Wedding venue spotlight: five romantic destinations to say, “I Do”
The lyric “love is all around” may resonate a little more at this time of year as we find ourselves in the midst of proposal season, which starts around Thanksgiving and extends to Valentine’s Day. That means many couples are appropriately “ringing” in the new year by kicking off their wedding planning journey in anticipation of their big day. Somewhere near the top of every newly engaged couple’s checklist is selecting a venue to host their wedding and reception. From beach weddings to luxury resorts, this list of our favorite venues offers something for everyone, starting with a non-traditional wedding destination:
Among the many one-of-a-kind experiences at Orlando’s Discovery Cove is the opportunity for couples to say, “I do” in a breathtaking ceremony at this all-inclusive day resort, followed by a day of exciting animal encounters. A tranquil setting for a romantic experience unlike any other, ceremonies at Discovery Cove take place before the park opens, among a paradise of rocky lagoons, lush landscaping, tropical reefs, winding rivers, waterfalls and pristine white-sand beaches. Couples can customize packages to include a bride-and-groom dolphin swim, photos, private cabanas, souvenir items, champagne and more.
Up to 30 guests can join in the wedding festivities, followed by a day of celebration and fun. Admission to Discovery Cove includes breakfast, lunch, unlimited beverages (including alcoholic products for those 21 and older) and snacks, lockers, animal-safe sunscreen and snorkel gear, as well as access to snorkel with colorful fish, relax in the Wind-Away River and hand-feed tropical birds. Visitors can also opt to upgrade their visit with a variety of experiences, including swimming with dolphins, enrolling in a shark swim or venturing on an underwater walking tour wearing an innovative “dive helmet” in the SeaVentureprogram.
For a destination wedding or vow renewal, escape to Sunset at the Palms, a luxury tree house-style resort in the heart of Jamaica’s coveted coastline of Negril. Offering all-inclusive destination wedding packages, the resort lets couples choose from a private ceremony for two or invite up to 100 guests. Sunset at the Palms boasts stunning ceremony venues, including a private beach, tropical gardens and a gazebo. Couples who are also honeymooning at the resort can design their own custom wedding registry to include experiences and activities, such as rafting, tubing and spa treatments.
Setting the mood for romance and complete relaxation, the adults-only resort is famous for its magnificent sunset views. Wedding guests will stay in one of the property’s 85 treehouse-style guest rooms and suites on 10 acres of lush landscaping and enjoy a range of all-inclusive benefits, including meals, beverages, access to non-motorized water sports and more. This resort is so focused on creating perfect weddings that it even staged a ceremony for its pair of resident goats last fall!
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
For a family-friendly destination wedding venue, The Buccaneer in St Croix offers the timeless romance of the setting sun over a gentle sea. The resort boasts incredible ceremony venues, including flowering gardens and the beautiful Mermaid Beach. With sweeping views of the ocean, the centuries-old Sugar Mill is a perfect outdoor space for cocktail hour and photos (in the 1700s, the estate played a key role in the island’s sugar industry). Four distinct wedding packages and the “I Still Do” renewal package are customized to accommodate two to 100 guests. Plus, all wedding packages include unique offerings for the couple, such as private round-trip taxi transportation from the airport, a welcome basket, fresh tropical flower arrangement, a couples’ keepsake, and transportation to and from the Territorial Court for legal paperwork.
The oldest family-run resort in the Caribbean, The Buccaneer is a destination beach and golf resort, owned and operated by the Armstrong family since 1947. Wedding guests can stay in one of 138 spacious, elegant guest rooms located throughout the property’s 340 tropical acres. The resort also features an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, three beaches, pool, water sports center, full service spa, fitness center, three restaurants, and shopping with fine boutiques.
Cooperstown, New York
Situated on the southern shore of Lake Otsego in Cooperstown, New York, The Otesaga Resort Hotel takes its name from the original Native American word for this beautiful location, which means “a place for meeting.” The Otesaga, with its sweeping lake views and historic charm, continues to be a place where families and friends come together to celebrate the most meaningful events of their lives, including weddings. With the shimmering waters of the lake, lush hillsides, and majestic, centuries-old oaks as the backdrop, outdoor ceremonies make for a breathtaking event to remember. The hotel also offers several different styles of venue receptions, including an outdoor veranda and the Otesaga’s Grand Ballroom, a romantic venue that can accommodate up to 190 seated guests.
While staying at The Otesaga, wedding guests can enjoy a variety of activities, including playing on its championship Leatherstocking Golf Course, swimming in the heated outdoor pool, enjoying the tennis courts, paddling on the lake in row boats and canoes, taking a leisurely walk along Lake Otsego, or strolling to the museums. The charming village of Cooperstown is also home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Fenimore Art Museum, The Farmers’ Museum and the Glimmerglass Festival.
Couples can create their own fairy-tale wedding in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. The luxury resort offers more than a dozen amazing indoor and outdoor venues perfect for any aspect of a wedding experience. All wedding packages include personal planning services provided by one of Nemacolin’s certified wedding designers, and couples are invited to work with the resort’s on-site ThemeWorks team to bring to life their dream celebration. Nemacolin’s team of award-winning chefs are at the ready to create the perfect menu for the rehearsal dinner, wedding reception and farewell breakfast, too.
For overnight wedding guests, Nemacolin features 320 guest rooms, suites, townhouses and private luxury homes. Situated on nearly 2,000 acres in Farmington, Pennsylvania, the luxury resort offers championship golf, a Shooting Academy, an Adventure Center with zip lines and climbing wall, an Off-Road Driving Academy and more. Nemacolin also boasts an internationally acclaimed spa collection and 15 restaurants and lounges, including Lautrec, a Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond dining experience.