Destination Weddings: Your Day…Your Way

Every girl dreams of planning the perfect wedding that reflects her personal taste. Whether it’s at an iconic location, a historical building or beautiful venue with hotel vantage points for photographs, she is guaranteed to make it a magical and memorable soiree.

Florida Keys

This 110-mile chain of islands offers a laid-back tropical island setting with all the allure of the Caribbean at a domestic price and a more convenient location. The Keys have a distinct Old-Floridian vibe, meaning wildlife and nature abound (you may even spot an indigenous deer swimming from key to key as you exchange vows), and since the islands are surrounded by the clear-blue waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, there’s no shortage of white-sand beaches. Try one of the historic homes and gardens on Key West, one of the southernmost points in the US or go for a luxe offshore private island resort accessible only by boat. Celebrate and become part of the history at the Waldorf Astoria Casa Marina. Built in 1920, Henry Flagler’s vision of grandeur and elegance is evident in the dramatic architecture and sprawling grounds that lead to the largest private beach on the island. Imagine your ceremony on a white sandy beach with the ever-changing colors of the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. Timeless with hardwood floors, 10’ arched windows and strikingly high ceilings, the ballrooms capture the essence and spirit of the illustrious past that is unique only to Casa Marina. http://www.casamarinaresort.com

 

Mackinac Island, Michigan

For an unforgettable location which overlooks the Straits of Mackinac, this quaint, car-free island (that’s right, no cars!), set between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas near where Lakes Michigan and Huron meet, is full of charm. For starters, you will need to rent a bike or hire a horse and buggy to get around (both great ways to transport you). Mackinac Island, which itself is a National Historic Landmark, is known for its frozen-in-time Victorian vibe, but the architectural style of its buildings actually spans three centuries. Imagine a magical island surrounded by beautiful crystal clear lakes where for one day in your life a beautiful white castle of a hotel turns your dream wedding into reality. This place actually exists. This magnificent white castle is the world famous Grand Hotel which will keep your memories alive “Somewhere In Time.” Wedding ceremonies are held in two beautiful locations within the property. The legendary Grand Hotel (world’s largest) porch is lined with boxes filled with red geraniums. From this one-of-a-kind vantage point, you and your guests can see the Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Bridge and the Grand Hotel gardens below. The second location, the Grand Hotel Tea Garden, sits amidst the painstakingly maintained flower gardens, and an immense imported stone fountain is the Tea Garden’s centerpiece. The amazing fall foliage or spring’s blooming lilacs make an incredible backdrop for an outdoor ceremony in a gazebo set in a clearing surrounded by maple, birch and elm trees. http://www.grandhotel.com

Architecture Photography by Michigan Photographer Don Johnston

Ireland

If the words “fairy tale” define your idea of a dream wedding, get thee and thine to Ireland. Amid the mist, not only does your chariot await, but also so do your rolling hills, oceanside cliffs, quaint seaside villages, lush gardens, grand castles and country manors. The combination of the symbolic traditions, the genuine hospitality of the Irish people and the natural beauty of this richly romantic country make it an amazingly memorable spot to say your “I dos.” With several options for dramatic settings for your walk down the aisle, choose from breathtaking cliffs to Tudor-style churches or the hallowed splendor of a 15th-century castle. Meanwhile, the mix of culture, museums, pubs and golfing will keep guests busy between wedding events. For a bespoke wedding tailored to you, the magnificent five star Ashford Castle, a luxury hotel located in Cong, County Mayo. It was converted from a Victorian faux lakeside castle, built by the Guinness family and is set on 350 acres, on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib. Dating back to 1228, the castle now enters a new chapter in its history, as part of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. With 85 guest rooms, a wealth of activities and thoughtful touches, you will enjoy acclaimed Irish hospitality on a grand scale. Having the exclusive use of Ashford Castle means you are only surrounded by the people you know and love. A wedding at Ashford Castle is one of the most idyllic and romantic experiences imaginable – providing the perfect setting for a day you’ll remember for a lifetime. Rising effortlessly to the grand occasion, Ashford Castle retains a homely and welcoming feel, with incredible views of Lough Corrib. http://www.ashfordcastle.com

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