St. Lucia's Twin Pitons framed by flowers

Consider St. Lucia, one of the most spectacular settings in the Caribbean, for your wedding. (Getty Images)

There are endless possibilities when it comes to selecting the perfect destination for the wedding you’ve always imagined. Do you picture yourself saying “I do” on a sandy, white beach with the sound of the surf pounding the shores in the background, or are you ready to hit the slopes for a winter wedding in a mountain resort town? Every bride wants their special day to exceed their wildest dreams, so where do you go to create that magic, and do you plan your party for just the two of you or for two hundred?

“The trend I’m seeing is more intimate weddings in small properties that are a home away from home,” says Terry Bahri, a travel consultant with En Route Travel, a Virtuoso Agency in Pacific Palisades, California. “Couples are getting married in the countryside in France or Italy in a garden setting or in a vineyard. Sometimes it’s just the bride and groom.” One of the properties she has booked for smaller destination weddings is Castello del Nero Hotel and Spa in Tuscany. This stunning resort, formerly a 12th-century castle, is picturesquely situated in the vineyards and lush, rolling green hillsides lined with Italian Cypress in the Chianti region. And if the wedding of your dreams takes place in a garden in the French countryside, Terry suggests Le Moulin Bregeon in Linières Bouton in the Loire Valley. This unique property, once a 19th century water mill, has five elegant suites and is enchanting for an intimate affair with its romantic ambiance accented with beautiful tablescapes and lighting.

Whether it’s a celebration for just the two of you or you’re inviting family and friends, here are several other magical destinations that will make your wedding fantasies come true.

Hôtel Royal – Evian Resort
Evian-les-Bains, France

If you envision getting married by a lake with snow-capped mountain peaks as the backdrop, then consider traveling to the French town of Evian-les-Bains for your special day. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva at the foot of the French Alps, Hôtel Royal – Evian Resort is a Belle Epoque-style luxury property set in a 47-acre park. This pictorial resort is perfect for a romantic wedding for two or as many as 300 guests. The town of Evian-les-Bains, just across the lake from Lausanne, Switzerland, is best known for its acclaimed mineral water, and it is one of the world’s top thermal spa destinations. Calm pre-wedding jitters with a visit to the property’s two-story Spa Evian Source, where you can experience the Indian body scrub. This couples 75-minute signature treatment softens and smooths the skin with a combination of chickpea flour and rose water and is traditionally given in India as a gift to newlyweds on their wedding night.

Hop Over to the Caribbean

St. Lucia

Imagine getting married in one of the most spectacular settings in the Caribbean: a crescent-shaped stretch of white sand located between St. Lucia’s famed Pitons with the sparkling turquoise waters of the Caribbean beside you. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this unique area is known as the Val des Pitons (Valley of the Pitons). If this is what your wedding destination dreams are made of, make plans to travel to Sugar Beach in the West Indies. This luxury property, a Viceroy Resort, is nestled into 100 acres of rainforest in the mountainside on land that was once a sugar plantation. There are a total of 96 accommodations with villas, cottages, rooms and beach bungalows just steps away from the water. St. Lucia is a favorite hideaway destination of celebrities like Oprah, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. Matt Damon and his wife Luciana chose this special beachfront spot to renew their vows. Now that you know about it, you can create your own magical day there, too.

Barbuda

If your heart is set on a smaller secluded island, Barbuda offers the perfect intimate setting for a romantic wedding. A 20-minute plane ride from its sister island of Antigua, Barbuda is virtually untouched by tourism. Located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the island is known for its precious pink and white sands, reefs around the coastline and the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. Home to over 5,000 fascinating seagoing birds with wingspans stretching up to six feet, frigatebirds can stay airborne for weeks at a time. There are several luxury properties and guesthouses on the island. The newest property, Barbuda Belle, features just six individual beautifully decorated beach bungalows, each with views of the water and surrounding mangroves. It’s the ultimate quiet Caribbean getaway in harmony with nature to celebrate your nuptials and then relax and unwind on your honeymoon.

Stay Close to Home

Terranea
Rancho Palos Verdes, California

This luxury destination resort, just a short drive from Los Angeles, will dazzle you with its views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island in the distance. The 102-acre estate in Southern California offers a wide selection of accommodations, including rooms and suites, cozy bungalows with fireplaces that are close to the ocean and larger casitas and villas for families. The resort also features many activities for the bride and groom and guests, including a stunning indoor and outdoor spa overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Palos Verdes coastline, and adventurous outdoor pursuits such as sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. For a day you’ll never forget, share your vows on the lawn at sunset with the rocky California coastline below and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore while the sky is painted with brilliant colors as the sun drops into the Pacific Ocean.

Gateway Canyons
Gateway, Colorado

If you dream of getting hitched on land rather than by sea and you’re looking for an adventure and a breathtaking setting in a canyon surrounded by majestic red rocks, head west to Gateway Canyons in Colorado. Just an hour’s drive from Grand Junction, this luxury adobe-style resort with a Southwestern vibe is located in Unaweep Canyon, one of the most unique red rock canyons in the world. These great wonders, formed from soft red sandstone over thousands of years by the powerful rivers that once ran through this region, are just part of the beauty of the original homelands of the ancient Native American Fremont, Anasazi and Ute tribes. With its incredible scenery, history, spirituality, soft adventure and more rugged activities, and close proximity to national parks in both Colorado and Utah, this property offers a unique outdoor destination experience for you and your guests.

Tags: vacations, travel, marriage

Gwen Pratesi Contributor

Gwen Pratesi is a James Beard Finalist in Journalism, award-winning food and travel writer, and coauthor of PratesiLiving.com, where she shares the stories of her international food and travel experiences. She also freelances for other regional, U.S., and international publications. You can follow her at Twitter (@pratesiliving), Linkedin, Google+, Facebook, and Instagram.


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