Top destination weddings
Your big day should be as big as your dreams, and with these top wedding destinations, it will be. | By Jacqueline Kehoe | November 30, 2021 (Updated April 3, 2023)
Destination weddings ensure endless gorgeous moments and a honeymoon feel from day one. Nothing says “big day” like a party in one of the world’s grandest locales. Here’s a look at the best destination wedding locations:
Lovers in the Caribbean: Warm, turquoise seas bring built-in romance
European charm: Historic monuments, storied towns and world-renowned cuisine await you in Türkiye
Into the Indian Ocean: Celebrate your nuptials off a coral reef, or underwater
If you’re eyeing a destination wedding but want something on the effortless side for you and your guests, it’s hard to beat Mexico. From the Pacific to the Caribbean, beachfront all-inclusive resorts often offer exquisite wedding packages in exquisite locales — at a fraction of the price tag you’ll find stateside. Imagine the day backdropped by the seas off Cancun or the Riviera Maya, waves sparkling in the sun, the coastline stretching beyond you for miles. That’s pretty unforgettable.
Your resort will take care of the details, including vendors and even the cake, so you and your guests can concentrate on enjoying your wedding — and having a great time on the sand. And with flights to hotspots like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas a quick hop from the U.S., why not celebrate this momentous occasion for a few days longer than planned?
Another option that caters to guests’ time and budgets is Jamaica. Our tip? You and your beloved can “honeymoon hop” right after the reception to Aruba or the Cayman Islands, or just head straight back to your private villa for as long as you need.
Have the ceremony right on the beach, on the steps of historic ruins, next to a waterfall or deep in a tropical garden. Turquoise waters and verdant scenery will make every photo frame-worthy, and the opulence that awaits the wedding couple after the big day can’t be undersold. In Jamaica, the price is often right, but the luxury is always exquisite.
The Dominican Republic’s eco-friendly southeast coast is about as romantic a spot as they come. Think white sand, turquoise waters and plenty of sparkling wine to toast.
From small, intimate ceremonies for just the couple to extravagant parties for up to 30 with pro-photographers and DJs, destination weddings in the Dominican Republic can fit the vibe you’re looking for. Toss in extras like couple’s massages and snorkeling adventures off Bayahibe Beach, and you’ve got a destination wedding made in the sunshine.
Imagine exchanging vows on the ultra-scenic Dalaman River before it flows into the Mediterranean, on a private beach barefoot in the sand or right in the buzzing capital of Istanbul. With a destination wedding in Türkiye, expect all the luxury of a beach vacation but framed by the world’s crossroads of cultures.
Guests can lounge by the pool or the beach while the couple readies for their happily ever after — it will only end after hours of music, dancing, and Türkiye’s finest cuisine and cocktails (think flaky pastries stuffed with spinach and cheese and mouthwatering kebabs). For the adventurous couple looking for something lively yet refined, this storied country might just be grand enough for the big day.
In Aotearoa—the Maori name for New Zealand, meaning “Land of the Long White Cloud”—nature lovers get two worlds in one. You’ll be among stunning beaches that line sparkling blue waters, with snow-capped mountains towering above it all. Tie the knot on the edge of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, in the rose gardens of Christchurch, on Auckland’s waterfront, or beneath the peaks reflecting in Lake Taupo.
Ultra-modern resorts can accommodate destination weddings for up to 200 guests, and your honeymoon will only be steps away, full of romance and some of the world’s most thrilling adventures. The 100-foot bungy jump off the Waiau Ferry Bridge outside of Christchurch will give new meaning to the phrase “take the plunge.”
Indian Ocean: Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius
How’s the world’s only undersea water chapel for a unique destination wedding? That’s possible in the Maldives, where you’ll be surrounded by sugar-soft sand, coral reefs, and so much marine life — after all, only 1% of this country is land.
Then there’s the Seychelles, where the right resort can accommodate up to 100 guests for the mega-tropical getaway your heart desires. But size doesn’t mean it won’t also be eco-friendly: Silhouette Island, the third-largest in the chain, is a marine national park and biodiversity sanctuary.
And destination weddings in Mauritius can go even bigger. Picture chandeliered ballrooms, pristine sand that stretches as far as the eye can see, beautiful lagoons and coral reefs and 350 guests having the time of their lives.
Jacqueline Kehoe is a travel writer, editor and photographer based in Madison, WI.