Editor’s Note: Are you a wedding planner advising couples on a unique place to say “I Do” in 2023 or beyond? This is ALHI’s first installment in a two-part series about luxury destinations around the world that remain a bit undiscovered—for now at least.
When you think of “destination weddings,” several popular spots probably flash to mind like the sandy shores of the Hawaiian Islands or the glittering Eiffel Tower in the backdrop of Paris nuptials. But outside these iconic romance capitals, some couples are looking to tie the knot in more under-the-radar destinations that feel a bit undiscovered.
In fact, about two in 10 couples are taking the destination wedding route, according to The Knot’s 2022 Real Weddings Study. And most of them are looking for the path less traveled, with nearly 60 percent saying they want an “interesting” locale.
If you’re a wedding planner advising couples on destinations that are unique yet romantic, here’s five spots to recommend—from an idyllic Florida island to a heart-shaped peninsula in Europe.
Amelia Island, Florida
For an island wedding close to home, set your sights on Amelia Island in Florida, which is known for its pristine beaches as well as its tidal marsh and maritime forest.
Part of the Sea Islands chain of barrier islands on Florida’s Atlantic coast, couples here can exchange vows under a canopy of moss-draped live oaks or say “I do” on soft golden sands with a chorus of waves crashing in the background. The island feels a world away, but it’s just 30 miles from Jacksonville International Airport, making it accessible for wedding guests.
Omni Amelia Island Resort is located on the tip of the barrier island and is a scenic destination for coastal weddings. The resort has several gorgeous wedding venues, including one on the beach with waves sparkling in the backdrop as well as Walker’s Landing on the marsh and Oak Point Lawn amid Spanish moss-covered live oak trees. Another unique venue on the property for wedding-related gatherings is The Sprouting Project, which is an intimate outdoor space with a garden, greenhouse, creek, small citrus grove and an outdoor kitchen and bar.
You know Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, as well as its bourbon and sluggers. But this gateway to the South will charm wedding guests even further with its historic Victorian architecture, immaculate gardens and delectable culinary scene.
Louisville is home to some gorgeous wedding venues. The Omni Louisville Hotel is a stylish hotel in downtown Louisville that, in addition to ballrooms, has its own bourbon bar, plus a speakeasy with a bowling alley and a pool terrace with a firepit, which can all add to wedding weekend fun.
Located downtown and overlooking Louisville’s waterfront, The Galt House is close to Louisville’s museum and Whiskey Row’s bourbon distilleries. The luxury hotel has elegant ballrooms perfect for hosting weddings and a culinary team that specializes in incorporating homegrown Kentucky products.
Signature cocktails are another wedding trend that The Knot pinpointed in its annual report. When in Louisville, why not go with a custom Old Fashioned? It’s the city’s official drink, after all.
Istria is filled with romance, from its secluded coves hidden along the Adriatic Sea’s coastline to the picturesque towns atop hillsides. Add to that lush vineyards and a tradition of winemaking, Roman ruins, and medieval castles, and you’ve got a destination that wedding guests will want to spend extra time exploring.
Plus, Istria is a heart-shaped peninsula, sealing its fate as a romantic destination.
An Adriatic secret, Kempinski Hotel Adriatic Istria Croatia is a secluded seaside resort that’s surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. Guests can get married on the hotel’s private beach, with an Adriatic breeze perfuming the air with sea salt and lavender and a venue that overlooks the historical town of Piran.
Other dreamy Mediterranean venues at Kempinski Hotel Adriatic Istria Croatia include a private hill that’s surrounded by trees and overlooks the Kempinski Beach and the Presidential Suite, which is encased by glass walls and comes with views of Piran, the Venetian coast and, on clear days, the Alps.
An archipelago in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles is a luxury destination with crystalline waters and islands with their own unique personalities.
Of the 100 plus islands, Mahé is the main island (and the largest) and it boasts beautiful beaches plus 3,000-foot mountains covered with lush forests. It’s not uncommon for couples to feel as if they have an entire beach to themselves. With tropical flora and turquoise waters lapping its more than 60 beaches, Mahé is a dreamy backdrop for exchanging vows.
Located on the south end of Mahé in Baie Lazare, the Kempinski Seychelles Resort is considered a tropical hideaway. Before the big day, couples can enjoy a massage in a private spa villa built for two with treatments like coconut shell massages and hot stone therapies.
Those who wed here have their pick of wedding venues, from a secluded beach (imagine dancing the night away beneath the stars with the ocean adding a nice crescendo) to the lagoon that’s nestled in tropical gardens with towering palms. The Salon Quincy Ballroom is surrounded by lush gardens and has views of the lagoon and L’Indochine, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, is perfect for small, elegant receptions.
Find New England charm at its finest in Manchester. The quintessential community in southwestern Vermont is tucked into the Green Mountains in the picturesque Battenkill River Valley. Manchester is filled with charm, from its antique shops to a white steeple church and spectacular fall foliage all within driving distance of New York City and Boston.
One of the premier wedding destinations in Vermont is The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa, which has played host to historic moments dating back to the American Revolution. With historic charm and modern amenities, it’s the consummate host for weddings big and small. Leading up to the big day, guests coming into town can hit the links or the spa at the resort.
The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa features both indoor and outdoor wedding venues. Among them is the Meadow House, which has a backdrop of a lily pond and the Green Mountains and the Pond Pavilion, an al fresco spot at the foot of Mt. Equinox with views of The Equinox Pond and Green Mountain.