Editor’s Note: Are you a wedding planner advising couples on a unique place to say “I Do” in 2023 or beyond? Part Two of a two-part series about luxury destinations around the world that remain a bit undiscovered—for now at least. Read Part One.
Much like we can count on Hugh Grant or Sandra Bullock to star in rom-coms, there’s certain islands and metropolises that are typecast as leading wedding destinations. They’re certainly popular for a reason. But there’s many more up-and-comers looking to be discovered. To continue with this Hollywood analogy, let’s just say these lesser-known destinations are eager to be cast in weddings, with their beautiful scenery playing a supporting role in the backdrop of nuptials.
In our first installment of underrated wedding destinations for 2023, we explored a no-passport needed island in Florida, a heart-shaped peninsula in Croatia and a dreamy beach setting in Africa among other places.
Now, we’re turning our attention to more cities around the world, including the Big Easy where wedding guests can “laissez les bons temps rouler,” a spectacular Canadian destination that’s on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and a European locale that’s known as “The Spa Capital of the World.”
If you’re a wedding planner advising couples on destinations that are unique, but romantic, here’s five more destinations to consider.
Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and there’s plenty of shores to explore just outside of Minneapolis, like the Chain of Lakes that connects lakeshores with walkable and bikeable paths. It’s a fun escape for out-of-town guests who are coming in early or staying after the event and also a picturesque spot for wedding weekend photos. Minneapolis also has a fantastic brewery and distillery scene, plus a thrumming theater district and the free Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Park, another great spot for photos.
Couples who choose this thrumming Midwest city to host their weddings have their pick of hotel venues to match the uniqueness of their ceremonies.
Located in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood, the boutique Hewing Hotel has venues with historic charm and modern amenities, like the Andrews Ballroom with its exposed brick walls. The on-site Tullibee Restaurant can cater receptions, including passed appetizers, boards loaded with meats, cheeses and local fermented vegetables as well as plated dinner service. For late-night party guests, there’s even State Fair-inspired snacks with a gourmet spin. (Minnesota’s State Fair is one of the biggest in the country). Guests in town for the wedding also love the rooftop of the Hewing Hotel, which has a Nordic-inspired sauna.
Another great option is the InterContinental Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, which is connected to the airport, making travel seamless for out-of-town guests. The hotel has stunning wedding venue spaces, including the penthouse-level Altitude that comes with panoramic views of the Minnesota River Valley and skylines of the Twin Cities.
Located downtown and surrounded by some of the city’s greatest amenities, the stylish Royal Sonesta Minneapolis Downtown is within walking distance to restaurants and theaters and Target Field. The lavish Scandinavian Ballroom is perfect for weddings.
One more thing: Don’t forget to cue up one of Prince’s love songs at the reception. Minneapolis was the showman’s hometown.
New Orleans, Louisiana
From photogenic locations like Jackson Square to hidden garden courtyards and sweet treats like pralines and beignets plus sultry jazz bars, romance is palpable in New Orleans. If couples want to get in on the signature cocktail trend, they’ve got all kinds of options since the Big Easy is credited to inventing many of the classics, including the rye whiskey-forward sazerac, the rum-centric Hurricane and the Vieux Carre that was dreamed up at Hotel Monteleone.
Wedding parties have their pick in NOLA, including the Hotel Monteleone, a historic hotel in the heart of the French Quarter that’s considered the Grand Dame of New Orleans. Ballrooms with Southern charm are the consummate host for weddings, plus there’s exclusive photo opps at the hotel’s iconic Carousel Bar and next to the famed rooftop Hotel Monteleone sign.
Also located in the French Quarter, the Royal Sonesta New Orleans features traditional NOLA architecture and courtyards and can be considered a “VIP box seat to a true New Orleans experience.” The hotel’s Desire Oyster Bar and The Jazz Playhouse both make for fun wedding weekend additions. Filled with lush plants and a fountain, the 5,240 square-foot Fleur de Lis Suite and Courtyard is a venue that expertly captures the charm of New Orleans.
Or, tucked in the Garden District along the streetcar route on St. Charles Avenue is The Pontchartrain Hotel. The Parlor is a high-design wedding venue at the hotel that comes with lovely details like historic brick walls, French toile wallpaper, a magnolia wall and eye-catching chandeliers dangling from vaulted ceilings. The catering team can arrange for fresh seafood displays, a guest favorite.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Mountain weddings come with all types of benefits, from the fresh mountain air to the postcard-perfect scenery. For high-altitude nuptials, look no further than Sun Valley Idaho, where the lush green mountains in the background will join your wedding party in photos.
Sun Valley Resort spoils guests with several scenic wedding venue options. The most popular is the Trail Creek Pavilion that comes with dramatic views of Bald Mountain. Set on manicured grounds, the wedding tent has rustic wood chandeliers and interior bistro lighting plus unforgettable mountain and valley views. Or, accessible only by gondola (which means VIP views), the Roundhouse Restaurant has unrivaled views of the Sawtooth Mountains and is a coveted spot for a mountain wedding ceremony or a rehearsal dinner.
Leading up to the big day, wedding guests can enjoy the four-season playground that Sun Valley offers, including hiking, fly fishing, biking, golfing or enjoying a movie night at the resort’s Opera House.
From Danube River cruises to a mesmerizing music fountain that puts on synchronized displays plus castle-like architecture, Michelin-starred restaurants and thermal baths galore, there’s much to fall in love with in the city of Budapest, which is nicknamed the “Spa Capital of the World.”
Romantic types can take sunset strolls across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, the iconic cast iron suspension bridge that’s illuminated at night or take in sweeping views of the city from the Buda Hill Funicular, a historic cable car.
In the heart of it all, Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest is an ideal spot for weddings with venues that are both modern and grandiose. Guests can dance the night away in The Grand Room and newlyweds can spend the night in a suite that overlooks Budapest. Another way to see the Hungarian capital’s spellbinding skyline is a ride on the Ferris Wheel, which is next to the hotel. To relax before the wedding, Kempinski’s spa has a seasonal menu of massages plus signature couple treatments.
The spring and fall shoulder seasons are especially beautiful times of year for Budapest weddings.
Vancouver is a charmer, from the cobblestone streets, Victorian architecture and antique lampposts in Gastown to the bike routes along the Seawall and beaches beckoning newlyweds to enjoy a sunset stroll.
Make the luxury Pan Pacific Vancouver your wedding headquarters, where rooms and venues come with views for days. The harbor, city and mountainscape all compete for your attention. The iconic hotel overlooks Burrard Inlet and its “Five Sails” that fly outside Canada Place are a Vancouver landmark. (The sails might look soft and fluffy, but they’re actually fiberglass and Teflon-coated sheets).
As far as meeting spaces go, The Crystal Pavilion is an exceptionally elegant space with an iridescent canopy of dazzling crystals. Or, the Pool Terrace is an outdoor venue that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, Stanley Park and The North Shore Mountains. Other venues include scenic suites overlooking the harbor and ocean.