Why Get Hitched Here: The Big Island is (you may have guessed) the largest island in the chain and offers incredibly diverse topography. In fact, 11 of the world’s 13 climatic zones can be found on the island (there’s even snow on top of the highest mountains!). The landscape varies dramatically as you travel around the perimeter, so you’ll have your choice of backdrops: The Kona coast to the west has a lunar-like landscape, while the north and east coasts are wet and super-lush. There’s plenty for guests to do too, from exploring the rain forest region to going horseback riding, snorkeling or just lazing on the beach.
When to Wed: Anytime—year-round, temperatures are in the 70s and 80s during the day. Dry season runs May through October, but even in winter, rain showers are short and mild. If you’re looking to save a little cash, avoid winter through early spring, when tourist season is in full swing.
US: Bar Harbor, Maine
Why Get Hitched Here: Surrounded by rugged coasts, dark-blue waters and golden-sand beaches (aka the perfect romantic backdrop), Maine’s breathtaking waterfront might easily be mistaken for the Mediterranean, were it not for its iconic lighthouses (and more convenient locale). You’ll get all the sophistication and style, though. Like Europe’s southern coast, Bar Harbor is the epitome of seaside chic, only with a distinct American flair to incorporate into your day (think: fresh lobster, clambakes and blueberry pie). Your guests will have fun checking out Acadia National Park, which surrounds Bar Harbor on the east side of Mount Desert Island, in addition to bike riding, whale watching, kayaking and taking a dip in the ocean.
When to Wed: Summer is when Maine attracts the most visitors, especially in July and August, when the weather is warmest. To avoid peak prices and crowds, consider a September wedding, when the crisp fall weather begins to light up the foliage.
US: Tucson, Arizona
Why Get Hitched Here: Retreat to the city of turquoise jewelry, saguaro cacti and deep-orange sunsets. Located in the southern region of Arizona between Phoenix and the Mexican border, Tucson offers a natural and rugged rendition of the Southwest landscape for a unique setting for your “I dos.” On the weekend lineup for your friends and family: catching a glimpse of a road runner while hiking through Sabino Canyon, touring the historic Mission San Xavier del Bac or perusing the photo and art galleries full of Native American and Mexican textiles and jewelry.
When to Wed: Tucson’s weather is generally warm year-round, and most days are bright and sunny. Temperatures regularly climb into the 90s (and above) in the summer, with June and July accounting for the largest number of very hot days.
US: Sea Island, Georgia
Why Get Hitched Here: With its turquoise waters and pristine beaches, Sea Island feels like the Caribbean, only without all the tourists cramping your wedding style—the island’s only visitors are guests of its two resorts. And the oceanfront setting on five miles of private beach couldn’t be a more beautiful spot to exchange vows. In addition to world-class fare and amenities, this tiny Georgian retreat has plenty of activities for your guests to enjoy, including golf, tennis, horseback riding, boating, fishing, spa-going and more.
When to Wed: The best times to go are in the late spring and summer, and in early fall. June, on the other hand, marks the start of the hurricane season.
US: San Francisco, California
Why Get Hitched Here: If you’re looking for an urban setting that offers more in terms of scenery than just a concrete jungle, head to northern California’s big city. San Fran is urban without being overwhelming, combining big-time sophistication with the laid-back, dressed-down attitude of the rest of the West Coast, making it one of the top US cities to tie the knot in. San Francisco wins the hearts of brides- and grooms-to-be for many reasons: Hills rise and drop everywhere you look; huge parks share space with skyscrapers and ornate, bay-windowed Victorian homes; cable cars rattle over the streets; and stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge are everywhere from within the city as well as the water, which surrounds San Francisco on three sides. Plus, foodies will love the assortment of fresh, local ingredients and world-class fare that make designing a memorable menu for your reception a breeze.
When to Wed: San Francisco averages about 65 degrees year-round, meaning anytime is the right time, though expect the city’s famous fog in the summer. Whenever you go, make sure to tell guests to dress in layers—when the sun sets, they’ll need that pashmina or cardigan.
US: Park City, Utah
Why Get Hitched Here: Park City offers the European sophistication and majestic peaks that the Alps are known for—sans the passport requirements. Thanks to a new crop of ritzy resorts, the former mining town has turned into a top destination for nuptials. But Park City has something going for it that other mountain destinations don’t: It’s located just 40 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, making it a great option for winter weddings. Plus, it’s home to three world-class ski resorts, all with dedicated teams to help put together your dream wedding.
When to Wed: Ski season starts in early December and lasts into mid-April, but the summer and fall are gems and provide plenty for guests to do, including hiking, fly-fishing and mountain biking. May can be dreary and rainy as the snow starts to melt, while the weather in late October and November can be dicey—it could be 80 degrees one day and snowing the next.
US: Outer Banks, North Carolina
Why Get Hitched Here: With 130 miles of open, unspoiled beach, the Outer Banks region, a string of barrier islands covering nearly half the North Carolina coast, will make you feel as if you’re in your own private retreat for your wedding. (Case in point: It’s one of the few places in the US where you can still view wild horses.) Say your vows on the beaches of historic Nags Head, Kitty Hawk or Hatteras Island; in a beautiful garden on picturesque Roanoke Island; or on the grounds of a large oceanfront beach home or a stunning Art Nouveau mansion in Corolla. For a truly iconic setting, opt for a statuesque lighthouse or rustic ocean pier setting.
When to Wed: The weather is best in summer, June especially, but traffic is crazy (there are only two bridges leading onto the islands) and prices are high. In spring, temperatures are unpredictable, but the beach is still pristine. Fall is hurricane season but offers incredible orange-and-red sunsets, and winter, while the most affordable time, takes additional planning because many businesses close for the season.
US: Nantucket, Massachusetts
Why Get Hitched Here: Dubbed the “Gray Lady” because it’s often covered in a blanket of fog, Nantucket and its windswept moors, rugged beaches and rose-covered trellises are quintessential New England. You can feel Nantucket’s nautical history with every step you take along its cobblestoned streets, and strict building codes keep all houses draped in weathered shingles, so you’ll get an authentic feel. It’s the ideal spot for a romantic, low-key wedding full of New England charm, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration, from the ocean and beaches to the lobsters and clambakes.
When to Wed: Summer is the warmest and busiest—and most popular—time. To avoid crowds, consider the shoulder months (May and September), when temps are still comfortable, the scenery is gorgeous and rates are slightly cheaper. New England winters are notoriously freezing, and storms come quickly, which could cause major transportation problems; plus, much of the island shuts down for the winter months.
US: Maui, Hawaii
Why Get Hitched Here: Many visitors think of Maui as the most romantic Hawaiian island, perhaps because it’s filled with waterfalls and rainbows. And its beaches are considered to be among the best anywhere, so it’s a popular spot to wed. Guests will enjoy hitting the links on the west coast, or “Golf Coast,” and surfers (or aspiring ones) will find some of the world’s most famous waves here. Of course, snorkeling, kayaking, whale watching and all the activities you’d expect from a tropical paradise are here as well.
When to Wed: Anytime—year-round, temperatures are in the 70s and 80s during the day. Dry season runs May through October, but even in winter, rain showers are short and mild. If you’re looking to save a little cash, avoid winter and early spring, when tourist season is in full swing.
US: Lake Placid, New York
Why Get Hitched Here: Can you say “winter wedding”? Despite its location in the heart of the Adirondacks in upstate New York, this alpine village (and two-time Winter Olympics host) is anything but remote, with loads of activities and attractions—and snowcapped settings backed with mountain vistas. Leave the glitz at home and choose a venue from among the cozy rustic-chic resorts and luxe lakeside lodges. You can even incorporate a gondola ride up Whiteface Mountain into your wedding. And if you’re not feeling a wintry occasion, go for an outdoor fall ceremony surrounded by some of the country’s most stunning foliage—and get an even better view of the changing leaves by saying “I do” in a hot-air balloon! The region is dotted with 3,000 lakes (popular choices are Saranac Lake, Mirror Lake and, of course, Lake Placid), plus mountain streams and waterfalls that come to life in the spring, providing a picturesque background for April or May nuptials.
When to Wed: Naturally, a winter resort area will be busy and more expensive during the winter months, but if you want a “white” wedding, try April when it’s less crowded but there’s still lots of lingering snow. In fall, the changing foliage usually peaks in early October, so book your wedding date near then, and spring is beautiful, but have a backup plan for rain.
US: Kauai, Hawaii
Why Get Hitched Here: Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle” for its incredibly lush tropical landscape and is perfect for those looking for a more secluded spot to tie the knot. It remains the least developed of the four main islands, and life here tends to move at a slower pace. Although Kauai’s Mount Waialeale is considered the wettest spot on earth (it receives an average of more than 400 inches of rainfall per year), the island’s southern coast is perpetually sunny, making it ideal for weddings. Guests can surf, hike or take a helicopter tour.
When to Wed: Anytime—temperatures year-round are in the 70s and 80s during the day. Dry season runs May through October, but even in winter, rain showers are short and mild. If you’re looking to save a little cash, avoid winter and early spring, when tourist season is in full swing.
US: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Why Get Hitched Here: The majestic Tetons offer a breathtaking background for your nuptials (and the sunsets here simply can’t be beat for romantic wedding pics and ceremonies), but you’ll also find rustic ranches and a Wild West vibe in Jackson Hole if a Western theme (think: cowboy boots and hay-bale benches) is more your style. Your guests can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, fly-fishing and checking out the local shops, museums, bars and shootout (seriously!) in town.
When to Wed: The summer and early fall are beautiful in Jackson Hole, but late spring and fall can be unpredictable. Winter weddings are gorgeous here, but keep in mind: A big storm could make it difficult, or even impossible, for your guests to get there.
US: Florida Keys
Why Get Hitched Here: This 110-mile chain of islands offers a laid-back tropical island setting with all the allure of the Caribbean at a domestic price — and a more convenient location for guests. The Keys have a distinct old-Florida vibe, meaning wildlife and nature abound (you may even spot an indigenous deer swimming from key to key as you exchange vows), and since the islands are surrounded by the clear-blue waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, there’s no shortage of white-sand beaches. Try Key Largo for an underwater ceremony, a low-key beach bungalow or dolphin-assisted “I dos” on Islamorada, or one of the historic homes and gardens on Key West, one of the southernmost points in the US. Or go for a luxe offshore private island resort accessible only by boat; you can also just get married on the vessel (choose from sailboats, tall ships, glass-bottom boats and yachts).
When to Wed: High season is December to April, so you may want to try summer, when things are more affordable (and less crowded)—but it will be hot. Though hurricane season runs from June to November, you should be okay if you avoid the more risky fall months.
US: Door County, Wisconsin
Why Get Hitched Here: Situated between the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan, this popular vacation destination, dubbed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” offers a gorgeous lakefront setting for your “I dos.” It also happens to be about a four-hour drive from Chicago or a three-hour drive from Madison, Wisconsin, making it easy to get to for out-of-town guests. The area’s farms and wineries offer a bucolic landscape for your nuptials and allow you to design a menu filled with fresh, local ingredients and delicious wines. Guests can stay busy boating, biking, hiking, zip-lining or touring the local lighthouses, galleries and museums.
When to Wed: Fall offers incredible foliage and fewer crowds. The summers are, of course, prime time but attract lots of visitors, so book early. Winters can mean icy roads and frigid temps, and a storm could make it difficult for guests to get there.
US: Aspen, Colorado
Why Get Hitched Here: This Rocky Mountain town possesses the perfect mix of natural beauty, rustic charm and posh amenities. In addition to luxe mountain lodges, you’ll find elegant ballrooms and sleek restaurant spaces to host your wedding events. Aspen’s gorgeous mountains and valleys will thrill any outdoors enthusiast, while its ample selection of high-end shops and swank restaurants can keep indoorsy types more than entertained.
When to Wed: While many couples choose to get married between late November and early March to create a winter-wonderland wedding, keep in mind that summer and fall are also gorgeous (and less crowded) times of year here.
US: Las Vegas, Nevada
Why Get Hitched Here: While drive-through chapels, Elvis-impersonator officiants and celebrating your nuptials at a blackjack table are still a part of what Las Vegas offers, there’s a whole other side to Sin City that’s making it one of the hottest Stateside spots to tie the knot. We’re talking bold ballrooms, cool restaurants and chic poolside settings, plus hundreds of resorts and hotels that offer wedding packages for every budget. And even nonbetting guests will have plenty to keep them entertained.
When to Wed: Avoid the summer heat—spring offers the most temperate climate, and the summer sizzle cools in September and October. You’ll have the most luck with availability and good rates during the first three weeks in December, but prices spike and availability plummets between Christmas and New Year’s and on holiday weekends (including Valentine’s Day and Cinco de Mayo), as well as during big-deal sports weekends (like the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four) and times when there are giant conventions or events scheduled.
US: Mackinac Island, Michigan
Why Get Hitched Here: This quaint, car-free island (that’s right, no cars!), set between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas near where Lakes Michigan and Huron meet, is full of charm, starting with the fact that you’ll need to rent a bike or hire a horse and buggy to get around (both great ways to transport you and your guests). Mackinac Island, which itself is a National Historic Landmark, is known for its frozen-in-time Victorian vibe, but the architectural style of its buildings actually spans three centuries — so you’ll have your pick of venue, from a turn-of-the-century Colonial Revival-style waterfront hotel to historic forts and, yes, Victorian-era mansions, cottages and churches. In the fall, the changing leaves make an incredible backdrop for an outdoor ceremony (think: a gazebo set in a clearing surrounded by maple, birch and elm trees).
When to Wed: Mackinac Island is packed with families during the summer, and snowy, icy roads and closed hotels complicate the winter low season. May and October are the best bets for deals, so it depends on whether you want your nuptials backed by spring’s blooming lilacs or the amazing fall foliage.
US: Miami, Florida
Why Get Hitched Here: Between the sunny weather and beautiful beaches, Miami is a great alternative to the Caribbean or Mexico, especially if you’re looking to stay within the US. Besides its picturesque sands, Miami is known for its art-deco architecture, which is sure to add character to your wedding photos. The city is also an international hub, so wedding caterers cover all taste preferences.
When to Wed: High season is December through April. The summer months are also beautiful and may be less expensive (although it can be very hot!). And keep hurricane season in mind (officially June through November). You may also want to steer clear of February and March, when popular venues risk being overrun with partying college kids.
US: Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, California
Why Get Hitched Here: Wine Country USA is filled with stunning landscapes—rolling hills, lush valleys and acre upon acre of vineyards (aka the perfect romantic backdrop for your nuptials). Of course, the abundance of amazing wines produced here, and the world-class restaurants with dishes worthy of accompanying them, will certainly make treating your guests a breeze. And given the sheer number of vineyards and charming inns, resorts and spas surrounding them, you’ll also have plenty of options for venues and accommodations.
When to Wed: Summer and October are the best times to visit the region. September can be beautiful, but you may have problems with availability, and rates will be at their peak because it’s harvest season. Even though you’re in California, temperatures can drop at night (think: mid-50s in the summer), so be sure your guests know to bring sweaters and wraps for the evenings.
US: Newport, Rhode Island
Why Get Hitched Here: Newport offers the perfect mix of New England charm and old-fashioned glamour. This seaside community was the playground of the fabulously wealthy at the turn of the last century, when captains of industry from Boston and New York built huge mansions on Newport’s cliffs (that now make gorgeous venues) meant to rival the castles of Europe. Today, Newport is still a favorite summer destination of the well heeled, and it offers a plethora of activities—from sailing to high-end shopping—for wedding guests young and old.
When to Wed: Like most of the Atlantic coast, Newport is warmest (and busiest) during the summer months, when the highs average near 80 degrees. But the shoulder seasons (May and September) are beautiful times to visit as well, with temps still in the 60s and 70s. For a few days each August, the Newport Jazz Festival fills the town with musicians and music lovers, which means you and your guests will have lots of great music to listen to, but the town will be more crowded than usual.
US: New York City
Why Get Hitched Here: The “city that never sleeps” offers plenty to get your guests excited to make the trip: Broadway shows, museums and galleries, four-star restaurants, crazy-fun nightlife, and block after block of shopping, as well as classic tourist attractions, like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Times Square. And when it comes to wedding planning resources, there’s no shortage either; you’ll have innumerable caterers, florists, photographers and bands to choose from. Another plus? With taxis on every block, it’s super-easy for guests to get around.
When to Wed: Any month can be a good time for a New York wedding. Most of the city’s main attractions are indoors, so it doesn’t matter much what the weather is like. That said, summers here, especially during July and August, can be uncomfortably hot and humid. The city gets extremely crowded during the holiday season, but your guests may love the chance to catch the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show, ice skate in Central Park and browse the decked-out department stores.
US: Oahu, Hawaii
Why Get Hitched Here: The liveliest of the Hawaiian islands, Oahu is more densely populated than the others, and it’s the one tourists often visit. Honolulu, the island’s most famous city, is located here, as is Waikiki, home of the main entertainment district and a hopping nightlife scene. But Oahu is still packed with lots of natural beauty and native culture, and is the most convenient island for a destination wedding because it has the biggest airport and the most frequent direct flights from the mainland.
When to wed: Anytime—year-round, temperatures are in the 70s and 80s during the day. Dry season runs May through October, but even in winter, rain showers are short and mild. If you’re looking to save a little cash, avoid winter and early spring, when tourist season is in full swing.
Why Get Hitched Here: Tiny Anguilla, just 16 miles long and three miles wide, is one of the most exclusive spots in the Caribbean, and it’s peppered with upscale resorts, four-star restaurants, unspoiled scenery and pristine white beaches (no cruise ships, high-rises or casinos allowed). You won’t get a direct flight from the States (you’ll have to take a boat from St. Martin), but we promise you and your guests will consider the destination well worth the extra travel time. As a bonus, native Anguillans are known for their hospitality, and the island is one of the region’s safest. It’s also known for its delicious food (some of the best in the Caribbean), so you can rest assured your guests will be well fed. Any Anguillan agenda should include swimming, snorkeling and savoring the chance to wear shoes as infrequently as possible (barefoot ceremony, much?), but guests who are less beach-focused will enjoy exploring the island’s archaeological and cultural sites.
When to Wed: While you should take note of hurricane season, which runs from June through November, temperatures are perfectly pleasant (highs in the low 80s and lows in the low 70s) year-round.
Why Get Hitched Here: This idyllic island not only has a whopping 365 beautiful beaches to get hitched on, but it’s also steeped in nautical history. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Antigua was home to a huge British naval base, and its harbor is still a popular yachting destination for the international jet set. If you want to host your nuptials at a high-end all-inclusive resort, look no further—many of the world’s swankiest are here.
When to Wed: The high season runs from mid-December through April. After April, rates go down as much as 40 percent, but some places do close between August and October. The humidity and rainfall are low year-round, but avoid hurricane season, which runs from June through November.
Why Get Hitched Here: Though geographically removed from the Caribbean, Bermuda shares many of the same traits as those beachy, beautiful islands. So if you love the idea of a Caribbean destination wedding but also want something formal and elegant, consider Bermuda. It’s famous for tranquil pink-sand beaches, iconic pastel-hued houses and proper British history. (PS: The island has no standalone casinos and few fast-food restaurants.) But perhaps its biggest selling point is that it takes just a couple of hours to fly there from the East Coast, and flights are often cheaper than those to Caribbean destinations. Guests can spend days teeing off on one of the country’s eight golf courses (this island is a links-lover’s paradise), visiting the botanical garden or scuba diving among reefs and shipwrecks.
When to Wed: Bermuda is only 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina, so its weather resembles that of the coastal US more than it does that of the Caribbean islands to the south. May through early September brings ideal weather, but summer temps typically hover around 85 degrees and stay around 70 in the winter. Although hurricanes are infrequent, they can occur, so be aware of any warnings from June through November.
Caribbean: Cayman Islands
Why Get Hitched Here: Discerning couples who want more than a destination-wedding-in-a-box head to the Cayman Islands for the ultimate in hospitality and tropical romance. Whether you choose to marry at a smaller resort or a five-star hotel, this destination has the resources to cater to every couple’s personal style and guest-list size. Not to mention the backdrop is absolutely gorgeous (think: tranquil turquoise waters and sugary white-sand beaches dotted with palm and pine trees). All three islands are home to a wealth of wedding venues and pros, so there’s little need to bring your own pros. And your guests will have plenty of options for how to spend their downtime, including swimming, snorkeling and visiting historic George Town, where sparkling-jewelry retailers abound. Keep in mind: There’s no live/outdoor music allowed on the island on Sundays, which means if you’re saying “I do” beneath a tent on the beach or poolside on a Saturday, your band or DJ must wrap it up by midnight.
When to Wed: High season begins the week before Christmas and goes through April, so you’ll deal with crowds then. Avoid hurricane season, which is May to November.
Caribbean: Dominican Republic
Why get hitched here: Take your pick from 800 miles of super-fine sandy beaches for your nuptials. The Dominican Republic’s most popular destination, Punta Cana, is also home to some of the best beaches in the world. In addition to its long list of all-inclusive resorts offering wedding packages and planners, Punta Cana’s over 20-mile coast is lined with coconut palms and bordered by warm cerulean waters (aka an idyllic ceremony backdrop). For something a little less populated, check out the beaches of the north and northeast coasts. The DR (as it’s casually called) is also the largest producer of cigars in the world, making for easy favors or a fun cigar-rolling station.
When to wed: The nice thing about the DR is that it averages 78 to 82 degrees year-round, making it a warm-weather wedding destination anytime.
Why Get Hitched Here: There’s a reason glamorous globe-trotters call it home (Ian Fleming wrote the first James Bond book, Casino Royale, from his seaside abode here). Jamaica offers much more than just beaches and palm trees—it’s steeped in culture: reggae, Rastafarianism, indigenous spices and a fun-loving, laid-back atmosphere. The site of many all-inclusive resorts, Jamaica can be one of the most affordable of the Caribbean islands on which to wed, but it has super-luxe options too, including private villas that come with their own chefs, housekeeping staffs and security. The resorts of Montego Bay offer the ultimate in service and convenience; the cliffs and beaches of Negril are great for intimate sunset ceremonies; and the gardens and waterfalls of Ocho Rios provide gorgeous backdrops. And scattered about the countryside are a host of Great Houses, old Georgian-style plantation homes with expansive grounds (one’s even haunted!).
When to Wed: Avoid March, aka spring-break season, as well as the hurricane season from June through November.
Why Get Hitched Here: Nature lovers, this is your island. Known as the “Queen of the Caribbees,” Nevis has a high-end, posh pedigree and is home to some of the Caribbean’s best-preserved beaches, rain forests and reefs. You’ll also find world-class resorts and a more private atmosphere for your wedding. And you won’t have to worry about your guests having fun—from exploring the rain forest and climbing to the top of Nevis Peak (3,232 feet tall) to horseback riding and chilling on the pristine sand, they’ll have plenty of activities to choose from.
When to Wed: Nevis maintains temperatures averaging between 72 and 87 degrees year-round. Be aware of hurricane season, though, which lasts from June through November.
Caribbean: Puerto Rico
Why Get Hitched Here: Puerto Rico’s got all the assets of the other Caribbean islands—gorgeous beaches, friendly locals, plush resorts—plus one big one that sets it apart: It’s a US territory. That means you and your guests will have few, if any, of the hassles associated with travel abroad. You won’t need to go through customs, phone service is excellent and most people speak English. Puerto Rico offers a blend of both traditional beachy relaxation and unique cultural and historic sights (which non-beachgoing guests will appreciate).
When to Wed: As with the rest of the region, beware of hurricane season, which lasts from June through November.
Caribbean: St. Thomas and St. John
Why Get Hitched Here: Along with Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands may be a few of the most hassle-free places to have a Caribbean destination wedding. There are lots of direct flights to St. Thomas (and St. John is a short ferry ride away), airfare is usually competitive, the US dollar is the official currency, and you should have great cell phone service. St. Thomas can sometimes feel a bit crowded, since it’s a main stop on the itineraries of many cruise lines, and it’s quite developed for the Caribbean. But it’s nonetheless brimming over with natural beauty. St. John, while a bit harder to reach, is more rugged, unspoiled and higher end, with fewer big resorts. Active guests will be in heaven: St. John is known for its plentiful and easily accessible snorkeling sites, as well as its national parks. In St. Thomas, suggest that guests visit the capital city of Charlotte Amalie to see historical sites such as Fort Christian and for tons and tons of duty-free shopping.
When to Wed: Tourist season goes mid-December through mid-April, but temperature highs are in the mid-80s and lows are in the 70s year-round if you want to steer clear of the crowds. Just avoid hurricane season, which runs from June through November.
Caribbean: The Bahamas
Why Get Hitched Here: This collection of 700 islands has something for every taste—enjoy complete privacy by renting your own island, or host hundreds of your favorite people at a mega-resort. Nassau and Paradise Island are two of the most visited and activity-packed destinations, while more remote areas such as Harbor Island and the Exumas tend to feel more laid-back. And since the Bahamas are just a 35-minute plane trip from Florida, it’s an easy journey for guests and makes for a great excuse to spend a few extra days vacationing, scuba diving around Andros Island (the third-largest barrier reef in the world), strolling the white-sand beaches, touring the historic homes of Nassau and sipping Goombay Smashes (hint: a great signature cocktail).
When to Wed: The high season lasts from mid-December to mid-April, while summers are sleepier. Although hurricanes are infrequent, they can occur, so it’s best to avoid the area from June through November.
Caribbean: Turks and Caicos
Why Get Hitched Here: Less developed and more upscale than much of the Caribbean, this collection of 40 islands, eight of which are inhabited, has an intimate feel. Many of the islands are surrounded by a natural reef, making the turquoise waters just offshore clean, calm and full of sea life, and the perfect backdrop for a beach ceremony. And sunsets over Grace Bay are unforgettable (sunset ceremony, hint, hint). The islands are also relatively easy to reach, since you can fly direct from a number of US cities to Providenciales, the main island—a plus for guests. Snorkeling and scuba diving are great options to suggest, since Turks and Caicos has some of the best underwater sightseeing around. Historic Cockburn Town on Grand Turk is also worth a visit for history buffs, and whale and bird watching are two other popular activities.
When to Wed: The climate is sunny and dry, with highs between 80 and 84 degrees from November to May. But during the summer and early fall, daytime highs range from 85 to 90 degrees, sometimes reaching the mid-90s in late summer, and hurricane season also runs from June through November, so that’s not prime wedding time.
Europe: Amalfi Coast, Italy
Why Get Hitched Here: When the backdrop for your wedding is a citrus grove that overlooks Italy’s jaw-dropping Amalfi Coast, great wedding pictures take care of themselves. The Amalfi Drive is one of the most scenic stretches of Italian coastline, consisting of a winding cliff-top road offering dramatic views of the sea. Your guests will certainly enjoy the food and surroundings, so there’s no need to stress over the menu or decor. And an itinerary filled with one-of-a-kind experiences, like a visit to the ruins of Pompeii, a boat trip through the Blue Grotto off Capri or a walk through the ancient, narrow streets of Naples’s Old Spacca Quarter, will make for an unforgettable wedding weekend.
When to Wed: April through June, and September and October are the best times to explore Italy, with mild temperatures and smaller crowds. August can get hot, and it’s the month when most Italians go on vacation, so many shops, hotels and restaurants may be closed. Winters stay on the warmer side, with temps averaging around 50 degrees.
Why Get Hitched Here: If the words “fairy tale” define your idea of a dream wedding, get thee and thine (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves!) to Ireland. Amid the mist, not only does your chariot await, but so do your rolling hills, oceanside cliffs, quaint seaside villages, lush gardens, grand castles and country manors. The combination of the symbolic traditions, the genuine hospitality of the Irish people and the natural beauty of this richly romantic country make it an amazingly memorable spot to say your “I dos.” And dramatic settings for your walk down the aisle abound, from breathtaking cliffs to Tudor-style churches and the hallowed splendor of a 15th-century castle. Meanwhile, the mix of culture, museums, pubs and golfing will keep guests busy between wedding events.
When to Wed: The best weather is usually from May to September, but short showers are common throughout the year. Some accommodations close from October through March, especially in west and northwest Ireland, though prices and crowds tend to be lower then. And we probably don’t need to tell you this, but St. Patrick’s Day is kind of a big deal around there, so you may want to avoid that entire week.
Europe: Loire Valley, France
Why Get Hitched Here: Just two hours outside the world’s most romantic city (yep, we’re talking about Paris) and its international airport (that would be Charles de Gaulle) is the chateau-rich and rolling Loire Valley, cherished for its castles, historic villages, charming people, wines and food. So basically, you’ve got everything you need for a dream destination wedding. You and your guests can also enjoy the country life: Go for a wine-tasting tour, pay a visit to the Chateau d’Ussé,—said to be the setting of the French fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” in the village of Rigny-Ussé—or take a taste (or two) of the beloved tarte tatin (upside-down apple tart), which also makes a great dessert alternative.
When to Wed: Your best bets are April through June, and September through early November. While the weather is mild year-round, the rainy season varies by region and runs from mid-November through February. Don’t book your nuptials for July and August unless you want to deal with huge crowds.
Europe: Rome, Italy
Why Get Hitched Here: In the Eternal City, old-world culture mixes with a modern, energetic metropolis and historic attractions for a truly unique affair. With more artistic monuments than just about any other city in the world, Rome offers the ultimate wedding photo op. It contains as many perfect backdrops for romance as it does churches and ancient ruins—many, of course, are one and the same—from a centuries-old cobblestoned piazza to a baroque palace or even a rustic castle or villa just outside town. Plus, you’ll have access to some a-maz-ing wine, not to mention a selection of authentic Italian fare to serve your guests.
When to Wed: The best times are April through June, and September and October. In the fall, temperatures are cooler, and the city is lively but still manageable. July and August can be unbearably hot (and expensive), and most Italians go on vacation in August, so many shops, hotels and restaurants may be closed.
Europe: Tuscany, Italy
Why Get Hitched Here: Set along central Italy’s west coast, Tuscany’s green valleys, rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves and 15th-century art and architecture are what wedding dreams are made of. For a rustic, romantic affair, the wine estates and castles of central Tuscany can’t be beat. And a laid-back vibe will help your guests feel right at ease—this part of Italy is all about il dolce far niente, or “the sweet art of idleness.” Indulge your guests with amazing cuisine and wines—you’ll find some of Europe’s best here. So incorporate these local specialties into your menu: olive oil, mushrooms (such as porcini and truffles), roasted meats and salami, sheep’s milk cheeses (such as pecorino and ricotta), and out-of-this-world wines.
When to Wed: May, September and October are the best times weather-wise. July and August are the hottest and most humid times of year, but tourism swells from May through September, so pick your battles.
Why Get Hitched Here: Besides it being full of unbelievably friendly (and active) folks, there are a host of reasons to consider staging your nuptials in Australia. The land down under features gorgeous landscapes, from urban cities to the rugged outback and the unforgettable Great Barrier Reef, as well as upscale eateries influenced by Europe, Asia and homegrown spicing. And the local wines are world-class, so wow your guests by serving an Australian Shiraz or chardonnay (or both!). There’s plenty for adventurous guests all over the continent, from scuba diving, snorkeling and white-water rafting to trekking through the outback and checking out the Great Barrier Reef. For guests who prefer their adventures a bit more contained (read: Grandma and your five-year-old niece), Australia boasts several amazing zoos, plus Kangaroo Island for wildlife viewing.
When to Wed: The climate tends to be balmy and without extremes year-round, since most cities are on oceans, but during Australia’s summer (December to March), some areas can be very hot. Be sure to remind guests to pack sunscreen, sunglasses and rain protection no matter when you plan to wed.
Far-Flung: Costa Rica
Why Get Hitched Here: With two breathtaking coasts only a short plane ride away from each other—one on the Pacific, the other on the Caribbean—Costa Rica is the perfect destination for couples who are looking for an unspoiled tropical background for their nuptials but don’t want to sacrifice their modern urban tastes. In fact, this small country truly has something for every couple. Treat your guests to amazing mountaintop views during an outdoor ceremony or reception, or for a truly standout affair, you can even get married on the edge of a volcano! If you’re dreaming of a beach bash, how do sun-baked stretches of white sand sound? Though deforestation once threatened the country’s dense rain forests, several nature preserves, biological reserves and national parks have been established to protect the landscape, and they’re now some of the most naturally stunning places to say “I do” (think: waterfall wedding). Ecotourism is very popular here, making less traditional but equally luxurious eco-lodges and rain forest bungalows another desirable (and romantic) option for couples who want to throw a green wedding.
When to Wed: You’ll want to schedule your wedding during the dry season, from late December through April, except on the Caribbean coast, where it rains throughout the year (the Pacific coast is drier). The temperature and humidity vary with altitude but are much higher along the coasts.
Why Get Hitched Here: About 300 islands in the South Pacific make up this alluring tropical paradise. Known for its friendly people, lush foliage and rich sea life, Fiji is the ideal destination for couples seeking castaway tranquility, exotic culture and unspoiled beaches for their nuptials. Called the “Soft Coral Capital of the World” by Jean-Michel Cousteau, Fiji is the perfect spot for your nature-loving guests, who can feed sharks and explore sunken ships and a World War II aircraft. But there’s also terrain to suit every adventurer: Guests can trek the Sigatoka sand dunes, scale the vertical face of Joske’s Thumb, hike the Mount Korobaba Range, tee off on palm-studded golf courses by the sea or go white-water rafting down the Wainikoroiluva River.
When to Wed: The best weather is during Fiji’s dry season (called “Fiji Winter”), from May to October. Yearly festivals (including the Hindu Holi, or Festival of Colors, in February/March and Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, in October/November) could mean exciting celebrations for your guests to experience…but also crowds of tourists to compete with.
Far-Flung: New Zealand
Why Get Hitched Here: Leave behind bustling crowds that flock to closer beach destinations for the more remote landscapes of New Zealand. Water lovers will appreciate the miles of golden beaches, while landlubbers can admire the country’s pristine forests—and both make for a memorable backdrop for your wedding. Our pick for special spots to get hitched: Great Barrier Island, with its more rugged landscape, frequent wildlife sightings and secluded hot springs; the snowcapped Southern Alps for stunning views, including waterside canyons; and one of the many offshore islands, such as Waiheke Island, known for their vineyards and olive groves.
When to Wed: Most areas of the country have generally mild temperatures and many hours of sunshine, with daily average temps ranging from the low 50s to upper 60s. Like Australia, New Zealand’s seasons are the opposite of those in the US, so the warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest are June, July and August.
Far-Flung: South Africa
Why Get Hitched Here: South Africa has been called “a world in one country,” and it’s easy to see why: Towering mountains rise over a vibrant and trendy Cape Town; ostrich-dotted grasslands stretch to connect quaint villages; monkey-filled forests line the deserted beaches of Natal; and the Stellenbosch wine route tucks vast vineyards into lush, fertile valleys. Then, of course, there are the lions (and giraffes and crocodiles…). South Africa’s stunning landscapes, wildlife preserves and pristine beaches along the 2,174 miles of coast and rolling vineyards have made it an ideal vacation—and exotic destination wedding— spot. So it’s the perfect locale for adventurous couples to throw a unique wedding for guests willing to make the trek.
When to Wed: Summer (December to February) is ideal for beach bashes, while winter (June to August) is best for game viewing if you want to give guests a wild treat. Average temperatures in Cape Town range from 64 degrees in winter to 80 in summer, so you’re pretty safe year-round, but other regions can reach as high as 95 in the summer months.
Why Get Hitched Here: There’s a reason why French painter Paul Gauguin set his most famous works in Tahiti — the island is known worldwide for its picturesque landscape packed with palms, fragrant vanilla farms, vivid blooms and postcard-worthy rain forests. And there’s an even better reason why it makes the far-flung list: It gets relatively few tourists (more people visit Hawaii in 10 days than visit Tahiti in a year!). So you and your guests will enjoy great service and crowd-free beaches. Recommend that your guests tour the capital city of Papeete and hit the Marche du Papeete (central market) for black pearls, carvings, shells, vanilla, coffee and perfumes, or make their way to popular spots like Papenoo, Punaauia and Paea for surfing. And for a fun welcome activity, treat guests to a Polynesian show with traditional music and twirling flaming torches.
When to Wed: The dry season runs from May to October, but evenings can be cool, so remind your guests to pack wraps and sweaters for the evening.
Why Get Hitched Here: There’s a reason why locals commonly describe this Southeast Asian kingdom as sanuk, or “fun.” From the ornate palaces to the rich coral reefs and other wildlife—not to mention the tasty cuisine—guests will be thrilled to have an excuse to visit this exotic gem. For an exciting urban experience rivaling the pace of New York City, suggest that guests stop in Bangkok en route to your chosen wedding locale. The huge metropolis consists of kitschy souvenir shops, dance clubs, the must-see Grand Palace and the notorious red-light district. For nature lovers, northwestern Thailand is where it’s at, but the beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters and luxe resorts of destinations like Phuket (the largest and poshest island) and Koh Samui are why couples make the long trek to Thailand to get hitched.
When to Wed: November to January is the official “dry and cool” season, but heat and humidity are always present. Summer (from February to May) is the warmest, while the rainy season lasts from June to September, and you’ll get cooler temps from November to February.
Why Get Hitched Here: Set just off the Yucatan Peninsula, this peaceful island in the Caribbean is framed by one of the largest coral reef systems in the world, surrounded by turquoise waters and home to wildlife-filled nature reserves, which spells P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E for outdoorsy couples looking for a quiet spot (read: away from the tourist crowds) to tie the knot. Expect lush grounds and pristine swaths of sand, plus a range of resorts (including many luxe all-inclusives) with impeccable service and on-site wedding planners and vendors to help you plan your perfect party. Nature-loving couples and their guests will love Cozumel’s Chankanaab National Park, where you can check out a lagoon, botanical gardens and a replica of a Mayan village, and find incredible snorkeling. When the more laid-back guests tire of sipping cocktails and sunning themselves on the beach, they can hit up the shops and restaurants of downtown San Miguel.
When to Wed: High season begins in mid-December and typically lasts through Easter, with the rainy season running from May through mid-October. Although temps may only top out at 90 degrees during the summer, the humidity can make it uncomfortably hot. And beware of spring-break crowds in March and April.
Mexico: San Miguel de Allende
Why Get Hitched Here: For old-world charm and romance (think: narrow cobblestone streets, red stucco walls and Spanish Colonial–style architecture) with a mountaintop backdrop and year-round sunny temps, you won’t have to ask your guests to travel very far. Located outside Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende is Mexico’s newest hot spot, but this historic town dating back to the 1500s, is far from new. In fact, you’ll find more historic buildings and monuments than modern mega-resorts in this provincial town brimming with culture. With its gardens, centuries-old chapels and churches, and Spanish-style courtyards, plus an array of boutique hotels that define understated elegance, charming ceremony and reception spots abound in this nearly 500-year-old town. And you won’t have to worry about entertaining your guests between events—the local galleries, restaurants, shopping, spas and numerous festivals that take place throughout the year will keep them plenty busy.
When to Wed: The spring is one of the best times of year, because the temperatures are moderate, the flowers (azaleas and dogwood trees) are in full bloom, and the colors of the foliage make for a picture-perfect setting.
Mexico: Los Cabos
Why Get Hitched Here: Fun in the surf and sun is what Los Cabos—which stretches from the town of Cabo San Lucas to the west over to San Jose del Cabo to the east, along the southernmost coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula—is all about. In between the two is the Corridor, a 20-mile string of cozy hotels, championship golf courses, winding horse trails and white-sand beaches. Lively Cabo San Lucas draws plenty of celebrities, meaning there’s no shortage of uber-exclusive beach clubs and villas, plus plenty of fuss-free all-inclusives, so finding a venue and accommodations for your guests will be a breeze. You can also take a boat ride to a private beach or cove to say your vows (how’s that for special?). Looking for something a little different? Enter your beach ceremony by horse, or make the release of baby sea turtles part of your wedding program. Cabo San Lucas is also home to the region’s iconic giant rock arch at Land’s End, where the deep-blue waters of the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez meet for some spectacular waves (kind of like your relationship, no?).
When to Wed: Winter months have the best weather, but are crowded, with sunny, 70-degree days mid-December through Easter. Try April and May, traditionally slower months when the weather’s still good. Avoid spring-break season, which runs from late February through March. Though summer offers the best prices, humidity is uncomfortably high then. Rain is heaviest in June and October, with hurricanes possible through November.
Mexico: Riviera Maya
Why Get Hitched Here: This coastal stretch of the Yucatan Peninsula along the Mexican Caribbean mixes ancient Mayan ruins with palm-fringed beaches to give your wedding a real tropical feel. Farther north, seemingly carved out of the jungle, Cancun sits at the tip of the peninsula, twinkling with big resorts and a boisterous nightlife. Choose a property in Cancun’s hopping Hotel Zone, book an entire boutique hotel or go for a hacienda-style wedding in a Mayan village near one of the ancient archaeological sites. The ruins of the ancient Mayan empire in seaside Tulum provide a stunning backdrop. For a slower-paced setting, try Playa del Carmen, which displays an authentic rustic charm and is home to some gorgeous beaches. And there’s no shortage of natural settings here, either: Say “I do” in a lush, tropical garden, in a beautiful eco-park or among the cenotes, or freshwater pools, the Riviera Maya is famous for.
When to Wed: Winter months offer the best weather but are crowded, with sunny, 80-degree days from mid-December through Easter. Avoid spring-break season, late February through March. April and May are traditionally slower months, and the weather’s still good. Rain is heaviest in June and October, with hurricanes possible through November. Humidity is uncomfortably high in the summer.
Why Get Hitched Here: If you’re craving a more low-key and secluded spot over action-packed resort cities and tourist crowds, this quaint fishing town on the Pacific coast (near Ixtapa) will satisfy big time. The unspoiled beaches and colorful sunsets of this rustic beach locale make for an utterly romantic ceremony setting, and you’ll have your pick of luxe resorts and boutique hotels—all with an authentic local feel—for celebrating your nuptials. Though it’s a bit of a haul compared with other destinations in Mexico (there are no direct flights from the US), as soon as your guests land, they’ll understand why you picked this off-the-beaten-path spot (and they’ll be glad you did). Yours certainly won’t feel like any other destination wedding in the always-popular Mexico.
When to Wed: Although Zihuatanejo isn’t as popular with tourists and spring breakers as other areas, high season begins in mid-December and typically lasts through Easter, with the rainy season running from May through mid-October. Although temps may only top out at 90 degrees during the summer, the humidity can make it uncomfortably hot.