You’ve got the ring — now jump into the planning! First step: Decide where to go. To help, we’ve rounded up 20-plus of the best wedding destinations around the world eager to host your big day.
Breezy Aruba is the sixth most visited island in the Caribbean for a reason — for starters, it’s located south of the hurricane belt, so there’s no danger of tropical storms threatening your big day. Other draws include its sugar strands (Baby Beach is a favorite), ample nightlife (there are a dozen casinos) and multicultural history (Arubans are a mix of Caquetio Indian, African and European). High-rise hotels populate Palm Beach, while smaller boutiques occupy Eagle Beach; venture inland, and you’ll find an arid, hilly landscape best showcased at Arikok National Park.
Legal wedding ceremonies must take place inside City Hall (an adorable green building in Oranjestad, the capital) on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Then hold a symbolic ceremony anywhere you like. You’ll need copies of your birth certificates with an apostil, passports, two witnesses with passports, and single-status reports. — Erika Hueneke
With more than 100 offshore islands, a great barrier reef, untamed jaguar territory and centuries-old caves, Belize has something for every couple. Add year-round 80-degree weather, and it’s no wonder more couples get married here every year. Receive a Maya blessing at the ancient site of Xunantunich or Cahal Pech along the Guatemalan border. Or head to other parts of the Cayo region, home to most of the country’s forest reserves, for I do’s by a waterfall. Of course, you can always go barefoot on the sand of Ambergris Caye.
You’ll need to stay in the country for three days before applying for a marriage license. Then present proof of citizenship, copies of your passports showing your pictures and date of entry into Belize, and proof of marital status if widowed or divorced, along with the $105 fee. Everything is done in Belize City or Belmopan, and it only takes a day. — Kaci Hamilton
Out of the top 10 domestic spots where honeymooners “checked in” on Facebook, four are in Florida (including Miami and Orlando), and it’s no surprise. Florida’s 825 miles of beaches make it the prime spot for stateside coastal celebrations. You don’t have to head out to sea to wed on an island, either. Dig your toes into the sugar sands of Siesta Key, or barhop with your guests down Key West’s Duval Street after exchanging vows at a pastel-hued 1920s bungalow. See the best Florida wedding venues.
Tying the knot in the Sunshine State is easy; just arrive within three days of your ceremony. If you take the four-hour Florida premarital course (available online!), the $93.50 fee for the license is reduced by one-third, and there’s no waiting period. Any county can issue a license, and you’ll have to get married before the 60-day expiry. Squeamish about needles? No biggie: A blood test isn’t required in the home of The Most Magical Place on Earth. — HVK
Hawaii, a five-hour flight from Los Angeles, is a no-brainer when it comes to weddings. From lava-peeping and stargazing on Hawaii, the Big Island to hiking Kauai’s Napali Coast to restaurant-hopping in Waikiki, Oahu, adventure and romance are easy to come by here. Plus, from late December to early May, you can spot whales without even trying. And where else do you have an excuse to walk down a palm-lined aisle to ukulele music?
Before your Hawaii nuptials, apply for the marriage license online; just make sure you don’t sign it until you meet with your wedding agent. And remember to bring valid IDs. Once that’s out of the way, you’re free to say I do — there’s no waiting period before the marriage can take place. You’ll get your temporary certificate online, and the certified copy is mailed a few weeks later. — Sarah Sekula
The Islands of Tahiti
Only an eight-hour flight from Los Angeles, another universe awaits: neon-turquoise lagoons, tattooed men in outrigger canoes, the misty jungle peak of Mount Otemanu, sharks and rays gliding under thatched overwater bungalows … The Islands of Tahiti’s wedding locations are equally otherworldly — a glass-bottomed chapel in Bora Bora, a private motu just off Tahaa, a catamaran charter in Huahine. Regardless, Tahitian touches are a must, from flower garlands to local musicians.
Recently legalized for citizens of the United States and Canada, the Tahitian marriage process isn’t too complicated; all the logistics can be taken care of in as few as three to five months before touching down. Find a list of the required documents at tahiti-tourisme.com. The mayor performs a quick legal ceremony at city hall; then you’re free to say your vows wherever you like. Bonus: There’s no waiting period. — Vicky Hodges
The Bahamas’ most famous vacation hub, Nassau, is tops for nuptials, thanks to its Versailles Gardens, big-name hotels and wealth of direct flights. But venture beyond the popular cruise port, and you’ll encounter deserted pink-sand beaches in Harbour Island, mysterious blue holes in Andros Island, and unique beach barhopping in the Abacos (all you’ll need is a boat).
A day after arrival, apply for a marriage license ($120) at the local administrator’s office. You’ll need passports, birth certificates and evidence of your date of arrival, as well as an official declaration of single status and a divorce decree, if applicable. You can wed once you receive your approved license the day after application. Ask your planner to assist with certification of your documents in advance. — EH
Weddings in the Dominican Republic are as easy as they are stunning. How easy? Many of the all-inclusives in Punta Cana offer free wedding packages, complete with a coordinator. Old-world Santo Domingo and the lush jungle enveloping the mountain ranges of Puerto Plata also make for exotic wedding backdrops without any effort.
Complete the necessary marriage paperwork about six months in advance. Send the required documents to the Dominican consulate to be translated and legalized, and include a money order for the fee ($200 if neither of you has been married before) and a prepaid self-addressed envelope. You’ll also need two non-family witnesses over 18. Check with your planner for the most up-to-date info. — Cami Webb
The third-largest Caribbean island, Jamaica is home to 635 miles of coastline and wedding-ready properties, from all-inclusives to villas. Negril has the perfect combo of pristine beach and lively nightlife; energetic Montego Bay is a hotel hub surrounded by a lush landscape and turquoise waters; and romantic Ocho Rios served as backdrop to both the James Bond film Dr. No and Marilyn Monroe’s honeymoon with Arthur Miller.
Marrying couples must be on the island 24 hours prior to the ceremony with marriage license in hand. Send paperwork, including certified copies of birth certificates, to the Ministry of National Security at least several weeks in advance; most resorts or local wedding planners can assist with this. —Brooke Showell
Forts, beaches, jungles, salsa beats — Puerto Rico packs a lot into its 3,500 square miles. For close proximity to the popular beaches of Isla Verde, chic shops of Condado and coquis (tree frogs) of El Yunque rainforest, make the capital city of San Juan your home base. Historic Old San Juan, with its cobblestone streets and nearly 500-year-old fortress, is a city within the city. Rincon, a surfing hot spot in the northwest, offers intimate strands where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. Or get even more remote on the island of Vieques, six miles off Puerto Rico’s eastern tip.
Couples must obtain a marriage license from the new Demographic Registry office in Old San Juan, and while you’ll still need the appropriate paperwork, there’s no waiting period. The good news: Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth, no passports are needed, the currency is the U.S. dollar, and English is widely spoken. — BS
Blending British and French influences, Saint Lucia is almost synonymous with its iconic Piton Mountains, which guest starred on season 14 of The Bachelor (remember when Jake proposed to Vienna?). But the romance extends beyond the twin peaks, from Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens and 19,000 acres of rainforest to palm-fringed beaches and the world’s only drive-in volcano. Some of the top resorts are located in and around the island’s two main towns (Castries, the capital, and Soufriere at the foot of the Pitons), and most offer onsite planners.
In true Caribbean style, it’s easy to get married in Saint Lucia. There’s no residency period, so you can host your ceremony within 24 hours of arrival as long as you apply for a same-day marriage license and you have all the necessary, original documentation. Same-day licenses are $200 (the regular fee for a marriage license is $125). — Claire Bloomfield
Turks and Caicos
Tidy and upscale with screen-saver strands, Turks and Caicos’ main hub of Providenciales is primed for a bike ride, ice-cream run or lazy day on Grace Bay, ranked third-best beach in the world by CNN. Host a welcome party at Da Conch Shack, complete with conch fritters, Turk’s Head lager and rum punch, natch. Or entertain guests on a day sail with stops at several of the archipelago’s 32 uninhabited islands and cays. Regular ferries run to eco-centric North and Middle Caicos, while the flight from Provo to the historic capital island of Grand Turk is only 30 minutes.
Marriage licenses are issued at the office of the registrar in Provo, open weekdays, and you must be on island for 48 hours before submitting your application ($250 fee). Documents you’ll need: passports, birth certificates, affidavits of single status, a divorce decree or death certificate (if applicable) and a copy of your TCI arrival and departure stamps. — EH
U.S. Virgin Islands
As if all the natural eye candy (bleach-white beaches, jungle-cloaked hills, Technicolor reefs) wasn’t enough, the U.S. Virgin Islands also boast tremendous convenience — you won’t need passports, language dictionaries or currency converters in these U.S. territories. Want accessibility, nightlife and shopping? Opt for St. Thomas and its bustling port, Charlotte Amalie. Are you a nature nut? Go for St. John, home to the Virgin Islands National Park. For history and culture, wander Christiansted and Frederiksted, the two main towns bookending St. Croix.
Download the application for a marriage license at visitusvi.com. After the Superior Court of the USVI receives a completed and authorized application, there’s an eight-day waiting period. Obtain a certified copy of a divorce decree (if applicable), and specify who’s officiating: If it’s a member of the clergy, the fee is $200 (money order or cash). — EH
From May to October, Greece provides a romantic backdrop for weddings filled with fresh Mediterranean cuisine, local wines and joyous traditions. For drama, head to Santorini, where whitewashed villages cling to black-lava cliffs with Aegean views. Mykonos is tops for a cosmopolitan vibe and a 24/7 beach-party scene. For something more low-key, consider Crete, mixing ancient civilizations and scenic beaches; Corfu, boasting Venetian and French architecture and stunning bays; or Rhodes’ medieval old town.
Getting married in Greece requires advance prep, but documents can’t be issued more than three months before the wedding date. You’ll both need original birth certificates, each affixed with an apostil; affidavits of single status (obtainable at your local notary public and also affixed with an apostil); and a marriage license (obtained from your local town hall) — all translated into Greek. — Donna Heiderstadt
Whether your choice for nuptials is the rocky Amalfi Coast, sunflower fields of Tuscany, bridges of Venice or ancient ruins of Rome, Italy is a country that places friends, family, wining and dining at the top. Sourcing farm-fresh ingredients and local vino for your reception feast is easy (this is the birthplace of the slow-food movement, after all). And you can’t beat the Mediterranean climate.
The legal process of getting married in Italy is as layered as tiramisu. Apply for a Dichiarazione Giurata ($50) with an American consular officer in one of seven Italian cities. Present passports, birth certificates, proof of entry into Italy, and a divorce decree or death certificate, if applicable. Finally, bring the Dichiarazione Giurata and a signed Atto Notorio to the marriage office in your chosen town. (Hint: Hire an interpreter.) — Kristine Hansen
Best known for its beachfront bures (huts), eco-adventures, thriving reefs, cultural demos and low-key evening singalongs with friendly locals, Fiji comprises 333 islands, but most visitors arrive through the main isle of Viti Levu, home to many bigger resort brands. For something quieter, island-hop to Vanua Levu, where there’s only one set of traffic lights. Remoter still are Fiji’s many private-island resorts.
To get the marriage ball rolling, forward copies of your personal documents to the nearest Fijian registry office at least two weeks ahead of time. Arrive three days before your wedding date, then visit the registry office (open weekdays) to show your original documents including birth certificates, passports and a divorce or death certificate (if applicable). Most resorts have a wedding coordinator who will make all the necessary arrangements on your behalf. — EH
Mexico’s Caribbean coastline stretches more than 75 miles and includes Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the island of Cozumel. The allure of the Caribbean Sea and ease of getting here draws couples to this tropical paradise for their nuptials — from Cancun International Airport, destinations are within an hour’s drive. Wedding venues abound, from all-inclusives and eco-hotels to hidden gem Punta Maroma, a privately owned beach. Want to incorporate local culture into your ceremony? Tie the knot in Tulum, and consider having your service performed by a Maya shaman.
It’s pretty simple to get hitched in Mexico. A civil ceremony requires four witnesses, plus passports and originals and copies of birth certificates translated into Spanish by an authorized translator. Also plan on getting blood tests done in Mexico to obtain a valid marriage certificate. — Charyn Pfeuffer
In Arizona, ski slopes, red rocks and desert dunes all stand at the ready for your wedding away. Forested Flagstaff boasts the state’s highest mountain, Humphreys Peak, a natural spot for a photo-op. Or score a special-use permit from the National Park Service to host your celebration in Grand Canyon National Park. Farther south, the spa mecca of Scottsdale is full up with luxe resorts. Or exchange vows in spiritual Sedona, where you can walk down the aisle to live Native American flute music and receive a blessing from a Navajo or Hopi shaman.
Once you’ve arrived in town, making it legal is a snap. Show up to the clerk of courts in the county where you’re marrying; present both IDs and certified copies of your birth certificates if you’re under 30; and be ready to pay the $76 fee with cash or a money order (no checks). There’s no waiting period and no health requirements, so after your license is issued, you’re set to wed. — Holly V. Kapherr
California is the ideal spot to carry out your marry-fest destiny. Explore the unrivaled variety of venues, including Napa vineyards, Orange County beaches, Lake Tahoe ski lifts, Studio City back lots, Santa Barbara ranches and Big Sur luxury lodges, not to mention national parks, historic missions, redwood groves and miles of coastline. The Golden State is even home to a couple of castles — Hearst’s and Sleeping Beauty’s.
The best part? California scheming isn’t all that complicated. Marriage licenses — obtained in person by both parties with valid picture IDs and occasionally a birth certificate at any county clerk’s office — are valid for 90 days and must be returned within 10 days of the ceremony. Same-sex marriage is legal, blood tests aren’t required, and a laundry list of folks can officiate, including judges, some elected officials and religious clergy of any denomination. — Carrie Bell
From the swank south end of Las Vegas Boulevard to resurgent Fremont Street, Las Vegas is a sure bet for an action-packed wedding weekend, thanks to luxury shopping at CityCenter, epic pool parties DJed by headliners, and top entertainment from Britney to Blue Man Group. Outside the Strip, the canyons near Lake Mead and Hoover Dam are showstopping wedding backdrops, while Springs Preserve offers dreamy desertscape event spaces.
As you might expect, getting hitched in a place where Elvis is a regular guest and drive-thru chapels dot the streets is pretty simple. Show up at the county clerk’s office, show some ID and get your marriage license. You’ll be able to tie the knot the same day (or the same hour, for that matter), and your license will be good for up to a year — so if you’re planning a scouting trip, the odds are good you’ll be able to go ahead and get your license at the same time. — HVK
With its celebratory energy, Creole cuisine and culture to spare, the Big Easy feels like a glamorous, indulgent destination that’s, well, easy to get to. Thanks to its strong French and Spanish influences, the city also boasts colorful architecture that makes for striking big-day venues and backdrops. One of the best (and loudest) local customs is the second line, which can serve as your own wedding parade. Nothing says party quite like a brass band leading you, your attendants and your guests down the streets of New Orleans. Be sure to also use the city’s iconic streetcars as a photo-op or group transportation.
Getting married in the city is fairly simple; just note the 72-hour waiting period between getting a marriage license and holding the ceremony. (However, the waiting period can be waived if a registered Orleans officiant performs the service.) — Allyson Reedy
The nine states comprising the Northeast region of the United States enjoy serious diversity, but they share a pedigree of historic significance, rural charm and distinct cuisine, from lobster rolls and clam chowder in Maine to Buffalo wings and bagels in New York. Destination weddings here are often an excuse to escape to the countryside — a serene lake in the Adirondacks, a rustic farm in Vermont, a sunny Atlantic beach or the rocky coast of Acadia National Park.
Any season is ripe for a celebration here; just decide if you want winter snow, spring blossoms, summer fun or fall foliage. Marriage laws differ by state, so check with the municipal clerk in your destination about the specifics. Typically, you’ll need to apply for a marriage license together in person at the town clerk’s office, and you’ll need to bring along photo IDs, proof of age and a certified copy of a divorce or death certificate, if applicable. — EH
Vallarta – Nayarit, Mexico
A three-hour hop from LAX, this 200-mile stretch of Pacific Coast is a Hollywood favorite (particularly chichi Punta Mita), but Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit are dotted with as many peaceful fishing villages as luxury resorts. Puerto Vallarta’s mountainside beaches, myriad all-inclusives and exploding food scene ensure ample price points and diversions. Or rent a sprawling villa in one of the Riviera Nayarit’s clay-tiled towns like Sayulita or San Blas.
To wed here, arrive two to three days before the I do’s and meet with a justice of the peace. Bring your marriage-license application, birth certificates with apostils, original passports and copies of their information pages, certification of single status (if applicable) and a check for $595. You’ll also be subjected to a blood test. Your ceremony must be performed in Spanish (the fee includes a translator). All documents must be translated into Spanish by an authorized translator. — HVK