Destination wedding planners know their stuff. After all, these professionals spend hours upon hours researching locales where their lovestruck couples can exchange vows. And their knowledge of the most romantic destinations around the world isn’t limited entirely to wedding celebrations; their insights can also point couples toward the best spots for romance-filled getaways. So, if you’re thinking about planning a getaway with your significant other, these destinations—all selected by some of the best destination wedding planners in the world—are the spots to consider, as well as their top tips for organizing a memorable getaway.
Meet the Expert
- Beth Helmstetter is the owner of Beth Helmstetter Events, a full-service event design and planning firm specializing in multi-day destination weddings around the world.
- Nicole-Natassha Goulding is the creative director and founder of Chic by Nicole, a Toronto-based luxury wedding planning company.
- Nancy Park is the founder and lead planner of So Happi Together, a boutique event design, planning, and coordination company.
- Michelle Norwood is the owner of Michelle Norwood Events, a New Orleans-based destination wedding event company.
First, Understand the Vibe You’re Going For
There’s a lot to consider before you settle on a location, so start by making a list of your top priorities and/or choices. “When trying to find the best location in the winter, know what you're hoping for as it relates to weather, activity options, and how much downtime you're hoping for together,” says Beth Helmstetter of Beth Helmstetter Events, a full-service event design and planning firm specializing in multi-day destination weddings around the world. “Knowing the type of getaway you're hoping for is a great place to start when narrowing down hotels and regions.”
In addition to considering the vibe you’re in search of—snowy ski town getaway, tropical island vacation, etc.—think about how long you plan to travel. If you have a three-day weekend and want a quick escape, consider a city staycation or a weekend in the countryside. For those who have time for a longer escape, think about destinations you wouldn’t usually go to during typical vacation times, like spring break or summer.
Prepare for the Unexpected
It may sound obvious, but it’s definitely worth spending time researching the kind of weather you’ll experience during the colder months in the destinations you’re interested in visiting. “I would suggest couples look for locations with a great mix of indoor and outdoor activities in case the weather takes a turn for the worse during their visit,” suggests Nicole-Natassha Goulding, creative director and founder of Chic by Nicole, a Toronto-based luxury wedding planning company.
And the weather isn’t the only factor Goulding recommends couples consider when planning. “Definitely purchase travel insurance!” she suggests. “Since cold weather vacations can be unpredictable, having a plan B is super important to be able to pivot if other nature decides not to cooperate.”
One more thing to keep in mind: Your health! “Be flexible and proactive about your health,” recommends Nancy Park, founder and lead planner of So Happi Together, a boutique event design, planning, and coordination company. “Traveling has become unpredictable, whether you’re dealing with flight delays or changing health mandates. It’s difficult to enjoy a trip when you’re sick, so make sure to load up on your immune-boosting vitamins and supplements,” she says. “Expect the unexpected to happen at least once during your trip. It’s like we say on wedding days- whatever happens, was meant to happen. As long as you’re together, you can rally up some romance—even in an airport coffee shop!”
Focus on Being Together
When it comes down to it, this trip should be about connecting and doing something fun together outside of your usual routine. “Winter is about slowing down,” says Michelle Norwood of Michelle Norwood Events, a New Orleans-based destination wedding event company. “There’s a magic air that lingers from the holidays to encourage eating, drinking, and being merry. Don’t let that magic go to waste—take the trip.”
Park also suggests that couples shouldn’t worry about going somewhere that’s trendy or Instagrammable. “Instead choose a spot that you know the both of you will enjoy without distraction or false expectations. If you’re the type to cozy up by the fire and spend most of your time indoors, what’s the point of working a trip around outdoor activities? Or if you want to lounge on a beach instead of hitting the slopes, there are so many great tropical destinations that have amazing weather during the winter months,” she explains.
Ready for the fun part? Here’s where the experts say to go for the winter escape of your dreams in 2023.
“I am in the process of planning a trip to the quaint town of Stowe, Vermont,” says Norwood. Even though neither she nor her partner ski, she explains that Stowe just sets the scene for a Hallmark moment. “Glogg, red barns, and farm-to-table dining...what more do you need?” Whether or not you plan to ski while in Stowe, consider spending some time at the Lodge at Spruce Peak, where couples can go ice skating and then cuddle up with a whiskey cocktail and fire-baked raclette at Whistlepig Pavillion.
Utah and Wyoming
“If you're looking for a winter experience, we love Wyoming or Utah,” says Helmstetter. “Specifically Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming offers a variety of winter activities as well as a remote location that is perfect for a private getaway. In Utah, we love The Lodge at Blue Sky which has an elevated experience with a modern aesthetic while being just cozy enough for romance.” It’s worth noting that this stunning lodge sits on a whopping 3,500 acres of private landscape, so there is plenty to do, both indoors and outdoors. “Also in Utah, you cannot go wrong with Amangiri which is arguably one of the most romantic locations in the United States,” says Helmstetter.
Upstate New York and Canada
Goulding recommends similarly charming destinations that take couples to snowy destinations made for romance. “My favorite winter destinations include Quebec City, Montreal, and Lake Placid.” In addition to these destinations, she has a few favorite hotels that offer intimate settings perfect for couples looking to cozy up during the cold season. She recommends booking a room at The Fairmont Château Frontenac in Quebec City, an iconic property with sweeping views of this European-style Canadian destination. She also loves a stay at the Four Seasons in Whistler—a particularly good option for those looking to ski, as Whistler is one of the premiere ski destinations in North America.
Of course, booking a winter getaway doesn’t mean couples have to stay in the cold! “If warmer weather is what you're looking for, we always love San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito for tucked-away, understated luxury,” recommends Helmstetter. While this area of the Golden State isn’t necessarily hot in the winter months, the area sees lots of sunny days and mild temperatures—perfect for hikes in the foothills and long walks at nearby Santa Barbara beaches at sunset.
Helmstetter stresses that couples in search of hot weather simply can’t go wrong with a trip to Mexico. “Check out Esperanza or Las Ventanas in Cabo for a perfect escape from the winter,” says Helmstetter. Both hotels are picture-perfect, with quick access to the beach and plenty of on-site amenities ideal for couples (think private pools, hot tubs, and romantic activities like whale watching and horseback riding for two).
Norwood agrees that Cabo is an ideal destination for couples hoping to escape the cold. “If you want to fly south, one hotel I am still completely enamored with is the Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas,” she explains. “It’s not the Cabo you know, but it’s the hidden haven in Baja California, you need to have on your radar. About an hour away, in the opposite direction, there is an exclusive area in the East Cape called Costa Palmas. For access, you have to go through three security checkpoints. The resort is situated in the middle of unspoiled nature with miles of untouched and swimmable beachfront. Its exclusivity to the area easily makes it the most breathtaking resort in Mexico’s California.”
Park also recommends Mexico as the ultimate destination for a romantic warm weather trip. She is partial to Tulum and nearby Riviera Maya, the latter of which is home to one of her favorite resorts, Etereo. Surrounded by abundant greenery and white-sand beaches, it’s the picture of romance. “The accommodations and spa there feel romantic, any time of year,” she says.