You might like the idea of having a destination wedding in some exotic tropical locale. However, such a nuptial vacation might not make sense for a number of reasons. Perhaps some family members or close friends would not be able to come. Maybe this kind of trip isn't financially possible for many of your would-be guests. Or maybe the people you would invite just wouldn't have the time to travel overseas.

There are other ways that you can make traveling a part of your wedding experience. Obviously, taking an international honeymoon is a possibility. You could even ask your guests to help you fund your honeymoon instead of giving you a traditional wedding gift. Another option is to take a pre-wedding trip with your friends instead of having a bachelor or bachelorette party.


Whether or not you decide to travel for a bachelor party or your honeymoon, you don't have to give up on the idea of having a destination wedding. If you can find an exotic event venue close to home, you can still have many of the traits of a destination wedding... without having to ask people to travel internationally.

What kind of options are available for this type of "staycation wedding?" You could rent a mountain chateau in the Rockies, hold your wedding at a California vineyard that was inspired by the wineries of Tuscany, or even have your reception in an authentic castle. No, these venues won't give you and your guests the actual experience of international travel, but they will bring a level of excitement and uniqueness that a standard wedding venue could not provide.

Here are some ideas for finding exotic event locations close to home.

Castles and Chateaus

Pleasantdale Chateau

There are hundreds of castle-like venues in the US. The key is to find one that feels authentic. Many of the possibilities might be more theme-park-like instead of actually seeming like real castles. The last thing that you want is a venue that is cheesy and cheap. North Carolina's Castle Ladyhawke is a good example of a castle that has authentic architecture and a romantic, fairy-tale atmosphere.

Pleasantdale Estate

Another option is the Pleasantdale Chateau in New Jersey. This estate feels authentic... because it actually is. Parts of Pleasantdale date back to the 1830s. The formal gardens, classic continental architecture and wooded grounds make it seem like you have traveled to Europe. Best of all, this is a large venue. The Ballroom can host up to 300 people for events.

Villas and Vineyards


Skilled architects and landscapers can create an authentic venue anywhere. Take La Bella Vida as an example. This 250-person event venue is in Rancho Santa Fe. However, it feels like it could have been directly transported, landscapes and all, from some Mediterranean village. The landscaping here brings to mind Spain's Costa del Sol or the Italian Riviera. The architecture completes the experience. Everything about this property, which was built in the 1950s and renovated in 2009, is exotic and authentic.


The architecture and landscapes of another California venue will transport you to the wine-growing regions of Tuscany. Viansa is in the heart of Sonoma. The architecture of its buildings and the landscaping of its grounds were inspired by the timeless wineries of Italy. The surrounding vineyards complete the experience. Tastings and tours can be a part of the wedding experience, giving your guests some trip-like activities that will make them feel like tourists as well as like wedding guests.

Hip Venues

Gray Matter Museum of Art Wedding and Event Venue Costa Mesa Orange County 8

Whether or not it is true, many people think that the coolest venues are located beyond America's borders. One option is to give your guests a "hip trip" by having your celebrations at a quirky or creative venue. Costa Mesa's Gray Matter Museum of Art is just such place. This creative space is thoroughly modern and filled with eye-catching artwork. The bright colors, industrial accents and use of drapery add to the allure. You couldn't really say that this venue looks like it belongs in another part of the world. It is so unique that guests don't really need to imagine that they are somewhere else.

Gray Matter Museum of Art Wedding and Event Venue Costa Mesa Orange County 3

If you want to give your guests a similarly hip experience, you can book them into the Saint Cecilia Hotel while they attend your Austin, Texas wedding. Inspired by the artists and musicians of the 1960s and 1970s, this Victorian hotel with a creative edge is located mere footsteps from some of the city's most famous music venues. Saint Cecilia can also host events for up to 125 people.

Your turn

What other kinds of venues do you think would fit in our list of exotic close-to-home event spaces? Use the comments section to share your insights.