From the tropics to waterfalls, and safaris to mountains, here are the best destination wedding locations for travel lovers around our beautiful world~
Best Destination Wedding Locations | Destination Weddings Abroad | Travel Destination Wedding Photographer
Whether you’re eloping, having a destination wedding, or saying your vows with just a few close friends and family members around, this list of the best destination wedding locations for travel lovers will have you rethinking that traditional ballroom wedding. Why not do something different, in a place that’s stunningly beautiful? (And why not combine your destination wedding and honeymoon to cut down on travel + stress?!)
That’s where this destination weddings list for travel lovers comes in. I’m a destination wedding photographer who has traveled to, worked in, and photographed through over 55 countries around the world. I by no means have seen it all (that’s just not possible, no matter what seasoned travelers and travel lovers say), but I definitely have experienced many beautiful destinations on almost all the continents.
The Best Destination Wedding Locations Around the World
Whatever you like, I’ve compiled this list of the best destination wedding locations for travel lovers—and those who want to get married somewhere different. The best places to get married is a very subjective subject, so while only you and your partner(s) can figure out the answer that works for you, I hope this article gives you quite a few ideas. I wanted this list to be about the most beautiful places to get married, and not about the most unusual wedding venues, since that’s for a different day.
This beautiful blue city is so charming, real, and stunning, it’s worth a visit in any season. Have Instagrammers swarmed its blue steps and flower-filled doorways? Oh, for sure. But eloping here early in the morning means barely anyone (local nor tourist) and the most stunning blue city all to yourselves. While full-on wedding venues aren’t a thing in this small city, it’s the perfect place to do engagement photos, a pre-wedding shoot, an adventure session, or a gorgeous elopement.
Uganda and Kenya
The beauty and incredibly diverse wildlife in these countries (and surrounding countries) is basically incomparable, and a safari wedding is the ultimate destination wedding. If you’ve never been on a safari, imagine giraffes, zebras, warthogs, giant birds you’ve never seen before, and so much more right in front of you. While Tanzania, Rwanda, and neighboring countries offer weddings as well, these two countries are my favorites of the central/eastern region. Try having your wedding at Nile Safari Lodge in Uganda, or getting married at Kichwa Tempo Tented Camp in Kenya. A safari wedding will be an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.
When you think of the Middle East, you likely think of Israel and the ruins of Petra, Jordan. But did you know that the most incredible Greco-Roman ruins lie in northern Jordan? A place called Jerash is home to huge amphitheaters, old monuments, walkways, theatres, and more, all built in the 2nd century. That’s right: These incredible buildings are still around from being built in 130 A.D. The one hundreds. Visitors can climb in and around many of the ruins and easily spend hours exploring. I’m headed back here to co-lead this photo tour, but trust me: Getting married in Jordan means truly unique wedding photos that will be one of a kind.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Getting married in Italy is almost everyone’s dream it seems. Whether it’s a Lake Como elopement, a destination wedding in a castle in Tuscany, or something else, Italy is a beautiful place to celebrate. One of my favorites is a shoulder season wedding in Manorola, Italy, with the picture-perfect colored homes, the boats rocking in the water, and the orchards on the sides of cliffs. An Italian destination wedding is always going to be amazing, and here? Great food and locals, too (my friend lives in one of the homes pictured here!).
Greece is incredibly popular, but if you want to skip the crowds and head somewhere less touristy and with more of a community, Cyprus is beautiful. Plus, the food is delicious and they’re happy to welcome destination weddings and outdoor-loving couples. Did I mention hot, spiced, grilled halloumi the right way?? Plus ruins, green-blue waters, and the (pictured) Love Arch in Ayia Napa? [Photo via Arabian Weddings]
Eloping in Iceland is on many wish lists, and with good reason: Barely any people, the ability to go almost anywhere you like, and epic landscapes. Getting married in Iceland is not for the faint of heart, of course: You’ll need quite a few days with your photographer to road trip around parts of the island (the south is my favorite part to photograph in), and you’ll need rainproof gear, hiking experience, patience for decent weather, and a good tolerance for cold, wet weather. You’ll be rewarded with Icelandic glaciers, ice caves, colorful mountains, dozens of waterfalls, and perhaps even a volcano.
Yeah yeah, you’ve heard all about eloping in Yosemite. Why? Because if you get married at Glacier Point or Taft Point, Yosemite, then you’re getting epic views that you just don’t find elsewhere in the world. Yes, it’s crowded, and yes, you have to go through a permit process, but the feeling of being on top of the world at sunrise or sunset is epic. See more of my Yosemite wedding photography here, and make sure you reserve your spot early!
More people honeymoon here than have a Thailand wedding, but there’s no reason for that to be the case! Thailand’s islands are so stunningly unique, you can have an affordable Thai elopement on a boat, or go rock climbing, or say vows on a beach. On the other hand, you can also have a luxury Thailand destination wedding with dancers, candles, exotic foods, custom service, and more at a Thai wedding venue like Panviman Resort Koh Phangan. Plus, you’ll be able to island hop and scuba dive on your honeymoon the very next day!
The green isle…should I make an isle/aisle pun? But seriously, an Ireland elopement can be done in a castle, on the Cliffs of Moher, at a real venue for your Irish wedding, or somewhere completely different. The greenery and landscape here is perfect for those looking for a lush European adventure wedding–or for an old-world wedding feel, such as at the Drenagh House Gardens. [Photo via Mark Barton]
The Islands of Hawaii
As a former resident of Hawaii and full-time vacation photographer on Big Island, I’m a huge fan of the islands. You truly can’t go wrong here. Though not many folks get married on Lanai nor Molokai, Having a Kauai elopement, Maui wedding, Oahu celebration, or Big Island ceremony is really unbeatable. Just don’t do it in a hotel! I’m a Hawaii wedding photographer, and since I worked in hotels for a while, I can safely say that the best places to get married are NOT in the resorts. I can recommend gorgeous Hawaii wedding venues, or better yet–elope and have tropical photos in lesser-known parts with dizzying waterfalls, volcanos, natural wonders, helicopter rides, brilliant cliffs, and more. A Hawaii wedding will NOT disappoint.
Los Pozas, Mexico
So many couples get married in Cabo, have destination weddings in Cancun, or elope with a shaman in Tulum. But Mexico is a massive country with amazing locations all around. My dream shoot? A wedding at Los Pozas, Mexico, an eerily awesome unfinished garden full of stairways to nowhere, gardens that lead somewhere, and sculptures that are becoming beautiful modern-day ruins. Did I mention waterfalls? I love destination weddings in Mexico and they’re all lovely on the beach, but look for the unexpected in this country! [Image via Medium]
While most North Americans don’t think of having a wedding in Panama, that’s all the more reason to do so. Less-explored locations, two oceans to choose from, palm trees galore, and none of the prices. Try renting a treehouse in Panama and having a wedding in the trees, or splurge and stay at a 5-star eco-resort in the rainforest.
Antarctica + South Georgia Island
Imagine getting married in Antarctica. Sure it’d cost a pretty penny, but how many people do it? Penguins and blue icebergs could surround you, and crowds? Well, just your Antarctican cruise ship pals. And some seals, perhaps.
South Georgia Island is full of amazing wildlife, and while you cannot touch any of the wildlife (even if they touch you, since they’re not fearful of people!), you can legally get married on South Georgia Island–especially if you’re British.
Getting married in Antarctica is not unheard of; in fact, history was just made as two sewards on a research boat had the first gay wedding on Antarctica! Be prepared to get married around November – February, and yes…it’s gonna be cold. But an Antarctica wedding? I’ll photograph it, since it’s the only continent I have yet to work on or visit!
Having a destination wedding in Indonesia does NOT mean you need to have a Bali wedding. In fact, I like many parts of Indonesia far better than overcrowded and touristy Bali. Head to any one of the other 16,000 islands of Indonesia for lovely people, delicious food, great landscapes, awesome massages, and underwater discoveries. Indonesia is romantic, adventurous, and darn fun for exploring…ready?
Though all the tropical islands in the Caribbean are beautiful, St. Lucia is particularly unique and stunning. Its unmistakable shape of its pitons and blue water bay views leads to its popularity. It’s also great for scuba diving! Eloping in St. Lucia with 0 guests? Perfect. Having a hundred guests fly out to enjoy the week with you at a destination wedding private villa like Akasha? It’ll be great. [Photo via Akasha St. Lucia]
Peyto Lake, Canada
Everyone’s heard of weddings at Banff, Canada–and many have heard of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. But not quite as many are familiar with Peyto Lake, just north of Lake Louise. It’s become quite popular with visitors in recent years, and will still get crowded during the day. So get up early, get to the amazing viewpoint in the ever-stunning Canadian Rockies, and get married here! [Photo via Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon]
U.S. Virgin Islands:
St. John + St. Thomas, USVI
There’s a reason I’m a St. Thomas and St. John wedding photographer: It’s darn beautiful here. I’ve never photographed a USVI wedding that wasn’t incredible, and I’ve photographed on practically every beach, and almost every St. Thomas wedding venue, for years and year. I love it here because the weather is perfect, the water is warm, and the views are ACTUALLY this pretty.
What Makes a Destination Wedding Venue Better Than One Here at Home?
Nothing. This is all personal opinion, and what one person loves, another may not. And what’s too expensive for one person may be just a small splurge for another, or what it costs in New York may cost 1/10th the price in Poland. The best destination wedding locations are quite subjective, and what is a beautiful destination wedding location for someone from Egypt may be completely different from the best destination wedding spot for someone from Oregon.
Speaking of which, there’s only one continent I haven’ photographed a couple in yet, and that’s Antarctica. I still have some open dates…
If you’re a travel lover like me, you probably know what you do and don’t like at this point. For me, I love locations that have a mix of vibrant cities with street food and colorful areas to discover, with beautiful tropical waters for scuba diving and mountains for hiking to waterfalls. Hey, that’s what I like!
For others, the best destination may have beaches with hammocks and high-end restaurants. Still others want to off road around the desert, while other prefer skiing vacations and evenings by the fireplace.
Travel Lovers, Why Have a Ho-Hum Wedding at Home?
Traditional weddings are for 90% of the population, and I’m not judging if you want that! But if you’re a travel lover, world traveler, or wannabe traveler, having a destination wedding is an awesome experience for everyone.
If you end up having a destination wedding at one of these locations or any other, I highly encourage you to support local wedding venues over big-name brands. You’ll be supporting the local economy and getting much better service from independent owners. Want to elope at Everest Base Camp? Do it. Want to get married in a 5-star resort in Namibia? You can make it happen.
Whatever it is you want, I hope this post on the best destination wedding locations around our planet inspires you to go for it. And to capture you destination wedding photos, inquire with me on my contact page, scroll below to fill out my info form, or email me directly at info@KathrynCooperWeddings.com.
I’m super passionate about travel, unique experiences, and meaningful adventures. It’s probably why I’ve lived on several continents and experienced over 50 countries. It hasn’t been easy at many points, but it’s always been rewarding. To experience a new location with a destination wedding–and to give your friends and family the chance to experience an exciting location with you–will be one of the most memorable times of your lives.
Now go plan an amazing adventure!~
Kathryn Cooper Weddings: Destination Wedding Photographer | Destination Elopement Photographer | Best Destination Wedding Locations in the World