We’ll never argue with the classic appeal of walking down a flower-strewn aisle, but brides—or grooms!—with a flair for the dramatic or a desire to do things a bit differently might appreciate a little outside-the-box creativity when it comes to that all-important first appearance at the ceremony. We’re not only talking about boats but ziplines, horse-drawn carriages, and hot-air balloons. Here, 18 arrivals that are sure to surprise, delight, and leave everyone scrambling for their cameras.
The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the situation remains fluid, we’ll be sharing tips and stories from industry experts to give you of-the-moment advice and help you navigate wedding planning today. For the most up-to-date guidelines and latest on travel restrictions and requirements, check the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites.
1. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, Bali
For those who believe it’s the journey not the destination, there’s an ultimate trip en route to the big event: a traditional junking boat ride in Jimbaran Bay. The colorful craft delivers loving couples to their nuptials at Sundara at the Four Seasons, where they can continue the watery theme by crossing Bali’s longest floating wedding aisle atop the 187-foot-long pool (after which it can take them for a sunset Champagne cruise to Uluwatu). Truly adventurous couples who don’t worry about a bit of mud can also raft along the Ayung River to their “I dos” at the deliciously jungly sister resort in Ubud.
2. The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, Utah
Whether it’s glorious, sunny summer or sunny, powdery winter, this picturesque destination blessed by Mother Nature is perfect for a memorable entrance. Non-traditional couples can ensure all eyes are on them when arriving via helicopter in the Wasatch Mountains, with the outfitter Powderbird. It’s just a 10-minute flight from the resort to the mountaintop, ensuring no hair will be out of place.
3. Villa Pliniana, Italy
It’s impossible not to think about Lake Como without imagining George Clooney, and the bucket-list venue of Villa Pliniana definitely feels like something worthy of the classy A-lister. Cruising up to the venue can happen a few ways, but the best options are by helicopter—scenic, of course—and Riva boat, an elegant custom wooden craft that’s as synonymous with the lake as, well, Clooney himself.
4. Balboa Bay Resort, California
Take your “something blue” literally by setting sail across the Pacific en route to wed your true love. This classic coastal resort in Newport Beach gives couples the option of arriving via gondola, an iconic Duffy boat, or a three-story, 150-person yacht. It’s just steps from the dock to the ceremony lawn.
5. Sunset at the Palms, Jamaica
At this treehouse-style boutique hotel—these are chic treehouses, no kids allowed!—in Negril, Jamaica, there’s an option to work with local Jamwest Adventure Park to give you an intimate wedding that you and your honey can actually zipline into!
6. Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, California
This classic wine country wedding destination is beloved for a reason: It offers a slew of creative arrivals. To mention a few, there are horseback entrances, bicycles, vintage trucks, a cable car, golf carts, helicopters, and hot-air balloons. Remember, the way you enter is important but so is the exit after your “I dos,” and the hotel has whisked couples off via balloon right after that magical moment.
7. Aventuras Mayas, Mexico
Calling all adventurers! It doesn’t get more out-there and experiential than actually repelling into your ceremony inside a cenote, those cavernous limestone swimming holes that connect via the Riviera Maya’s crystalline underground rivers. This epic wedding would take place inside a 130-foot one called Chukum-Ha, where vaulted ceilings feature stalagmites that approximate an ancient cathedral. If rappelling isn’t wild enough, there’s always a zipline or ATV.
8. Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Canada
This Quebec hotel is equipped with its own yacht club, helipad, and expansive terrain, making the opportunities seemingly endless. Adapt your arrival to the vibe of your big day and choose from motorboat or sailboat, sea plane, helicopter, horse-drawn carriage or sleigh, hot-air balloon, or even dogsled.
9. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Hawaii
Water lovers and boat enthusiasts will appreciate the coolest way to get to their Hawaiian wedding on Maui: via outrigger canoe. Couples can be paddled from out in the beautiful blue Pacific—highly recommended to take the photographer along!—directly to the hotel’s beachside venue.
10. Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort, Mexico
The romance team know making an entrance requires doing things a little differently, so they’ve arranged for couples to arrive along their sandy Los Cabos beaches not by boat but on horseback and in a horse-drawn carriage—a sight one doesn’t often get in a tropical paradise!
11. Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Claiming the title of world’s most luxurious hotel, it’s no surprise this Dubai icon is equipped with the finest equipment for wedding entrances. The helicopter ensures an unforgettable aerial arrival that’s pretty unbeatable, while coming to the ceremony in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce is pretty cool, too.
12. Casa Adela, Mexico
Overlooking storybook-perfect San Miguel de Allende, the eight-acre estate Casa Adela offers a couple breathtaking arrivals, one being in a helicopter. For even more adventure, opt for a hot-air balloon, and not only will your guests be waiting for the big touchdown but a mariachi band will be also, ready to serenade you after your thrilling ride.
13. La Lancha, Guatemala
Getting to your wedding at Francis Ford Coppola’s romantic Guatemalan retreat La Lancha is like something out of a classic movie. First, the lovebirds embark aboard a 26-foot fiberglass boat over the Lago Petén Itzá. Then they’ll hop on the new funicular, aka jungle elevator, to the top of the lush canopy for their cinematic ceremony.
14. Soneva Jani, Maldives
Savor the sight of the Maldives’ surreal blue lagoons by dropping in for your wedding in a private seaplane, outfitted with chrome and purple leather interiors. The actual ceremony is surrounded by crystalline waters, too, on an overwater villa, a secluded beach, or by the lagoon.
15. Ashford Castle, Ireland
There are several arrival options at Ireland’s 13th-century castle in County Mayo, and all are the stuff of princess dreams. Extravagant ways to enter include by boat across the Lough Corrib, by horse, carriage, or vintage Convoy car, with optional drummers, flame operators, and stilt walkers accompanying the procession and ensuring every guest knows this is a wedding worthy of royalty.
16. Angama Mara, Kenya
Picture this: a colorful, bold entrance on the edge of the Rift Valley and Masai Mara park flanked by Maasai tribe warriors and maidens, decked out in their traditional vibrant garb and singing and dancing. For this ultimate destination wedding, couples can opt to have a Maasai Blessing in the traditional boma at sunset by an elder.
See more: 25 Wedding Sendoff Ideas for Making an Unforgettable Exit
17. Baur au Lac, Switzerland
If vintage glamour and charm is your vibe, one of the world’s oldest luxury hotels has the perfect authentic prop: a 19th-century horse-drawn coach. For its 175th anniversary this year, the hotel tracked down its original wooden-wheeled coach from the mid-1800s; now couples can arrive through the main entrance of its lakeside park for their fairy-tale ceremony.
18. Fairmont Jaipur, India
In-house wedding planners at this grand hotel in the Pink City have pretty much done and seen it all, so if your dream is to enter atop an elephant, this is the place to book. The gentle giants are part of a traditional Indian wedding royal procession, along with camels and horses. The property can also arrange for a ‘40s-themed wedding complete with vintage cars.