Travel guru Tammy Levent of Elite Travel delivers the inside scoop on planning a wedding away from home. Here are her top picks for destination wedding locations within the continental United States.
With the weakening dollar, most couples are priced out of European weddings, and with rising airfares, fuel surcharges, and having to buy your own pillows and blankets, longer flights have become less appealing as well as less affordable. But destination weddings are not limited to Europe, the Caribbean, or Mexico. Here are a few locations where you can create the wedding of your dreams much closer to home...
Napa and Sonoma, near San Francisco, have plenty of entertainment options for your guests, including some of the best-rated restaurants in the country and acres of vineyards, which make perfect wedding venues. Even though these sites can be pricey, you can easily save on the decorations. The properties are often so charming that elaborate displays almost detract from them. At BR Cohn Winery in Sonoma, smaller ceremonies are often held in an outdoor location surrounded by Cabernet vines, with receptions under the canopy of 140-year-old olive trees strung with white lights.
Although the Caribbean islands remain affordable, you can also have a tropical beach wedding in Florida. At Amelia Island Plantation, off the coast of Jacksonville, all of your wedding details are taken care of while you and your guests take advantage of the resort's 72 holes of golf, new luxury spa, tennis courts, and over three miles of beach, as well as Segway and horseback rides. Walker's Landing, a reception site with a cozy fieldstone fireplace, looks out over the salt marsh, which is filled with wildlife. The resort is dedicated to preserving nature with environmentally friendly amenities, organic food and golf courses that are certified Audubon sanctuaries.
If one side of the family is from the East Coast, and the other is from the West, why not meet in the middle? For old fashioned romance, try Mackinac Island in Michigan, which has maintained much of its Victorian character from the 1800s. The 104-year-old Edwardian style Inn at Stonecliffe, once a private mansion, was featured on Style Network's Married Away. At the Inn, ceremonies take place in the European grotto, with cocktail hour on the lawn overlooking the water, and the reception dinner on the candlelit portico. No need to worry about gas prices; cars are not allowed on the island, so residents and visitors travel by horseback or carriage.—Tammy Levent