While many couples choose to stay close to home for their wedding, go back to the city where they first met to say "I do," or celebrate their love in their hometown where their families still love, more and more couples are choosing to host destination weddings. Since most brides and grooms these days grow up, meet, and live in various cities across the United States (and even the world), even a wedding close to where they currently live can end up being a destination wedding for most guests – which is why many couples choose to plan their celebrations in true destination wedding locations.
To inspire your destination wedding, we've gathered 10 wedding destination locations to consider, below – all inspired by real weddings! From warm-weather destinations for weddings, to destination wedding locations abroad, to chic snowy celebrations at wedding venues known for skiing and snowboarding, click the links below these wedding photos to learn more about the real weddings featured in this post. Read on for even more ideas and tips on how to host the best destination wedding.
Upon getting engaged, this couple traversed the California coast from Los Angeles to Napa touring several wedding venues, but nothing felt right. Then it dawned on them as they were wedding planning: Rome. “Molly and I share a common love of Rome,” explains Patrick, who had been to the city several times to visit family friends. It’s also the place where Molly, a Latin and classical studies enthusiast, spent a summer abroad. “We wanted to give our closest friends and family the opportunity to get to know the city we love so much,” explains the bride. Photos by Amy & Stuart Photography; Registry: Gearys; From Real Wedding: Classic Summer Wedding in Rome, Italy with Rustic Elements
Just four months after their engagement, this couple began wedding planning and decided to get married in a destination wedding in Hawaii. The couple found that the time spent on the island in the Pacific Ocean with loved ones for their destination wedding was priceless. “My dad and step-mom flew out from Illinois, and my brother flew out from Oklahoma to Hawaii,” marvels Jeremy. “It was the best vacation they ever had.” Laura adds of the opportunity to have a laid-back destination wedding experience with loved ones: “I felt really lucky to have such an amazing group of friends and family there with me and my new husband. I would do it all again exactly the same.” Photos by Steve Steinhardt; Bridal Salon: The White Dress; Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events, Inc.; From Real Wedding: A Tropical, Romantic Destination Wedding in Hawaii
After this couple got engaged on a trip to Playa Herradura, Costa Rica, they visited a resort that drew a powerful response from both of them. “When I was at Villa Caletas, I felt as though I was at one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Mike says. “We were also so impressed with the country that we really wanted to share it with our family and friends,” Leslie adds. The couple booked a wedding at the resort for the following Fourth of July, and then enlisted a consultant to help with the wedding planning. “Because it was a destination wedding, Mike and I were rather hands-off about the minutia,” admits Leslie. “We gave our consultant an idea of what we wanted and she ran with it.” Photos by lunaphoto; From Real Wedding: Tangerine-Hued Summer Destination Wedding in Costa Rica
When this small-town Minnesota girl moved to Mexico City, she had no idea she would meet her future husband, a Mexico City native living in San Diego, at her roommates’ wedding overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They immediately hit it off, and when the weekend festivities were over, their international romance began. Following a sweet proposal while vacationing in Panama City, they began planning their destination wedding. “We knew we wanted to have our wedding in Mexico,” says Illana of their big day. “We wanted it to be a fun getaway for everybody.” In seven months, the “Mexican-American duo” orchestrated the event with the help of two wedding consultants – choosing one Mexican and one American, like themselves – “and got the absolute best of both worlds!” declares the bride. Photo by Paul Barnett Photographer; From Real Wedding: Oceanfront Ceremony + Sunset Reception in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
When Elizabeth and Michael began discussing wedding venues and locations, they decided a destination wedding was inevitable. “Michael is from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I am from Houston, Texas, so either way it would have been a destination wedding for one of us,” says the bride. Having always desired a small destination wedding on the beach, the couple invited 75 loved ones to celebrate their destination wedding weekend in paradise at a beautiful venue in Turks and Caicos. "I will never forget having our friends and family together to celebrate the start of our new life together," shares the groom. Photo by The Day by Ira Lippke; Planning & Design by Mindy Weiss Party Consultants; Invitations & Calligraphy by Lehr and Black; From Real Wedding: A Beautiful Destination Beach Wedding in Turks & Caicos
This couple, who first met in Miami and reside in Laguna Beach, California, surprised even themselves with their selection of wedding venues: a legendary five-star ski resort nestled in the mountains of Deer Valley, Utah. “I’m originally from Jamaica and lived in Miami before meeting Jennifer,” says Hanz, “so a wedding in a snowstorm was not remotely on my list of wedding destinations.” However, the mountain hotel provided the storybook setting and cozy feeling the couple desired on their big day. “We wanted to be somewhere remote where we could enjoy time away with family and close friends,” relays the bride. Photo by Handeland Tesoro Photography; From Real Wedding: Snowy Outdoor Winter Ceremony & Cozy Lodge Reception
This couple got married in a location they felt would bring their families together. The bride has been vacationing with her family in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for as long as she can remember. So it seemed only fitting to marry her college sweetheart, JW, in a place full of so many wonderful memories. Moreover, since her family is from Mexico and his from Alabama, the couple thought it would be an excellent destination to bring everyone together for their wedding. “It gave an opportunity for both families to take a deeper dive into each other’s cultures and traditions, in such a special and beautiful environment,” says Olivia. Photo by Karlisch Photography; From Real Wedding: Elegant Beachside Destinatioin Wedding in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
After their engagement, this couple immediately envisioned a destination wedding in Aspen, Colorado, a location where both of their families had created many happy memories. “We spent much time there during our courting stage,” says Stefanie of the destination that offers year-round activities and beauty – yet they chose a romantic winter wedding ceremony and reception. “We couldn’t imagine a more perfect and beautiful place to get married.” Photo by Aaron Delesie Photographer; From Real Wedding: Snowy Spring Celebration in Aspen, Colorado
This couple selected Charleston, South Carolina, for the location of where they would get married during their summer destination wedding. The quaint, Southern city not only reflected both the bride and groom’s personalities, but the location also provided an equal distance between Virginia and Florida, where most of their 250-person wedding guest list would be traveling from. “We wanted our guests to have the opportunity to kick off the summer with a fun celebration in a beautiful city,” professes Olivia. Photo by Adrienne Page; From Real Wedding: Pink & White Destination Wedding in Charleston, South Carolina
After an especially harsh New York winter, this couple was thrilled to escape to Palm Beach, Florida, for a seaside destination wedding at one of the most prestigious wedding venues in South Florida, that offers great weather year-round. “From the exquisite food and intricate décor, to the magical setting of the ceremony on the beach and vibrant music, it was unlike any other wedding,” the groom concludes of the very best destination wedding. “It was, quite frankly, everything I’ve always dreamed my wedding to be!” Photo by KT Merry Photography; Planning & Design by Posh Parties; Venue: The Breakers; From Real Wedding: Soft-Hued Spring Wedding at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida
While some may think that weddings – destinations or not – need to have a meaningful location and/or wedding venues for the couple's ceremony and reception, some pairs choose destination wedding locations they may have never been before! Of course, a destination wedding can show off your love for a particular site, city, state, or country – we've seen couples have destination weddings near Central Park in New York City where they had a memorable date, as well as Las Vegas where they've traveled with their friends, and so many more scenarios of meaningful wedding locations and wedding venues – but a destination wedding can also be held at an entirely new wedding destination that the bride and groom want to experience with their guests, such as New Orleans if you're staying stateside, Puerto Rico, or even St. Thomas or the Dominican Republic. The options for wedding destinations are truly endless, and the best destination wedding location really comes down to what you and your spouse-to-be feel would be the best place to celebrate your love and marriage!
Another misconception is that destination wedding locations require the couple to only invite a small number of guests to witness them get married. While many pairs do choose to get married in front of just a handful of loved ones during an intimate destination wedding ceremony, other couples invite hundreds of friends and family members to join them for their destination wedding. When you picture a destination wedding, it can either be a small soirée at a boutique beach hotel or a huge affair in a grand ballroom or outdoor tent. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall into or where you hope to get married, a destination wedding is a wonderful way to host either a small group or a large guest list in a unique setting.
Since destination weddings often include a variety activities for wedding guests to enjoy throughout an extended wedding weekend, more-intimate wedding events allow friends and family to spend an extended period of time together. Even if you're having a large guest list, you can still share your favorite activities with the group by way of a wedding welcome bag in guest rooms or details on your wedding website! Whether you choose a destination that means something to you as a couple, or a new place that you've always wanted to go, we love when pairs infuse a bit of the location into their day. Since it's often difficult to plan a wedding from afar, you may also want to consider hiring wedding professionals that are based in the U.S., but willing to travel – they may also have partners in other countries that can help you plan a destination wedding from across the world.
Even more so than a hometown wedding, choosing a destination for wedding events will give you and your beloved the opportunity to shower your loved ones with love and thanks throughout the wedding weekend. Offer destination wedding guests welcome bags upon arrival at their guest rooms that are filled with specialties from the wedding destination as well as a list of popular restaurants and activities they can visit during free time. We also encourage you to have fun with your wedding décor for the big day as well as the rehearsal dinner or welcome party, and include unique elements that honor the destination itself. If you have time during the weekend, we love when pairs personalize their big day with interesting activities that may not have been possible in your hometown (like pre-wedding yoga on the beach for a destination wedding near the ocean). Once again, the options are endless. Happy planning!
For more wedding ideas, browse hundreds of real weddings, learn how to best accommodate guests at a destination wedding, find out how to get two free nights at an all-inclusive resort in The Bahamas, browse some of our favorite travel-themed wedding invitations, see a Costa Rica rainforest retreat perfect for weddings and honeymoons, and get wedding venue ideas inspired by celebrations on the big screen.