Passport to love
Looking to the future and planning an exotic getaway to say 'I do'? Here are the best abroad locations for your destination wedding
Maybe you’ve had a romantic lockdown engagement or perhaps your destination wedding was sadly postponed due to Covid-19, but now, as travel begins again, the world is your oyster for a dream wedding day.
Whether an idyllic Italian backdrop takes your fancy or an island escape is more your style, we have the very best locations for 2021 and beyond.
Destination wedding inspiration…
1. New York
Why get hitched here? The world-class facilities and the easy air-links make New York a top choice for couples who want a modern, urban wedding. Your options are endless and there are hundreds of unique venues peppered across the city – from five-star hotels to urban warehouses and skyscraper gardens. It’s famed as the city that never sleeps and wedding organisers are well-versed in serving up some of the very best and most Instagram-worthy parties.
Where to stay: The Pierre (has an old world, romantic charm and it’s long been a high-class fixture on the NY wedding scene. Close to Central Park, it offers plenty of iconic photo opportunities. Or for some real New York soul and an urban touch, the industrial, but very glamorous setting of The Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn couldn’t be more Big Apple.
2. The Bahamas
Why get hitched here? The 700 islands of The Bahamas have long been the ultimate in people’s minds of the perfect destination wedding location – not surprisingly, it took the crown for Best Wedding Destination at the World Travel Awards. But why, exactly? Well, if a beach wedding is all you’ve ever dreamed of, you can’t get much beachier than the white sands and sparkling ocean that The Bahamas is well known for. Bahamians are famed for their friendliness and unparalleled hospitality, so you can be sure that all your guests will have a happy holiday, too.
Where to stay: Dance the night away, feet in the sand and under the stars, at Baha Mar Resort in Nassau. This five-star resort is a true Bahamas white-sand experience and the in-house wedding specialists know exactly how to create a dream island wedding. Or for simplicity and a barefoot experience, the Meliá Nassau Beach ticks all the boxes for romance.
Why get hitched here? Tuscany, and all its medieval hamlets, rolling hills and rustic architecture, offers some of the best views you could ask for as a backdrop to your destination wedding. Aside from a landscape splattered with stone-built barns, vineyards and valleys of enchanting colours (your photos are guaranteed to look gorgeous!), you won’t find any unsightly interruptions here. It’s also known for its arts, gastronomic traditions and delicious wine, so your guests will be well-fed and treated to a feast for all the senses.
Where to stay: For those rolling hills – as well as ultimate privacy – it has to be the luxurious Villa Ostignano, which sits over the fortified town of Montaione. Seclusion is guaranteed by 84 acres of private land and a sweeping gated driveway. Or for a hotel vibe with five-star facilities to wow your guests, stay at the stunning Bagni di Pisa, deep within the Tuscan hills, but still only a stone’s throw from beautiful Pisa.
4. The Maldives
Why get hitched here? Considering the Maldives has been the bucket-list destination of weddings for so long, it’s not surprising that the 200 inhabited islands are pushing the boat out when it comes to offering something unique. Quite literally, in fact, with weddings at sea on the hot list for the new decade. With high standards of hospitality everywhere, you can relax knowing that your guests are going to be waited on hand and foot.
Where to stay: Milaidhoo Island, situated in the Baa Atoll’s UNESCO biosphere reserve, is an incredible setting for a wedding. To really pay homage to this, its ‘Love Floats the Boat Wedding’ means you can take to the seas and exchange vows onboard a traditional sailing dhoni. For more floating options, Baros Maldives offers either a ceremony on its private sandbank or a secluded deck in the middle of the ocean. Clearly, there’s a reason it has won the World’s Most Romantic Resort at the World Travel Awards for the seventh year running.
5. Sri Lanka
Why get hitched here? The luscious and diverse country of Sri Lanka, with its beautiful beaches and dense jungle, is becoming popular with couples looking for something different for their wedding away. With resorts nestled deep in the wild, weddings in Sri Lanka embrace nature and the in-vogue bohemian style. Touches of the wilderness are weaved into all aspects of Sri Lankan ceremonies and blessings, allowing you and your guests to embrace the spiritual and positive nature of this beautiful country. Add in incredible seafood and five-star service, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a tempting wedding destination.
Where to stay: On a beachfront location on the fringes of Yala National Park, Wild Coast Tented Lodge combines all the comforts of a luxury hotel with the back-to-nature excitement of a wilderness safari camp. Home to 28 suites, the hotel offers a secluded, wild wedding experience, infused with traditional Sri Lankan elements.
Why get hitched here? Mauritius is well known for its incredible blue lagoons, clear underwater world and white sandy beaches. But unlike many other pristine islands, it also has the dramatic backdrop of luscious rainforest and mountains so you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to getting those perfect photographs. If you want something a little different, as well as on boats, in churches and barefoot on the beach, Mauritius allows civil ceremonies in Buddhist temples.
Where to stay: Beachcomber Tours offers a choice of eight hotels with some of the best beachfronts on the island. It also guarantees only one wedding a day at each of its hotels. For another view over crystal waters, Turquoise Holidays recommends St Regis Mauritius. All guests benefit from personal butlers, so your friends and family will leave thinking it’s the best wedding they’ve ever been to!
Why get hitched here? The Indonesian island of Bali has really taken off with tourism in the past few years and, as a result, wedding packages are extensive and diverse (not to mention friendly on the pocket!). Plus, the exotic location sets it apart by offering something incredibly beautiful for all tastes – custom beach weddings, clifftop ceremonies or deep in the jungle. With secluded islands sprinkled along the coastline, contrasting countryside and coast, and beautiful traditions to stumble upon, you can begin your dream honeymoon as soon as the ceremony is over.
Where to stay: For something traditional and a taste of both quiet countryside and a waterside setting, Alila Manggis on the east of the island is the perfect spot. Or the glamorous Legian Seminyak has introduced three new wedding venues on its property this year.
8. The Caribbean
Why get hitched here? The Caribbean is colourful, warm and welcoming, and you can expect a relaxed steel-pan vibe and a mean rum punch. The islands were made for beach weddings, yet each island has a distinct personality, from party-central Jamaica to the sleepy spice island of Grenada.
Where to stay: Sandals Grande Antigua is located on one of the island’s best white-sand beaches at Dickenson Bay – where you can hold your ceremony with the sea breeze in your hair. Or choose a unique location to exchange vows, such as the Sky Terrace at Sandals Royal Barbados, a super-romantic spot beside a rooftop pool overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Go to Sandals to check out its free weddings with a minimum three-night stay, and find out how you can customise your dream day.
9. The Seychelles
Why get hitched here? Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than the postcard image of a private island, reserved exclusively for you, your loved one and your guests. Think sparkling clear ocean as far as the eye can see, no other guests and no high rises or party towns in sight. The beauty of getting married in such an exclusive fashion is that the world is your oyster when it comes to planning the details. With no one else for the staff to cater for, you’ll know that your guests will be at the receiving end of some stellar service!
Where to stay: Stay on the stunning private island of Félicité in The Seychelles, only reachable by helicopter or boat, at Six Senses Zil Pasyon. Fringed by dramatic granite boulders and pristine, picture-perfect beaches, it’s the perfect exotic setting for a wedding.
Why get hitched here? France has long been thought of as a country of romance, and a French chateau wedding firmly places it in the first-place stakes with fairy-tale vibes all round. The venue quite often speaks for itself, with the historical architecture giving you an elegant, blank canvas. But despite the grandeur, a French chateau has a home-from-home feel, with space for your guests to stay and the chance to enjoy a whole weekend of celebrations.
Where to stay: La Bastide de Gordes is a chic venue that has all the right romantic ingredients. The intimate residence, with ceremony options
by the suspended pool, will bring all your family and friends together in one place. Or, for a country hideaway under the sun, Domaine des Etangs is a converted private home that has been recently transformed into a unique hotel and is available for exclusive hire.
Now you’ve chosen your destination, the quest for the dream dress begins.