Destination weddings promise a picture-book beginning to a marriage: vows exchanged on a beach or in a citrus grove, in front of a castle or on top of a mountain. Today roughly a quarter of couples plan to marry at destination weddings. Travel + Leisure sends its writers and editors out to find the most spectacular locations and most convenient solutions.
Couples turn to destination, rather than local, weddings for a number of reasons, some aspirational, others practical. For some couples, their destination wedding fulfills a lifelong dream. Others are faced with family and friends who already live far away, or wedding costs that are more expensive at home than elsewhere. (This is especially true of cities like New York, where the average wedding costs around $70,000.) Many destination wedding locations offer an onsite wedding planner included in the cost, so take advantage of this resource.
With so many ideal wedding locations located in the United States, it’s a wonder any couple chooses to travel outside the country. Think New Orleans, Louisiana; Bar Harbor, Maine; Tuscan, Arizona; Napa Valley, California; Aspen, Colorado; Key West, Florida. And of course no list would be complete with Las Vegas, Nevada. Stateside destination wedding locations offer more than enough variety in climate and culture to satisfy any couple looking for wedding inspiration.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean and Mexico offer ever-popular wedding locations that are beautiful year-round yet still relatively close to home. Couples willing to travel a bit farther often end up in Europe, planning weddings in Italy (Tuscany, Rome, the Amalfi Coast are all popular destinations), France, and Ireland. Truly far-flung destinations could include the beaches of Thailand or the shores of Tahiti, New Zealand’s fantasy novel landscapes or Australia’s dramatic Gold Coast. When planning, choose accessible locations for your guests (both physical and financial) and be mindful to give everyone ample time to make travel preparations. Consider renting out an entire property for a more intimate, and potentially cheaper, wedding venue.
Travel + Leisure can help you navigate the special stressors of destination weddings while amplifying their unique charms. Check in often for the most up-to-date news (including visa and legal requirements), the latest inspirations, and ever-helpful guides.