Make nature your altar with outdoor vows that wow. Whether you’re looking for a wedding album filled with ocean, beach, mountains, gardens, desert, vineyards or city lights, consider one of these best wedding venues with a spectacular backdrop.
OCEAN VIEW: Andaz Maui at Wailea
This 15-acre, 297-guestroom resort has you at hello. The elevated, plank-like entryway puts guests a few stories above the coastline and provides direct eye contact with the horizon. The oceanfront Oggaw Lawn is one of the resort’s most popular spaces; the event studio with an open kitchen offers a fun, interactive vibe for rehearsal dinners.
OCEAN VIEW: The Breakers, Palm Beach.
This ornate resort is a well-preserved piece of Florida’s Gilded Age; parasols, high neck dresses and monocles would not feel out of place here. Thanks to the narrow beach, the hotel appears to sit right on top of the breaking waves (thus the resort’s name). Most of the 12 indoor and outdoor event spaces take advantage of the view.
OCEAN VIEW: Sheraton Kauai.
Engaged couples and filmmakers alike swoon for Kauai’s scenery — Jurassic Park and Avatar utilized the island’s epic jungle-porn landscape to conjure both a prehistoric era and another planet. An outdoor ceremony at the Sheraton Kauai, facing the Pacific and the beach’s lava rock outcroppings, puts you in a great spot to take it all in.
BEACH VIEW: Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa, Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Only 20 minutes from Cancun International Airport, this 25-acre resort offers a generous stretch of white and pink coral sand on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Get married on the sand, then move to the Libras Garden, hidden amidst the jungle thicket, for an intimate, lantern-lit reception.
BEACH VIEW: Watercolor Inn, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
Just beyond the town limits of Seaside sits this 60-guestroom resort. County ordinances prevent motorized watercraft within 500 yards of the shore, so rest assured it will be a peaceful ceremony. Aim for a photo op with one of Seaside’s pavilions, architectural exclamation points that welcome the public to the Gulf beaches.
VINEYARD VIEW: Bernardus Lodge & Spa, Carmel, California.
The cool, dry weather of Carmel Valley makes its ideal for growing the Bordeaux-style varietals that go into the resort‘s namesake wine. It also makes it a great spot for nuptials. A ceremony in the wedding pavilion puts you center stage among the estate vineyards, rose gardens and Santa Lucia Mountains.
DESERT VIEW: Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Sante Fe.
The 14-syllable name is the most complicated part of this low-rise luxury pueblo, which rests in the peaceful Sangre de Cristo foothills, the Jemez Mountains looming in the distance. Thanks to its remote location and 57-acre plot, there are no city lights to interrupt the creamsicle sunsets or starry nights.
DESERT VIEW: Gateway Canyons, Colorado.
Considering its natural yet photogenic locale – a patch of Moab desert in the shadow of the towering Palisade rock formation – it’s no surprise that Gateway Canyons is the pet project of Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks. If you’re looking for a group activity, the resort can coordinate a private air tour of the area via Eurocopter or Cessna Caravan.
CITY VIEW: The London West Hollywood.
Movie premiere after-parties are the most common event held at The London‘s 10th floor rooftop, so there’s plenty of room for a wedding in this 3,800-square-foot deck outfitted with white marble fire pits. It provides sweeping views of Los Angeles; at night, the city lights resemble Fiji’s bioluminescent waters.
CITY VIEW: Mandarin Oriental, Miami.
A short bridge is all that separates the bustle of downtown Miami from Brickell Key, a tiny atoll that’s home to the Mandarin Oriental. Stand on one side of the property and Biscayne Bay stretches out to the horizon. The other provides a front-row seat to Miami’s ever-burgeoning, cloud-scratching skyline.
CITY VIEW: The Peninsula New York.
Located at 55th Street and Fifth Avenue, just a few blocks from Central Park South, The Peninsula boasts two of the city’s rooftop venues (a rarity in Manhattan). Offering close-up views of Midtown’s mirrored and smoked glass high-rises, the 23rd floor has two al fresco options: the Sun Terrace (capacity: 75), or the 3,500-square-foot Salon de Ding bar (200).
MOUNTAIN VIEW: Tempter House at Telluride Ski Resort
Perched at 12,200 feet, the views from Telluride’s Tempter House are just about as jaw-dropping as it gets. And exclusive? You bet. The ultra-private home sits at the top of the aptly-named See Forever run of the Telluride Ski Resort, and guests can take a snowcat to get there at night. Alpino Vino, North America’s highest elevation wine bar, is just steps away slopeside so the catering is covered. Bonus: Tempter House is also available for overnight accommodations — wake up to eye-level views of the San Juan peaks the day after you say I do.
MOUNTAIN VIEW: The Little Nell, Aspen.
Wherever you look, there are the Rockies, a panoramic stretch of crags and peaks resembling a seismograph reading. Take the Silver Queen Gondola to the summit of Aspen Mountain for I-do’s on the Sundeck or the Wedding Deck, which provide views of the Rockies and the Continental Divide at an elevation of 11,000-plus feet.
MOUNTAIN VIEW: Fairmont Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada.
Known as the “Castle in the Rockies,” the landmark 768-guestroom resort has been welcoming visitors for 125 years. It’s set on a sloping perch in Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Outdoor Terrace, facing the mountains and Bow Valley, accommodates seating for 180.
MOUNTAIN VIEW: Four Seasons Jackson Hole.
The Grand Tetons look good dressed in white, but don’t count out spring, summer and fall, when the hills burst with color. The Cottonwood Lawn accommodates 200 guests, who will likely proceed immediately to Instagram to post selfies with Sleeping Indian Mountain.
MOUNTAIN VIEW: Beaver Creek Lodge.
Lesser known than its A-list sibling, Beaver Creek has all the perks of Vail: great slopes, boutique shopping, a variety of dining options, and of course the backdrop. This lodge offers a “Honeymoon on Us” package: couples who book their wedding reception by December 31, 2014, get a free honeymoon at any of parent company Kessler’s 10 properties nationwide.