The best destinations for having a wedding abroad

Amanda Statham
·9-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

If you're recently engaged, congratulations! It's now time to turn your attention to planning the big day. Maybe that involves seeking out the best venues near you or lining up a brilliant photographer first. Or, maybe you're planning a wedding abroad.

If the latter is up your street, we've rounded up the best destinations for tying the knot abroad, whether you're looking for sun and sea or to elope in the US.

Weddings abroad: Italy

There's a reason Italy is such a popular wedding and honeymoon spot with Brits: it's INCREDIBLE. You can't go wrong with a ceremony on the scenic Amalfi Coast, regularly voted one of the most romantic places in the world. The towns get busy in summer, but in secluded hideaways like La Sirenuse in Positano, you have the perfect setting for an intimate celebration. Set in a former 18th century palace in a hillside tiered with multi-coloured houses and overlooking a bright blue bay, it's a spectacular place to celebrate after exchanging vows on the scenic terrace of Positano town hall which over looks the sea. Toast your marriage in the Champagne bar then dine at the fabulous restaurant, lit each night by hundreds of candles. Throw in a trip on the hotel's private boat, an oyster bar and celebrity clientele and you have the makings of an unforgettable weddingmoon.

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Tuscany’s another favourite destination in the summer months, thanks to fields of sunflowers and enviable climate. For the ultimate Tuscan experience, rent Villa Medicea di Lilliano, an 11th-century wine estate with courtyards, vineyards, olive groves and swimming pools. There's a chapel for ceremonies, banquet hall for the wedding breakfast and those amazing grounds for pictures.

Weddings abroad: France

Cross the channel for some of the worlds most beautiful venues, from five-star city hotels to grand châteaux. One of the most romantic places to tie the knot is Chateau De Jalesnes in the Loire Valley. Built in 1620, it has extensive grounds with a pool, room for up to 65 friends and family and lots of ceremony choices - will you exchange vows in the tiny domed-roof chapel, in an ancient stone hunting tower, in a chestnut grove on the lawns or beside the moat? If you're after a seafront setting, stunning Cap Estel in the south of France is unbeatable. Its glamorous white tiers look remarkably similar to a wedding cake, while inside there are elegant function rooms that can cater for up to 80 guests, award-winning restaurants and bedrooms with balconies where the likes of Marilyn Monroe have gazed at the Cote d'Azur.

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And if your hearts is set on Paris, let the experts at Four Seasons George V organise your big day. One of the most opulent hotels in the country, it offers an Eternal Wedding Package starting at £350pp, including cocktails and canapes, four-course Michelin-starred dinner and wine.

Weddings abroad: Cyprus

An abundance of golden sandy beaches, wide choice of venues and warm climate year-round ensure this Mediterranean island is a hot spot for weddings. We rate five-star St Raphael Resort in Limassol, for its setting overlooking a pristine stretch of sand next to a private marina and edged by manicured grounds. There's a great choice of venues, including a private chapel, gazebo in the gardens or on the beach and for the reception there’s everything from a small party on the open-air deck of the Sailor's Rest Lounge overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea through to a grand affair in the hotel's ballroom, which can hold up to 300 guests.

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The Anassa is another picture-postcard setting for weddings, boasting a chapel, beach, village square, vast terraces with sea views and flower-filled gardens. Only one wedding a day ensures you won’t be bumping into another party on your big day and the wedding packages include lots of extras, like a candle-lit three-course dinner for two, flowers, cake, Champagne breakfast the morning after the ceremony and even make-up and hair styling for the bride (and mini facial for the groom). Larger celebrations can take place in the Zephyros Ballroom, which seats up to 230 people. Book the Adonis and Aphrodite suite, with steps down to a private pool, for your first night.

Weddings abroad: Morocco

If city ceremony in colourful Marrakech is what you're after, check out the Mandarin Oriental where you can say 'I do' with the Atlas Mountains and gardens planted with 100,000 roses as your backdrop; this is off-the-scale romantic. Best of all, newlyweds receive lots of extras, including a complimentary honeymoon night.

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If you want to escape the city, Kasbah Tamadot, Sir Richard Branson's luxury boutique escape in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, is another dreamy choice. Choose to exchange vows by a rose petal-filled pool, on a terrace overlooking the peaks or amid an orange grove, then party into the star-studded night in courtyards lit by candles and spend your first night in a sumptuous antique-filled berber tent with private deck and plunge pool.

Weddings abroad: Caribbean

December through to March is the best time to be in the Caribbean; warm dry days, balmy nights and very little rain. One of the slickest wedding offers in the archipelago comes courtesy of adult-only resort chain Sandals which has 15 high end, all-inclusive resorts scattered across Jamaica, St Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Bahamas and Antigua. The big allure for many couples is that the wedding package is free if you stay for three nights or more, so you can wed and honeymoon on a reasonable budget. Even the most basic package includes massage for the groom and manicure for the bride, decorated ceremony location, music, sparkling wine, canapes for up to six guests and photos, plus there's the chance to liaise with the wedding planner and sort out a FamilyMoon if your parents and siblings are coming too.

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Weddings abroad: Hawaii

The blissful Hawaiian islands are a celebrity wedding favourite, thanks to their close proximity to Los Angeles. The Royal Hawaiian Resort on Oahu is a pink palace which has played host to the rich and famous over the last 80 years. With beautiful lush gardens, a seafront setting and dozens of ceremony choices, like the terrace of the King Kamehameha Suite overlooking iconic Waikiki Beach, or the ocean lawn or coconut grove for larger celebrations. Classic wedding packages include flowers, legal documents and decorated location. You can even have a honeymoon registry here, so guests contribute to experiences such as a post-wedding sunset cruise.

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Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's north short is another jaw-dropping destination. The range of wedding locations is extensive, including private Kuilma Cove, the resort's stable (great for horse lovers), scenic 18th hole of the resort's golf course, in the dramatic ocean front pavilion, or barefoot with your toes in the famous North Shore sand.

Weddings abroad: Maldives

Each year the Indian Ocean archipelago tops lists of the best places in the world to wed and honeymoon for good reason; the beaches are dazzling white, hotels five-star plus and service legendary. Finolhu in the Baa Atoll ensures a hassle-free wedding thanks to an events team on hand to sort out everything from drinks around the pool to a petal-strewn aisle on a sand bar for your ceremony. Mixologists will whip up an original cocktail to celebrate your big day at the Beach Club and there's a chance to chill out before and after your ceremony at the Fehi Spa. And as for the over-water villas? Swoon.

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If your budget is big, then take a look at Soneva Jani. Setting new levels of amazingness in the Maldives (some of the over-water villas have slide into the ocean), you can marry with your feet in white sand or at the end of a private jetty accompanied by traditional drummers. Then enjoy a luxury wedding breakfast with a personalised menu before stepping aboard the resort's yacht for a cruise around far-flung atolls (the onboard Jacuzzi has a glass bottom!) and a castaway picnic with Champagne on an uninhabited island.

Weddings abroad: Thailand

For a laidback, tropical wedding that’s great value for money, you can’t go wrong with Thailand. Aleenta Phuket, which overlooks a pristine stretch of beach at Natai, has a planner on hand from the moment you book through to the big day, taking much of the stress out of overseas organising. Choose from various wedding packages, ranging from 'Just The 2 Of Us' including a decorated location, cake and romantic turn-down service through to a traditional Thai service, with floral garlands, holy water ceremony and a blessing by Buddhist monks.

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If you want something less public, the villas at Samujana estate on Koh Samui are exquisite. Dotted around 25 acres, the villas range from three to eight bedrooms, meaning plenty of space to accommodate family and friends. For a ceremony, the estate's lawn overlooking the ocean and beach is an idyllic spot.

Weddings abroad: Las Vegas

Ever since Elvis married Priscilla at the Aladdin Hotel in the 50s it’s had a reputation for rock n roll weddings - and the fact that it’s cheap, quick and fun just adds to the allure. Follow in the footsteps of Frank Sinatra, Joan Collins, Britney Spears and, most recently, musician Joe Jonas and Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner, who have all tied the knot at A Little White Wedding Chapel.

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The strip’s most famous venue has five ceremony rooms, but there’s also an outdoor gazebo, hot air balloon (exchange vows at sunrise above the city) and famous Tunnel of LoveDrive Thru (you can stay seated in your car for the entire 15-minute ceremony). There’s the chance to personalise your big day, from an Elvis impersonator to a pink Cadillac - Jonas and Turner, who got hitched in March after the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, posed for pictures on its bonnet.

In 2020, pop star Lily Allen married actor David Harbour at the Graceland Wedding Chapel along The Strip. Lily wore a white Dior dress and they were serenaded by an Elvis impersonator before heading to In-N-Out Burger for post-ceremony snacks. Kind of obsessed with this.

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