What Are the Best Wedding Destinations?

Zola's bringing you a complete guide to the best wedding destinations around the globe.

By Jennifer Prince

What Are the Best Wedding Destinations?
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

  • Talk to your partner about the pros and cons of having a destination wedding.
  • Decide whether your destination wedding will be in the US or overseas.
  • Consider the type of venue you want, such as in the mountains, by the ocean, or in the city.
  • Many locations around the globe, such as Portugal, Morocco, and coastal New England, are perfect for destination weddings.

Your first thought after getting engaged may be to have your wedding in your hometown. After all, it makes sense, and it's a place that you’re familiar with; however, if you decide to get married in another locale, the whole world is at your fingertips. Destination weddings are on the rise as folks cull their guest lists and scale back to have micro weddings. So, no matter your reason for wanting to get married in a different place, here is a complete guide to the best wedding destinations around the globe.

  • Part 1: Domestic vs. International Weddings
  • Part 2: Types of Wedding Destinations to Consider
  • Part 3: 8 Best United States Destination Wedding Locations
  • Part 4: 8 Best International Destination Wedding Locations

Should I Have a Destination Wedding?

Of course, that is a conversation for you and your significant other to have. Therefore, talk about the pros and cons of getting married at home versus away. If you both grew up in the same location—and most of your friends and family are there—it may be best to hold your event in your hometown.

Conversely, if neither of you has a set home base, or many guests have to travel anyway, consider going somewhere else. A destination wedding is also perfect for smaller guest counts and elopements. Have frank, upfront talks about the goals and budget for your big day, and go from there.

Domestic vs. International Weddings

One of the most significant decisions you'll make when considering destinations is how far you want to travel. Destination weddings are often regarded as international, but there are plenty of gorgeous locations throughout the US to say, "I do." Here are a few things to think about when you're deciding whether to go overseas or remain stateside.

Stateside destinations do not require a passport. When considering an overseas wedding, be sure that you and your partner have up-to-date passports. You will also have to allow your guests enough time to get or renew IDs if theirs have expired. Of course, if you have family outside of the US, they'll require a passport to enter.

International weddings are not necessarily more expensive. The typical school of thought is that overseas means a bigger budget, but that isn't always the case. If a lot of your family would have to fly to your hometown, booking a ticket to a destination wedding may cost about the same. Plus, many resorts and more popular locations already have packages to make the wedding itself more economical for couples. So, don't rule out an international destination wedding due to budget, as it could end up being around the same amount as a domestic event.

Folks with kids may have trouble attending an international event. Of course, it depends on the age of the children in question, but some parents don't want to leave their kids at home for long periods. Conversely, they may not want to foot the bill to bring the entire family to your overseas wedding. Domestic events tend to be easier on those with kids, although it all comes down to family dynamics and how comfortable the parents are.

Guests may want to plan their vacations around your big day. If your guests know well ahead of time, they may want to plan their vacation around your destination wedding. This can be a big plus for them with either an international or stateside event. Although, if you are honeymooning and having your wedding in the same location, this could prove to be negative if you don't want to mingle with friends and family after the big day.

You may not be able to visit an international location beforehand. It's advantageous to do a site visit before your special day; however, if you have an overseas wedding, that may not be possible due to cost and time constraints. Although not seeing your venue beforehand isn't necessarily a negative, as many destination wedding locations have entire teams of experienced folks who are used to planning weddings from afar. In addition, you can chat virtually and have video conferences to put your mind at ease before the big day.

Types of Wedding Destinations to Consider

Before deciding on your final destination, think about the type of wedding you'd like to have. After all, the weather, views, convenience of travel, expense, and many other factors may influence the venue you select.

Waterside Wedding Destinations

There's just something about getting married by the water. Whether you choose the beach, a lake, or a river, the waves are calming and the views unmatched. There are several oceanside venues, although if you love the feeling of sand between your toes, you can always wed on the beach. One thing to consider with outdoor waterside locations is to have a backup plan in case of inclement weather, such as rain or a hurricane. Plus, folks visiting from out of town could potentially schedule their annual vacation around your big day if plenty of water activities are available.

Urban Wedding Destinations

Some folks would gladly trade sand and sea for a rooftop that showcases a city skyline. Most urban destinations have the advantage of a wide selection of vendors that can service your big day. Often, folks can walk to shops and restaurants, and immerse themselves in a city if they decide to stay. Urban locations also have various venue options, such as art museums, converted warehouses, and luxe ballrooms.

Mountain Wedding Destinations

If outdoor activities, such as hiking, birdwatching, and rock climbing, seem like the ideal vacation, then you and your partner may want to consider getting married in the mountains. One of the biggest perks about a mountain location is that they are frequently open year-round. Summertime in the hills is lovely, lush, and green. Conversely, winter is chilly, yet snow makes for a beautiful, billowy wedding backdrop. Bonus points if the area has wintertime activities, such as skiing and snow tubing.

Adventure Wedding Destinations

Adventuresome weddings aren't for the faint of heart, and they are also best for those with a small guest count. However, you and your significant other can hike in your wedding attire, fly to a glacier on a helicopter, or even include snorkeling into your big day. At the very least, destinations filled with adventure will never leave your guests wondering what to do if they decide to stay for a long weekend.

Resort Wedding Destinations

Love the idea of an all-inclusive big day? Think about having your wedding at a resort, which doesn't always mean being on a tropical beach. Many venues are tucked into mountains and rural areas. The benefit of choosing a resort is that you most likely will be able to plan from afar. Additionally, you can feel like a guest at your own wedding as the staff implements everything flawlessly. Holding all of your events in one location is a big bonus for guests, too.

Estate Wedding Venues Sprawling vineyards, large mansions, and maze-like gardens are often at estate-like places. If you head overseas, these locations can even include castles and other expansive historic homes. Often, venues like this will have multiple rooms for getting ready. Additionally, they may have a ballroom or gorgeous botanical gardens to hold a beautiful wedding.

8 Best United States Destination Wedding Locations

California Wine Country

Although Sonoma and Napa are perfect for having a vineyard wedding, other areas, such as Los Angeles and Livermore Valley, also have beautiful wineries. These areas are ideal for wine enthusiasts, but they also have other attractions that folks enjoy visiting throughout the state. If you love urban areas, San Francisco and San Diego are also lovely options in California.

Charleston, South Carolina

If you seek Southern charm, Charleston is the perfect place to have a destination wedding. The downtown area has lovely parks and beautiful urban spaces. However, if you want to wed at a manor home or along the water, you can do that in Charleston, too. It is a great area with plenty to do for guests and couples alike.

Coastal New England

From spring to fall, coastal New England is bursting with colors and flavors coupled with gorgeous views. Get married on a Maine Windjammer or blend urban with coastal in Boston. With so many cities and quaint areas along the Atlantic ocean, seaside couples have several options.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Outdoor lovers can find gorgeous views and excellent resorts all year round in Colorado, which is known for its mountains. Additionally, there are a variety of venues that serve as fabulous locations, such as The Broadmoor, which has over a dozen sites, including outdoor vistas and indoor ballrooms. More rural options include farms, ranches, and manor homes to suit a variety of tastes. In addition to Colorado Springs, other wedding hotspots in the state include Aspen and Denver.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Head to Las Vegas for the perfect event for two—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Couples can choose a quick, quaint chapel wedding or do something a bit more lavish. There is no lack of things to do in the area, from Vegas-style shows to visiting the nearby Grand Canyon.

New Orleans, Louisiana

For a bit of French inspiration and creole flavors, head down south to New Orleans. Weddings there take on a culture all their own, with famed second-line parades traversing the streets as folks get married. The weather is lovely, and couples can also pick between a coastal venue or one with a more urban feel.

New York City, NY

If you and your partner love concrete jungle settings, it almost doesn't get much better than New York City. Marry on a hotel rooftop, such as The Library Hotel, or head to Central Park if you love the outdoors. You can even honeymoon in the city, and guests can take in a show or go to one of the many museums.

Sedona, Arizona

Arizona is known for gorgeous red rock, which makes a beautiful backdrop for wedding photos. If this appeals to you, Sedona is the place to go for your big day. The area also has pine forests for a bit of a different vibe. Either way, Sedona—and other regions, such as Mesa—are perfect for couples who love the outdoors.

8 Best International Wedding Destinations

Caribbean Islands

These islands are easily reachable from the states. Plus, their time zones aren't remarkably different from the US, making it ideal for families with kids. There are many resorts throughout the islands, and—of course—the Caribbean is known for idyllic weather and stunning views. Grand Turk, Antigua, and St. Barts are all popular wedding destinations within these islands.

Croatia

Places such as Dubrovnik, Lokrum, and Hvar boast incredible vistas, old buildings, and waterside venues. The country truly has an old-world feel for couples who love European destinations. As far as your honeymoon, you can choose to explore Croatia or head to a neighboring country for a different experience.

Italy

It's almost unfair to pinpoint just one location in Italy, as the Amalfi Coast and Lake Como are extremely popular. Both areas offer luxurious ocean landscapes coupled with old-style, historic venues that may not be on everyone's radar screen. Your guests will enjoy exploring Italy, and it's also a fabulous place to honeymoon.

Mexico

Weather, resorts, and water all make Mexico a fabulous place to get married. Choose an all-inclusive, seaside resort for convenience. Conversely, head to an inland city, such as San Miguel de Allende, for an urban location. While you're there, incorporate fresh, traditional foods into your big day for authenticity.

Morocco

Marrakech is well-known for destination weddings, but don't overlook other areas such as Essaouira or Rabat. This North African country offers everything from weddings in the sand, at a hotel, or on the beach. Marrakech also has beautiful buildings, so be sure to head to the city, even if it's just for your honeymoon.

Portugal

Although neighboring Spain gets most of the kudos, Portugal has many worthy spots for a destination event. For all of the benefits of the city, head to Lisbon. Couples that adore wine country will love the Douro Valley. Sintra is the perfect destination for a fairytale wedding with its multiple palaces. Portugal also has a lovely coastline for those who want to wed by the water.

Thailand

From lush landscapes to natural wonders, Thailand is filled with unique spots to have a destination wedding. Areas such as Bangkok, Phuket, and Krabi offer gorgeous views and beautiful weather. Thailand is also fabulous for either a luxurious, upscale event or more of a laid-back, earthy wedding. The choice is yours!

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom houses England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Many couples head to these areas for the untouched scenery and rolling hills, especially along the coast. Plus, you and your significant other can say "I do" in a castle. However, if you prefer a cityscape, London is a hotspot for international weddings.

Zola: The Place for Your Destination Wedding Needs

Instead of couples asking, "Where are the best wedding destinations?" they can now begin to plan. Whether you're having a wedding near or far, Zola is here to help. Consult Zola's destination wedding checklist to get started right, and also learn how to hire an expert planner in your location. From essential wedding planning needs to ultra-specific advice on hiring an elopement photographer, Zola is here for you every step of the way.

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