You may not lay claim to Google co-founder Larry Page's fortune, but if you're willing to open your wallet, you can say "I do" like the 34-year-old tech titan.
Just head to Necker Island, where Page last month married 27-year-old Stanford Ph.D. candidate Lucy Southworth. The 74-acre island in the British Virgin Islands is owned by billionaire Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.
Guests can stay in the eight-bedroom Great House or in one of the five smaller Bali houses that dot the island; together they sleep 28 guests. The entire island can be reserved for about $47,000 a day, with a five-day minimum stay. You may choose between an informal beachfront wedding or a more formal ceremony in the main lounge. Included in the package are such amenities as a couple's massage, access to water sports, lessons with a professional tennis pro, all meals and drinks, and boat transfers from Virgin Gorda or Beef Island (Tortola) airports.
Necker Island is one of a handful of spots worldwide that offer soon-to-be-weds pricey, one-of-a-kind ceremonies. Other spots include Turtle Island in Fiji and Ireland's Ashford Castle. All feature luxurious lodging, ultimate privacy and top-notch amenities.
Destination weddings are filling a need among the world's affianced. One out of every six couples getting married for the first time choose a destination wedding, according to www.destinationweddings.com, a wedding planning site. That number rises to 61% for couples getting remarried. For most folks, destination weddings offer a chance to celebrate in style. For high-profile brides and grooms such as Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds, who wed last weekend on a private island off French Polynesia's Bora Bora (they plan to legally wed in the U.S. when they return), or those seeking seclusion, destination weddings are the best way to guarantee privacy on the big day.
"If you want to have an incredible wedding, you can't beat a destination wedding," says Marilyn Oliveira, senior editor at WeddingChannel.com. "They are definitely a trend and growing every second."
Oliveira says private island weddings are among the most popular. That's because these beach spots offer seclusion, stunning scenery and, perhaps most important, sunshine.
One & Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives, for example, is situated in the Indian Ocean's North Male' Atoll. The price tag? While the Legendary Sunset Wedding Package is a mere $2,480, guaranteeing that the wedding stays an intimate affair costs a bit more. This 109-acre island tops Necker Island's daily fee. Marry here and you'll spend $1.2 million to rent the resort for three days.
If you would rather skip the beach and wed in a more regal setting, head to the château of Vaux le Vicomte in Maincy, France. This exquisite property was featured in such films as Marie Antoinette and was the setting for Eva Longoria and Tony Parker's exchange of vows in July 2007. A wedding on this site's 100 hedge-trimmed and landscaped acres will cost about 39,205 euros ($57,893), but depending on your guest list (the site holds between 400 and 800 people) catering will boost your bill up to 144,000 euros ($212,021) more. The only drawback is that the castle offers no overnight packages, but Paris and all it has to offer in excellent lodging is a mere 34 miles away.
You'd think all that money would buy you a headache-free few days. Not so.
"Keep in mind that these prices don't include a lot of things that to-be-weds would want to also have at their wedding," says Jacalyn Lee, public relations manager at WeddingChannel.com. This includes "welcome gift bags for their guests, wedding favors, their own wedding dress and tux, [and] importing key vendors."
Some, though, are willing to trade ease for extravagance.
"A destination wedding is more romantic since it takes it out of a ballroom or catering hall," says Donna Keane, director of Distinctive Honeymoons, a Protravel International company, "to a setting on a lush island with the sea as a backdrop or some spectacular vista."