When it comes to getting married, for some people it cannot be amazing enough. Getting married means you have found love, and you want to let the world know about it. One of the best ways to do this is to plan an amazingly unique wedding, at some truly memorable destination wedding locations.
What is a Destination Wedding?
A destination wedding is one that is completely planned outside your home town and often goes so far as another country. Further, a destination wedding is for the couple that wants an epic adventure to be part of their wedding. The best destination wedding locations can make your wedding a blast during the ceremony and after. This holds true for not only the wedding party themselves but all of your guests, who essentially get to experience a vacation as part of the wedding.
Knowing how to plan a destination wedding is not easy, however. There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re trying to get it right. How should you plan a destination wedding? How much does a destination wedding typically cost? What are the best destination wedding locations to choose? These are all frequently asked questions from people considering a destination wedding, which we’ll answer in this guide. But first, let’s look at 10 amazing destination wedding locations that sure to give you ideas and inspiration.
#1 – Aruba
Having your special day in Aruba can have multiple benefits. To begin with, Aruba is one of the countries that gets the least amount of rain in all of the Southern Caribbean. They seem to maintain the perfect 82-degree weather most of the year. That immediately makes Aruba a top destination wedding location in terms of the temperature. At the same time, they are also outside the normal area for hurricanes. So, you will generally have few problems with weather disrupting your plans.
Aruba is full of friendly people, natural wonders, and plenty of ways to relax after you enjoy your day. Choosing Aruba for your destination wedding location is a way to add exotic romance to your wedding day. There are many properties all over the island with complete banquet faculties for you to select from for your special day. Additionally, there are many amazing restaurants where you can not only enjoy your reception, but be toasted to a happy and adventurous marriage.
There are also several attractions and sights to see as part of this destination wedding location. Aruba offers the intimacy of Baby Beach, which is a tiny yet stunning spot for a ceremony. There’s also Arashi Beach where you can snorkel in crystal blue waters and get married on the sand.
As with many destination wedding locations, there are things you will need to bring to make your marriage legal inside and outside the country. You will need copies of both of your birth certificates, both of your valid passports, and certificates of no impediment (a document which proves you are both single). You’ll also need copies of any divorce decrees if either of you were previously married and/or copies of any death certificates if either party was married and widowed.
#2 – Dominican Republic
There is no end to the extraordinary beauty that can be found in the Dominican Republic. This is a country that is known for its warm hospitality and welcoming people. For many, that makes it one of the prime destination wedding locations in the world. There are many idyllic beaches, towering cliffs, waterfalls, private islands, and historical sites to enjoy in the Dominican Republic. Any number of these are typically available to be booked for your destination wedding. On top of that, there are over 900 miles of amazingly beautiful coastline to enjoy, too!
As with most destinations, there are some things to bear in mind if you want to make your marriage legal through the ceremony. Generally, you have to get permission from the American consulate in the Dominican Republic, and present paperwork in order to do so. Typically, you’ll need your birth certificates and any divorce papers you may have (the divorce needs to be at least 10 months prior to the marriage). With these items ready, you can have your dream wedding at many beautiful locations in the Dominican Republic and have it be legal and recognized in the US.
Many couples choose to wed on the largest resort on the island known as Casa de Campo. It features nearly 7,000 acres and provides you with sparkling beaches and amazing cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. These make perfect backdrops for your wedding, and it’s easy to see why this is a popular choice of destination wedding locations.
The Majestic Colonial is another resort to choose from. It’s surrounded by the rich floral beauty of the Caribbean. This lovely destination is perfect for couples that love being surrounded by vegetation, golden sand, and wrapped in the sounds of the sea.
#3 – Jamaica
What better way to get married than by standing by a lush mountainside with a crystal blue waterfall in the background? That’s one of many features that can be found in our next example of top destination wedding locations, Jamaica. Jamaica makes it easy for couples to get married and enjoy the natural beauty of the region. In Jamaica, you only have to wait 24 hours before you can get a marriage license. As long as you both have your birth certificates there is little to hold you back as you make your plans.
Sandals Resorts is one of the main venues you should look into. They not only have all-inclusive properties scattered around Jamaica, but they also offer a free webinar to help you sign up and design your own dream day. There are several amazing locations to choose from. Their wedding packages can include the location for the wedding, the reception, and even the honeymoon.
Some of the most popular activities in the area are snorkeling at Montego Bay Marine Park, swimming in the Blue Lagoon, or even rafting the country’s longest river, the Rio Grande. If these are on your list, then don’t forget to bring a bathing suit and quality snorkeling mask!
#4 – Bahamas
The Bahamas offers 24/7 entertainment and over 700 islands to choose from for a wedding. Though, to be fair, many of these islands aren’t populated or with the infrastructure necessary to be good destination wedding locations. There are plenty that are set up for this, however. Doing a wedding in the Bahamas is very easy if you are coming from the United States, as a flight from Miami takes less than an hour. There are also activities for everyone to enjoy on the island, ranging from swimming and sunbathing to diving, fishing, sailing, spas, clubs, and gambling.
One of the main resorts for couples to marry at is the Sandals Resorts location. This is an adults-only establishment which can be a nice change of pace for many people. If children will be included, then the Atlantis Resort and Casino has accommodations that might make the most sense. They also have entertainment options including their Aquaventure, which is a mile-long inner tube ride that includes rapids and 120-foot water slid complex with three slides.
The Sandyport Beach Resort is also an elegant and perfect place to tie the knot. Not only is it nestled off on the backside of the island, but it also has the Bahama’s crystal waters at its door. They also offer delicious island cuisine that can be served at your reception. Truly, the team there work to make you feel at ease and offer you a wedding day as free from stress as possible. They can accommodate weddings of any size, from as few as 10 guests to several hundred. Your guests will be in awe of the natural beauty surrounding you, making this one of the most memorable destination wedding locations to choose.
#5 – Hawaii
Hawaii is one destination that is perfect for couples that do not want to leave the United States. It’s still exotic and quite different than most mainland areas in the US, and therefore is a worthy addition to our list of destination wedding locations.
There are several beautiful and magical places you can utilize for your destination wedding on the various islands that make up the state of Hawaii. One of the highest locations in the area is the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. This Hilton has the island’s first resort chapel in Waikiki.
The Hawaiian Wedding Estates has a rating of best of 2019 places to get married, with its hotel/resort setting. Here, you have a choice of backdrops, either the sparkling blue ocean or a lush green rainforest. The estate is private so you will be able to enjoy the company of your friends and family with little disturbance. The venue can also accommodate up to 200 guests.
#6 – U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands makes it easy for you and your future spouse to tie the knot. It is an easy plane trip to the islands, and no passports are necessary – just your application for a wedding license. You only need to wait eight days after the islands receive your paperwork to marry. That means you can spend the intervening time focusing on the details of your wedding. There are three islands to choose from: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. All three offer you very different options for your wedding. In a way, it’s almost like three different destination wedding locations in one!
St. Thomas is the easiest of the three locations to get married at in terms of people traveling to the island and back from other destinations. This is because it serves as the transportation center of the islands. Magens Bay is one of the most photographed beaches on St. Thomas, and is a perfect place for a beach wedding. It is conveniently located near the Ritz-Carlton, which offers couples choice accommodations.
St. John is a nature preserve which offers a lush forest backdrop for any wedding. It’s especially popular for it’s outdoor setting for couples that love to camp or participate in other outdoor activities. These don’t need to be integrated directly into the wedding, of course, but can provide great entertainment as part of your stay on the island.
St. Croix is the largest of the three islands, and offers two hotels that are prepared to host your wedding. Each offers different options and beautiful locations from which you can choose. These two hotels are The Buccaneer and Carambola Beach Resort.
#7 – Fiji
There is a reason Fiji is considered among the best destination wedding locations, and that is the stunning natural beauty. Here you’ll find glistening white beaches and lush rainforests, along with idyllic coves all hidden away in discrete romantic locations.
If you want something more traditional, there are many resorts scattered around the island that offer spectacular wedding chapels and exotic gardens. Shangri-La Resort and Spa is the perfect place for the more traditional couple to get married. It features 109 acres on a private island covered in large natural lagoons. It can accommodate up to 442 guests for your wedding, with the option of suites or private bungalows with views of the Pacific Ocean. This site offers couples the dream marriage in paradise.
#8 – Ireland
If you want your dream wedding to take place in a castle, then Ireland is the best of our destination wedding locations for you. Here, you can feel like a prince or princess while you marry your partner. There are many fairytale 13th century castles that dot the green lush countryside. Many of these castles are available for weddings and receptions.
The Fitzpatrick Castle in Dublin is a perfect setting for any fairytale wedding, and is quite popular. It has sparkling chandeliers and wood furnishings, providing a great mix of upscale modern with the ancient and mystical. Best of all, this castle has a carefully manicured private garden that is designed for wedding ceremonies.
Fanningstown Castle is another beautiful four-star option. They have on-site catering as well, offering your wedding a 12th or 13th century backdrop hidden away on its own private grounds, without skimping on modern amenities. This location is perfect for smaller parties that want a more intimate setting. It is also very close to the Holy Trinity Abbey, one of the most famous Catholic Churches in Ireland. The Abbey is available for wedding ceremonies, and is popular with couples who want to weave their faith into the most important day of their lives.
#9 – Italy
While almost everywhere in Italy is perfect for a wedding, Tuscany stands out for its number of castles-turned-winery wedding locations and its quiet countryside.
Villa Catureglio is a beautiful location for your wedding. Not only does it have its own chapel, but the gardens are equally lovely. They offer a perfect place for the wedding or the reception. The natural olive trees add a delicious scent to the air, and offer a lush green background as far as the eye can see. The villa offers guest accommodations and can host services of up to 40 people. This makes it well-suited for small, private ceremonies among out destination wedding locations.
The Tuscan Love Vineyard Estate is another choice. It’s a quaint magical villa in the heart of Tuscany. If you choose this venue, you not only have the olive groves Tuscany is known for, but you have the century-old cypress trees that surround this historic villa and its gardens at every corner. This location has its own gourmet Tuscan restaurant, a bar & lounge, as well as a playground for kids. It has a picturesque appearance, and provides a truly magical feeling. This romantic scene will leave you with the most heartfelt memories of any wedding you can imagine.
#10 – Bali
Amankila in Bali is home to coconut trees and some of the most stunningly beautiful forests the world has to offer. It makes an excellent choice of destination wedding locations. Exotic, romantic, and stunning – a perfect combination!
In particular, Amankila Resort in Bali can give you a beach, garden, and ocean setting all in one. It sits overlooking rice terraces and mature coconut palm trees, with other portions set at the base of a cliff that looks out to the sea. This elegant venue can host up to 120 guests. They will cater the entire ceremony if desired, too. If you want an elegant, magical dream location for your wedding, then this is the venue for you. The resort offers guest suites, traditional Balinese massages, and the choice of one of eight private lounging bales that are set around the beach and are perfect for a wedding reception.
If you want something a bit more elegant, you should look at The Legian Bali. It has a tranquil feeling that can provide you with a sunset wedding on the beach. This five-star hotel will give you sand, gardens, and an ocean to pick from as backdrops for your wedding. With all your friends and family there, it will be something truly special to remember. And if walking on the beach causes you concern in your wedding gown and shoes, don’t worry! They also offer pedicures to the bride, so toes shown off in amazing shoes can shine through. Don’t wait for last minute to think about your shoes, either. We’ve got some great choices picked out for you!
How Much Does the Average Destination Wedding Cost?
Figuring out a budget is generally one of the first things a couple does when deciding on a destination wedding. Many families do chip in the help pay for your destination wedding, especially if they know this is what both parties want, and they already have done their research.
Surprisingly, the average international wedding is a cheaper option than a domestic wedding, even with the added expenses of people needing to travel to the destination. Most data show the average cost at most destination wedding locations of around $28,000 vs. an average of $29,000 for a local US wedding. Therefore, it’s pretty reasonable to say that having a destination wedding is not outside your price range, and can even be more cost-effective than a local wedding. Plus, it provides beauty, splendor, and memories, which are hard to put a price on.
Additionally, you can save money on your wedding by not getting too hung up on small, material details that will be long-forgotten after the ceremony. Just one example – imitation pearl earrings instead of real pearls. No one will be able to tell the difference, and you can save a ton on costs. This holds true for many of the purchases people make for their wedding ceremony – the memories of the magical exotic locations are far more valuable and worthwhile.
Where is the Cheapest Destination Wedding Location?
The cheapest destination wedding locations are generally the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Exchange rates are favorable, and there are no additional paperwork costs for marrying in those countries. There are also plenty of venues to choose from, with special custom packages to make most of your wedding such as catering and music. These combined packages can save you a fortune as opposed to a la carte options.
How Far in Advance Should You Plan a Destination Wedding?
For your own peace of mind, you should plan a destination wedding at least 6 months to a year out. Not only does this help to ensure venue availability, but it gives you time to work out all the details. You also need to give your potential guests ample time to make sure they are available for your wedding, and make plans to get there. This can include getting passports if they don’t have one already.
Another consideration on timing is dependent on how much money you are willing to spend on your venue. Some venues book up as much as a year in advance, and usually the more affordable venues tend to be more busy. So, make sure you have your location and dates figured out far enough in advance that you can get the place you want.
Planning a wedding is never easy, and there are an infinite number of things to consider when planning this special day. Having a destination wedding can enhance your wedding day immensely, and create memories that will last a lifetime. You may have to make some non-traditional choices in picking out just the right dress for your sandy beach wedding, but that’s a small price to pay. Destination wedding locations provide a great start to your marriage, and can make your dreams come true in the best possible way. Talk and work with your family as you plan this day to help reduce stress and work out the details. Then, relax and enjoy this special moment in your life.