All the places to say “I do” By Abigail Thorpe
Photo courtesy of Maui Media
Love is in the air this month, and so what better time to start dreaming up the ideal wedding—or should we say vacation? A quarter of all U.S. weddings are now destination weddings, and there’s a reason this trend is on the rise. Whether it’s to escape the cold (or the heat), provide a more central location for far flung family and friends, or simply do something different, destination weddings let a couple spend more on the experience and less on the production.
The majority of destination weddings take place in the U.S., and from tropics to desert, mountains to coast, there are options for the most nature-loving and city-seeking, and all those in between. Here are some top picks for wedding destinations—whatever the time of year you choose to say, “I do.”
Situated on the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean, this little island is a literal paradise. With one of the largest coral reef systems in the world and various nature reserves like the Chankanaab National Park, there is lots of natural beauty to explore and tropical beaches to relax on. For those who need a break from nature, charming and colorful downtown San Miguel is a vacationer’s dream. If you’re into cutting the thought and work out of it, several all-inclusive resorts on the island ensure you don’t have to worry about much of anything—except making your return flight.
When to go: December through February is the best time to visit to miss the high temps and the storms, but beware, this is also high season.
There’s a reason the island is such a popular wedding destination—waterfalls, rainbows, pristine beaches and some of the best surfing around make Maui the ideal spot to escape for a bit. Grab some sun on the world-famous beaches while the more adventurous tackle snorkeling, surfing or golf, and it doesn’t get much better than a fresh seafood wedding dinner. And to top it off? Maui’s pleasant in every season.
When to go: Anytime
Park City, Utah
If your dream wedding includes snow, you can’t find a much more charming place than Park City. With four world-class ski resorts and a cute mining-town-turned-upscale-resort destination, you and your guests don’t have to go far to find everything you need for the dream weekend away. The town is just as cute in summer, when hiking and biking replace winter play. And with Salt Lake City airport just 40 minutes away, getting there is stress-free, even in winter.
When to go: December through April, June through September.
Las Vegas, Nevada
No shocker, the Marriage Capital of the World is also the most popular destination wedding location in the U.S. Dozens of some of the world’s most glamorous hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and theaters within walking distance of each other make this an adult’s dream playground. And if the neon lights and glitzy casinos aren’t your idea of an ideal wedding locale, there are many beautiful (and peaceful) locations within an easy drive of the strip, so you can have the best of both worlds.
When to go: Spring or early December, avoid holiday weekends and summer.
Napa and Sonoma Valley, California
A wedding week filled with some of the best wine and food in the world—who could ask for more? Add in some breathtaking scenic drives, charming vineyards and boutique accommodations, and you won’t need to bring much to make it one romantic wedding. When to go: Summer and October
Florida Keys, Florida
White sand beaches, a vibrant nightlife, diverse shopping and dining and southern charm make the Keys an ideal wedding destination. From Key Largo to Key West, there’s plenty to keep you occupied, whether it’s exploring the various underwater sea life or strolling through the charming city streets with their colorful southern homes.
When to go: December through April to miss the summer heat, but this is also high season. May and June can be nice as well, just skip the spring break crowd.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Situated between the upper and lower peninsulas in Michigan, this national historic landmark is chock full of charm. The island is car free, but bicycles and horse-drawn carriage make for a much more romantic destination. The architecture spans three centuries, giving you plenty of options when it comes to classic Victorian mansions or Colonial revival-style for accommodations.
When to go: May and October are the prettiest months without all of the summer crowds.
Palm Springs, California
If a winter wedding without the coat sounds refreshing, Palm Springs is the destination. The city exudes relaxation with its golf courses, stylish hotels, spas and shopping. Everything seems to move slower, while the sun colors the city’s exquisite mid-century architecture a pale pink. It’s like a refreshing trip to the ‘50s and ‘60s.
When to go: January through April
Newport, Rhode Island
In true New England style, Newport offers a high-class taste of the Atlantic. Huge mansions built by turn-of-the-century tycoons from New York and Boston provide scenic locations for a wedding, while shopping, dining and sailing provide plenty of activity for the out-of-towner. When to visit: Summer or shoulder season. The Newport Jazz Festival in August is a nice attraction but makes for a busy weekend.