Courtesy of The Antoniou Winery
There are over 190 countries and 7 continents in the world, but the majority of U.S. couples have their destination weddings in the same 3 places: Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and Hawaii. Take your wedding on the road less traveled. Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel, leads you to places you might—but shouldn't—miss: Santorini and Costa Rica.
Santorini & Mykonos
Picture saying your vows on a cliff-side terrace overlooking the Caldera as the setting sun bathes the island's white and blue houses in orange light. The Antoniou Winery in Santorini is built into a sheer cliff overlooking a port, which many years ago allowed them to pipe wine down to thirsty sailors. The view makes for terrific wedding photos. Civil weddings can take place almost everywhere on Santorini so there are a lot of options from black sand beaches to private mansion terraces. But the Antoniou winery has the advantage of being able to accommodate guests indoors and outdoors, which can be a wedding-saver in poor weather. And most importantly,
the wedding site is private, so you won't have to worry about tripping over tourists, unless they're part of the wedding party. The starting price for a wedding here is around $2200. Travel in April and May for better prices and lighter crowds.
Santorini is a popular but fairly quiet island, which is perfect for enjoying time with friends and family. When you're ready to celebrate long into the night—and into the next morning—take a boat or plane to Mykonos for a few days. Mykonos is a walking town, so being close to the beach, shops, clubs and restaurants is important. The Despotiko hotel is in the middle of town and has the added charm of being an 18th century mansion. Rooms start at $213 in April and May.
Santorini Costa Rica
Three oceans away is an entirely different kind of destination wedding in exotic Costa Rica. A rain forest filled with day-glow parrots and Titi monkeys is just outside the private balconies of Hotel Si Como No. My company recently negotiated an incredible deal for a wedding, reception and 5 night stay for two here for just $5000. It included tropical flower arrangements, a hair stylist, all legal expenses, live acoustic music during the ceremony and a couple's massage. The price for the wedding guests for 5 nights was $840 per person and they also got the fifth night free. Weddings and receptions are usually held at the Claro Que Si open restaurant which overlooks the ocean and rainforest. The view is spectacular at sunset. Not only is this hotel pocketbook-friendly, it's environmentally-friendly too. The hotel's 60 rooms are distributed on ten acres of protected tropical forest and are designed to minimize impact on the natural habitat. Activities make the most of Costa Rica's pristine environment, like hiking with naturalist guides, canopy tours, kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding and bird watching.
When choosing the destination for your wedding, remember that there is a whole world out there. Have some fun exploring it! —Tammy Levent