Perhaps you find yourself in a sprawling oasis teeming with terraced tea plantations and rolling rice fields. To your partner, your families and over a hundred species of birds, you read your vows. Or, rather, you walk down the weathered stone aisle of an enchanting historic castle—your guests await both your first kiss and dinner fresh from the ground’s garden.
Of course, flying your family and friends across the world for your destination wedding takes a toll on the environment. After all, on average, one air mile produces 53.3 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to BlueSkyModel, an open-source estimate of carbon dioxide emissions. But as an eco-conscious couple, you can rest assured that the dollars you spend on your wedding venue are contributing to social and environmental causes.
These 11 wedding venues prioritize the local people and planet.
Forgo the after-wedding brunch for an ecological itinerary instead. At Puntacana Resort & Club, you’ll send the children out on an eco-expedition from stand-up paddle boards or with the Puntacana Ecological Foundation for a sustainability tour on anything from beekeeping to coral restoration. Meanwhile, your parents and in-laws will join you for a tasting with honey harvested right on the property—if you can get your dad off the worm-composted, paspalum-grass golf course. And, if some of your wedding party sticks around in their Oscar de la Renta-designed villas another day, you can even go diving. Explore the coral garden that gives Caribbean coral fragments a home on which to regenerate. Puntacana the only place in the world where you can get a Coral Reef First Aid Distinctive Specialty to provide hands-on help.
Burrowed along the border of Rocky Mountain National Park in Allenspark, Colorado, the 13-acre Wild Basin Lodge boasts views of Mount Copeland, Mount Meeker and the St. Vrain River. To help preserve your unspoiled surroundings, you can opt for the lodge’s zero-waste wedding package, which includes a carpool service that’ll shuttle your guests and a donation of any leftover food to the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary. In support of the local area, you might also consider upgrading to offer your guests Colorado’s acclaimed craft-industries beer, wine and liquor through the lodge’s partnered breweries and distilleries. To help them wash down their fresh line-caught seafood dinner, after all.
Medieval towns and natural hot springs dot the rolling hills of Valdorcia, Italy, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. And in this Tuscan sanctuary sits Il Rigo, a home and organic farm, within just a few miles of historic towns like Montalcino, Pienza and Rocca d’Orcia. Il Rigo hosts just a few “slow-weddings” per year to ensure that each one is special. You and your intimate party (capped at 50 people) will enjoy locally grown vegetables and traditional produces, sitting around the tables adorned with organic flowers cut from the garden.
Tie the knot before the cascading Hunas Falls in a tranquil mountain retreat just outside of Sri Lanka’s hill capital, Kandy. The Hunas Falls is nestled amidst the lush biodiverse forests, degraded woodlands and endless expanses of spice cultivations that make up Elkaduwa in the Hunnasgiriya Hills. Home to 133 species of birds, the Hunas Falls is devoted to protecting its surrounding environment—that’s why it’s initiated water and energy preservation efforts, a tree-planting program and a waste management plan. The Hunas Falls also involves the community, purchasing 100-percent locally produced food, hiring local, carrying out cleaning campaigns with villagers and hosting regular training programs and seminars on environmental conservation.
Say “I do” surrounded by your family, friends and some 10 million species of animals, plants and insects in the Peruvian Amazon. Your venue: Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica, a property of the Inkaterra organization, an ecotourism-funded pioneer in sustainable travel that promotes scientific research for the conservation of ecosystems and natural resources. The organization offers training courses from an Andean bear conservation class to a bio garden development workshop—and the sustainability policy ensures that its tourism is carbon neutral. The Reserva Amazónica, specifically, is tucked in the Southern Peruvian corner of the rainforest, near the Bolivian and Brazilian borders, in the remote area of Puerto Maldanado. But rest assured that your wedding guests won’t have to do any jungle trekking to make it there. The still-accessible property is just a 25-minute flight from Cusco.
Sprawling views over the garden grounds make this fairytale wedding venue ever more enchanting. The historic Bio-Schlosshotel Wartegg castle sits pretty in Switzerland’s Lake Constance region, an oasis for sailors, windsurfers and those in search of some sun-swathed respite of everyday life. For others, like you, it’s a wedding destination of which dreams are made. Your party will enjoy certified organic products and vegetables grown from the garden. And the castle promotes energy efficiency with all-green electricity, a hydroelectric power plant and the use of e-bikes to navigate the grounds. It also keeps and protects an endangered breed of sheep, the Bündner Oberländer.
Invite your family and friends to Austria’s Lake Weissensee, the highest lake for bathing in the Alps. You’ll keep warm with Genießerhotel Die Forelle’s woodchip heating from its own private forest—and grandma’s homemade bread. The family running the hotel will feed your own family fresh food from their organic farm and herb garden. And you can enjoy it all with unparalleled views of the Weissensee Nature Park. You may even consider planning your wedding on one of the hotel’s “unplugged” evenings, when dinner is cooked without electricity but, rather, on a wood stove.
At the foot of Jbel Toubkal in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains is Kasbah du Toubkal—a staple to the surrounding community and, also, your wedding venue. Mules will carry your guests’ luggage to the rooms you’d secured them—and, in doing so, secured finances for local projects. Funded by a five percent accommodation levy, the venue’s Imlil Village Association supports community ventures such as a school for children in the outlying valley, a community hammam, a garbage disposal system and the region’s first ambulance and driver. Kasbah du Toubkal knows the community needs well—after all, 95 percent of its staff are from nearby villages, many of whom are women who receive training to continue to grow and work outside of the home.
The ecological One & Only Wolgan Valley resort is planted in a valley carved by time. On its own 7,000-acre wildlife preserve in Australia’s Greater Blue Mountains, the venue is just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney. It’s instituted a waste management system, which includes domestic water recycling, rainwater collection, the use of recycled building materials, heat exchange technology and solar panels, so you can rest assured that your wedding party won’t do any damage to the setting. And, of course, your guests will enjoy a locally sourced meal from growers within 100 miles.
On a quiet, tree-lined street in the Kiyovu neighborhood of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, is the Retreat by Heaven. It’s a peaceful haven perfect for an intimate East African nuptial. It’s also Kigali’s first eco-friendly luxury boutique hotel with 11 solar-powered luxury suites and king rooms, each of which feature locally crafted furniture from a Tanzanian sustainable teak farm. Your guests will be spoiled and spoiled for choice when it comes to meals, as well. The hotel’s two onsite restaurants, Fusion and Heaven, offer Rwandan- and internationally-inspired meals made with organic ingredients sourced from local farmers and an onsite vegetable garden. And your flower girl will walk down the aisle toting a traditional woven basket…
See more: 8 Ways to Host an Eco-Friendly Wedding
Perhaps you’re picturing an intimate ceremony along the Luangwa River—it’s just your partner and you, and your families… and majestic elephants, the symbol of eternity, roaming along the beautiful banks in the distance. Or perhaps you want to invite the whole extended family to the gorgeous grounds of Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park. The staff at the Bushcamp Company will help you source some Zambian dancers. Your guests will sleep at one of the chalets, peppered with ebony, mahogany and fig trees from the lodge’s tree-planting program. Or they’ll sleep under the stars in one of Bushcamp Company’s six luxury campsites, replete with solar-powered tents. You’ll say “I do,” and your partner will whisk you away on a safari to explore the big game.