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8 Unforgettable Ideas for a Unique Destination Wedding

Looking to say “I do” in a more inspiring spot than at your local chapel or on a golf course? For couples who love to travel, having a wedding in a far-off place has understandable appeal. And with the whole world at your disposal, your options for a unique destination wedding are pretty much unlimited.

Whether you’re looking to get married in a palace, on a glacier, or even underwater, this list of unique destination weddings offers a little something for every type of couple.

Mayan Ruin Destination Wedding in Belize

Mayan ruin destination wedding in belize

[st_content_ad]Belize has a wealth of appealing destination wedding locations, from white sand beaches to lush rainforests, but the coolest option just might be getting married in front of an ancient Mayan ruin. These temples and other stone structures make a dramatic backdrop for wedding photos and are often among gorgeous jungle settings. The wedding planners at Signature Belize Weddings can help you plan your special day—or you can book a package at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, which will arrange a ceremony at the nearby Cahel Pech ruins.

What’s Nearby: Belize is a great spot for active couples, who can go caving, jungle hiking, zip-lining, and more.

Palace Destination Wedding in Sintra, Portugal

Monserrate palace

The leafy green hills of Sintra were once a popular retreat for Portuguese aristocrats, and today the area’s opulent palaces make for the perfect fairy-tale wedding destination. Wedding Venues Portugal can help you arrange a ceremony in the hilltop Pena Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by a sprawling park, or in Monserrate Palace, an ultra-romantic villa with Moorish and Indian architectural features. Or have your special day at Penha Longa Resort, where venue options include a 14th-century palace, a 16th-century chapel, and an atmospheric garden.

What’s Nearby: Sintra is an easy 40-minute train ride from Lisbon, which has plenty of museums, a Moorish castle, and the historic Alfama neighborhood. Sintra is also near the beachfront resort town of Cascais.

Underwater Destination Wedding in Cozumel, Mexico

Secrets aura cozumel

If there’s nowhere you’d rather spend your vacation than diving among colorful coral and tropical fish, why not get married that way, too? You can do it at Secrets Aura Cozumel, an adults-only all-inclusive resort in one of Mexico’s best diving locations. The resort’s Underwater Wedding Package includes a ceremony under the waves, as well as a cake and sparkling wine toast back on land with up to 10 guests. Dive certification is required.

What’s Nearby: Aside from exploring Cozumel’s famous reefs, couples and their guests can relax on the beach, go stand-up paddleboarding, or make a pilgrimage to the Mayan ruins at Tulum or Chichen Itza.

Glacier Destination Wedding in Juneau, Alaska

Best western juneau

Are you and your partner more into ice and snow than sun and sand? If so, consider getting married on a glacier. Alaska Weddings will fly you by helicopter from Juneau to Mendenhall, Herbert, or another local glacier, where you and your spouse-to-be can say your vows in an outdoor cathedral of mountains and ice. Back in Juneau, spend your honeymoon at the whimsical Best Western Grandma’s Feather Bed, where each room has its own vintage charm.

What’s Nearby: Go whale watching, learn about local culture and history at the Alaska State Museum, or have a sled dog adventure through SmarterTravel’s sister site, Viator.

Castle and Lakefront Destination Wedding in Lake Bled, Slovenia

Slovenia castle

Lake Bled might be the most photogenic spot in Europe, with its azure waters, clifftop castle, and small church on an island in the center, all framed by the Julian Alps. If you can already imagine yourself in these swoon-worthy wedding photos, reach out to the planners at Dream Wedding Slovenia, who can arrange a ceremony at Bled’s famous castle. You can also enjoy a wedding with views of the lake and castle at Grand Hotel Toplice or Vila Bled, two of the area’s most luxurious hotels.

What’s Nearby: Take a stroll around the lake, share a slice of Bled cream cake (the to-die-for local dessert), or walk the boardwalk path through the spectacular Vintgar Gorge, just a short drive away.

Traditional Thai Destination Wedding in Ko Samui, Thailand

Thailand the tongsai bay

If you want your wedding to be as exotic as your destination, consider letting Tongsai Bay—a family-owned luxury resort in Ko Samui—plan a traditional Thai wedding for you and your partner. Buddhist monks will sanctify your union, Thai musicians will perform, and your ceremony will feature a traditional long drum parade and water blessing. Want something a little more familiar? The hotel can organize a Western-style ceremony as well.

What’s Nearby: Ko Samui is a popular beach destination where you can go snorkeling or diving, hike to waterfalls, and visit the Secret Buddha Garden.

Rooftop Destination Wedding in San Francisco

Loews regency san francisco

To say “I do” with a backdrop of towering skyscrapers and twinkling city lights, hold your special event on the 40th floor of the Loews Regency San Francisco. Here you’ll find the open-air Sky Deck, where you and up to 100 wedding guests can savor a bird’s-eye view of the city, the bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

What’s Nearby: All the excitement of San Francisco is at your fingertips, from Alcatraz to Haight-Ashbury. Check out SmarterTravel’s San Francisco travel guide for a comprehensive overview.

Free Destination Wedding at Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean

Sandals grande st lucian spa and beach all inclusive resort

The words “free” and “wedding” don’t often go together; after all, according to a study by The Knot, the average U.S. wedding costs a whopping $33,391. But the all-inclusive Sandals chain, which has resorts across the Caribbean, offers complimentary wedding packages when you book a stay of at least three nights. Venue options include garden gazebos, beaches, and even over-the-water chapels in locations such as St. Lucia, Montego Bay (Jamaica), and Antigua.

What’s Nearby: Specific attractions depend on which island you choose, but all Sandals resorts are located right on the beach and offer activities such as watersports, tennis, and themed parties.

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Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

By Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of IndependentTraveler.com. Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

Email Sarah at sschlichter@smartertravel.com.

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