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10 Underrated Destination Wedding Spots Around the World

Whether you want an elaborate affair or a low-key bash, we've got some ideas to pique your interest.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Underrated Destination Wedding Spots Around the World

A married couple, bride and groom, at sunset on a beautiful tropical beach.
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(Getty Images)

Jump-start your wedding planning with these dreamy locales.

Jetting off to a far-flung, fairy-tale setting to say "I do" seems romantic and stress-free in theory. The reality: If you're planning to tie the knot away from home, you'll need to factor in logistics (think: accessibility, safety and cost) to ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch, says Erika Hueneke, editorial director of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. Also keep in mind throwing a destination wedding is often more expensive than planning a fete in your hometown, explains Katie James, associate features editor at Brides. For this reason, U.S. News tapped industry experts to bring you nearby and far-off locales well-suited for couples of all styles and price points.
Coastline at Tulum ruins in Mexico.
Credit

(Getty Images)

Tulum, Mexico

For a convenient, tropical wedding setting, Hueneke suggests heading to Mexico, highlighting its diverse seaside locations as easily accessible and idyllic for beach lovers. For those looking to get off the beaten path, "Tulum, Mexico, has an undiscovered feel with a lot of small boutique hotels," she says. James also points to Tulum as a choice destination for outdoorsy duos. "One of my favorites is Hotel Esencia, near Tulum, which is a perfect destination wedding venue. It's located on a secluded stretch of white-sand beach, the spa is top-notch and the catering options are very flexible, plus the paloma margaritas are legendary," James says.
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Jump-start your wedding planning with these dreamy locales.

Jetting off to a far-flung, fairy-tale setting to say "I do" seems romantic and stress-free in theory. The reality: If you're planning to tie the knot away from home, you'll need to factor in logistics (think: accessibility, safety and cost) to ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch, says Erika Hueneke, editorial director of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. Also keep in mind throwing a destination wedding is often more expensive than planning a fete in your hometown, explains Katie James, associate features editor at Brides. For this reason, U.S. News tapped industry experts to bring you nearby and far-off locales well-suited for couples of all styles and price points.

Tulum, Mexico

For a convenient, tropical wedding setting, Hueneke suggests heading to Mexico, highlighting its diverse seaside locations as easily accessible and idyllic for beach lovers. For those looking to get off the beaten path, "Tulum, Mexico, has an undiscovered feel with a lot of small boutique hotels," she says. James also points to Tulum as a choice destination for outdoorsy duos. "One of my favorites is Hotel Esencia, near Tulum, which is a perfect destination wedding venue. It's located on a secluded stretch of white-sand beach, the spa is top-notch and the catering options are very flexible, plus the paloma margaritas are legendary," James says.

St. Lucia

If your heart is set on a Caribbean ceremony, it's hard to rival the incredible views – complete with the dramatic Pitons (volcanic spires) in the backdrop – in the island of St. Lucia. And with opportunities for heart-pumping adventures (such as zip-lining, hiking and scuba diving), St. Lucia strikes the right balance of adventure and relaxation. James describes St. Lucia's Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, as a hidden gem, noting that the resort recently unveiled new villas, eliminating the stress of ensuring you have enough space for your guests. "There are also few noise restrictions on St. Lucia, so beachfront receptions can go until 11 p.m. and indoor after-parties well past dawn," she adds.

New Orleans

If you and your better half are seeking a culture-packed locale, Hueneke recommends planning a domestic destination wedding in the Big Easy. With festive and fun NOLA traditions (like a second line parade where guests follow behind a brass band), it's easy for guests to cut loose and embrace their surroundings as they celebrate with delectable Creole or classic New Orleans staples. What's more, the Crescent City offers plenty of affordable accommodation options in the French Quarter, a mix of elegant and laid-back event spaces and a wealth of worthwhile attractions and activities for out-of-town guests, from Frenchman Street to the Garden District.

Colorado

Renowned for its rustic setting and laid-back vibes, Dunton Hot Springs, in the Colorado Rockies, is an ideal place for couples who appreciate nature, James says. Set near Telluride, Colorado, "the resort is located in an 18th-century mining town, so it has that kind of Wild West feel outdoorsy brides crave," she says, noting you can rent the whole property, which can accommodate up to 60 guests. "There's a rustic-chic wooden pergola for the ceremony, and tons of activities to entertain guests in between events, like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing and fishing," she adds. Hueneke also suggests Beaver Creek, Colorado, for striking mountain vistas, outdoor splendors and scenic hiking trails.

Switzerland

Let's get this out of the way: A wedding in Switzerland will likely be a long pilgrimage for guests. But with jaw-dropping scenery and enticing recreational activities, you'll offer guests a once-in-a-lifetime experience. James points to St. Moritz as an often-overlooked locale for adventure-seeking couples. "The two-time Winter Olympics host is the ultimate cold-weather playground," she says, highlighting activities such as bobsledding and ice skating. And come summer, you and your guests can explore scenic hiking trails and go horseback riding, she adds. What's more, the area is home to numerous five-star properties, making it ideal for luxury seekers interested in indulging in opulent spa treatments and shopping before the big day.

Sintra, Portugal

Often overshadowed by popular European wedding and honeymoon spots – such as Paris, Santorini and Rome, Sintra offers a romantic atmosphere brimming with colonial charm and hidden cultural gems. A tiny mountain village near Lisbon, Sintra transformed into a sought-after destination for Spanish monarchs during the 19th century, James explains. Aside from holding UNESCO World Heritage Site status, Sintra offers spectacular architecture and attractions, like the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, James notes. "You can buy out the boutique hotel Tivoli Palacio de Seteais, an architectural marvel in its own right, that's the perfect base camp for guests to explore Sintra or daytrip to Lisbon, which is only 30 minutes by car," she says.

Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, with its lavish villas, storied mansions and winding vineyards, offers a memorable setting for couples planning a far-off fete. James points to Villa Pliniana as a particularly opulent (and 500-year-old) estate that's well worth the splurge. "You can fit 200 guests in the ballrooms and up to 500 in the waterfront gardens, plus the villa sleeps 39 – perfect for housing immediate family and the wedding party," she says. Even better, it's adjacent to Il Sereno, a 30-room hotel set to open in August, she says. Buying out the villa costs $150,000 (for a five-night stay), but you get a five-night honeymoon at Le Sereno in St. Barts thrown in, she adds.

Clearwater, Florida

If price is a top consideration, "focus on second-tier regions," James says. That way, you'll avoid paying an extra 20 to 30 percent for a venue in a competitive market. Rather than getting hitched in Palm Beach or Miami, she recommends heading to Florida's Gulf Coast towns, where you'll find more reasonably priced event spaces. "For example, Opal Sands [Resort], in Clearwater, Florida, offers a 25 percent discount to couples who get married on Thursday or Sunday," she says. Prior to the wedding, guests can hit the links or join an eco-tour. Plus, the spa at Opal Sands offers soothing treatments, such as facials and full-body massages – the perfect remedy for wedding-planning fatigue.

Southeast Asia

If you're looking to spring for an unforgettable destination wedding, Southeast Asia is an attractive choice. "Not only are you already in a bucket-list honeymoon locale, but you can also plan a ceremony in a stunning on-site chapel at resorts like the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, the Conrad Bali and Anantara Layan Phuket [in Thailand]," James says. Plus, these resorts offer villa rentals, making it convenient and cost-effective for guests to room together, she adds. And according to Tom Marchant, co-founder of luxury travel outfitter Black Tomato, you can plan one-of-a-kind experiences in far-flung locales, like Bali. He recalls arranging a wedding ceremony where guests dined at an ancient holy temple prepared by a Balinese chef.

Sri Lanka

While Sri Lanka may not be the first place that comes to mind when you picture an off-the-grid wedding, you should add it to your list, Marchant says. Sure, you'll need to hop on a long flight to get there, but upon arrival, you and loved ones can slip away to opulent luxury villas in Galle and Tangalle, along the Island's southern coast, which offer exclusive beaches and private chefs, he adds. And after the nuptials, newlyweds can enjoy "taking an elephant safari in Minneriya [National Park], soaking in the ancient Buddhist cave temples of Dambulla or taking a train through the rolling fields of tea leaves along Sri Lanka's tea trails," he says.
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