Picture this: You're standing at the altar across from the one you love. The weather is spectacular. The scenery is breathtaking. Your closest friends and family surround you, sharing in your overwhelming joy. It's the summer destination wedding of your dreams, but you're not on an exotic island; you're still stateside. As surprising as it may seem, you don’t need a passport or pricey travel plans to make this ultimate fantasy your wedding day reality. During the summer months, there are lots of locales close to home that offer the same luxuries you expect to find in the tropics. Here are four near you:
If you’re in the Northeast:
Go for a rustic-inspired wedding on Nantucket Island (located 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts). This unique destination has quintessential old-world charm -- cobblestone streets, quaint villages, beaches, and bike paths. Coordinating your guests’ arrival will be a cinch; you can travel to and from the island by ferry or on a direct flight from Boston, New York, Washington, DC, or Providence, Rhode Island.
Host a wedding for up to 200 guests at The Wauwinet (Wauwinet.com), a picturesque inn on the island's northeast tip, tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Bay, where couples can reserve the entire property for a truly one-of-a-kind wedding experience. Once everyone's arrived and settled into their cozy guest rooms (adorned with antique pine, cheery chintz, and fresh flowers), kick the weekend off the way the locals would with a beachside clambake rehearsal dinner.
You can save big on florist costs too -- the roses and hydrangeas are in full bloom in the summer, so the natural beauty is all the backdrop you’ll need.
If you’re in the Southeast:
Throw the ultimate seaside wedding for less than you'd expect at Vero Beach; it's on the eastern coast of Florida (about 190 miles south of Jacksonville). Vero Beach is an affordable alternative to nearby popular picks, like Bermuda or the Bahamas, with fewer crowds and just as much (if not more!) beauty. Though small and intimate, the city is full of enticing activities for all, making it easy for early arrivals to find plenty to do. Guests can lounge on the beach, go kayaking through Vero's Indian River Lagoon, turtle watch, or explore world-class art galleries. (Who knows, you might even decide to stick around for your honeymoon -- there's plenty more to see and do!)
Oceanside beach resort Costa d'Este (CostadEste.com) is an ideal pick for those in search of the easy full-service wedding package couples usually jet to the Caribbean to find. There, the bride and groom can host up to 120 guests for an oceanfront wedding.
If personalizing every little detail is more what you have in mind, consider the nearby Vero Beach Hotel & Spa (VeroBeachHotelandSpa.com) where a full-service catering team is up for everything from a tented seaside event with torches and a Caribbean calypso band to a jazz-themed contemporary celebration.
If you’re in the Southwest:
You might want to revisit what you think you know about Las Vegas. Before you click away, know that we’re not talking about wedding-chapels-and-Elvis-impersonators Vegas! There’s a whole other side to this hot spot that often gets overlooked and drowned out by the gambling and party crowds. (Though the very nature of that appeal is what guarantees that you -- and your guests -- will always be able to find a great summer airline or resort deal.)
Out to make sure everyone has a wonderful time? Arrive early with your bridal party for an evening of unforgettable bachelor and bachelorette VIP fun at one of the newest nightclubs on the strip. Rub elbows with the stars at Encore's XS club, or sit on giant ice cubes and drink from frozen shot glasses at Mandalay Bay's minus5 ice-lounge.
If you wander just a few miles away from the infamous "strip" to Henderson, Nevada, you’ll find a true desert oasis, complete with clear skies and the stunning 320-acre Lake Las Vegas. Get married on a Tuscan-inspired bridge at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas' (RitzCarlton.com) Chapel Fiorenza on a sun-kissed afternoon, when they say the water truly shimmers.
If you’re in the Northwest:
Wine lovers, take note: With plenty of vineyards sprinkled throughout the state, Washington is a homegrown alternative to a rustic winery wedding in Provence or Tuscany. Remember that a winery can be a one-stop shop for weddings, offering unique indoor and outdoor accommodations just steps apart and wide-open spaces that are easily transformable to meet your various decor needs.
Whatever your wedding style, the Evergreen State offers everything from sweet and airy venues like the grounds of Airfield Estates (AirfieldWines.com), to rustic, earthy ones, like Cave B Inn at SageCliffe (SageCiffe.com). The staff at Airfield Estates understands that oftentimes a bride wants to plan every aspect of her day from start to finish. They offer low-cost space rentals and a vividly beautiful space so you can bring in the entertainment, caterer, and decor that work best for your budget. What more could a DIY bride ask for?
At Cave B Inn at SageCliffe, couples can choose to marry outdoors in the vineyards of the Cave B Estate Winery or inside the elegant Estate Room with a sweeping window wall showcasing incredible views. Not to mention your favors are a no-brainer -- a bottle of vino and wine bag for all. Cheers!
See More: Destination Weddings