One of the first and most important decisions you’ll make as an engaged couple is where you’re going to host your big day. While many couples choose to host the occasion in a town that is special to them (like where they grew up, where they met, or where they live now) many others have always dreamed of amazing destination wedding locations. With so many wedding venues around the world to choose from, it can be hard to decide. Here are our picks for the top destination wedding locations both stateside and abroad.
If you’re looking for a natural vibe at your wedding, look no further than the state of wildflower plains and blood-orange sunsets. Arizona’s Southwest landscape offers a unique setting for your “I dos.” For sweeping views of natural beauty, head to the forests of Flagstaff (which offers the best mountain views at Humphreys Peak), or retreat to sunny Tucson for a beautiful cactus-studded desert plain setting. Farther south, the spa mecca of Scottsdale brims with tranquil resorts, or you could exchange vows in spiritual Sedona, where you can walk down the aisle to live Native American flute music. TIP: We love this Arizona wedding venue.
Western Montana is ideal for those seeking refuge from a big city, and its ranch landscapes will have you feeling ultra Western-chic. The Ranch at Rock Creek is a perfect choice for an all-inclusive wedding weekend in Gold Country. This luxe resort offers glamorous cabins, a rustic barn cottage and standard luxury rooms for guests to choose from. As an added bonus, Montana is a year-round wedding destination, depending on what you’re looking for. Spring, summer and fall are great for outdoor activities like hiking and horseback riding, while the winter months are beautiful and ideal for cozying up by the fire or hitting the slopes.
Urban, beachy, rustic, natural, country, romantic, classic – it really doesn’t matter what theme you’re going for with your wedding, somewhere in Cali has you covered. Explore the unrivaled variety of wedding venues, including romantic Napa Valley vineyards, urban/artsy districts in San Francisco, Orange County beaches, luxurious Lake Tahoe cabins, Santa Barbara ranches and rustic Big Sur lodges, not to mention a plethora of national parks, redwood groves and miles of coastline. Check out our favorite California wedding venues here.
If you’re going for a tropical beach wedding, you simply cannot beat Hawaii on the stateside. Many consider Maui as the most romantic Hawaiian island because it’s filled with waterfalls, rainbows and beaches that are considered among the best in the world. Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle” for its relatively untouched tropical landscape, and is perfect for those looking for a more secluded spot to tie the knot. The liveliest of the Hawaiian islands, Oahu is home to some of the state’s most popular cities including Honolulu and Waikiki, which provide entertainment, shopping, dining and great nightlife options. While it’s more crowded than the other islands, Oahu is the most convenient island for a destination wedding because it has the biggest airport and the most frequent direct flights from the mainland. TIP: If you’re planning a more intimate wedding in Hawaii, consider renting a house for your wedding day that your family and friends can stay in!
Surrounded by rocky coastlines, dark-blue waters and golden-sand beaches, Maine’s breathtaking waterfront might easily be mistaken for the Mediterranean were it not for its iconic lighthouses (and more convenient locale). Like Europe’s southern coast, Bar Harbor is the epitome of seaside chic with an added American flair–think fresh lobster, clambakes and blueberry pie. Or you could say your vows in Portland, a city that stands as a true definition of a classic New England city. Home to Maine’s oldest lighthouse (Portland Headlight, commissioned by George Washington in 1791), this charming old harbor town is filled with historic architecture, many incredible restaurants, unique boutiques, shops and art galleries. Looking for the perfect Maine wedding venue? We love Migis Lodge.
If the word “fairytale” is included in your definition of a dream wedding, the picturesque locations of Ireland will not disappoint. Rolling emerald hills, awe-inspiring oceanside cliffs, quaint seaside villages, lush gardens, grand castles, and country manors are among the many beautiful backdrops you can choose from in this richly romantic country. The Ashford Castle is a popular choice for those seeking a luxurious fairytale wedding, as it’s one of the most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland and the entire estate comprises over 350 acres of peaceful green land rich in history and charmed with natural beauty. Or head to Dublin for an urban landscape with historic appeal – plus all the Irish beer you and your guests can drink.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z were on to something when they started vacationing here years ago, as it’s recently become one of the most romantic getaways out there. The scent of pine trees lingers in the mountainous beaches of Vis, where the crystal clear water astounds most of its visitors. Other towns, like Rovinj, offer wedding venues atop beautiful rocky cliffs with picture perfect sunsets. Or head to Dubrovnik, a city that is becoming an increasingly popular wedding destination due to its famous Old Town that’s made up of stunning deep-orange 16th-century buildings contrasted by rich blue surrounding waters. Choose your date some time between June-September to experience the country when it’s less crowded and temperatures are mild. Read our tips for a Croatia honeymoon when you’re done!
Whether you choose the beaches of Capri, the rustic rolling hills of Tuscany, the classic romance of Rome, or the tucked away seclusion of well kept secrets like San Pellegrino Terme, you simply cannot go wrong with a destination wedding in Italy. For a rustic, romantic affair, the wine estates and castles of central Tuscany can’t be beat. In Rome, old-world culture mixes with a modern, energetic metropolis and historic attractions for a truly urban-historic setting with tons of attractions for your guests to explore between wedding events. No matter where you wed in Italy, you’ll also have access to some amazing wine and catering options. Plan in the Spring for less tourists, mild temperatures, and the least chance of rainfall. Read our expert tips for planning a destination wedding in Italy, or bring a bit of Italy stateside with 39 Ideas for a Tuscany Wedding Theme.
Water lovers will appreciate the miles of golden beaches, while landlubbers can admire the country’s pristine forests – both of which provide a beautiful backdrop to your wedding. There isn’t a single location we know of that doesn’t offer natural beauty in some form, but our picks for special spots to get hitched include Great Barrier Island, where stunning tropical landscape, frequent wildlife sightings and secluded hot springs make it a beautiful and exciting place for a wedding celebration. The snowcapped Southern Alps offer stunning woodland views and the many offshore islands, most notably Waiheke Island, are known for their romantic vineyards and olive groves.
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one tropical paradise, and our pick for a far-flung beach destination is the 300 island chain in the South Pacific that make up Fiji. Known for its picture perfect beaches, friendly people, lush foliage and rich sea life, Fiji is the ideal destination for couples seeking castaway tranquility, exotic culture and unspoiled beaches. Between wedding events, guests can explore a World War II aircraft, trek the Sigatoka sand dunes, scale the vertical face of Joske’s Thumb, hike the Mount Korobaba Range, tee off on palm-studded golf courses by the sea or go white-water rafting down the Wainikoroiluva River.
For even more fun travel ideas, read these tips on where to go on your honeymoon from our favorite travel bloggers.