Looking for inspiration? These 10 destination wedding locations are favorites among couples—and for good reason.
The peak of engagement season—that annual rush of proposals between Thanksgiving and New Year’s—is winding down, which means it’s time for couples to start planning the big day. Almost a quarter of them will decide on a destination wedding, so we narrowed down the most sought-after spots (using data from Internet search trends, inside tips from our Traveler editors, and a survey of over 1,000 brides from the wedding network The Knot, to create this list for couples looking to get hitched far from home.
Not only is Mexico relatively easy to get to in the grand scheme of destination weddings, it also has reliably good weather outside of hurricane season, and you won’t have issues bringing in vendors from the U.S. Los Cabos and Cozumel—both known for their beautiful beaches—are popular choices for weddings. But the most desired location in Mexico is Riviera Maya. Stay in a private villa at the Viceroy and host your reception right on the beach, by the pool, or in one of three restaurants. The Grand Velas Riviera Maya, an all-inclusive resort, offers eight different wedding venues, including a chapel in the Mayan jungle that fits up to 143 people.
Yes, there's Paris, it's romantic, we get it. But there's also Vaux-le-Vicomte, a sprawling 17th-century estate an hour outside the city—and in high demand for couples who want their own castle-inspired occasion. While the landmark doesn't offer lodging, the chateau has customizable options including fireworks, horse carriage rides, musicians (in period costume, no less), and a helicopter pad.
Oahu, Maui, and Kauai are all popular spots for destination weddings—it helps that guests cansnorkel and hike in their down time. You can’t go wrong with any of the islands, so start by choosing a resort and work from there. The Four Seasons has three wedding-worthy properties, one of which is on Maui. If you want beachfront views for your ceremony without getting sand in your skirt, stay at the Halekulani, which has a ceremony spot on a lush lawn overlooking the water.
The most popular Caribbean wedding destination, Jamaica has been a hot spot among couples for decades. Exchange vows at sunset at the Jamaica Inn on a staircase overlooking the water; if you can get 100 friends and family to attend—the resort’s maximum capacity—you’ll have the whole property to yourself. The Half Moon, Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay offers five outdoor ceremony locations and the same number of wedding packages for easy planning.
A destination wedding in India might mean a long trek for guests, but experience shows that many will take the once-in-a-lifetime trip; the views and incredible setting will pay off. Consider the Oberoi Udaivilas, in India’s northwestern Rajasthan state. It sits on 50 acres of lakeside property, with lavish domes in gold leaf and white marble across the property. Wedding parties here are in store for an unforgettable reception.
Known for being equal parts friendly and beautiful, this British territory has become one of the most searched destination wedding spots. You’ll have to fly to St. Maarten to get there, and then take a short flight or a ferry ride to the island—making this destination best for smaller parties. The Viceroy Anguilla, a favorite for luxury weddings, has six different event spaces, as well as two simpler packages for couples without guests. The beachfront resort Cap Juluca is another top choice, offering couples four unique packages—or the services of an on-site wedding planner, who can help you build a customized wedding from scratch.
Couples are throwing destination weddings in Europe at twice the rate they were just a few years ago, and Italy is topping their lists. If you’re inviting guests, forget Capri and host your wedding in scenic but easier-to-get-to places like Venice, Portofino, or in the Tuscan countryside near Florence, so guests won’t have to take four modes of transportation to get there. Should you decide to pull a George Clooney and marry in Venice, book the San Clemente Palace, a St. Regis property on its own little island that’s safely guarded from tourist crowds.
Vegas? Yes, Vegas. While Sin City might be better known for quickie weddings, you can bring your family and friends with you and throw an all-out bash. Stay at the Wynn Las Vegas, where you can get married on a terrace overlooking a waterfall, inside a nightclub—seemingly, wherever you choose. If you want to be away from the sound of slot machines, head to the smaller, mellower Four Seasons Hotel, which doesn’t have a casino but does have just about every other luxury. The hotel also specializes in same-sex weddings.
Central and South America have yet to attract much attention from wedding seekers, but Costa Rica is an exception. Adventurous couples love it for its surfing, volcano hiking, and ziplining—activities that their wedding guests will certainly want to test out. Not all areas are easily accessible, so keep that in mind when looking for venues. The Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort is only a 20-minute drive from the airport—but you won’t feel that way once you’re taking in the tropical forest views. Wedding packages, planning services, and customized ceremonies are all available through the hotel.
A dramatic and vibrant landscape, Ireland provides a fresh backdrop for any ceremony. And if one castle doesn't fit all, visit Luttrellstown. Host to David and Victoria Beckham's wedding in 1999, the castle still stands as an emblem of romance and fairytale glamour, just west of Dublin.
Written by: Caitlin Moscatello and Meredith Carey