You've found the partner of your dreams and gotten engaged. Now it's time to get down to the business of planning a wedding. While you should certainly keep the geographic location of your family and friends in mind, remember that it's your day. So, if you've been bitten by the travel bug, why not consider a destination wedding? Whether you're looking for beaches or castles, domestic or abroad, here are 20 destinations you should consider for your special day.
Italy, as a whole, is one of the dreamiest countries for a wedding. Two of the most scenic spots for nuptials are the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, both of which offer colorful seaside splendor. But you can also opt for a rustic-luxe wine retreat in Tuscany or the extravagant villas of Lake Como (a favorite among celebrities like George and Amal Clooney, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, and John Krasinski and Emily Blunt).
The Dominican Republic's all-inclusive resorts — especially those in Punta Cana — are a perennial favorite of brides and grooms seeking fun in the sun. The big hotels are well-oiled machines when it comes to weddings, making planning a cinch. But if you're looking for a slightly more under-the-radar wedding destination in the Dominican Republic, head to the remote and ruggedly beautiful Samaná Peninsula. It's all about small boutique hotels here, though there are a handful of large all-inclusives around.
Newport, Rhode Island
The Gilded Age mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, are the closest you'll get to an English manor house or French château in the United States. Everyone who was anyone circa 1900 had an estate here, including members of American "royal" families, like the Vanderbilts and Astors. The grand homes are open for tours today — or for weddings, if you're willing to pay up. Under two hours from Boston and 3.5 hours from New York, it's an easily accessible destination for anyone flying into town.
For a fairy-tale wedding in a historic castle surrounded by lush landscapes, Ireland is your best bet. But there's far more to the Emerald Isle than that: You can also wed in an idyllic seaside village, atop an oceanfront cliff, or in a Gothic cathedral. Outside the wedding festivities, there's plenty to keep your guests entertained here, too, like world-class golfing, pub crawls in Dublin, and lots of historical sites.
Where to begin with Hawaii? The paradisiacal islands are picture-perfect wedding destinations, thanks to their white-sand (and black-sand) beaches, lush jungles, and scenic mountains, volcanoes, and cliffs. There's no shortage of luxe hotels to host your celebrations, whether you're looking for something grand or intimate. The best thing about Hawaii is that each island is so distinctive — you can have your wedding on one and honeymoon on another for two entirely different experiences. Plus, there's no passport needed.
Sure, Paris is widely considered to be the most romantic city in the world, but there are plenty of other French destinations worth considering, too. First on our wedding destination list is the Loire Valley, known for its elegant châteaux surrounded by vineyards. Another option is the Cote d'Azur, home to haute seaside towns like St.-Tropez and Cannes, as well as foodie city Nice. There's also Provence, filled with bucolic villages and lavender fields.
No matter what type of wedding you're looking to have, California likely has an option for you. Up north, you can host a rustic-chic fête in the wine regions of Sonoma and Napa, while down south, a glamorous affair at a beachfront luxury hotel awaits. For something a little different, consider heading out to desert destinations like Joshua Tree or Palm Springs — just imagine the fabulous photos.
All-inclusive resorts? Check. Beachfront boutiques? Check. Buzzing metropolises? Check. Mexico has a little something for everyone. For the prettiest beaches, stick to the Riviera Maya: You'll find big beachfront resorts in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, while the boho-style boutiques are a little further south in Tulum. On the Pacific coast of Mexico, resort towns like Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas are known for their dramatic oceanfront landscapes. And right in the middle is vibrant Mexico City, a fantastic urban option for a wedding destination.
Sure, most American couples have destination weddings in either Europe or the Caribbean, but what about Thailand? Yes, the flight is long, but the payoff is worth it. Thailand has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, not to mention impressive wildlife (elephants!) and fascinating cities like Bangkok. Plus, the long-distance journey is one way to help you cut down on that rapidly growing guest list. And you can always have a casual party back home at a later date for family and friends who couldn't make it.
Though many couples get hitched in the summer, there's something magical about a winter destination wedding. Colorado's mountain towns are perfect for those wanting to take stunning photos with the Rockies as a backdrop. And while the destination is ideal for visitors who love skiing (or at least love après-ski), there are also upscale restaurants, luxurious spas, and even world-class art museums to enjoy.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Celebrate your love, Big Easy style. New Orleans offers the right mix of fun and romance thanks to its gorgeous architecture, delicious dining offerings, horse-drawn carriages down cobblestone streets, and just the right air of mystique for your big day.
Have the desert nuptials of your dreams in Arizona. Though the entire state is filled with magical landscapes, planning a wedding near Red Rock State Park will provide the best backdrop for your vows. And there are plenty of resorts — from luxury spa getaways to dude ranches — that would be happy to host your event.
The African nation of Morocco is another fantastic wedding destination for couples seeking beautiful weather all year round. The spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) are particularly perfect for warm days and cool nights. You can also choose between a desert-style wedding among the gorgeous sand dunes or a city-centric event in places like Marrakech.
Sun, sand, and azure waters await in Jamaica. The Caribbean island is already a stellar getaway, but add on the joy of a wedding, and it’s downright divine. It's full of all-inclusive resorts, home to expert party planners ready to piece together the perfect event for you.
The tiny European nation of Portugal is finally getting its time in the travel limelight. Its capital, Lisbon, is as cosmopolitan as it gets, while the northern region of the Douro Valley is widely recognized as one of the top wine regions in the world. For the ultimate fairy-tale wedding, book your nuptials in Sintra, a community located just outside Lisbon and home to several castles that will make you feel like royalty.
If a barefoot beach wedding is on your vision board, it’s time to book a plane ticket to Bali. From its stunning beaches and lush mountains to its rich cultural history and vibrant bohemian flare, it’s a spot that’s charming, laid-back, and perfect for those wanting stress-free day.
Want beach vibes with a little more posh thrown in? Book a wedding venue in the Hamptons. With beaches, vineyards, luxury hotels, and vast estates available for weddings, it’s a place where everyone can find their slice of bliss.
If you want stunning beaches, rolling vineyards, and beautiful mountains, and can travel a bit further, make your way to South Africa to plot the perfect wedding. Bonus: You'll have close access to fantastic safaris, making for a memorable honeymoon getaway.
Another two-for-one wedding and honeymoon destination is the Bahamas. The islands are a quick flight from New York City and offer plenty of sunshine, soft sandy beaches, and gin-clear waters —a beautiful setting for your nuptials. Just make sure to stay at least a few extra days, so you can spend your first moments as newlyweds in paradise.
Getting married in Vegas might be considered a cliché, but it’s one we can get behind and celebrate as a time-honored tradition. Those wanting to get hitched can plan a big affair or elope at any number of drive-in chapels, and hey, if it’s good enough for Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, it’s good enough for us, too.