Here at Destination I Do Magazine, we specialize in destination weddings, honeymoons and romance travel. We pride ourselves on thinking outside the box when it comes to places to say “I do.” Over the past ten years, our editors have scoured the globe for insider tips on some of the most popular romance spots like Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean, while also exploring some unique options like Africa, Australia and even Scotland.
When the fab folks at Ritani approached us to share our top destination picks for 2015, they took it one step further and asked for locations which are wonderful, but lesser-known. So, here are our top ten favorite unique wedding destinations (in no particular order) for couples looking to wed away in a surprising spot.
Morocco – High Atlas Mountains
When most people think of Morocco, they picture red-tinged mirages, spice markets and miles of souks within the medina. We have an exciting and beautiful alternative: the High Atlas Mountains. Located in the village of Imlil, The Kasbah du Toubkal peeks out of the mountainside foliage like a high-altitude oasis. The spring and fall are ideal here, but we recommend visiting in April through June for gurgling creeks and lush green foliage thanks to the snow run-off. The Kasbah du Toubkal is isolated, intimate and quickly growing in popularity, so be sure to book as far in advance as possible.
Oregon – Up-and-Comers: Willamette Valley/Bend
While Oregon is known for its breathtaking coastline and trendy cities like Portland, there are some lesser-known areas that would make ideal locations for your destination wedding. Bend is a friendly and unassuming town lovingly dubbed, “Beer Town USA.” There is an abundance of high-quality breweries that will have you and your guests pub-crawling. When it comes to a venue, the Pronghorn Resort offers expert service, lovely ceremony spots and world-class golf. If you’re not a beer drinker, consider the Willamette Valley for expertly-crafted local wines and stunning scenery.
Australia – Whitsunday Islands
While big-hitting cities like Sydney and Brisbane are wonderful, we recommend heading up the Queensland coast to the isolated and breathtaking Whitsunday Islands. The area is made up of 74 islands, many of which remain uninhabited and untouched by modern man. Explore nature’s wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach for knock-your-socks-off water vistas. For a place to lay your head, qualia resort takes luxury to another level and is located on Hamilton Island.
Montana – Rural Ranches
Having traveled pretty extensively throughout the United States, Montana is one of the most beautiful destinations. For couples looking to escape the everyday hustle and bustle sans the sandy beaches, a rural ranch in Montana is a perfect solution. Imagine exchanging vows miles away from the nearest town, surrounded by more horses than guests. The Ranch at Rock Creek offers an all-inclusive experience that includes activities like fly fishing and horseback riding and boasts luxury accommodations and stellar food.
Ireland – Coastal Wonders
Ireland is definitely not new to romance, but when it comes to weddings, we very rarely see anything outside of inland, castle events. Travel to the Emerald Isle and explore its gorgeous coastline. You will see Ireland in a whole new light and get the best of both worlds – rolling, green hills and dramatic, crashing coastline. For an intimate and expertly-curated stay, we recommend the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Ireland. County Clare is the perfect place since it’s largely non-commercialized, but includes some of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland like the Cliffs of Moher.
South Carolina – Myrtle Beach
Normally, South Carolina + weddings = Charleston, but we would like you to consider this equally beautiful alternative. Myrtle Beach offers similar Southern charm as its Charleston competitor, but with gorgeous beaches and better prices. For a couple looking to get big bang for their buck and keep the planning process simple, Myrtle Beach is a fantastic option. A fun alternative to hosting your guests in a hotel is to rent a large beachfront home and be sure to take advantage of the world-class golf since the majority of Myrtle Beach’s courses are open to the public and absolutely spectacular.
French Polynesia – Moorea & Bora Bora
French Polynesia is one of the most iconic honeymoon destinations of all-time – and for good reason! However, consider this romance hot-spot for your destination wedding or elopement. Thanks to new legislature, it’s now easier than ever to legally marry on the islands. Additionally, most couples think of Tahiti specifically when planning a jaunt to the South Pacific. While Tahiti is beautiful, we encourage you to also seek out nearby islands like Moorea and Bora Bora.
Tennessee – Nashville
The Smoky Mountains have long been a selling point for Midwest weddings, but we ask you to step out and consider becoming a city-slicker, exchanging vows in Nashville. Nashville might not be an obvious choice for a destination wedding or honeymoon, but those are the spots we love most: unexpected, original and surprising. There are certain places that have a palpable energy – a feeling in the air that makes you happy and excited to be there; Nashville is one such place. If you think Nashville is just country music, think again. In reality it has so much more to offer: historic sites, ground-breaking restaurants, beautiful countryside and good ol’ Southern hospitality.
Costa Rica – Villa-Style
Costa Rica has exploded in the last few years and is now commonly known as a great destination for adventure-seekers and romance-connoisseurs. We’re here to say that the rumors are true and this small, friendly country would make a beautiful backdrop for any destination wedding. What we think could make your wedding unique is to forgo a hotel stay and instead opt for a private villa for your nuptials. Private homes like Villa Manzu can accommodate dozens of guests and offer all-inclusive rates that can sometimes beat-out the prices of nearby, luxury hotels.
California – Catalina Island
When it comes to saying “I do” stateside, California perhaps offers more options than all the rest. There’s Wine Country, the Central Coast and Southern California which all make wonderful destinations for weddings. However, we’ve discovered a quaint and historic alternative: Catalina Island. Catalina Island is only about an hour ferry ride from both Long Beach and Dana Point, California, but you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to an island far, far away. The city of Avalon resembles a miniature Amalfi Coast and there are wedding options for every couple, whether you want a beachfront ceremony or a reception high in the hills with a view of the bay. The reasons are evident why the island was so enormously popular with the rich and famous in the 1930s: the views are breathtaking and the ambience is relaxed.
Hero Image Credit: Kasbah du Toubkal