20 Best Destination Wedding Ideas And Hotels

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Destination wedding ideas
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Destination weddings are increasingly popular, and many people are choosing this option to keep a wedding more intimate, perhaps in a spot exceptionally meaningful to the couple or their family. But there's a lot of work and consideration that goes into this type of wedding.

First, you need to choose a destination that is easy to access while considering your guests' locations. Says Mary Angelini of Key Moment Films, “I filmed a wedding recently, one from Australia and the other from England. They married in Orlando; it was a meeting in the middle. Plus, it was easy to access, and there were plenty of flights from both sides of the world.”

Before you nix this as one of your wedding ideas, there are perks to having a destination wedding. It gives the couple an excuse to plan a wedding weekend, where guests and the couple can spend additional time exploring the destination together.

“We had a couple from Miami marry in Porto Vallarta, Mexico. They had their rehearsal dinner on a catamaran where they dined while watching the sunset, and then danced the night away on the deck just like they were in a club in Miami,” says Angelini.

If you want a destination wedding, here are some hot spots to consider tying the knot.

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1. COMO Castello Del Nero in Tuscany, Italy

Hidden among the rolling hills of Tuscany lies COMO Castello Del Nero, in easy driving distance of the Renaissance cities of Florence and Siena. At the heart of this historic 740-acre estate is a twelfth-century castle layered with Renaissance frescoes and contemporary design. The former home of two Italian noble families, COMO Castello Del Nero is now a luxury hotel with 10,000-square-feet.

Memorable details include restored original frescoes, fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, “cotto” floors, and a gorgeous collection of antique furniture. The resort has a number of impressive venues, including extensive formal gardens, a terrace with panoramic views, elegant dining areas, and intimate frescoed suites. 

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2. Blue Desert Cabo in Mexico

Blue Desert Cabo is quickly becoming an elite bucket list destination in Mexico, boasting a selection of the most luxurious and incredible villas and rental properties. Newlyweds can rent out an entire villa to experience the ultimate luxurious beachside honeymoon. The concierge team will set up swimming with dolphins, golfing on pristine courses, private chefs and bartenders, personal training, spa services, mountain biking, and they’ll even take care of the grocery shopping, leaving guests to relax and enjoy.

The villas are extraordinary, on the edge of the Sea of Cortez, each one with 5-10 bedrooms. Many of the gated properties feature infinity pools, outdoor bars and patios, fire pits, ocean-front views and private beachside entrances, and maid service.

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3. Mahekal Beach Resort in Mexico

Nestled between the dense Riviera Maya jungle and Playa del Carmen’s longest stretch of beach, this laid-back luxe resort is the ultimate destination wedding venue. Notable features include saying "I do" in various tropical settings, whether barefoot on the beach beneath dimmed lanterns strung along coconut palm trees, on a platform stage positioned atop the oceanfront infinity pool blending into the sparkling Caribbean Sea, or in the resort’s new Open Canopied Chapel set amongst lavish gardens and the natural tropical jungle.

The Aventura section of Mahekal is available and offers bungalows clustered together, near Las Olas restaurant and bar and the famed infinity pool. Whether oceanfront or nestled in the Riviera Maya jungle, casitas offer stunning views, personal plunge pools, hammocks, open-air atmospheres and more. And the Ocean Front bungalows are located directly on the beach, just 10 steps from the water.

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4. Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort in Miami Beach, Florida

Situated on 216 lush acres, just off the coast of Miami Beach, this is an exclusive private island. With world-class resort amenities, luxury boutique accommodations, and unparalleled service, breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and Miami skyline, Fisher Island is the perfect backdrop for your destination wedding or honeymoon.

Once the private winter estate of the Vanderbilt family, guests are transported into another era upon entering the historic 1930s Mediterranean-style Vanderbilt Mansion. The 2,250 square-foot Ballroom provides the perfect setting for indoor dining and dancing, while the 6,800 square-foot East Terrace makes for an ethereal reception beneath the stars.

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5. Daufuskie Island in South Carolina

Daufuskie Island, accessible only by boat, offers a private, romantic setting for a wedding weekend. At the luxury community of Haig Point, more than 3 miles of oceanfront offers many unique spots for a small, intimate ceremony and reception. The five-mile-long island is the picture of Southern charm, with weeping willows and white sandy beaches.

In between festivities, guests can fill their time with Daufuskie Island Trail Rides to soak up the beaches of Haig Point via horseback, dine on the freshest deviled crab (the island specialty), shuck oysters right off the roasting pit at local restaurants, or play a round of golf on one of the top residential golf courses. There are no cars on the island; visitors are welcome to explore the truly secluded oasis by bike, electric golf cart or by foot.

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6. The Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Florida

The historic charm and Mediterranean architecture of The Biltmore Hotel is reflected throughout the hotel’s elegant ballrooms with grand architectural ornaments such as Cathedral arches, decorative hand-painted ceilings, and intricate chandeliers. Whether a ceremony under the stars, a romantic garden or a spectacular ballroom, The Biltmore offers picturesque venues for both indoor and outdoor ceremonies.

In December 2018, The Biltmore Hotel Miami completed a $30 million renovation to the entire hotel including the golf course. Most recently, The Biltmore was the host of ceremony venue for the founders of Venus et Fleur.

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7. Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa in Mexico

The pristine beach at Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, nestled on a sandy strip between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay, is a fairytale destination. With elegant spaces, custom catering and personalized service, lovebirds can expect the certified wedding coordinators to take their wedding wish list and transform it into an event to remember.

After the big day, newlyweds can enjoy the Ohtli Spa and experience a treatment inspired by the local Huichol tribal culture, while sipping on “agua de amor,” the signature drink symbolizing love. Additionally, the resort's “Pridefully Ever After” package includes accommodations in one of the resort’s newly-renovated ocean-view rooms (with a private balcony), daily breakfast buffet, and a symbolic wedding or vow renewal ceremony hosted at your location of choice.

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8. One Ocean Resort & Spa in Atlantic Beach, Florida

Prominently located oceanfront on Atlantic Beach, Florida, this resort offers outdoor wedding space options with covered or uncovered cocktail reception areas as well as spacious ballrooms. Nuptials for up to 200 are custom-designed to reflect each couple’s personal style, from elegant weddings in the Atlantic Ballroom and casual al fresco receptions on the expansive Verandinam to free-spirited vows exchanged with toes in the sand.

As a picturesque wedding destination, the resort’s award-winning culinary team presents exemplary creations while the wedding coordinators handle details from location and food and beverage, to bridal party gatherings, rehearsal dinners and farewell brunches. 

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9. Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana

Located on the shores of Flathead Lake in northwest Montana, Flathead Lake Lodge is a family-owned and -operated guest ranch that provides one of the most stunning destination wedding locations in the West. Plus, the lodge has a variety of ceremony options, ranging from their island to a large meadow.

They specialize in three-night, all-inclusive destination wedding packages with customizable itineraries that include menus, abundant outdoor recreation (horseback rides, mountain biking, sailing, boat cruises), barn dances and more, all within steps of the pristine waters of Flathead Lake.

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10. Bianchi Winery and Tasting Room in Paso Robles, California

Bianchi Winery and Tasting Room and its beautiful Vineyard House allow the couple to stay right on the 40-acre vineyard property in the heart of Paso Robles, California wine country. The bride cna alsouse it as a bridal suite for the day, perhaps transitioning into the suite for the married couple the night of.

A magical place for weddings, the property features the quintessential rolling hills of vineyards, a koi-filled and waterfall-fed lake, and more.

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11. Fairmont Banff Springs in Canada

Nestled in a wildlife corridor in the Canadian Rockies, the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs is a prime, sought-after location to live out a fairytale destination wedding. Fairmont Banff Springs is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Canada’s first national park.

Built in 1888, the Castle provides a unique opportunity to tie the knot in a historic setting. With over 76,000 square feet of versatile event space, couples can say “I do” in venues ranging from an outdoor terrace surrounded by sweeping mountain views, a grand ballroom or even a cozy and intimate space. The talented chefs create both authentically local menus and classic cuisine.

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12. The Keys Collection in Keywest, Florida

The Keys Collection, a group of four hotels in Key West, recently debuted the Sunset Green event lawn, complete with a vintage airstream trailer which makes for a unique bar or bridal dressing room. And it comes with bragging rights as hit bands such as The Beach Boys and Air Supply played The Sunset Green which holds up to 800 guests seated.

Key West can be notorious for expensive weddings; however, the Sunset Green boasts beautiful scenery, the peace of mind of accommodations for every guest’s budget, and the affordability that brides are searching for. Couples who choose to tie the knot on the Sunset Green can expect welcome drinks for guests, complimentary room upgrades for the couple, and discounted room rates for wedding guests.

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13. Shooters Waterfront in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

A Fort Lauderdale landmark since 1982, the recently renovated Shooters Waterfront Restaurant just launched a trio of new private event spaces totaling 6,000 square feet and can to seat up to 175 guests on their second floor, equipped with its own kitchen and private restrooms.

Floor-to-ceiling windows conveniently slide open to offer an unobstructed view of the Intracoastal Waterway, allowing guests the salty air feel of an outdoor reception with the luxury of air conditioning and safety from inclement weather. The bride, groom, and their maritime guests will enjoy the option to arrive by boat or yacht.

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14. Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, the all-inclusive Hilton Rose Hall offers weddings and vow renewals for free with their “Just For The Two of You” and “Intimate Elegance” package options. For the “Just For the Two of You Package,” couples are offered a complimentary wedding for two with a seven-night stay, including amenities like a ceremony destination (oceanside, in a gazebo, or under the arches of a former aqueduct).

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For those who wish to have their loved ones present, the “Intimate Elegance” package also offers weddings for free with up to 10 guests with the purchase of 25 room nights. Along with all of the amenities of the “Just for Two” package, the “Intimate Elegance” offering also includes a couples massage and a romantic dinner for two.

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15. Sanctuary Cap Cana in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Travelers can get hitched in paradise at this Punta Cana adults-only, all-inclusive resort fit for kings and queens. For up to 10 guests and a 25 room booking, guests of this Spanish-castle style destination are treated to a complimentary vow renewal through the resort’s “Majestic Intimate Elegance” package.

Couples are offered free pre-planning services by onsite professionals, a celebratory cake, a couple’s massage, discounts on top-shelf liquor, and a complimentary dinner reservation for 12 guests at one of their gourmet restaurants on the evening of the ceremony.

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16. Hotel El Convento in Puerto Rico

With year-long beautiful weather, and people as warm and welcoming as the sunny days, few islands in the Caribbean are as accessible or as romantic as Puerto Rico for a couple’s special day in paradise. Puerto Rico offers many venues to fit every personality and vision, from Spanish Colonial to the traditional beach, to countryside to luxury.

Throughout the Island, couples find architectural gems, centuries-old lighthouses and natural wonders where they can capture special memories on their big day. The cobblestone streets and Spanish architecture of Old San Juan is iconic, and El Convento is located in the heart of this charming district. An old monastery adjoining the San Juan Cathedral square, this hotel dates back to 1646 and is fully equipped with an exquisite ballroom.

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17. Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya in Mexico

The secluded beach at Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya is the perfect setting for a tropical wedding, complete with a white-sand beach and crystal-clear Caribbean waters as a backdrop. The resort has the largest beachfront area of all the properties in the Mayakoba complex and can host ceremonies for up to 200 people.

The spectacular Balam Ballroom offers 6,200 square feet of versatile indoor and outdoor spaces that have flexible configurations, and can accommodate up to 320 people. The most popular wedding venues are the Lagoon and Beach Pool, evoking magical settings equipped with twinkling lights and stunning views of the beach.

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18. Thatch Caye Resort in Belize 

Thatch Caye is an all-inclusive private island resort in Belize, where guests can live out their dreams in overwater bungalows looking out across the Caribbean. Perfectly located across the Belize Barrier Reef and big enough for only 30 guests with 15 villa accommodations, the 2-mile island offers fun in a barefoot casual environment, and features the ideal setting for water adventure seekers with paddle boards, kayaks, snorkeling and other island hopping boat excursions along Belize's coast.

The all-inclusive resort features a variety of amenities for wedding parties, including a full reception, floral turndown service on wedding night, a live Belizean band and Garifuna Drummers for the procession, conch shell wedding aisle and decorated palapa for the ceremony, a pig roast reception and more. A variety of on-island group activities are also available for the wedding party, from SCUBA and world-class fly fishing to stargazing cruises or island hopping adventures from one caye to the next.

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19. Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico

The five-star luxury Rosewood Mayakoba sits in the heart of a 1600-acre resort enclave in the Riviera Maya. Built along winding lagoons and a mile-long arc of pristine beach, the resort offers 129 suites and seven private villas with plunge pools, garden showers, individual docks and a unique array of dining options and outdoor activities. From Sense Spa, offering luxurious treatments that hone in on Mayan healing practices, to the Rosewood Explorers program for children, Rosewood Mayakoba is an ideal place for those looking to celebrate their nuptials in style.

Surrounded by verdant jungle and the pristine white sands of the Caribbean Sea, the luxury resort exudes romance and sophistication, offering a myriad of one-of-a-kind tropical settings for wedding ceremonies, rehearsal dinners, bridal luncheons and receptions of every size and style. From the private gardens of La Ceiba to the beachside Aqui Me Quedo, the resort's newest venue for up to 500 guests, couples can choose between a beach wedding, an outdoor garden, a mezcal-inspired magical setting, or more with the resort's personalized wedding coordinator.

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20. Pestana's Pousada Castelo de Palmela in Portugal

Located in the historic center of the city of Palmela just 26 miles from Lisbon, this is the perfect destination for a magical, castle-inspired wedding. The property, which sits 754 feet above sea level, boasts fantastic views of the Serra da Arrábida and overlooks the region’s rich vineyards. As a unique architectural touch, the Pousada includes cloisters from the old convent of the Order of Santiago that was constructed inside a castle.

As a wedding destination, each room at the property is full of history and decorated with tapestries and ornamental objects, with event venues accommodating up to 100 people. Windows at these event venues open up to amazing views of the lowlands, neighboring Costa Azul beaches and vineyards surrounding the property.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at alywalansky@gmail.com.