Just because you don’t want to stray too far from home for your destination wedding doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the perks of a far-flung affair. Staying domestic is not just an economically wise and cost-saving decision, but it’s also an opportunity to explore the wondrous and diverse locales of the U.S.
Whether you’re staying in the Sunshine State for warmth or traveling to Montana for landscape views gracing your backdrops, there’s seemingly no end to the unique wedding venues here in the U.S. Here are the best places to get married in the 50 states and Puerto Rico and the different types of venues to choose from for your and your partner’s big day.
Have your party overlooking the powdery sands of the Gulf of Mexico at one of the stilted beach homes in Fort Morgan, Orange Beach or Gulf Shores. For something even more intimate, quaint inns along historic Mobile Bay Beach are great spots for saying “I do.” Pair that with a sandside party of “stewed and nude” oysters.
Few ceremony settings are as dramatic as the icy Kenai Fjords, viewable from onboard one of Kenai Fjords Tours’ vessels, which depart from Seward. For something even more extreme, fly via helicopter to tie the knot at the top of Mendenhall Glacier. To catch the aurora borealis, hold your wedding between December and March, and see why this is one of the best places to elope in the U.S.
Marry in a literal work of art at Sedona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, this Catohlic church seems to literally rise out of the surrounding rocks. In Tucson, embrace the scenery at a traditional guest ranch like Hacienda del Sol in the foothills of the Santa Catalinas.
Wed with views of the Ozarks at Table Rock Lake or Beaver Lake, just outside historic Eureka Springs. This area is loaded with cottage-style accommodations. At Beaver Lake Log Cabins, you can even wed aboard the property’s pontoon boat (holds up to 13).
San Diego strands like La Jolla’s Windansea Beach are surf meccas, and iconic Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island is perfect for an Old Hollywood feel. Make it official on the movie set-worthy Malibu coastline at Leo Carrillo State Park, and follow with a reception at Paradise Cove, an A-list gathering spot for more than 100 years. Here are some of the best wedding venues in California.
Ski resorts here have perfected the mountain-wedding backdrop. Pick from two wedding decks, one in Vail and one in Aspen, or the San Sophia Overlook in Telluride. All three are accessed via gondola and are above 10,000 feet, granting a prime vista of jagged peaks and making Colorado one of the best places to get married in the U.S.
Henry Francis du Pont’s Winterthur Estate near Wilmington has four different reception venues, but our favorite is the reflecting pool. Nearby, the Brantwyn Estate offers reception rooms and a garden, while the lawn can be tented at the Read House & Gardens.
Keep it simple with a sandside ceremony at Smathers Beach, Key West’s longest strand. Then, take your party into town for a restaurant reception at Mangoes or Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery. In Southwest Florida, find calming, white-sand strands and sweet Gulf-facing gazebos in Naples or on sleepy barrier islands like Captiva, Marco and Sanibel.
Located in a circa-1859 cotton warehouse, Vic’s on the River restaurant serves up prime views of the Savannah River, plus Southern specialities like crawfish penne, wild Georgia shrimp and fried green tomatoes. Farther west in Pine Mountain, Callaway Gardens’ 2,500 acres include an azalea garden and a butterfly center.
Hawaii is home to some of the best wedding venues. Have a lei exchange, a luau and a ceremonial blowing of the conch on Maui’s Kaanapali Beach. All along the 42-mile-long boardwalk, resorts cater to weddings with pavilions, gardens and ballrooms looking out to the sea. Stellar backdrops on the Big Island include Anaehoomalu Bay and the black sand of Punaluu Beach Park.
Soak in views of snow-capped summits from both outside and inside the log-hewn Sawtooth Valley Meditation Chapel in Stanley. Several spots along the Snake River, popular with white-water rafters, make for stunning wedding venues, including the public beach at Lewiston’s Hells Gate State Park.
Enjoy Cajun food, live blues and a private party room at Buddy Guy’s Legends, which recently moved into a brand-new space on Chicago’s South Loop. Bill Pollack Music, the preferred music vendor at Chicago’s Beaux Arts-style Union State, can provide everything from a Chicago-style blues band to Roaring ‘20s musicians to a 14-piece contemporary dance band.
Festhalle Barn in the Amana Colonies is a classic, restored dairy barn with weathered boards and high-beamed ceilings. Schwab Round Bran in Solon is an architectural stunner built specifically for celebrations. Go for authenticity at Living History Farms outside Des MOines, where the wood-paneled great hall overlooks the circa-1875 town of Walnut Creek.
Gather the gang at the Lone Summit Ranch just outside of Kansas City for a backyard bash under a gazebo overlooking a private lake. In nearby Lawrence, wed in the prairie garden of Circle S Ranch & Country Inn, and follow with a tractor-pulled hayride for the bridal party.
The antebellum mansion at My Old Kentucky Home State Park was the inspiration for the state’s theme song by Stephen Foster. In Owensboro, home to the International Bluegrass Music Museum, hold your event at the nonprofit RiverPark Center with catering by world-famous Moonlite Bar-B-Q.
Have your party at one of New Orleans’ top music venues: Tipitina’s, Preservation Hall and House of Blues, all in the French Quarter, are available for private parties.
Arrive by boat to the membership-only Bar Harbor Club built by J.P. Morgan in 1930. Down East caterers like Finest Kind in Yarmouth and Sam’s Great Northern in Portland can bring a traditional lobster bake to the rocky beach of your choosing.
In St. Michaels on the eastern shore, venues include the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum set in a lighthouse on the Miles River. Historic Inns of Annapolis offers three hotels dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, all within walking distance of the charming harbor.
Hold your party in America’s oldest and longest-operating restaurant: Boston’s Union Oyster House (opened in 1826). Then walk to the afterparty at the circa-1654 Green Dragon Tavern. Red-brick Hamilton Hall has been Salem society’s favored meeting spot since 1805.
Resorts like Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior specialize in lawn weddings. Or you can wed on the sand in Lake Michigan’s top beach town, Traverse City. At Lake Huron’s Mackinac Island, accessible only by plane or boat, gather the group at the circa-1887 Grand Hotel, where the wide veranda boasts views of Mackinac Bridge.
Head straight for the pebble-stone beaches that line the north shore of Lake Superior, or say, “I do,” in a gazebo at Spirit Mountain Recreation Area, with views of Duluth and Lake Superior. For something more remote, exchange vows on a floating platform at Ludlow’s Island Resort, a private-island property on scenic Lake Vermillion.
The Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation in Downtown Vicksburg preserves the legacy of the American South and holds receptions in its circa-1885 auditorium, complete with wood floors and a stage. Or wed under cedar, oak and magnolia trees at the Cedars, Jackson’s oldest surviving residential structure.
At the Lake of the Ozarks, wed with water vistas alongside the pools, bridges and waterfalls of the Japanese gardens at the Lodge of Four Seasons. The nearby Tan-Tar-A Resort keeps everything convenient with 420 acres of family-fun options, including a golf course, a water park and an onsite wedding chapel.
The open-air Apgar Amphitheater inside Glacier National Park overlooks Lake McDonald, the largest lake within park borders. Another great scene: towering firs, gentle slopes, a grassy glen and the big blue sky at Bozeman’s top wedding venue, the Woodlands at Cottonwood Canyon.
In the quiet town of Papillion, get hitched at Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch. The adults can party, while the kiddies enjoy horseshoe games and hayrides. In North Platte, tie the knot in the footsteps of the Wild West’s greatest showman at the 16-acre Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.
Las Vegas is known for bright lights and big shows, but just outside the city limits is some of the prettiest desertscape around. Drive to the Valley of Fire State Park, then return to the strip to celebrate. Or check into a resort at Lake Las Vegas to exchange vows on the shore with arid high desert all around you.
Onsite coordinators at Mount Washington Valley’s Brass Heart Inn can arrange smaller events in the inn’s dining room or parties for up to 150 in the restored 19th-century barn. Set on a 1746 colonial-era farm, Wilton’s Curtis Farm specializes in tented affairs, with the historic buildings providing great photo ops. Now owned and operated by Marriott, New Castle grande dame Wentworth by the Sea has been a landmark since 1874.
Step back in time in charming Cape May, where venues include the town’s Victorian gazebo and turn-of-the-century bed-and-breakfasts like Hotel Macomber. Have the country’s second-tallest lighthouse as your backdrop at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, near Ocean Grove.
Wed with a backdrop of the remnants of a 17th-century Spanish mission at ancient ruins 25 miles east of Santa Fe. Or celebrate in town in the garden of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which was planted with many of the same flowers the namesake used as her subjects.
Take over the private dining room or, for bigger groups, the HayLoft at Blue Hill at Stone Barn, a working farm and critically acclaimed restaurant in the Hudson Valley. Many of New York City’s most noted restaurants, including Danny Meyer’s Eleven Madison Park, Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur, Cipriani and the Russian Tea Room, boast private party rooms ideal for smaller receptions.
The Outer Banks town of Corolla Beach has multiple venue options, including the beach, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse and the century-old Corolla Chapel. Or head to Hatteras Island for a wedding at the Love Boat, a soundproof event space with a pool, a cabana and a deck perfect nuptials.
Conveniently close to Fargo but in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, a Friend’s House has a bridal-prep area set in an 1880s railroad-ticket office. It’s almost as cool as the event space: the wood-paneled Loft Ballroom, part of a once-working barn. Also in Moorhead, the red-walled barn at Rustic Oaks is actually a new venue, which means it has extras like heated floors and a handicap-accessible lift.
Hold a lakeside ceremony at a Lake Erie winery, such as the historic Mon Ami Restaurant & Historic Winery or the Lakehouse Inn & Winery. In Sandusky, make a dramatic entrance with a Cinderella-style carriage at the Lyman Harbor. There, the waterfront venue boasts both indoor and outdoor spaces and views of Cedar Point and Sandusky Bar.
In Sperry, a small town just north of Tulsa, make your entrance down a log staircase at the Lodge and Outlaw Cabins at Bridle Creek Horse Ranch & Resort. Or, at Tatanka Ranch, located less than an hour from Oklahoma City in the state’s grape and wine capital of Stroud, say, “I do,” outside of the rustic barn. Then have a photo op on historic Route 66, just a 15-minute drive away.
Portland’s Lucier is the big news in party venues, combining a sleek, contemporary event space with great food and river views. Willamette Valley is home to multiple wedding-worthy vineyards, including Ponzi and Vista Hills.
Just outside Philadelphia, the circa-1850 Glen Foerd mansion oozes romances with a wrought-iron gazebo, Tiffany skylights and a prime setting overlooking the Deleware River. The Victorian greenhouse at Phipps Conservatory is one of the nation’s oldest, dating to 1893.
In the sleepy west-coast town of Rincon, you can marry in front of Punta Higuero Lighthouse or along one of the surfing beaches, like Pools Beach or Sandy Beach. The resorts along the San Juan districts of Isla Verde and Condado Beach offer expected palm trees and beach fun just a short cab ride from historic Old San Juan.
Centrally located in the downtown harbor, the Newport Yachting Center has hosted names like Chris Isaak and B.B. King at its Sunset Music Series – it also hosts weddings. Or opt for a Gilded Age mansion overlooking the ocean, such as OceanCliff, Castle Hill or the Chanler.
Choose from any number of Charleston city parks: White Point Gardens provides views of Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor. On nearby John’s Island, Angel Oak Park is home to the oldest living tree east of the Mississippi River. In Hilton Head, say, “I do,” among moss-draped oaks at the circa-1858 Rose Hill Mansion.
Surrounded by striking rock formations and ponderosa pines, Sylvan Lake is one of the most picturesque ceremony spots in the Black Hills’ Custer State Park. Or head to Spearfish to tie the knot in a meadow near Roughlock Falls, an unforgettable photo op.
Nashville Event Space has five glam party venues in the heart of Downtown and the entertainment district. With its myriad of wedding chapels, Gatlinburg is sometimes called the Vegas of the Great Smoky Mountains. Also, Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park is just five minutes away in Pigeon Forge.
The capital city’s regal Austin Club began life as the Millett Opera House in 1878. Tie the knot on tiny Marriage Island, on a curve of the San Antonio River, and then stroll with your gang to one of the lively hotels or restaurants lining the River Walk.
Marry under a sandstone arch in Canyonlands National Park. Farther south at Lake Powell, take your gang via tour boat to a secluded beach, or DIY with some friends on a rented houseboat.
Pittsfield’s Riverside Farm partners with neighboring organic Amee Farm for sustainable meals in a charming barn setting.
Throw your Blue Ridge Mountains bash at Roanoke ‘s Overhome Plantation, which has a ballroom and dedicated catering. Or wed in Gloucester at the Inn at Warner Hall, an antique-filled waterfront estate with a restored 19th-century manor house.
Built by Benjamin Henry Latrobe in 1818, the Federalist Decatur House has long been one of Washington’s key gathering spots due in part to its location a block from the White House. Have the Tidal Basin as your backdrop when you marry on the west lawn of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, one of three National Mall sites available through the National Park Service.
Chef-about-town Tom Douglas brings stations like an Iron Chef salmon battle and a grilled-cheese bar to events at Seattle’s Palace Ballroom. The Columbia Valley region boasts gorgeous wineries, like Cave B Estate, overlooking the Columbia Gorge and Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, whose Cliff House is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Turn your event into a family reunion at Country Road Cabins in Hico or Opossum Creek Retreat in Lansing where your multigenerational gang can spread out in cabins with easy access to hiking, river rafting and state parks.
Hold your event in the lobby of Madison’s vaudeville-era Orpheum Theater with catering from the acclaimed onsite restaurant. Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery boasts award-winning brews, red-brick charm and a patio overlooking the river.
Enjoy stellar views of the Tetons at one of Jackson Hole’s ranches, such as Lost Creek or Spring Creek. Farther east in Cheyenne, have your party at the Cheyenne Depot. Now a museum that houses events, it was once considered the Union Pacific’s prettiest rail stop when it was built in 1886.