I Got Married in an Overwater Wedding Chapel in the Maldives — Here's What It Was Like

Say "I do" while tropical fish, sting rays, and reef tip sharks glide beneath a glass-bottomed aisle.

Couple relaxing during their elopement in the Maldives

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As a travel writer, I had always pictured my partner and I traveling somewhere beautiful with our nearest and dearest for a destination wedding. When COVID made that tricky and stressful, we decided to do a legal ceremony in Connecticut with just our families — but still craved the excitement and luxury of a destination wedding experience. We just had to figure out where it might be.   

Growing up, I had a photo of the Maldives as the desktop wallpaper on my middle school computer. The country — an archipelago made up of 26 atolls in the southern Indian Ocean — has been my personal definition of paradise ever since. Thanks to my career, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Maldives a handful of times, and continue to fall more deeply in love with it on each trip. When my then-fiancé and I discovered that the Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru had an overwater wedding chapel, we knew it was exactly the unique, intimate, and unforgettable venue we’d been searching for.

Aerial of overwater wedding chapel in the Maldives

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From being whisked to the chapel by speed boat to walking down a glass-bottomed aisle, every element of our wedding experience highlighted the brilliant blue vistas of the Maldives. The chapel itself sits in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere reserve teeming with marine life; while exchanging vows, my new husband and I watched tropical fish, sting rays, and reef tip sharks glide beneath our feet. 

Marriage ceremony during elopement in the Maldives

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Bride and groom at elopement in the Maldives

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Bride and jewelry at an elopement in the Maldives

Courtesy of Digital Studio

We also appreciated how seriously Landaa Giraavaru takes their ocean conservation efforts. All guests who stay at the property have the opportunity to sponsor a coral frame through their Reefscapers program, which helps boost existing reef habitats and generate new ones. We sponsored a coral frame to celebrate our nuptials and are already looking forward to returning to the property in the future to see how it's grown. 

The adventure goes beyond just the ceremony itself. For a wedding and honeymoon wrapped in one, plan to stay at least a week in the Maldives and spend half your time at Kuda Huraa — a 25-minute speedboat ride from Malé airport and a short seaplane ride from Landaa Giraavaru. Ease into married life with a visit to the soul-soothing spa at Kuda Huraa, located on its own private island and only accessible by traditional dhoni boat. All spa treatments take place inside huts that face the endless sea and sky, making it the perfect environment to clear your mind pre-wedding or sink into a honeymoon retreat. For something extra unique, try the Kuda Huraa Healing Waters treatment, where cushions filled with warm water will help lull you to sleep as you enjoy a massage. 

Sunset beach dinner, scenes from an elopement in the Maldives

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Speaking of peace of mind, all spa treatments at Landaa Giraaavru are designed around the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda, which means the hotel's ayurvedic doctor is on hand to diagnose your dosha, give lifestyle advice, or help heal ailments. The day before our ceremony we had the chance to experience a couples’ floral bath, which included soaking in warm water infused with frangipani flowers sourced from the spa’s garden. At our ceremony, I could still smell the frangipani on my skin. 

Finally — and to really take your celebration to the next level — allow Landaa Giraaavru to arrange a romantic private dinner on the sugar-white sands of their Blu beach club. I’ll never forget watching my husband cut into a slice of our dream wedding cake on the beach as the sun set. The lanterns on our table flickered in the ocean breeze as little hermit crabs scurried into the waves lapping at our feet. It felt like the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of our next great adventure.

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