Hawaii is the most most sought-after destination wedding spot on Yahoo. (Photo: Thinkstock)
It’s summer, and that means it’s wedding season. As people spend increasingly more money on that one day, many couples are turning to far-flung locations to create a unique experience. And, in many cases, a destination wedding can even get you more bang for your buck. If you’ve dreamed of tying the knot in a unique spot, check out some of these most-searched wedding destinations on Yahoo:
A wedding in Hawaii can be a simple hotel beach wedding on Oahu or a rainforest tropical locale on Maui. Just outside Waikiki, which is easy to get to and the most crowded beach on the islands, is Diamond Head. On the opposite side of the island are large pristine beaches at Kewala Bay and Waimanalo Beach. Turtle Bay Resort is the major hotel on the north shore of Oahu. While Kauai and Maui are the most popular of the less-populated islands, you can create a more remote experience on Lanai, Molokai, or the Big Island. Use My Hawaii Wedding or Weddings of Hawaii to customize your experience or create original packages with everything from lava rocks to whale-spotting.
(Courtesy: Weddings in the Bahamas)
If you want a picture-perfect beach wedding on a Caribbean island that’s easy to get to, then the Bahamas are the perfect setting. Made up of more than 700 islands and islets, which extend from southeast of Florida to the eastern tip of Cuba, the Bahamas has enough white sand and turquoise beaches for more weddings than you’ll have in your lifetimes. The Exumas, an area of over 300 islands or cays known for its clear blue water, and The Abacos, the island chain in the northern Bahamas, are off-the-beaten-path, picturesque wedding locations. Grand Bahama Island, Nassau, and Paradise Island are more common and easier destinations to reach. Hire a company like Weddings in the Bahamas to find low-cost and exotic wedding packages for your special tropical ceremony. Most hotels and resorts also offer wedding packages, including The Atlantis and Pelican Bay Hotel. Sandals even has an all-inclusive wedding plan; let your wedding party enjoy all they can drink while toasting the newlyweds.
(Photo: Andy Marcus for Fred Marcus Photography - Courtesy of Viceroy Anguilla)
The British territory of Anguilla makes up just 35 square miles of small islands in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. The actual main island of Anguilla is only 16 miles long. If you’re looking for a secluded island wedding (and a tax haven), then this is the spot for you. Along with the classic barefoot beach weddings, couples in Anguilla also enjoy the historic churches, tropical gardens, and seaside villas. Local planners, like Blue Sea Anguilla Weddings, provide packages for visitors looking to customize their experience. Viceroy Anguilla is the largest resort and possibly the most popular wedding spot on the island. It offers poolside weddings, beach weddings, and reception spots overlooking Barnes and Meads Bays.
(Courtesy: Playa Azul, Cozumel)
On the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Cozumel sits off the Yucatan Peninsula and is a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling – and for destination weddings. The island also has the only pearl farm in the Caribbean and two dolphin sanctuaries. Though it has plenty to offer, Cozumel was voted “The Best Value for Your Dollar” by Fortune Magazine. You can even legally be married in Cozumel during a one-day stop on your Caribbean cruise – as long as you plan in advance. Pick a large resort, like Secrets, for your beach wedding or a smaller boutique hotel, like Playa Azul. Let the natural landscape be your backdrop. Local wedding planners, like Cozumel Wedding Planner, also have arrangements with villas and special locations.
Cayman Islands. (Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton)
The Cayman Islands’ wedding motto is: barefoot elegance. Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac have large wedding venues, plenty of vendors, and luxurious resorts. Or, for something a little simpler, just head to the beach. The unity sand ceremony is a popular Cayman Island tradition to add to your wedding vows. Both the bride and groom pour their containers of sand into a vase, letting the colors blend together into one – also creating a lovely keepsake to take home. But, avoid hurricane season from May to November. The Ritz-Carlton is a popular wedding spot, sitting right on the famous Seven Mile Beach. Along with its own pastry chef and floral designers, the Ritz also lets wedding guests set up their reception on the expansive Great Lawn. Also on Seven Mile Beach are the Grand Cayman Beach Suites (formerly the Hyatt). For something more historic, try the Great House at Pedro St. James. For a casual ceremony and some of the best drinks on the islands, head to Rum Point.
Florida Keys (Photo: Thinkstock)
6. Florida Keys
A string of islands stretching from the southeastern edge of Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys are a laid-back and idyllic spot for warm weddings. Key West is the largest city on its own 4.2-square-mile island, where the Chapel by the Sea focuses on stress-free weddings – with sailing. In addition to all the amenities of professional wedding planners and packages right in Florida, there are also remote, smaller islands accessible only by boat. Take photos at historic Civil War forts or beneath the old Seven Mile Bridge. Hawks Cay and Little Palm Island offer luxurious, high-end wedding packages on private cays. Don’t have just your ceremony on a secluded water’s edge; have your whole reception there too.
(Courtesy: Graceland Chapel)
7. Las Vegas
Vegas may be known as the place for the quickie wedding, but it can also be a fun-filled destination for the couple and their family and friends. Over 90,000 people get married each year in Vegas and at least most of them have a good time doing it. Any of the hotels on the Strip – Palazzo, Bellagio, Excaliber, Mandlay Bay – have wedding planners and wedding plans that range from the supremely extravagant to the extravagantly tacky. A wedding in Vegas can be as classy as you want it to be. Or, do something a little more uniquely Vegas and visit the Graceland Chapel, where Elvis can sing before, after, or even during your wedding. The King may be a Vegas wedding icon now, but he originated there. The famous landmark has seen its share of celebrities and is a hotspot for couples in love. It’s also, conveniently, just four blocks from the county marriage license bureau.
Outer Banks (Photo: Terry and Sarah Photography)
8. Outer Banks
Outer Banks weddings are not your typical beach weddings. This string of narrow islands off North Carolina is known for its natural windswept beauty and unique landscape. The northern beaches, with Kitty Hawk and Nags Head, are more well-known, but all the beaches are wild and clean. Have your ceremony on a pier, under the historic lighthouse, or among the dunes. Use a classic spot like Sanderling Resort or Tranquil House for a straightforward OBX wedding. Check with the Outer Banks Wedding Association for tips on vendors, locations, and inspiration. The Outer Banks are such a popular wedding destination that the association even hosts an annual wedding weekend and expo.
Los Cabos (Photo: Thinkstock)
9. Los Cabos
A short flight south of California, Los Cabos (also known as Cabo) is a popular spot for destination weddings because of its logistical ease and stunning backdrops. While many couples choose to rent out local villas, Cabo is particularly well known for its all-inclusive weddings. Dreams and Riu Palace both have beachfront ceremonies and plenty of drinks flowing all night for the party. The wealth of high-end resorts makes the choices nearly limitless. The Hilton does full wedding packages, including activities for your guests. For a more personal touch, hire a local event manager. Creative Destination Event Company specializes in Cabo wedding planning at private locations, doing everything from helping you find the perfect villa to designing an elegant décor that you’ll be happy you flew to Mexico for.
(Photo: Toh Gouttenoire - Courtesy of Our Costa Rica Wedding)
10. Costa Rica
Yes, there are white sandy beaches in Costa Rica. But a destination wedding in this tropical Central American country is about more than just a waterfront ceremony. Go whitewater rafting or ziplining in the morning, and have your wedding at the base of a volcano in the afternoon. Monkeys, dolphins, or iguanas may even make an appearance during your big event. Event organizers like Our Costa Rica Wedding and Pura Vida Weddings can help with event details from afar – if deciding between rainforest and beach is too difficult. Or, opt for a wedding package from a local hotel, like The Resort Flamingo Beach or The Springs Resort and Spa. The Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort provides a unique setting among the rainforest hot springs at the base of the Arenal Volcano.