Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is known for its rugged shoreline dotted with small beaches and pastel-colored Italian fishing villages—but when it comes to weddings, it offers so much more.
“The best [wedding venues along the Amalfi Coast] are the locations that are a bit off the radar—the ones that don’t have websites because they are historical locations owned by the government, or private islands which [book] by recommendation only,” explains Diana Sorensen of Sugokuii Events. To access these types of wedding properties for a truly unique event, you must work with a local planner who knows the area.”
Some of Sorensen’s favorite scenes? The chic Villa Tre Ville in Positano, the lemon-infused scenery of Da Paolino restaurant in Capri, the lush outdoor gardens of Villa Astor in Sorrento, and the bohemian feel of Quattro Passi restaurant in Nerano. For a classic Amalfi experience, opt for a vintage Italian sailboat to cruise the coast whenever possible, rather than traveling to your event locations by car.
Lake Como, Italy
“Lake Como is a luxury destination, unlike other luxury destination. The decadence [here] is less obvious—its a traditional, historical luxury, not with flashy cars and designer stores, but an authentic, old-style, aristocratic luxury,” says Rachel Birthistle of The Lake Como Wedding Planner. “I would advise that couples take time to explore the area thoroughly. It is a unique place full of contrasts, which can create an exciting flow of events that, in turn, make for a truly phenomenal and authentic Italian experience,” she adds.
Opt for the picturesque Villa Balbiano of The Heritage Collection, like BAZAAR Bride couples Kristen and Zack (pictured here) and Chris and Simon. Or, head to the exclusive and utterly romantic Villa Pizzo, where John Legend and Chrissy Teigen tied the knot. If you’re looking for something a little less chartered, opt for the indulgent Villa Sola, located just down the road from the iconic Grand Hotel Tremezzo (the hotel and villa share the same owners, so a seamless event is guaranteed). If you’re looking to get a comprehensive look of all the venues on the lake, explore Birthistle’s top venues prior to your arrival in town.
Puglia, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” is known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland, and miles of Mediterranean coastline. “The best part about Puglia is its variety in scenery and styles for weddings,” says Norma Cohen of Norma Cohen Productions. When chatting with Cohen, she described a spectacular wedding event she produced at Borgo Egnazia, which was able to accommodate 480 wedding guests on-site and provide a plethora of activities and vibes for the full wedding weekend, which was packed with various dinners, parties, and celebrations.
Cohen’s #1 piece of advice when planning a destination wedding internationally? Work with local vendors as much as possible. You’ll be grateful you did when you’re looking to coordinate details in advance, and avoid excess taxes and fees attempting to bring in supplies from abroad.
When it comes to getting married in Ireland, Dublin-based event planner, Tara Fay, insists couples always keep the weather top of mind. “We have been known to have four seasons in one day [in Ireland]. We always plan for rain and hope for sun,” she says. For those planning a wedding abroad, Fay suggests having your legal or civil ceremony in your home country and a blessing or second ceremony in Ireland. The registration system can be more challenging than it’s worth—and this applies to all destination weddings outside your home country.
As for choosing your Irish venue, Fay recommends the newly renovated five-star Adare Manor for larger, more lavish weddings. Others on her list include Ballyfin, an exquisite house that can be yours for the weekend, Ashford Castle, Ballynahinch Castle, Markree Castle, and Luttrellstown Castle (made famous by David and Victoria Beckham when they wed here in 1999). If you’re looking for something smaller, consider more private spaces like the beautiful Merrion Hotel in Dublin, Virginia Park Lodge, Gloster House, and Powerscourt House.
The Cote d’Azur
An established holiday destination, with paths connecting many coastal villages and towns, the Cote d’Azur features some of the world’s most famously luxe beach locales, like Saint-Tropez and Cannes—and beautiful venues for a destination wedding. Asking your guests to travel here won’t require much convincing, but do keep your wedding itinerary in mind when you do, and leave some time for friends and family to explore on their own.
“We often find that destination wedding couples tend to want to plan something every hour to keep their guests occupied—but some things can be left optional. While some may enjoy a perfume making class (highly recommend!), others may want to explore the medieval village of Èze at their leisure. Make sure to provide your guests with some suggested local activities, along with expectation-free maps and suggested times to visit,” advises David Beahm of David Beahm Experiences. “Far and beyond, [our] favorite venue is the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel on the Côte d’Azur,” adds Beahm. While the hotel boasts a richly storied past, it has been beautifully renovated with modern amenities, all the while maintaining the South of France’s undeniably relaxed glamour.
With world-class facilities, available international air links, and an unparalleled selection of unique venues—from 5-star luxe hotels to medieval and royal palaces, London offers a truly unique experience for a destination wedding. “In terms of style, finesse, and authentic 21st-century glamour, our vendors have experience at the very highest-end of the spectrum. Having worked on weddings for A-list royals, state banquets for Her Majesty the Queen, and unique celebrations for the world’s leading international families,” says London-based Sarah Haywood of Sarah Haywood Events. For those looking to plan a wedding in London from abroad, “Contact the embassy or high commission of the country you wish to be married. In most countries, it is possible to organize civil or religious ceremonies, the former usually being simpler to arrange,” adds Haywood.
“Couples considering London as a destination could marry at any of our working palaces which are conveniently overseen and run by Historic Royal Palaces,” Haywood explains. “Imagine a Rehearsal Dinner at the Tower of London, a Wedding Ceremony in the Kensington Palace State Rooms, followed by a reception at Banqueting House, and a farewell event at Hampton Court Palace,” Haywood suggests. For an authentic wedding fit for a queen (literally), there is no better location.
Unique textures, patterns, and vibrant colors highlight this Moroccan city—gaining popularity as an adventurous destination wedding location. Need proof? Check out BAZAAR Bride couple Jane and Shane’s Marrakech wedding, complete with camel riding, ATVing, and playing with falcons (pictured here).
Bruce Russell typically works on 1-2 weddings per year in Morocco and recalls how “very laid back” it can be. He suggests couples hire a wedding planner with experience in the area who is in the know when it comes to the culture, but also to the hotels, food, vendors, and more. “Visit your venue before signing a contract, do the research, and get trusted recommendations to ensure that the vendors you hire meet your expectations,” he adds. As for where to celebrate, Russell has a few recommendations. “The Royal Mansour is the ultimate in luxury with premiere food & beverage; La Mamounia features the most beautiful gardens; Beldi Country Club is all about classic Moroccan style, and the grounds are a photographer’s paradise.” As for the events surrounding the ceremony, Riad El-Fenn is the perfect location for a welcome party, and The Capaldi Hotel sits at the base of the Atlas Mountains, which offers panoramic views that are out of this world.
Famous for its rich history, culture, and incredible scenery, Istanbul “can be so much more exciting for an active group than a beach destination,” says Marcy Blum of Marcy Blum Associates. There are a plethora of things to do for guests that have traveled far, and there are so many artisans to work with when it comes to creating a one-of-a-kind wedding experience.
For those planning a destination wedding in Istanbul, Blum suggests moving guests by sea if you must relocate for various parts of the wedding weekend. Traffic can be a challenge, and like Lake Como and the Amalfi, sometimes it’s just better by boat. For those considering importing food and florals, “couples should love a destination for what it is and what it has to offer,” Blum adds. As for venue ideas, Blum recommends Çubuklu 29 from a recent wedding, which has spectacular views.
Bali is an extraordinary location for a wedding. But “one thing to keep in mind is that it requires almost 24 hours of travel time from New York City,” notes Lisa Vorce. That said, a destination wedding in Bali is well worth it—it’s a lush and verdant location, and well off the beaten path. Bali’s rainy season is from October to April, so you must make sure to have weather backups in place (i.e., a tent instead of an open space.). “One of my favorite things about Bali is the Rain Stoppers, who perform a ritual with incense and fire that creates smoke, believed to push the rain clouds away,” Vorce adds.
When it comes to the look and feel of your event, “My best design advice for couples is to partner with local artisans. Balinese artisans can provide handmade décor, such as Capiz-shell chargers, and create many different hand-woven textiles—from chandeliers to placemats,” she says. In addition, hand-strung jasmine is readily available, and makes for a dramatic ceremony structure. “We often hang strung jasmine on the backs of the bride and groom’s dinner reception chairs for an extra-special touch,” she explains.
Expert planning also avoids long lines at the airport. An essential travel tip from Vorce: Work with your hotel to pre-plan “Visas on Arrival,” which almost all guests will require; they are social, tourist, and cultural visas for their stay. When it comes to venues, “both of the Aman properties in Bali, Amandari and Amankila, are incredibly beautiful; of course, the Aman hospitality is 5 star,” Vorce recommends.
From tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins, and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha, Thailand is a Southeast Asian country filled with a rich and unique culture. In Bangkok (the capital), you’ll find an ultramodern city next to a quiet canalside community. Nearby, the iconic temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho, and the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew), plus beach resorts like the bustling Pattaya and fashionable Hua Hin.
When planning a destination wedding in Thailand, Lynn Easton of Easton Events suggests having “a small team on the ground” in addition to your primary wedding planner. There will undoubtedly be a language barrier, and you’ll want to have someone local along with your trusted planner to help with the details. As for venues, Easton recommends the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai Resort, and Amanpuri Phuket as ideas—and we’re ready to pack our bags.