9 Adventurous Ways to Say 'I Do' That Make Beach Weddings Look Boring
Most wedding ceremonies are a bride and groom’s fairy tale realized. Nuptials take place in ballrooms equipped with ornate china and sweeping staircases or even beachside, where the sway of palms and the sound of the ocean’s tide create the ideal backdrop for a wedding in paradise.
But for the adventurous at heart, typical wedding notions may seem subpar.
If you enjoy summiting mountains, heli-skiing, or rappelling into pristine caves, here are nine exhilarating ways to say “I do.”
In a Hot Air Balloon in Montana
For the ultimate wedding within a luxury wilderness retreat, opt for a ceremony at The Resort at Paws Up, where you can choose to stay in a glamping tent or a luxury ranch home, set within 37,000 acres of Montana’s most brilliant scenery.
While the retreat hosts myriad facilities for a countryside wedding on the ground, the adventurous can head for the clouds. During a wintertime wedding, get hitched in a hot air balloon while soaring over Glacier National Park. You’ll have a front-row-seat to the park’s snow-capped mountains, some of the most undiscovered and untouched peaks in America, all while toasting champagne mimosas as a newly married couple.
In a Submarine in the Maldives
If you’ve always dreamed of a beach wedding but you’re in need of a more unique way to say I do, then perhaps a celebration in the Maldives is just the ceremony for you.
During a stay at Velaa Private Island Maldives, Absolute Travel can arrange an underwater wedding with a twist. As turquoise waters lap the coast, take a joyride beneath the waves in your very own tropical getaway car: a private submarine. Meet your family and friends on a nearby private island to enjoy a night of revelry. As one of the only properties in the Maldives permitted to use fireworks, cap off the ceremony with a shower of lights in the moonlit sky.
In a Grotto in Southern Italy
When dreaming of an Italian wedding, your mind may drift to the Tuscan countryside or the opulent cathedrals of Milan, but for the truly adventurous, fly south to Puglia, where Southern Visions can arrange a wedding within Southern Italy’s finest grotto.
Rappel over 200 feet to Grotte Bianca: The white cave is set within an ethereal alabaster cathedral, and as you drift to the cave’s bottom to meet your wedding party, the internal workings of Italy’s largest cave complex will be illuminated by candlelight. Opt to host your reception within the caves or choose a classic sendoff by vintage car or horse-drawn carriage, where your next stop is a honeymoon retreat at a countryside Pugliese estate.
On a Glacier in Iceland
Calving glaciers, volcanic springs, and surging waterfalls are the backdrop to an action-packed wedding in Iceland, the land of fire and ice. With the expertise of Pink Iceland, leave your heels and loafers at home: Using crampons and ice axes, glacier trek through shallow crevasses atop Sólheimajökull outlet glacier in southern Iceland, a rapidly receding glacier set atop Katla, one of the country's most active volcanoes.
After you tie the knot, celebrate your joyous day with a unique toast. Dip your champagne flute straight into the glacier, toasting your nuptials with glacier water from a formation more than a thousand years old.
In a Shrine in Japan
If you adore history and dream of a wedding with rich tradition, spirituality, and blossoming flowers, the culturally adventurous can take your ceremony one step further in Japan, where Hotel Granvia Kyoto can plan an idyllic wedding within Kamigamo Shrine, a revered UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest Shinto shrine in the ancient city.
Set on the island of Honshu and full of myriad gardens, palaces, and temples, Kyoto's history goes back thousands of years, and a wedding at Kamigamo Shrine allows couples to embrace the spiritual reverence of Kyoto while including traditional performances and culinary experiences of the region, including a sacred sake barrel top breaking, perfect for a celebratory post-wedding reception.
Underwater in Bora Bora
While scuba diving and snorkeling are adventurous in their own right, Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora in French Polynesia goes above and beyond a typical beach wedding by recreating a ballroom scene underwater, allowing aquatic adventure lovers the ceremony of their dreams.
With two chairs draped in an ornate design of seaweed and flowers, a bride and groom can don scuba gear before resting in their underwater thrones as your very-own scuba-clad marriage officiant awaits to make the nautical marriage official. After a night of celebration, retreat to your private-island bungalow and private plunge pool perched above Bora Bora’s most idyllic lagoon for the perfect view of towering Mount Otemanu in the distance.
On a Camel in Mongolia
If you enjoy riding horses but a stateside ranch wedding sounds underwhelming, opt for a camelback ceremony in Mongolia with Elevate Destinations, where you can become immersed in the culture of southern Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, Asia’s most remote hinterland, set between Siberia’s wilderness to the north and the Tibetan Plateau to the south.
Trade a horseback ride for a jaunt atop a Bactrian camel, native only to the steppes of Central Asia. Enjoy the dramatic scenery of Mongolia’s undulating desert dunes before savoring the cultural wedding traditions of the Gobi Desert. To officially tie the knot, the bride and groom must leap over a burning fire to infuse their love with flames, passion, and light.
While Receiving a Shaman’s Blessing
For nature lovers and the spiritually curious, a traditional wedding ceremony may seem like an unimpressive way to mark the start of your life’s journey together. At Casa Palopó in the Guatemalan Highlands, immerse yourself in views of three volcanoes set near Lake Atitlan during a stay at the former mansion turned luxury hotel.
Here, a Mayan shaman can both officiate your ceremony and bless you with a traditional shamanic ritual, a performance done near open flames and symbolic of a spiritual transfer of well-wishes for your life together. After you’re blessed with life-long happiness from the spirits, enjoy an intimate, candlelit reception party, where you and up to 100 guests can enjoy the property’s infinity pool and numerous terraces.
While Soaring Above Mountains in New Zealand
For alpine and aviation aficionados, a heli-wedding in New Zealand’s South Island is the height of adventure. During a ceremony with Heli Weddings, exchange your vows surrounded by stunning views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, stopping at your mountaintop of choice where you would like your ceremony to take place.
No matter your rocky venue, make two stops during your trip, one of which reveals sweeping views of the Remarkables, a moonlike mountain range with steep drop offs and stunning vistas. In the evening, retreat to The Penthouse atop the lakefront Eichardt's Private Hotel in Queenstown to enjoy butler service on your private terrace, where you can drift to sleep with views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables range ahead.