Island destination weddings are the stuff of dreams. The romantic atmosphere, the excitement of being somewhere new, and being surrounded by loved ones is a unique and exciting opportunity. That being said, “island wedding” is fairly vague, and there are countless places that fit the criteria. Because we know research can be overwhelming, we’ve gathered eight of the best island locations to host a dream destination wedding in. Whether you’re seeking allure or adventure, modern cityscapes or historic landmarks, you’re bound to fall in love with one of these amazing spots.
Ah, the Caribbean. Unsurprisingly, islands found dotting the Caribbean Sea are among some of the most highly sought-after wedding destinations. Crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, and a variety of natural sights make the Caribbean a top-tier choice for any island wedding. The only issue is narrowing the 700-plus unique islands down to one. For some assistance, take a look at three major standouts below.
The Cayman Islands have quite a bit going for them. Boasting one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean, they have great cuisine and modern, trendy boutiques and resorts that possess unique island flair. Hold a seaside wedding ceremony and reception along the coast or get married in one of many lush gardens or top-notch resorts. The Cayman Islands also have a host of classic churches available for religious ceremonies across several denominations. And for the truly brave of heart, you can even have an under-the-sea ceremony by way of scuba diving.
With an abundance of activities and diverse cultures, both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands make for appealing places to host your wedding. The United States’ territory is especially convenient for U.S. citizens, since a passport isn’t required for entry (read: no guests rushing to renew in time). The island of St. Thomas is home to the capital, Charlotte Amalie, while much of St. John comprises the Virgin Islands National Park. St. Croix, on the other hand, claims historic, wedding-worthy towns. As for the British Virgin Islands, this series of islands is a yachting destination packed with awe-inspiring excitement. It’s best known for its reef-lined beaches, rainforest-filled Sage Mountain National Park and labyrinth of beachside boulders.
Romance abounds for couples and their wedding parties on the island of St. Lucia. From all-inclusive resorts to breathtaking nature (waterfalls and volcanic peaks off in the distance), this island takes “romantic getaway” to a whole new level. To-be-wed couples of all sorts will appreciate the opportunity to both relax and explore with their loved ones at their sides.
While “island wedding” may first inspire thoughts of Caribbean destinations, it turns out that some of the most desirable island locales are just outside of it. In fact, two very notable and opulent island groups thought to be in the Caribbean are actually located in the Lucayan Archipelago (or island group), also called the Bahama Archipelago, in the North Atlantic Ocean. If a truly sumptuous celebration is what you’re after, look no further than these well-loved locations.
One of the top travel destinations in the world, Turks and Caicos has high-end appeal. With its ivory sands and azure waters, it offers a quintessential island backdrop to any island wedding. Stunning resorts are bound to impress, while abundant and uncrowded natural beauty attracts nature-loving couples and their guests. It’s ideal if you’re looking to celebrate in the midst of timeless luxury, jaw-dropping views, and vibrant culture. Plus, its geographical seclusion will add an air of exclusivity to your nuptials.
When people daydream about grand island weddings, they’re daydreaming about a destination wedding in The Bahamas. Including over 700—yes, 700—islands, there’s plenty of beauty and luxury to choose from. Paradise Island, in particular, is brimming with resorts (like the sprawling Atlantis Resort), casinos, spas, marine activities, and a plethora of fine dining options. Similar comforts can be found on both Grand Bahama Island and New Providence, which host memorable ceremonies on their pristine shores and in all-inclusive resorts.
With plenty to see and do, The Bahamas are ideal for couples who want both splendor and adventure. Also note: When compared to nearby Caribbean islands, it’s one of the closer territories to the United States—a plus if most of your guests are traveling from the U.S.
The Aegean Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, sits right between the Greek peninsula and Asia Minor. It—and the numerous islands that emerge from it—cradles two of the great early civilizations: Greece and Crete (more on this island below). As such, it possesses not only jaw-dropping scenery, but also rich history. One of these islands also recently took destination wedding fanfare to new heights, due to being the filming location for a widely beloved film.
For the couple that wants to include Greek culture, history, and adventure into their destination wedding, consider the following.
Santorini is the epitome of Greek island weddings. Some say that this was the original home of Atlantis, the lost city, said to have disappeared deep into the ocean. Whatever magic was here before now lives on in colorful beaches, historic ruins, and eye-catching architecture. The classic Cycladic style (think white cube buildings and blue dome roofs) is famous for its uniqueness and charm, giving the island a distinct, minimal aesthetic. The buildings pop against a backdrop of broad skies and turquoise water, encouraging rest and relaxation. Santorini is sure to satisfy the artistic, well-traveled couple that wants nothing short of an iconic island wedding.
As Greece’s largest and most populated island, Crete has something to offer every island-bound couple. Geographically, it’s one of the most diverse Greek islands, with beautiful beaches, soaring mountains, vast plains, and palm tree forests. Decide to host your ceremony in town and have the choice of lively modern cities or centuries-old architecture. In fact, many of the cities’ streets are lined with structures that echo the architecture of the Venetians, Ottomans, and Minoans. For an urban, contemporary setting with tons of celebratory spots, take a look at Heraklion, Crete’s largest city. However, if you and your spouse prefer history and romance, check out Old Town Rethymnon, one of Greece’s best-preserved medieval cities.
The immense popularity of Mamma Mia shot this island into recent fame, while also creating an immense desire for picturesque island weddings all around. Whether you’re a film fan or want to celebrate your marriage in a gorgeous outdoor space, odds are you’ll be a big fan of Skopelos. As Greece’s greenest island, it’s home to orchards, vineyards, olive groves, and even pine forests. Of course, you can’t forget about the stunning stretches of beach, either. bonafide taste of Greek island life, Skopelos offers authentic accommodations, great food, beautiful scenery, and yes, the very mountain top chapel seen in the movie musical.
Real talk: Wedding planning has the potential to get stressful—especially where destination weddings are concerned. With travel schedules and accommodations on top of your typical wedding planning process, it can be difficult to keep everything in order. Worry not: Zola has a handful of helpful tools to aid you along the way. While wedding planning may be all over the place, we’ve put your invites, registry, and wedding website all in one spot. Not to mention groundbreaking features like an online guest list manager and digital RSVPs. With that in mind, take a breath, get psyched for your wonderful wedding, and let us help you with the rest.