmas, but the world is rife with paradises. For every kind of beachgoer and every size of wedding party, there’s a tropical and perhaps not-so-tropical locale for your next (and let’s hope, last) wedding.
One of the smaller islands in the fairly sought-after wedding destination that is Hawaii, Kauai is the oldest and one of the northernmost islands. It’s ideal for visitors who wish to experience a tropical wedding in an exotic locale without having to leave the country, as in, the feeling of having traveled across the world while in fact, they’ve merely skipped and hopped a few landmasses. And yet, Kauai is probably the most remote island both geographically and historically: the last island to be conquered by the kingdom of Hawaii, the birthplace of the sugar cane industry and the most rural, Kauai is worlds away from Honolulu but full of the signature white-sand beaches of the rest of Hawaii. The severely underrated Na Pali Coast is resplendent in beaches, Waimea Canyon has picture-perfect natural wonders and a quaint old town that’s light on tourists, while the island itself is chock full of luxury hotels. The Grand Hyatt Kauai offers a great wedding package for any kind of wedding and fun onsite activities including a spa, golf course, pools and tennis, as well as access to the island’s adventure opportunities by way of scuba diving, snorkeling, helicopter tours, ziplining and more.
Tinged with British colonialism and candy-colored architecture, Bermuda might be the only place in the world one can be served a Rum Swizzle in an otherwise traditional English pub. A mere two-hour flight from the East Coasts of Canada and the United States, Bermuda is accessible, luxury-laden, sparkling with beaches and full of quaint architectural details seen nowhere else. The Reefs Resort and Club are wedding planning pros, offering a perfect seaside backdrop to accommodate any size of party as well as the iconic moon gate, a circular entryway that is reputed to bring the newly wedded couple luck once they’ve stepped through it. With endless coastlines and just as many fresh seafood restaurants, Bermuda is a romantic and gorgeous place to spend the most important day of your life.
Anyone can walk down a sandy aisle and finish off the nuptials with a fruity cocktail and call it a "destination wedding," but for those who crave adventure and a totally unique cultural experience, Palau is just the ticket. Its history is muddled; early forebearers come from Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, but having passed through British, Japanese, Spanish, German and U.S. occupation and come out independent, the culture of Palau is a mishmash of their influences but also entirely its own. That being said, the historical sites in Peleliu is a worthy excursion for the war buffs in the party, the beach culture promises jealousy-inducing tans and perfect tropical cocktails, and the adventures are simply unforgettable. Jellyfish Lake pulsates with the glowing stingless umbrella creatures and makes for a snorkeling trip one is sure to gush about for the rest of their lives; braver souls can dive with the sharks while grazing the largely preserved pristine coral reefs at the seafloor.
How about the most romantic weekend of your life on the shores of the Mediterranean coast in the area best known for being the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love? They say she rose from the sea just off of what is now called Old Paphos ("old" being an understatement). The current Paphos is a gorgeous combination of mild subtropical weather, traditional Greek-style architecture, luxury accommodations, panoramic beauty at every angle and even a touch of Vegas – most hotels and resorts have their own onsite chapels because lovers are naturally attracted to the city where love was born. The secluded five-star luxury Anassa Hotel & Spa, for example, creates a dreamlike backdrop for weddings in their recreated traditional village square with a Byzantine chapel surrounded by winding lavender-lined paths and scarlet bougainvillaea. Around town, visitors can wander around Paphos Archaeological Park to discover the facts and myths of Ancient Greece and the Roman period through historically preserved monuments, recovered artwork and architectural details.
Just the phrase "wedding in Cabo" sounds sumptuous and exotic. Not exotic like remote and untouched by American hands, "exotic" as in, Cabo is what happens when the victors of capitalism discover a pristine and immaculate destination and load it up with luxury resorts. Cabo is romance, and high-end romance at that: the Capella Pedregal is a five-star resort that offers private plunge pools for every room, state-of-the-art spa facilities, private beaches, exquisite seafood dining between the stars and the canyon walls, and ample options for ceremony venues and reception areas – all offering one stunning view after another. Newlyweds should head straight over to Playa del Amor, or Lover’s Beach, a partially secluded white-sand beach at the southern tip of Cabo facing the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas.
St. Kitts is a Caribbean country where its history of British and French colonialism is pervasive through the language, architecture and cuisine. Visitors can tour around by chartered catamarans, helicopter and even train with St. Kitts Scenic Railway, catching stunning views off the beaten path. The staff at Ottley’s Plantation Inn specializes in delivering perfect plantation weddings, including arranging for music, champagne and cocktail receptions, the perfect wedding cake, accommodations, island tours, and services of a minister or magistrate, all adjusted to the wishes of the bride and groom, and all from their historic sugar plantation dating back to the early 1700’s. Also located onsite is the Mango Orchard Spa, which overlooks their lush rain forest ravine, and a 65-foot spring-fed swimming pool. For a taste of indigenous St. Kitts, visitors and locals of St. Kitts enjoy the Spice Mill, an architectural and gastronomical homage to the area’s Amerindian people.
Photo by jwright4701/Flickr.
Enjoy a real white wedding in the winter wonderland of Jackson Hole. Travelers who would rather board the hills than surf the waves will feel right at home at Amangani, a low-key ski village with a penchant for animal preservation that still offers top-shelf luxury amenities. The vast wilderness surrounding this Wyoming resort town provides enough activities and gorgeous views all year round, but what good are mountains if you can’t slide down them really, really fast? Special stays happen in Amangani, at the crest of East Gros Ventre Butte casting cascading views over the 7,000-foot peak and the Grand Tetons and Snake River Valley below. Voted as the #1 Ski Hotel in North America by readers of Condé Nast Traveler, Amangani offers a large heated mountainside pool and whirlpool with panoramic views over the peaks and surrounding countryside, huge deluxe suites, a state-of-the-art fitness facility and spa offering a long list of exotic body treatments. An inexpensive but incredible can’t-miss attraction of Jackson Hole in any season is their aerial tram, offering 360 degree views of the Snake River Valley, Grand Teton National Park and Gros Ventre Range up 4,139 feet above the base of Teton Village to the Rendezvous Mountain.
For a low-key wedding in charming New England luxury surrounded by a coastline that could easily be confused for those of the Mediterranean if it weren’t for the lighthouses, Bar Harbor, Maine, is perhaps an underreported wedding destination but a no less picture-perfect one. Full of natural attractions, rugged coasts, navy waters and golden beaches, why not Maine? With their autumns bursting with multicolored leaves from hilltop forests and foliated cliffs; creamy and fresh New England-style seafood and the classic Americana atmosphere, why not a September nuptial on the American mainland? For inexpensive and priceless photos, the 47,000 acres of Acadia National Park provides mountains, ocean shore, carriage roads, woodlands and lakes as a romantic backdrop, along with the possibility of having your wedding shoot crashed by some of the local critters, like the white-tail deer, moose, beaver, foxes, coyotes and others. Gorgeous and luxurious accommodations can be found at Bar Harbor Inn, with two function rooms featuring gorgeous ocean views, a bayview lawn primed for an outdoor ceremony and wedding packages to help simplify that special day.
Gorgeous town squares, the coastal seaport surrounded by vibrantly colored mountain-stacked houses in yellows and reds, unbelievable seafood, dramatic ruins and museums and cathedrals filled with iconic artwork (literally, icons), Mediterranean architecture of stucco walls and tiled roofs, gorgeous villas and grand imposing villas all await along the surreally beautiful Amalfi Coast. So: wedding photos can be checked off that long list. It is the stuff of Fellini films, of his dreamy coastal town squares paved with cobblestone and marked at once by extravagant historic town halls and churches and sleepy cafes: all that’s left to bring is the colorful cast. The Grand Hotel Ambasciatori is truly nothing less than a grand hotel. Hugging the Neapolitan Coast in Sorrento, and overlooking the Gulf of Naples and of Mount Vesuvius, the hotel is situated among acres of floral acres of centuries-old gardens, with winding walkways around the coastline leading to upscale restaurants, stylish bars and all of their gorgeous settings for a ceremony and reception. For movieset-but-better wedding photos, the gardens of Villa Cimbrone is close enough in beauty to overcome heaven itself, named by Gore Vidal as the most beautiful place he had ever seen. It’s not an overstatement: the winding pathways, rose gardens, historic and restored archways and classical statues in this living museum of natural and manicured art set against a vivid sky and the deep blue sea is enough to knock every single beautiful image in this world out of it.