When you think elopement, do you instantly imagine Las Vegas drive-through chapels and Elvis impersonators? Maybe that was okay back when Britney and Jason (Who? Yeah we don't remember him either) were doing it. But nowadays, couples are getting more adventurous with their quick weddings and are finding ways to exchange vows in glamorous locations. So forget tradition, and escape to a location that is stunning enough to suit the most extraordinary day of your life.
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge
In the heart of the Costa Rican rainforest, Lapa Rios Eco Lodge has wedding locations that are straight out of the Adam and Eve’s playbook. Tie the knot in the jungle, under a waterfall, or on an ocean overlook. Located on 1000 acres of rainforest reserve, this is a destination for people who really “feel the love” when surrounded by nature in all its glory.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya
An ornate traditional Hindu wedding against a gorgeous beach backdrop...this must be Goa, right? Not even close. Grand Velas Riviera Maya is one of many luxury hotels that are beginning to offer Hindu weddings to cater to wealthy Indian clients. (Note the ritual garlands.) What you can’t see are the intricate henna designs traced on the bride’s hands and wrists. While you may not be inviting the whole family to this spur-of-the-moment affair, there’s no rule saying you can’t dress the part and enjoy the festive services the hotel offers.
Sandals LaSource Grenada
A European-influenced Caribbean resort near the Equator, LaSource got a multi-million dollar makeover and a brand new wing of lavish pool suites when it came under Sandals Resort's ownership. Now the jewel in the brand's crown, Sandals LaSource Grenada accommodates any sort of destination wedding, from lavish 200-person affairs to spontaneous ceremonies on a few hours’ notice. And after the ceremony…you’ll probably find yourself enjoying one of the incredible bi-level pool suites with soaking tubs and butler service. Pure romance!
Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel
Want to exchange vows at an ancient and majestic cultural site? You can actually get married at the foot of Machu Picchu, and if you want to bond within the ancient customs of the area, Sumaq Hotel is the one and only hotel to offer traditional Arac Masin Wedding ceremonies. This is a symbolic ceremony based on ancient Peruvian culture, performed by an Andean priest.
Celebrities including Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman have snuck away to Kamalame Cay, a private island resort in the Andros islands of the Bahamas with three miles of sugar sand, pristine warm water, an overwater spa and a marina on the leeward side of the island (in case you decide to boat up instead of taking the private plane). This getaway is barefoot chic and blessedly unplugged from all modern-day noise, the perfect escape for a very private ceremony.
As if getting married on a stunning South Pacific island wasn’t enough, Laucala Island includes in its wedding package a sailing excursion just for the bride and groom, to a nearby private “dream beach” where only one couple is allowed at a time. Newlyweds can picnic, snorkel, get a spa treatment or…tell the crew to clear off so they can get some privacy (we’re just guessing on that last one.) Afterwards, the married couple will get to enjoy a sunset Champagne cruise back to the resort.
There are lawn weddings and then there’s this lawn at Cap Juluca, a recently renovated luxe favorite on the island of Anguilla. Known for its gorgeous villa-styled architecture, beautiful beaches and French-influenced cuisine, Anguilla is one of the Caribbean’s most idyllic spots. Everyone’s friendly, the food and wine exceed expectations, and the sea is just as clean and warm as the picture promises.
When you think about a Wailea wedding, you instantly assume it’ll be on a little wedge of the highly sought-after beach, but Hotel Wailea is a bit of a surprise because it’s across the main road, uphill and on 15 acres, well away from the beachfront. Wailea’s beaches seem to be getting smaller and more crowded each year, but this property feels like an up-country escape, even though it’s just a few hundred yards up. It’s currently undergoing a $15 million renovation to be completed in fall 2014, so maybe don’t elope here till after summer vacation.
Lembongan Beach Club & Resort
Pink-and-purple dusks, exotic Balinese architecture, and diverse culture ranging from dive bars to religious ritual dances, are a few of the elements that set Bali apart from other breezy-blue beach destinations. It’s far more developed than Americans expect, but hidden from the busy streets and concrete-paved shopping areas, and endless pockets of beauty. Lembongan Beach Club & Resort is the epitome of a luxury Bali resort. With just 26 guest villas, most with their own private swimming pool, and scattered around the serene grounds, you’re sure to have the most intimate and romantic affair you could hoped for.
If the Surin Phuket looks a little more cosmopolitan than most of Thailand’s beach resorts, credit should go to Paris-based interior designer Ed Tuttle, who brought some very chic touches to the property’s redesign in 2011. Though the jungle walkways and cottage accommodations are classic Phuket, the property now has a “chill-out lounge” and the rooms are outfitted with private terraces and pearl granite flooring. It’s not just romantic, it’s sexy—and that makes it perfect for a sophisticated wedding on the fly.
Lena Katz is the author of the Travel Temptations series (SIP, SUN, SNOW), published by Globe Pequot Press in 2009. Lena is also a travel expert for Celebrations/1800FLOWERS and WEtv (online and on-air). She contributes to the South China Morning Post and ABC News online. Lena is a former Orbitz Travel blogger and former columnist for the LA Times. She's been published in Brides Magazine, Robb Rep...(Read More)