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6 destination wedding ideas

The world is a big place, and your wedding is a big day. With so much to choose from, start with our favorite destination wedding ideas in these stunning locales. | By Jacqueline Kehoe | December 03, 2021

You’ve got the Pinterest boards up, the maps open, the anecdotes from friends and family. It’s no wonder wedding planning can get overwhelming. There are countless destination wedding ideas out there, so let us help you find a little creative inspiration for a day that feels unique to you:

  • Toes in the sand: Vows above the waves, dinner underwater

  • Toast to your day: Raise a glass in a romantic vineyard setting

  • Think outside the box: Unconventional ideas that will shine on social

Wedding reception set up
Keep things small, secluded and special.

Small destination wedding ideas

The smaller you go for your destination wedding, the more the world can open up to you and your guests. Picture it: With just a few of your favorite people, you can pack into a bush plane and fly over Alaska’s glaciers. You can nab a table at one of New York’s most exclusive restaurants, like Per Se or Eleven Madison Park. You can book an intimate yacht and float underneath San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

And when it comes to weddings at all-inclusive resorts, smaller parties are more budget friendly but still pack the same thrill of a honeymoon-style destination wedding. Plus, there’s something undeniably romantic about a more intimate affair.

Unique destination wedding locations

When it comes to destination wedding ideas, if you can think of it, you can make it happen, like getting married at a bookstore in SoHo or between the ponderosa pines in Colorado’s Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. For a truly fantastic background, say your vows on the black lava fields of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Depending on your style, you might choose a historical mill on the edge of the Mississippi or on an old-school Montana ranch. Why not find yourself high in a treehouse overlooking the Ozarks, or inside a 1920s-style, glass-paneled conservatory? The opportunities are endless.

Who says you can't get married barefoot?

Beach weddings

If you’re eyeing a destination wedding in fall or winter, a beach wedding could be a no-brainer. And what white dress or tux doesn’t look fantastic against the azure sea? They’re simple to make elegant — a few chairs and a delicate wedding arbor will do the trick — and sunset always adds extra magic to the moment.

From Mexico’s golden sands (and Mayan ruins) off the Yucatan Peninsula to Virginia Beach and its beautiful 3-mile boardwalk, there’s probably a strip of sand you know and love—or love to dream about. Often when it comes to destination wedding ideas, you don’t have to look any further than the beach.

Vineyard weddings

Classic yet with a hint of a free spirit, vineyard weddings are sophisticated, exclusive affairs. They come with a degree of reliability, too: Ceremony and reception can both be had on-site, allowing for some all-important ease on the big day. Indoor and outdoor locations come standard, meaning inclement weather isn’t a concern. The landscapes are timeless, the architecture tasteful and the food and drink will always be top tier.

Though any season works, autumn is a favorite for vineyard weddings, no matter your region. Picture the day framed against rolling hills, golden hour lighting up the vines, and hilltop terraces buzzing with live music and laughter. From California’s valleys to New York’s Finger Lakes, which varietal will you have in that raised glass?

Bride and groom dancing at reception
Letting the resort handle the details leaves time to spend together.

Resort weddings

For the wedding couple who doesn’t want to worry too much about decision-making—or who wants to jump right into that honeymoon feeling—a resort wedding is hard to top as far as destination wedding ideas go. Most all-inclusive properties offer wedding packages at various tiers, from intimate ceremonies just for the couple to extravaganzas that come with decorations, cake, photographers: nearly everything except the happy couple.

After the big day, the newlyweds will be showered with resort amenities, from snorkeling trips to massages to rose petals scattered about the honeymoon suite.

Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa

Swim with the dolphins in Montego Bay or go river rafting at Martha Brae.

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Hilton Cancun All-Inclusive Resort

Surf the clear blue waters or try out an aqua spin class.

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Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort & Spa

Relax on a pristine private beach or explore Türkiye by horseback.

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Island weddings

You want extravagant? You got it. Picture the wedding couple and a dozen or so guests on an island somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Cabanas rise on stilts above the turquoise waves and dinner is served underwater. You’ll see marine life floating above glass ceilings, the ocean lit up in candlelight. You can have this experience for yourself in the Maldives.

Then there are the Seychelles, Mauritius, Hawaii and Saint Lucia. From volcanoes to seaside cliffs to coral reefs, the right island destination will show you just how much your usual destination wedding ideas deserve an upgrade.

What it comes down to is this: Think of the kind of place you want to remember for the rest of your life. Let the details work themselves out from there—and trust that you’ll know the perfect place when you find it.

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Jacqueline Kehoe is a travel writer, editor and photographer based in Madison, WI.

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