By Caitlin Moscatello
The peak of engagement season — that annual rush of proposals between Thanksgiving and New Year’s — is winding down, which means it’s time for couples to start planning the big day. Almost a quarter of them will decide on a destination wedding, so we narrowed down the most sought-after spots (using data from Internet search trends, as well as a survey of over 1,000 brides from the wedding network The Knot, to create this hot list of locales for couples looking to get hitched far from home.
Not only is Mexico relatively easy to get to, it also has reliably good weather outside of hurricane season, and you won’t have issues bringing in vendors from the U.S. Los Cabos and Cozumel –both known for their beautiful beaches — are popular choices for weddings. But the most desired location in Mexico is Riviera Maya. Stay in a private villa at the Viceroy and host your reception right on the beach, by the pool, or in one of three restaurants. The Grand Velas Riviera Maya, an all-inclusive resort, offers eight different wedding venues, including a chapel in the Mayan jungle that fits up to 143 people.
The long-ish flight will be worth it for guests, who can go snorkeling off the Hawaiian Islands or hiking in their down time. Oahu, Maui, and Kauai are all popular islands for destination weddings, and since you can’t go wrong with any of them, start by choosing a resort and work from there. The Four Seasons has three wedding-worthy properties, one of which is on Maui. If you want beachfront views for your ceremony without getting sand in your toes, stay at the Halekulani, which has a ceremony spot on a lush lawn overlooking the water.
The most popular Caribbean wedding destination, Jamaica has been a hot spot among couples for decades. Exchange vows at sunset at the Jamaica Inn on a staircase overlooking the water; if you can get 100 friends and family to attend — the resort’s maximum capacity — you’ll have the whole property to yourself. The Half Moon, Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay offers five outdoor ceremony locations and the same number of wedding packages for easy planning.
With direct flights from at least 12 major U.S. cities, and easy transfers from Miami, the Bahamas is far enough away without being a hassle. If you want to be near the beach (but not on it), go to the One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island. Couples can tie the knot against the backdrop of French Cloisters, on a beach deck, or poolside — as well as in the resort’s upscale restaurant that looks out onto the water. Do your pre-nuptial relaxing at the resort’s spa, which includes private outdoor lounges and deep soaking tubs.
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