We’ve scoured the world for the top unexpected places to say “I do” in style.
Madonna Inn is a quirky landmark hotel in San Luis Obispo, California. The famously themed rooms at this 110-room hotel, which sits on 2,200 acres, haven’t been touched since 1977. The kitschy, kaleidoscopic palette is inventive, and amenities like pink-and-blue tennis courts make this a vibrant wedding venue for any size wedding. The Garden Room, Secret Garden, and the Venetian Room are all viable banquet room options, and there are many other outdoor venues to choose from.
The 19th-century Victorian estate of Otahuna Lodge, a 30-minute drive from Christchurch, New Zealand, surrounds an ancient volcano. The property looks over a 100-year-old botanic garden that features fruit trees and daffodil fields originally laid out in the 1800s by a team trained at Kew Gardens; beyond the sweeping Great Lawn are the snow-capped Southern Alps. The 30-acre estate is so special that it’s listed on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. For intimate celebrations, the property will allow buyouts.
Francis Ford Coppola’s Palazzo Margherita
Palazzo Margherita, a 19th century villa in the remote-yet-central town of Bernalda, Italy (in the arch of the country), was restored to its former glory by French architect Jacques Grange. The nine-room retreat, the fifth property in director Francis Ford Coppola’s resort chain (he acquired the property in 2005), boasts historic gardens, a restaurant, bar, and swimming pool. The interior is styled with tiled floors and hand-painted fresco ceilings with a Moroccan and Neoclassical flair. It’s so intimate and special a space that Sofia Coppola chose to get married there (and she has a suite named after her).
Deep in the rolling farmlands of the lower Hudson Valley sits a magniﬁcent 150-acre estate crowned with an impeccably restored and preserved 1911 Italianate, Gilded Age villa known as Glenmere Mansion. The property was reimagined in 2010 as a premier luxury hotel with just 18 guest accommodations, two restaurants, a stunning 8,000-square-foot luxury spa and hammam, lush meadows and formal gardens, and sweeping views of Glenmere Lake. The 35,000-square-foot Relais & Châteaux-endorsed mansion can host up to 350 guests in the Meadow (a two-acre manicured lawn surrounded by pine trees) whether a tented wedding, picnic reception or an evening under the stars. Inspired by such luxury properties as the Wheatleigh in the Berkshires, owners Alan Stenberg and Daniel DeSimone have spared no expense in redoing this exquisite property to their specifications.
Blackberry Farm, located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, is a gorgeous farm hotel and a secluded, serene haven for foodies and nature lovers. For weddings, couples can buy out the 4,200-acre property to treat their guests to the best of the Appalachians. With lots of activities (shooting, horseback riding, boating, cooking classes) and a world class farm-to-table restaurant with most of its produce picked from the garden, there is something for every one of your guests.
A short drive from Napa, The Vineyard Venue at Calistoga Ranch accommodates up to 150 guests in a rustic open-air structure amidst Calistoga Ranch’s own Sotero Vineyard that offers spectacular views in all directions.
The Montage Palmetto Bluff resort in South Carolina (just a short drive from Savannah) offers two ballrooms, two private meeting rooms, two chapels, and a private wine cellar dining room on a stunning bluff. The Waterside Chapel seats up to 100 guests and overlooks the pristine salt water of the May River, offering an intimate romantic setting for a beautiful ceremony with stunning views through its arched windows. Its other chapel, the Somerset Chapel showcases the beautiful scenery of the lagoon water and the surrounding natural landscape. There’s lush greenery everywhere, Spanish moss dripping from low-lying oak branches and egrets soaring overhead, vibrant waterfront views, signature Southern architecture, and so much more.
Private Sandbank Wedding
Soneva Fushi, located in the Maldives, offers a private sandbank for couples looking for that castaway-like experience. Couples will arrive to the desert island by Maldivian dhow boat and can say their vows under an arch made entirely from fallen island blooms. They then have the option to spend a romantic night on their own private island in a luxurious Bedouin tent with nothing but candlelight and starry skies.
Maasai Blessing Wedding at
Angama Mara, the newest luxury safari lodge in Kenya’s famed Maasai Mara area, is a novel idea for an Out of Africa wedding vibe. Those who want to be fully immersed in the Maasai culture and tradition can choose to wed with a traditional Maasai Blessing in the lodge’s traditional Maasai Boma at sunset. The groom is presented with a Maasai shirt, cape, and walking stick, while the bride is presented with a beaded Maasai skirt, top, cape, and jewelry. The couple walks into the boma with Maasai warriors and Maidens, and after a traditional Maasai performance of song and dance, the elder of the Maasai warriors will bless the couple. For more traditional western weddings, couples can choose to wed 1,000 feet above the Great Rift Valley, with the ceremony taking place on the deck overlooking the expansive Maasai Mara.
Su Casa at Dorado Beach
Su Casa at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is the former Laurence Rockefeller waterfront 8,000-square-foot Spanish-Colonial hacienda on Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico. It’s been fully renovated but has retained its Spanish-style hacienda authenticity (built in the 1920’s) for those who want to say “I do” in a former Rockefeller estate.
Nestled on the Currituck Sound just steps from peaceful waters and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Sanderling Resort is a gorgeous property on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The resort’s 13-acre sea-to-sound picturesque location is spectacular, and the Pavilion building and adjacent gazebo offers unparalleled water views of the serene Currituck Sound for a scenic wedding location.