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Sample of US Wedding Destinations

Come journey with me to a few gorgeous places for a Destination Wedding in our home land.  No need for a passport and frequent flyer miles will apply.  Of course, a plenitude of venues are available of which I have chosen only five dramatically different possibilities.  Shall we begin our trek…

   The California Wine Country was my home for 20 years.  In my mind there are few places more beautiful year around than this corner of the world.  Vineyards, valleys, hills, the ocean not too far away, and mild weather make it a fantastic destination.  If your idea of perfection would be a wedding at an elegant manor house, with beautifully sculptured gardens, and restaurant given Zagats highest overall rating for dining in Sonoma County, The Madrona Manor would be the ideal location.

Built in 1881, this Victorian estate stands on eight acres of landscaped gardens in the hills above the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. Madrona Manor offers the opportunity to experience the wine country from a stylish and gracious setting. Your guests will be able to relax in one of the Manors marvelously comfortable rooms, stroll through the lovely gardens, have a swim in the pool, and go off to explore the pleasures of nearby Healdsburg and the local wineries.

  Traveling to the Inland Northwest to my new home, a setting of mountain grandeur and spectacular lakes, the Panhandle of Northern Idaho.  Here we shall visit a mountain top and a forest glade. 

Celebrate your “Happily Ever After” on top of Schweitzer! Yes, the bride and groom and all the guests ride a ski lift to the very top of the mountain at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort for a wedding with an unbeatable panorama view. The wedding couple join hands upon a deck overlooking 3 mountain ranges, Canada, Montana, Washington.  Turn around and feast your eyes on the incredible grand lake of Ponderey.  Summers, July and August are the best months for weddings at this splendid resort.  The winter ski lodge becomes your reception area with stunning views as well and the condos and resort hotel your accommodations.  Recently, I attending a wedding show at Schweitzer, savoring culinary delights produced by the Schweitzer chefs which were amazing.  The transformations of a ski lodge into a gracious reception area was lovely.  The rooms were northwest moose (which are still common up here) and deer decor with simple elegance and comfort.  Your guests will be able to relax a short walk from the wedding plus enjoy many outdoor adventures while in northern Idaho.

Forest wood nymphs dancing about a rustic cabin where the pretty maid marries a handsome woodsman can be a fantasy come true at Heartland Ranch  in Northern Idaho.  Heartland Ranch has an old west, country charm in the middle of the woods.  For couples looking for an economic wedding in beautiful lake mountain country, you could search far and wide without finding a better option.  Their “Just A Few” packages start at $245 for the Bride and Groom plus up to 15 guests with $50 off Monday and Fridays.  Heartland accommodates up to 80 guests. Your hostess and owner of the ranch, Becky Applegate, will create memorable occasion for you.  Psst… She also designs and sews affordable wedding dresses.     Visit www.weddingsbybecky.com to learn more.  accommodations for guests, tours and activities are located at nearby Sandpoint or Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Come a day ahead or stay a day over to visit the lake beaches, silver mines, melodrama, quaint towns, or Hiawatha Trail.

Board the airplane now to check out some United States beaches for blissful barefoot weddings.  Who said you had to leave the states for sand between your toes as you say “I Do”?  

 First we fly to Hawaii to the Honeymooners favorite island, Maui.  Though Maui has some economical options, my top choice here is exclusive luxury at The Waldorf Astoria Collection of Hotels, the Grand Wailea.  Grand Wailea is a truly stunning Maui hotel. Whether it is just the two of you, a small group of family and friends, this exquisite resort is an unforgettable Maui wedding location. Choose from the romantic and intimate Seaside Chapel, a ceremony on the beach, or in a picturesque gazebo.  Listen to a comment from trip advisor to see why I chose the Grand Wailea, ” Our main reason for going was to renew our vows. The hotel is absolutely stunning. Very exotic location and when compared to the others it stands out like a sore thumb. The hotel is like paradise. It fulfills the Hawaii experience 100%.”   The ultimate in modern elegance combined with Polynesian tradition will create for you a blissful Hawaiian Wedding. 

To end our journey, we fly across the continent to Florida for another beach wedding catering to the familymoon.   If you are getting married with children alongside, consider the all-inclusive Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Florida.  This is the only all-inclusive resort in the United States, which means you know your cost before you go.  All food and most all activities are included so all you need is money for extras!  My Club Med families always come back with raves and often will never try another resort.  One couple met at a Club Med, married and honeymoon at a Club Med, and return every year with their children. 

Club Med Sandpiper Bay is the perfect romantic setting for a large family vacation-wedding or a vow renewal ceremony. Breathtaking ocean views provide the perfect backdrop for your special day.  The resort offers modern elegance with a cheerful array of color to delight children of all ages.  A wedding at Club Med Sandpiper Bay is especially great for the couple who just wants to kick back, relax, spend time with their friends and family and enjoy the scenery. Your kids will have the time of their life at Club Med’s children’s clubs with dedicated activities and sports for babies, children and teenagers from morning to evening, and all coordinated by qualified and enthusiastic professionals. This would be perfect for a family wedding on the beach under the warm Floridian sunshine. 

Hope you enjoyed our travels.  There are so many possibilities so do some exploring yourself or call your travel agent for help.  See you next time with a focus on beach weddings in exotic destinations.


United States Destination Weddings


 Ride a ski lift to the top of a mountain for a spectacular vista view for your wedding, wander through a meadow carrying a bouquet of wild flowers, ride in on a horse to a red barn country wedding, take a cinderella carriage to your Victorian mansion, say “I Do” before a picturesque alpine lake or in a glamorous winery…all these possibilities and many, many more are open to you in my own communities… North Idaho Mountain Lake Country and the Sonoma County Wine Country of California.  Other regions around the US including national parks and vacation resorts are wonderful places for destination weddings.  The options are as varied as your imagination. 

     So let’s get started.   If you already have an area you would like to explore, skip to the next step, if not you can google, talk to friends, and talk with a travel agent. Gradually, you will be able to narrow down a general location to focus on and specific resorts you want to consider.  We will visit a good number of possibilities in the future.  For this blog, however, we will concentrate on what to do when you have a venue (resort/location) to consider.

After reviewing the resort/location website, call them.  Ask for the wedding coordinator or event manager for the resort.  Have her send you brochures.  Then ask the following questions:

  1. What makes this particular resort unique or special for a wedding?
  2. Number of guests accommodated for an indoor wedding/outdoor wedding?
  3. Number of hours allotted for wedding/reception?
  4. Cost of facility for wedding/reception?
  5. Is reception catering offered through the venue or is an outside caterer needed?
  6. Would you please send menus and prices for your catering options?
  7. Layout of the wedding area/reception area.
  8. Is there a gazebos for outdoor weddings or other accoutrements?
  9. Does the resort offer any embellishments for a wedding or reception?
  10. Dressing areas for the bride and groom?
  11. What happens to an outdoor wedding if it rains?
  12. Parking facilities.
  13. Is alcohol permitted?  What restrictions or permits are needed to serve alcohol?
  14. Are there any other permits or reservations needed?
  15. What facilities are available for the music?  Is there an extra charge for microphones, etc.?
  16. What accommodations are available for the bride and groom before the wedding?
  17. What accommodations are available for guests?
  18. Does the resort have a wedding planner?  Or who would be my primary contact person should I book this resort for my wedding?
  19. What tasks does the resort wedding planner take care of?
  20. Does the resort offer a list of resources for a wedding such as local florists, minister, etc?
  21. What are the state requirements for a wedding license?  Is there a waiting period after the license before the wedding?

Gather your information.  Plan to visit your favorites if possible.  Then before you make your reservation at the resort of your choice, consider hiring two possible support people.

1) Hire a wedding planner local to the resort (if one is not provided by the resort or if the resort wedding planner does minimal).  Since you live far away, the local wedding planner becomes your eyes and hands to be sure all the details come together for a sensational day.    She is worth the cost.  Ask the resort if they have a list of wedding planners.  Then call and interview each one to see if you have a good rapport. 

2)  Contract with a travel agent to set up the resort booking, block rooms for the wedding guests and plan your honeymoon for you.  Why use a travel agent for this when you can do it yourself?  Because an agent can a) take this burden off of you b) negotiate a group rate, c) be sure your guests are in the same proximity of each other at the resort, d) find a lessor expensive hotel near the resort for budget minded guests, e) find a nearby vacation rental house if a large family group want to stay together in a house, f) provide a contact person for your guests and g) arrange tours (sightseeing, wine tasting, river rafting, etc) for your guests who want to come early or stay late to enjoy the area.  She can also make a smooth transition to your honeymoon. 

A note about travel agents:  Some charge a fee to assist you, some do not.  Some, like myself,  require a deposit which is applied toward your reservation when you book, thus the services cost you nothing.  The travel agent services are paid for by the commission on the booking from the resort.

Fee based travel agents charge from $50 to $350 to arrange guest travel plans.  They can be well worth their fee if you need a great deal of assistance in your travel plans or if you are going to a far off exotic location.  Check your local agent to determine if their services are  of value to you.

For your education, after 911 the airlines canceled travel agent commission on airfares.  Also, the budget hotels such as Motel 8 do not pay commissions.  So if your agent books these for you she is doing so as a courtesy or may need to charge a fee to cover her time. 

Just a few actual incredible places to have a Destination Wedding in the good old USA coming up next, so check back soon.



                  Congratulations on your engagement!  Full steam ahead on planning the wedding.  Ready, set, go!  …..Hold it, hold it…have you considered a destination wedding?  This may or may not be for you but it is worth thinking about.  Here is a little survey for you to answer.  If you say “yes” to several of these questions, then a destination wedding is a good choice for you.

  1. Do you dream of sun, sand and simplicity?  Consider a beach wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean.
  2. Do you dream of a mountain top, lake side, or meadow, cave?  Consider a national park, ski lodge, or summer resort.
  3. Do you picture getting married aboard a house boat or cruise ship? Or cruising to a port and getting married on the beach?  Consider renting a house boat on a lake or working with a cruise ship wedding planner.
  4. Would you be happy with your immediate family and a few good friends at your wedding rather than everyone you know?  Your guest list will be drastically reduced the father away and the more expensive your destination.  Be sure this is fine with both the bride and the groom.
  5. Do the important people in your life support traveling far to your wedding?  Or are you just fine if they do not?  Having the enthusiastic participation of the people you care about most will go along way towards making your destination wedding wonderful.  Ask their opinions before you decide.  If you only want the two of you and a couple of best friends, then, no problem, an intimate destination wedding is a cinch.
  6. Would you enjoy an extended celebration over the weekend with your guests?  Guests traveling far away will most likely being staying the whole weekend; some may even stay the whole week.  This can be fantastic fun or too much. Discuss what each of you feel about both these scenarios.  What works for you?  That said, there are resorts where you get married at one resort then are whisked off to a sister resort for your honeymoon leaving your guests behind.    Or you can let guests who stay past the weekend know you will join them for dinner but during the day you want to be alone.  It’s up to you.  Just talk about it with one another.
  7. Would you like to sail away after a few hours leaving your guests behind?  On some cruise ships, you can get married at the departure port where your guests come aboard for the wedding only, then you sail away on your honeymoon alone.  Or you can cruise to a port, meet your guests who flew in for the wedding and get married ashore.
  8. Are you OK with surrendering some of the details of your wedding to a onsite wedding planner?  Since your wedding is far away, you will not have as much control of some aspects.  You will see pictures, talk with the wedding planner and be given choices but putting it all together will be out of your hands.  If this simplicity sounds great to you, go for it.
  9. Do you desire a very special wedding plus a romantic beach honeymoon but do not have funds for both?  At many of the beach resorts, the basic wedding package is free if you book your honeymoon with them.  So you can have your cake and eat it too. Yum!
  10. Do you have a generous budget but crave something exotic and fabulous?  There are luxury resorts that offer designer weddings, butlers, everything you ever dreamed about.  Another option if you have the budget is to offer to pay a portion of the cost of the resort for each wedding party member as your gift to them.

Sounds good?  Read on…

The two most popular destination wedding locations are to a) Beautiful resorts in the United States, b) Beaches in Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.  Costa Rica is an up and coming place and Puerto Rico is great because a passport isn’t needed for US citizens.  My next blog will address choosing an US destination, questions to ask the resort and choosing support people who will make your destination wedding successful and stress free.  Then we will discuss exotic beach weddings, so stay in touch.