Wedding

28 Destination Wedding Ideas + Location Inspiration

Setting off for a destination wedding adds an extra sense of adventure and romance to your celebration. Couples create once in a lifetime memories like snapping first-look photos against the NYC skyline or exchanging wedding vows on the white sands of a tropical island.

Whether your dream location resides in the United States or across the world, peruse this list of possible locations to plan your destination wedding at and the collection of destination wedding ideas. Also, check out our tips for important factors to consider when picking your location.

United States | Europe | Caribbean + Latin America | Other Destinations

Picking a destination wedding location

The complex decision of choosing and planning a destination wedding comes with a few extra boxes to check off. Consider the following points when choosing the best option for you and your guests:

Safety 

Research your destination city and country carefully. Things to look out for include the likelihood of natural disasters, crime, illness and political unrest.

Cost

Destination wedding costs can add up quickly, keep your budget and your guests’ budgets in mind when selecting your destination. Keep exchange rates, season and demand in mind to help you stay within your budget.

Accessibility

How accessible is the destination for your guests? Things to keep in mind include accessibility for any guests with disabilities, travel limitations and flight frequency.

Climate restrictions

It is very important to look into a destination’s climate. In addition to temperature and humidity, look into factors such as the dry and rainy season. Research the likelihood of allergies or pesky insects affecting your celebrations as well.

Marriage documents

Marrying abroad often comes with a few, if not many, extra steps to registering for your wedding license and receiving your certificate. Some countries even require periods of residency for eligibility.

Documents and immunizations

In addition to passports, some countries require special visas and immunizations, a factor which could deter guests or delay their travel. Be sure to research these ahead of time and alert guests in your invitations or on your wedding website.

Cultural differences

Make note of differing customs and laws and inform your guests. Showing respect for the local area’s culture and laws is crucial to traveling responsibly.

Wedding size

If you know you’ll have a large guest list, be sure to leave extra time to plan your destination wedding. Some smaller cities and islands can’t host very large parties and those that can book up quickly.

Though destination weddings come with their own unique challenges, the payoff is tremendous. In addition to planning the weddings, you’re designing an unforgettable life experience for both your friends and family to share.

United States

From beachside ceremonies to mountaintop getaways, the US offers countless destination wedding options right at home. These spots are perfect for embracing your love of nautical design, naturally rustic settings or cities that reflect your unique personality. Even if your favorite spot ends up being within driving distance for you and your guests, their distinctive energy creates an ideal destination setting.

Cape Cod | Colorado | Hawaii | Key West | Las Vegas | Nantucket | New Orleans | New York CitySonoma County

Cape Cod

destination wedding ideas Cape Cod, wedding couple in cape cod, lighthouse, wedding aisle surrounded by fall colored trees

Whether visiting “the cape” is your family tradition or a bucket list item, this charming New England region of beaches and port towns is as romantic as it is accommodating. Exchange vows in a historical spot by the cranberry bogs or right on the beach overlooking the Nantucket Sound. Ideal for those with an affinity for nautical or historically themed weddings, Cape Cod is an easily accessible location with the energy of a destination spot.

Pros
  • Easy for travel and accommodation year round
  • Range of all-inclusive resorts and quaint hotels for every wedding energy
  • Destination experience variety, seaside lighthouses to meadows surrounded by tall trees
Cons
  • High-demand wedding region — book early if possible
  • New England weather can be a bit unpredictable and wet 
  • Local accommodations are expensive during high months

Best time to go: May to September

Colorado

Colorado destination wedding ideas, wedding couple kissing on a riverbank, forrest reception, couple with a mountain scape background

Source: Jill Houser

Explore the romantic hideaways amidst the stunning Rocky mountains, whether up in the destination town of Aspen or the hip and welcoming Boulder. Packed with panoramic mountain views, passionate artisans and unique vendors, Colorado is the ideal state to express your own personality and sense of adventure.

Pros
  • Options for nature-focused weddings with hiking, skiing and other adventurous outdoor activities
  • Countless small and mid-sized charming cities for a range of wedding styles
  • Leading craft beer scene and passionate foodie community
Cons
  • Smaller towns and destinations like Aspen can be quite difficult to reach
  • Known for its traffic problems due to an uptick in population
  • Unpredictable weather and extreme winters

Best time to go: June to October

Hawaii

No matter the time of year, marrying on one of Hawaii’s many stunning islands transports you and your guests into a different way of life. Dine on the famous pork lau lau while sipping a mai tai, then dance the night away on the beach with your loved ones. Between Hawaii’s rich cultural offerings and unmatched landscapes, couples flock to experience a wedding in this iconic state.

Pros
  • Selection of beaches in populated or private areas
  • Beautiful photo opportunities
  • Tropical island experience without needing a passport or additional international wedding documents
Cons
  • Rainy season from November to March
  • Expensive accommodations
  • Raised prices on imported goods due to island location

Best time to go: May to September

Key West

At the southernmost edge of the Florida Keys lives one of the most popular destination wedding spots in the state. Key West is ideal for couples looking for a tropical beachfront experience with the conveniences of southern Florida.

Pros
  • United States conveniences with an exotic destination wedding energy
  • Year-round options for wedding dates
  • Long list of activities and adventures for your wedding weekend
Cons
  • Popular and crowded tourist destination in high season
  • Lacks variety in wedding venue type
  • Can be dangerous during hurricane season, July through October

Best time to go: March to May

Las Vegas

Las Vegas is far more than a famous elopement capital. It’s also a place to plan an elaborate bash that represents your unique personalities and flair. Perfect for the couple seeking a wedding a bit outside the box, explore Las Vegas and everything it has to offer.

Pros
  • Great range of price points, from small chapels to massive luxury hotels and famous casinos
  • A great location for pulling off a unique wedding theme
  • Plenty of entertainment options for guests
Cons
  • May not appeal to the more traditional couple seeking a private or classic ceremony
  • Can be quite expensive and crowded during peak season
  • As a popular wedding site, it may be harder to find a dedicated wedding space that hosts only one event a day

Best time to go: Spring and Fall

Nantucket

A different type of island wedding, the colonial, seaside charm of Nantucket embraces the spirit of a unique destination celebration with a familiar coziness. Its list of large, historic wedding venues are ideal for those looking for a unique, yet private wedding experience. Marry in a sprawling farm or a modern resort overlooking the gorgeous Nantucket Sound.

Pros
  • Nearby Martha’s Vineyard for day trips or rehearsal dinner
  • Stunning, unique venues that require little additional decor
  • Access to Boston vendors
Cons
  • Small island venues can book up quickly
  • Colder New England weather can be tricky for outdoor ceremonies
  • Only accessible by boat or airplane

Best time to go: Spring and Fall

New Orleans

New Orleans destination wedding ideas, wedding couple embracing, New Orleans street, courtyard reception

Dance through the streets of New Orleans and feel its unmatched culture and energy. Whether you feel drawn by the food, music, history or endless choice of one-of-a-kind venues and ceremony sites, gathering your family in New Orleans will be an unforgettable experience.

Pros
  • Access to famous New Orleans staples such as gumbo, seafood and beignets.
  • Fiercely welcoming and down-to-earth culture rich with tradition
  • Ideal for the music-focused couples with access to countless live bands, instrumentalists and singers
Cons
  • Large crowds and rowdy energy in the center of town year round
  • Very hot and humid weather May through September
  • Extra busy during Mardi Gras

Best time to go: December to May 

New York City

Iconic New York City weddings range from a small, intimate elopement in Central Park to an extravagant bash at The Rainbow Room. Explore all five boroughs to tap into an energy unlike anywhere else in the world. You’ll have access to endless lists of artisans, planners, photographers and officiants to help guide your destination vision.

Pros
  • Venue options for all styles and personalities — from Brooklyn warehouses to riverside ceremonies
  • Easily accessible with three major airports and great public transportation within New York City 
  • Iconic photo opportunities throughout the city
Cons
  • Expensive accommodation for the couple and guests
  • Can be complex to manage crowds and traffic throughout the year
  • Difficult for those seeking complete privacy or quiet during their ceremony

Best time to go: May to October

Sonoma County

Nestled in California against towering Redwoods and endless vineyards, Sonoma County offers a stunning culinary experience and a stylish, natural wedding location. Exchange vows in a wine cave surrounded by barrels of aging vintages, in a rustic barn against the backdrop of vines and mountains or in a historical Californian landmark.

Pros
  • Some of the top wines in the world available for your wedding reception
  • Great variety for large and small wedding venues
  • Option to explore Redwood forests, vineyards or the coast
Cons
  • Expensive region for book accommodations, especially in high season
  • Most winery venues will not allow outside alcohol
  • In-season weddings may be difficult to book due to crowds and events

Best time to go: June to October

Europe

A European wedding embodies classic romance, whether you exchange vows on a Mediterranean coast or in the heart of Paris. Immersing yourself in another culture can become a main event of the wedding weekend, providing the chance for your guests to explore before celebrating your big day.

Amalfi Coast | Barcelona | Bordeaux | Croatia | Florence | Iceland | Ireland | London | Paris | Tuscan Countryside

Amalfi Coast

The breathtaking picturesque Italian towns of Amalfi, Positano, Atrani, Ravello, Sorrento and a handful of other little havens make up the Amalfi Coast. This popular wedding spot combines one-of-a-kind romantic views of the sea  and rich Mediterranean history and culture.

Pros
  • Accessible airport for international guests via nearby Naples or Rome
  • Feature world-renown cuisine and wine selection at your reception
  • Offers a range of luxury and quaint wedding venues
Cons
  • Crowded and expensive destination during the high season, July through August 
  • Very hot and humid Summer months
  • Not very accessible for people with disabilities

Best time to go: April to June

Barcelona

Barcelona destination wedding ideas, couple at Gaudi's park, garden with a terrace, colorful table setting accented with blue

This major city sits on some of the most beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean. You and your guests can take in the amazing art and architecture in the city center or escape the hustle and bustle for a seaside ceremony. Consider featuring a menu of local tapas and seafood topped off with local Spanish wine.

Pros
  • Extensive access to expert vendors and caterers
  • Wide range of venue choices from the beach to luxury hotels and villas
  • History-rich city that will entertain guests for an extended vacation
Cons
  • Heightened city prices for travel about time, food and rentals
  • Famously overcrowded with tourism during high season
  • Can be hot and humid during the Summer

Best time to go: Late Spring or early Fall

Bordeaux

In the epicenter of some of the world’s most famous wine varieties, Bordeaux is a foodie and wine lover’s dream. It is also packed with a range of historic wedding venues, like gorgeous wineries, stunning chateaus or a charming venue in the historic city center.

Pros
  • Easy-to-navigate with great public transportation in the city center
  • Riverside destinations for beautiful photographs backed by the historic city skyline
  • Surrounded by quick day-trip opportunities to tour nearby wineries and villages
Cons
  • Small-city airport may not have as many direct flights
  • Winery wedding venues will restrict options of outside alcohol
  • Be aware of country-wide vacation times in August when many businesses close

Best time to go: March to July

Croatia

Croatia’s popularity is quickly rising due to its stunning Mediterranean views and great year-round climate for lounging, swimming and celebrations. A stunning landscape of mountains, lakes and beaches offer endless wedding location opportunities. Croatia has a deep respect for its historical background, you’ll have the option to explore and dine in 340 protected landmarks including palaces and fortresses.

Pros
  • Big city and village options
  • Very friendly to visitors
  • Features national parks and UNESCO world heritage sites
Cons
  • High rental prices during the high season
  • Required tourist check-in and tourist tax for all who enter Croatia
  • July and August see traffic issues around tourist areas

Best time to go: April to October

Florence

destination wedding ideas florence, couple overlooking the Florence skyline, Florence bridge, Italian feast

The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance is a stunning and historically rich location to have a  wedding. Weave through the city’s famous gardens while catching famous architecture at each turn. Florence is the center of romance and old-world style for a strikingly beautiful wedding day.

Pros
  • Fabulous cuisine and wine selection
  • Picturesque villas, palaces and churches
  • Escape to the Tuscan countryside for your honeymoon
Cons
  • Traditional Italian “pausas” are daily three hour lunch breaks that could complicate wedding plans
  • Extremely crowded during the Summer
  • Complex wedding license paperwork, particularly if you want to be married in the Catholic Church

Best time to go: April to October

Iceland

There’s nowhere in the world quite like Iceland with its vast fields, fjords and other natural beauty. For couples seeking romantic adventure in the heart of a welcoming countryside, a destination wedding in Iceland is a great choice. Exchange vows on a mountaintop, in an ice cave or on their black sand beaches.

Pros
  • Unique natural phenomena such as the Northern Lights and endless hiking trails
  • Chance to view unique wildlife such as whales and puffins
  • Adventurous wedding location options with experienced planners and guides
Cons
  • Distinctly long or short hours of sunlight depending on the season
  • Very strict documentation required for international weddings to take place
  • Due to its small size and limited resources, your vendors and location must be booked earlier than usual

Best time to go: July to August

Ireland

Irish castle, couple kissing on a bridge, earthy table setting, destination wedding ideas Ireland

Aptly named the “Emerald Isle,” tying the knot against the verdant views of Ireland is sure to make a perfect location for a destination wedding. Celebrate all the historical wonders of Dublin or head to the coast for an intimate ceremony on a cliff overlooking the sea. Whether you head there to celebrate your heritage or simply marvel in the landscapes, Ireland will welcome you and your family for your celebration.

Pros
  • Range of stunning venues including castles, national parks, historic five-star hotels and beaches
  • No language barrier for English speakers
  • Many direct flights to Dublin from major US airports
Cons
  • Complex marriage license process, sometimes including a residency period
  • Rainy climate throughout the year
  • Isolated from other European destinations for those who wish to extend their stay

Best time to go: April to October

London

You could spend months exploring everything London has to offer and still not have time to catch every awe-inspiring palace, historical landmark or museum. Set your first-look photos against the Thame’s skyline or before exchanging vows in London’s iconic churches or cultural sites. Combining classic romance with a bit of adventure, London offers destination wedding spots for traditional and artistic couples alike.

Pros

  • Access to thousands of vendors and professional artisans
  • Easily accessible from most US cities, usually with direct flights
  • Hundreds of neighborhoods and nearby towns just outside the city for every style and wedding size.
Cons
  • High cost of city planning and Dollar-to-Pound exchange rate
  • Rainy and unpredictable weather outside of peak season
  • Expensive accommodations for family members

Best time to go: Summer

Paris

The epicenter of European romance, Paris combines modern style with old-world historic charm. Incorporate the work of local artisans, florists and bakers into your wedding design while taking in some of the most iconic churches and architectural wonders throughout the city. After your wedding, embrace the city for your honeymoon or head off into the French countryside for some quiet.

Pros
  • Culinary epicenter for fine foods and pastries
  • Endless photo opportunities before and during the wedding
  • Easily accessible to rest of Europe for post-wedding travel and exploration
Cons
  • Expensive wedding planning and accommodations
  • Residency requirements of at least 40 days for legal wedding
  • Complications with language barriers

Best time to go: June to September

Tuscan Countryside

Tuscany destination wedding ideas, couple in vineyards, couple walking through green Tuscan hills, outdoor simple table setting

Outside the city limits of popular Florence, the rolling hills and vineyard-filled valleys of the rest of Tuscany makes for an unmatchable romantic wedding destination. Private villas and farms tucked in diminutive towns reflect the less-tourist-filled regions of the area, allowing you to settle into the Italian culture during your wedding week.

Pros
  • Calming privacy with the option to travel to local cities for day trips
  • Naturally rustic and romantic locations that require little decor
  • Access to homemade food and locally crafted wine
Cons
  • Additional travel required from city centers and major airports
  • May be fewer vendor options outside of populated areas
  • High temperatures toward the end of Summer

Best time to go: Spring and Fall

Caribbean + Latin America

When people think of destination weddings, palm trees, clear waters and endless beaches often come to mind before all else. Every tropical getaway throughout the Caribbean and Latin America offer unique cultures, natural landmarks and opportunities for adventure.

The Bahamas | Bermuda | Costa Rica | Dominican Republic | Los Cabos

The Bahamas

bride with flower crown on beach, couple kissing, beach reception, destination wedding ideas the bahamas

A dream island for traditional tourists and adventurers alike, packed with soft pink beaches and crystal clear water. Hosting a wedding on one of the 30 inhabited islands (out of the 700 total in the archipelago) can be a dream vacation for all your loved ones. Swim with the dolphins — or even the pigs — before kicking back at one of the many all-inclusive resorts, which host weddings of all sizes and styles.

Pros
  • Easily accessible off the coast of Florida
  • Experienced wedding venues offer all-inclusive packages for destination couples
  • Range of both private and populated spots for different wedding energies
Cons
  • Very popular cruise ship stopping point
  • Rainy and occasionally dangerous hurricane season
  • More commercialized than other island destinations

Best time to go: November to April

Bermuda

Plan a small and secluded getaway for your close friends and families to this gem just off the east coast of the US. Bermuda destination weddings offer all the beauty of a Bahamas or Caribbean island wedding but with its own unique level of privacy. Guests can explore the small, manageable island and its variety of activities, from botanical gardens to golf.

Pros
  • Nearby tropical destination — often with lower flight prices.
  • Stunning beaches without the commercialism of other islands
  • Year-round comfortable temperatures for wedding dates
  • Unique ceremony and reception options including cliff-side spots, historic forts and luxury yachts.
Cons
  • Prices on the island can be quite steep due to size of island and proximity to mainland
  • Can be dangerous during hurricane season
  • Some shops and tours close on the off-season

Best time to go: March to October

Costa Rica

couple kissing with lush jungle around them, Costa Rica destination wedding ideas, table setting top down view with jungle leave on the table runner, bride on rocks with a flower crown

Filled with breathtaking coastline, volcanos, wildlife and protected rainforest, Costa Rica is an experience worth planning. The wedding scene consists of a large number of all-inclusive hotel spots, rentable villas or more hidden spots in small cities, private beaches or next to waterfalls. You also have a greater selection of towns and settings to choose from, adding a truly exploratory nature to this tropical location.

Pros
  • Incredible local cuisine and vibrant culture
  • Unique options for wedding location, you are not restricted to one tourist area
  • Ample options for exploration and wedding-week experiences
Cons
  • High cost of traveling to popular tourist destination or more secluded region
  • Mosquitoes and other wildlife can be a concern
  • Roads can be dangerous during the rainy season

Best time to go: Mid-December to April

Dominican Republic

If you prefer soft white sands or surfing and rainforest views, the Dominican Republic offers endless ceremony spots overlooking both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Either side of the island boasts a range of quaint and charming natural settings or epic luxury resorts. Explore underwater caves, blue lagoons and small villages to explore through the wedding weekend.

Pros
  • Experienced team of wedding vendors and planners due to island’s popularity
  • Range in wedding locations for small and large weddings alike
  • Six international airports for easy travel
Cons
  • Tap water is not always drinkable
  • Potential areas of crime outside of the tourist region
  • Risk of insect-borne illness

Best time to go: December to May

Los Cabos

A haven for visitors, you and your guests can experience horse rides on the beach, golf tournaments or snorkeling adventures. Choose between the quieter and historic San Jose or the luxurious Cabo San Lucas for a range of beachside wedding festivities. A popular wedding spot, you’ll be sure to have a pick of experienced wedding planners and vendors.

Pros
  • All-inclusive options with luxury resorts
  • Some of the world’s best spa and marine-life watching tours
  • Family-friendly activities for every age and family member
Cons
  • Very popular tourist destination, especially around Spring Break season
  • Many beaches warn against dangerous undertows
  • Unsafe tap water for non-locals

Best time to go: October to May

Other Destination Wedding Ideas

Venture outside of the traditional getaway spots for a once-in-a-lifetime journey with your family by your side. Though these locations require either a bit more research or flights to the other side of the globe, there’s no question your wedding day will be an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

Australia | Fiji | Morocco | Thailand

Australia

Millions of people flock each year to see the wonders of Australia. The capital, Sydney is a great wedding location, recognized for its scenic Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Australia is also known for its beautiful beaches and reefs making this a country full of adventurous opportunities.

Pros
  • Comparatively simple international paperwork for marriage license
  • No language barrier for English speakers
  • Its big cities are packed with museums, historical landmarks and parks
Cons
  • Great distance from the US, high airfare costs and huge time difference
  • Swapped seasons from the Northern Hemisphere, which could make planning quite tricky
  • Notoriously expensive

Best time to go: September to November

Fiji

gazebo on the beach, bright blue and pink table setting, circular arch on the beach with the wedding party

Source: Zoom Fiji

Secluded in the heart of the South Pacific, this dazzling island draws travelers from all across the world to experience its culture. The laid back energy of Fiji is perfect for those looking to truly disconnect and focus on their wedding day. Made up of over 300 islands, this is a dream location for a private celebration.

Pros
  • Boasts the popular Coral Coast for those that prefer the resort life
  • Slower, more locally focused towns and islands for secluded weddings
  • Endless activities and places to explore
Cons
  • Cyclone Season from November to April
  • Long and expensive flight from the US
  • Very secluded for those who wish to travel after

Best time to go: June to September

Morocco

Morocco is rich in culture and history and is a dazzling place for a destination wedding. Marry in the heart of bustling Marrakesh, a desert with expansive dunes or on the shores overlooking the Mediterranean. Venues include hidden courtyards, breathtaking palaces or more traditional seaside hotels.

Pros
  • Decadent Moroccan cuisine ideal for sharing at large events
  • 16 regions with varying cultures that cater to a range of wedding styles
  • Extensive list of outdoor activities for guests including desert camel rides, horseback rides on the beach and rock climbing.
Cons
  • Strict cultural requirements for dress and complex laws around non-residents marrying in the country
  • Weather in the summer months is very hot and arid
  • Very important to plan the wedding around national and Islamic holidays to avoid conflicting celebrations

Best time to go: Spring and Fall

 

Thailand

Thai bay with rock formations, destination wedding ideas Thailand, tropical table setting, kissing couple on the beach

Experience the captivating beauty of Thailand that draws so many travelers in each year. The culture’s rich and sacred traditions can deeply enhance your ceremony and design choices. Whether you choose to wed on one of the hundreds of Thai islands or on the mainland coast overlooking the Adaman Sea, Thailand destination weddings are ideal for the adventurous and exotic wedding day.

Pros
  • Famous for its beaches, rare flora and exotic wildlife
  • Buddhists have the option to wed in Buddhist temples
  • Range of city and beach wedding options for all types of couples
Cons
  • Rainy season from May to October
  • Language and alphabet barrier, which complicates booking and travel
  • Very long flight from US to Thailand

Best time to go: November to April

The reward for all this planning is setting off on an adventure for a truly unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to send your destination wedding invites and save the dates early so your guests have time to prepare! Sharing this experience with all your loved ones is something everyone will always look back on fondly. And as a bonus, you’ll already be in a perfect spot to begin your honeymoon.