Destination weddings are certainly an attractive idea. Every couple has at least been tempted by the thought of exchanging vows and celebrating their wedding in an Italian vineyard, on a Spanish beach, or inside a romantic English castle. Though other parts of the world have been gaining popularity as destinations for wedding vacations, Europe is still the classic choice. The continent seems accessible to most travelers, even those who have never been outside of their home country before. There are plenty of romantic settings to choose from, and a huge number of venues that will make hosting a wedding very simple.
Having a destination wedding anywhere requires a bit of pre-planning. The would-be newlyweds may even find themselves having to guide some of the less experienced travelers on their guest list in the preparation process. If you can find some of Europe's most magical destination wedding venues (we'll share a few of our favorite secret wedding spots with you in a minute), these efforts are well worth it.
Before you start dreaming about the romantic atmosphere of a castle or vineyard wedding venue, you have to make sure you've covered the basics...
The basics of hosting a destination wedding in Europe
First and foremost, you have to make certain that every one of your guests (including children) has an up-to-date passport. It can take a couple of months to apply and receive a new travel document, so it is best to check this off your to-do list very early in the planning process. Airline tickets are at their lowest prices three to six months before the departure date. This means you need to have your guest list nailed down well in advance.
There may also be some legal issues. You want to make sure that your marriage will be recognized legally in your home country. The best way to do this is to apply for a marriage license in your home country and then simply have the ceremony in Europe.
The right venue is so important
A good wedding venue will be able to help you with planning and logistics. The key is to give them enough time to work out all the details. Many can help with a quick elopement or a small celebration for a few guests, but major destination weddings with more than 10-20 guests will require a longer lead time. Anything less than six months is pushing it, though venues in Italy and the UK that are experienced at hosting this kind of celebration will be able to get things together quite quickly. That said, the best venues fill up their calenders up to a year in advance, so you will need to plan ahead anyway to get your first choice venue.
What kind of venues can you expect? We have a few favorites in Europe that stand out because of their uniqueness, their attractiveness and their ability to accommodate destination weddings of all types.
Destination wedding venues in Italy
Unsurprisingly (because of its romantic image), Italy has a few standout venues for hosting a destination wedding in Europe. One of the best is Il Palagio. Located in the famous Chianti region, Palagio has historic Tuscan architecture. It can host 50 overnight guests, so there will not be a need to arrange other hotel rooms for your guests. The grounds and gardens contain five different setting options for ceremonies and receptions.
Another Tuscan wedding venue is La Bandita. Located in Pienza, this boutique hotel overlooks the beautiful Val d'Orcia. This is classic Tuscany, and the stone architecture, manicured grounds and romantic lighting create the kind of atmosphere that many couples dream of for their wedding. The best thing about Bandita is that it is possible to rent out the entire property so that you can have the whole place to yourselves during the wedding weekend.
Destination wedding venues in England and Ireland
The classic rolling landscapes and small towns of England's Cotswolds offer another definition of romantic ambiance. The Foxhill Manor is a classic mansion that is able to host events for up to 80 people. Because of its many different rooms, you can find the exact setting to fit your needs. Some guests can stay onsite and others can be accommodated in nearby inns and bed-and-breakfasts.
Many couples want the grandeur of an historic castle. In that case, Castle Leslie, in Ireland, is the perfect choice. Located in the island's lush northern countryside, Leslie was built in the 17th century. It has more than 1,000 acres of landscapes and plenty of overnight accommodations for all your wedding guests. Personalized planning services are available so that you can have exactly the kind of wedding that you want.
Share your thoughts with us...
What do you consider the perfect destination wedding location? Use the comments section to join the conversation...