Destination weddings: Say I do to breathtaking locations and one-of-a-kind memories
Destination weddings are the perfect marriage of glamour, mystique and fun for your big day. | By Paul Oswell | June 30, 2022 (Updated September 20, 2023)
If there’s ever an occasion you want to have the best memories, it’s your wedding day. Getting married away from home is a big decision, but one that can be incredibly rewarding — especially when you think about the extra-special moments that a destination wedding can help create. Whether you want to be barefoot in the sand on an idyllic beach or hosting a hundred people at an elaborate city party, here are some ideal destinations to consider when wedding planning:
Mesmerizing Maui: The best of Hawaii shines from every corner of this incredibly stunning island
Beautiful Bangkok: The Thai capital has a wealth of tradition to draw on, as well as cultural flair and a colorful approach
Delectable Dubai: The world’s glamour hub brings designer chic, extravagant architecture and a fashionable flourish to the table
Hawaii is one of the world’s most popular wedding and honeymoon destinations, and Maui is among the state’s most romantic escapes. This is Hawaii’s sweet spot, with staggeringly beautiful natural splendor and a sprinkling of high-end boutiques and galleries. You can bask in the beauty of world-class beaches and evocative rainforests that lie in the shadow of striking Mount Haleakala, or shop for exclusive souvenirs at the bijoux stores in Makawao and Paia.
There’s a famous local expression, “Maui nō ka 'oi,” or in English, “Maui is the best,” and you’ll certainly agree after any amount of time taking in the breathtaking scenery. The best way to see Maui and the surrounding islands is from the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and renting a top-of-the-line yacht is the most comfortable way to travel. Golden sands, lava fields and lush vegetation drift by as you relax. Between November and May, you can also see beautiful humpback whales making their annual pilgrimage.
Now imagine these as a few of the events organized to precede a magical wedding weekend with your friends and family? Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is framed by incredible panoramic scenes of the ocean and Mount Haleakala. The hotel’s Seaside Chapel, at the peak of Molokini Bluff and with the majestic Pacific as a backdrop, is the only one of its kind in Maui and the space has multiple (22 — 8 of which are outdoors — to be exact) spaces that can be customized to meet your wedding needs, as well as on-site specialists who can organize everything from floral arrangements to table settings, wedding cakes and beyond. Which means the only thing you need to worry about is showing up for your big day.
With its golden temples, imperial palaces and exhilarating vibrancy, Bangkok is a charmingly regal wedding destination. Buddhist culture celebrates radiant floral arrangements, traditional Thai dancers bring dazzling color and energy to any celebration and just being in The Land of Smiles brings an organic joy and serenity to any nuptials.
The mighty Chao Phraya river is the beating heart of Bangkok, and you can travel along this famous waterway in decadent style. Rent a former rice barge, with their ornate timber panels, woven bamboo grass-covered roofs and sumptuous wooden cabins. Make stops at the awe-inspiring Grand Palace, the city’s most revered temples such as Wat Arun and Wat Pho, as well as riverside markets and villages for local handcrafts. Trust us, you and your guests will find no shortage of things to do in Bangkok.
One of the most wonderful experiences in Bangkok is having custom clothing made for you at one of the many high-end tailors in the city. It’s also the perfect way to add a little local flair to your wedding celebrations. Whether you’re looking for wedding day attire, or bespoke outfits for rehearsal dinners and the like, the city’s skilled couturiers can bring your visions to life within a matter of days.
Just a couple of minutes from the sprawling greenery of Lumphini Park, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok is one of the city’s most prestigious wedding venues. The wedding planners at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok can help incorporate authentic Thai music into your wedding, as well as Buddhist monks and floral arrangements for the altar. The hotel’s magnificent corner and royal suites define elegant sophistication, and with the city laid out before you, your Bangkok wedding will be truly memorable.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
If unabashed extravagance is your style, then it’s hard to imagine a more suitable wedding destination than Dubai. Here you’ll find awe-inspiring architecture, exclusive gourmet restaurants and, of course, a wealth of designer names. Add to this a climate that guarantees year-round sunshine and a full menu of memorable experiences, and you have a show-stopping global hub.
One of Dubai’s main attractions is, of course, its unparalleled shopping opportunities, and most of the world’s most exclusive brands have stores in the city’s high-end shopping centers. The Dubai Mall is the most well-known, with Cartier, Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton among the many famed brands on offer — all which can conveniently be delivered to your hotel.
The surrounding desert adds a sense of mystery and adventure to your time here. At Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, your personal concierge can arrange a private chauffeur to take the entire wedding party out into the wilderness for a glamorous desert safari and sunset barbecue. You’ll drive out among the dramatic scenery of the age-old sand dunes before coming together as the light fades to enjoy a delicious dinner amid tents lined with carpets and pillows. Even better — make it a pre-wedding getaway for two so that you can make romantic starlight memories before saying I do.
High style, attention to detail and impeccable standards are just a few of the ingredients that make Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah such an idyllic wedding venue. The hotel’s stunning interiors and gleaming marble halls add to the ‘wow’ factor for your special occasion, and the on-site wedding team provide a seamless service that lets you bask in your special day without a care. Start with treatments for the bride and groom-to-be in the five-star spa, before enjoying a welcome tea with your wedding guests at Peacock Alley. The celebrations continue with a chic ceremony on a gorgeous private beach and a reception enhanced by a spectacular grand ballroom setting and delectable fine dining options.
Wherever you choose to get married, saying I do in a glamorous destination means that the celebration starts as soon as you arrive. From the spa and beauty treatments to the gourmet food and curating the perfect stay for you and your guests, Waldorf Astoria ensures that all the stresses of planning are lifted from your shoulders so that your special day is all about the celebration of your love.
Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer and has reported from all seven continents for dozens of internationally known publications. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small” and the editor of an online travel magazine.