Couples in the early stages of planning for a wedding often rule out a destination wedding as out of their reach. But in reality, a destination wedding can actually be more affordable than having a traditional wedding. While there are certainly pros and cons to any wedding ceremony, what could be better than celebrating a new life together anywhere in the world? What's more, most any resort or cruise line offers a complete wedding package, including an expert wedding planner. Here are just five of the destination wedding locations in the world.
Whether the choice is an all-inclusive wedding on Martinique or a palatial setting in Aruba, the Caribbean Islands is universally acclaimed for its stylish wedding venues. Of all the nearly 30 island nations that comprise the region, Jamaica is by far the most popular locale to couples to exchange their vows. Moreover, with the exception of Mexico, this island in the Antilles, just 90 miles south of Cuba, is the most popular international wedding destination for Americans. Virtually all of the top resort hotels can be found either on the north or west coasts, with extraordinary properties like Sandals Royal Plantation and Half Moon in Montego Bay and The Caves and Azul Sensatori Jamaica in Negril. Other very popular spots that should also be considered for a destination wedding include Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands, Barbados, Antigua and St. Martin.
Paris is often considered the world's most romantic city, which makes it also one of the most coveted places for a destination wedding. A veritable playground of sites and things to do for the husband and wife-to-be, the amazing City of Lights seems to have it all, from some of the world's most famous landmarks and magnificent architecture to romantic hotels and world-class dining. Yet despite the vast collection of wedding venues such as Notre Dame Cathedral, Opera Garnier and, of course, the Eiffel Tower, there are several more choices for a wedding venue throughout France. Some couples might prefer oceanfront wedding venues in the French Riviera in cities like Saint-Tropez, Cannes and Nice, while others might opt to exchange their vows in the breathtaking Bordeaux wine region in southwestern France or the alluring city of Aix-en-Provence in southeastern France.
There are several reasons why the Hawaiian Islands are often the first domestic destination couples think of for an unforgettable wedding. For starters, there is the gorgeous tropical setting amid spectacular ocean vistas. Add in hundreds of romantic wedding venues, and couples have many places to choose from, with a variety of prices, for their very special ceremony. In fact, Hawaii hosts an estimated 20,000 weddings annually, which is second only to Las Vegas in the U.S. and far more than any other American destination. Among places to consider for a magical wedding ceremony in the Hawaiian Islands include the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Turtle Bay Resort and Kahala Hotel and Resort on Oahu and the Montage Kapalua Bay and Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort on arguably the world's best island — Maui. The Big Island of Hawaii also offers a wealth of other captivating wedding venues, such as Royal Kona Resort, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel.
It's not surprising to discover that Mexico is America's most popular spot for a destination wedding. It's accessible by car, airline and cruise ship, and it offers endless miles of world-class beaches and glamorous oceanfront resorts. The most desirable locations can be found along the Mexican Riviera at romantic hotspots like Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, as well as the Yucatan Peninsula at other trendy spots like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the island of Cozumel. All of these remarkable destinations offer a stunning array of wedding venues, but couples looking for the ultimate wedding experience might want to consider luxury resorts like The Cape, A Thompson Hotel and the One&Only Palmilla in Cabo. Or the CostaBaja Resort & Spa in La Paz and the Fairmont Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba and El Dorado Maroma on the Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen.
A mere speck on the world map, Tahiti represents a wedding destination that, in many ways, is larger than life. Just the name itself conjures up images of stunning thatched roof hideaways surrounded by shimmering aquamarine waters with white sandy beaches and towering palm trees in the near distance. Consistently regarded as one of the world's most romantic spots, Tahiti is the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that are collectively known as French Polynesia. With summerlike conditions and breathtaking venues, couples can plan a destination any time of the year, with the high season from May through October. While the unique wedding venue is simply up to the couple, all of the top resorts on the main island and the more exclusive island of Bora Bora and specialize in elegant wedding settings. Among the best rated are Le Meridien Tahiti and Vahine Island Private Resort on Tahiti and the InterContinental Bora Bora, Four Seasons Bora Bora and Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa on Bora Bora. Couples interested in a more secluded destination can also consider the island of Moorea, with top resorts like Moorea Pearl Resort and Spa, Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa and Hotel Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort.
Related: Best U.S. Honeymoon Destinations
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com
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