Anyone who’s been to the southern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, on the Caribbean Sea, knows it’s the definition of paradise. The water is otherworldly turquoise, the sand so fine and alabaster that it feels amazing between your toes. And there are coconuts—and don’t forget tequila!—galore. The sun shines unfalteringly (the average daytime temp hovers around 79 degrees), the sky’s an unnaturally vibrant blue, and the palm trees sway in the breeze. The coastline encompassing Riviera Maya and Tulum are picture-perfect wedding destinations.
While the weather can be idyllic year-round, the wet season from May to November is a bit of a risk, so plan wisely if you’re dreaming of a barefoot ceremony on the sand. Beyond its natural beauty, the area has the added perk of being close to a major airport, in Cancun, that is easily reached from both coasts. Because there are so many prime places to hold your big day, there are also many planners, including those in-house at top resorts who can help coordinate the event of your dreams. There’s plenty to do, too, like exploring and snorkeling in the underground pools called cenotes, walking or biking around Mayan ruins, and the requisite yoga and spa offerings.
If kids won’t be on your invite list, the pristine adults-only Viceroy Riviera Maya is a stellar option. The venues include the beach, naturally, plus several restaurants, romantic gardens, the pool and a giant palapa in the verdant jungle. Meanwhile the “I do” can happen at sunrise, sunset or any time in between or even after—say, under the stars. Hotel Esencia is where fashion designer Jason Wu married his longtime love Gustavo Rangel in front of 85 people (including actress Diane Kruger) with piñatas and piña coladas adding to the festive fun. At 29 rooms, the boutique hotel is a great size for a buyout. (They can host up to 300.) It’s close enough to Tulum that guests can engage in all the action but also feels totally secluded with its own private beach—a winning combo.
At Zamas Tulum, weddings are not only fully customizable but creative. The snowy white sand out front is an epic place to say your vows, and the staff can also arrange for Mayan-inspired ceremonies. Couples wanting an unforgettable dance party have their pick of mariachi bands, flamenco, fire dancers and deejays playing anything from Latin tunes to rock classics. For larger affairs, there’s Vidanta Riviera Maya, whose team of wedding planners get down to the nitty-gritty of tablecloths, stemware, and all the tiny details for events with incredible views both indoors and out. The Thompson Playa del Carmen is home to setups that range from barefoot and bohemian to city chic, with the most exclusive and private receptions at the Thompson Beach House—27 rooms and suites practically on the sand. Their team also arranges marriage licenses, take care of cake decorations, and can share ways to incorporate local culture, too.
The seven ceremony venues at Grand Velas Riviera Maya range from Zen Grand Garden and Grand Class beach to an actual chapel for traditionalists who still want the world-class beach setting. But what really sets their offerings apart are a few special opportunities, such as a “trash the dress” photo session in a cenote and having your first dance choreographed by a dancer from Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. Also available: drone filming, live wedding paintings, a margarita cake menu, and even live-streaming, so family and friends who can’t make it can attend in spirit. If that isn’t the ultimate destination wedding, we don’t know what is.