When you think “elopement,” do you instantly imagine Las Vegas drive-through chapels? Maybe that was valid back when Britney was doing it. But today, elopements are a rules-free, jet-set way for couples to exchange vows in a glamorous location. Forget tradition, invite an intimate group of guests, and customize the ceremony – but first, make sure the location is stunning enough to suit the most extraordinary day of your life.
|Jungle Wedding – Costa Rica|
In the heart of the Costa Rica rainforest, Lapa Rios Ecolodge has wedding locations that are straight out of the Adam & Eve playbook. Tie the knot in the jungle, under a waterfall, or on an ocean overlook. Located on 1,000 acres of rainforest reserve, this is a destination for people who really “feel the love” when surrounded by nature in all its glory.
|Grand Velas - Riviera Maya|
An ornate traditional Hindu wedding against a gorgeous beach backdrop...this must be Goa, right? Not even close. Grand Velas Riviera Maya is one of many luxury hotels that are beginning to offer Hindu weddings to cater to wealthy Indian clients. Note the ritual garlands. What you can’t see are the intricate henna designs traced on the bride’s hands and wrists.
|Easy Elopements and Swim-up Suites for Honeymooners – Grenada|
A European-influenced Caribbean resort near the Equator, LaSource got a multi-million dollar makeover and a brand new wing of lavish pool suites when it came under Sandals Resorts ownership. Now the jewel in the Sandals crown, Sandals LaSource can accommodate any sort of destination wedding, from lavish 200-person affairs to spontaneous ceremonies on a few hours’ notice. And after the ceremony, those incredible bi-level pool suites with soaking tubs and butler service. Pure romance!
|Arac Masin Wedding Ceremony – Machu Picchu|
Want to exchange vows at an ancient and majestic cultural site? You can actually get married at the foot of Machu Picchu – and if you want to bond within the ancient customs of the area, Sumaq Luxury Hotel is the one and only hotel to offer traditional Arac Masin Wedding ceremonies. This is a symbolic ceremony based on the ancient Peruvian, performed by an Andean priest.
|Celebrity Hideaway – The Bahamas|
Celebrities including Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman have snuck away to Kamalame Cay, a private island resort in the Andros islands of the Bahamas. Three miles of sugar sand, pristine warm water, an overwater spa and a marina on the leeward side of the island in case you decide to boat up instead of taking the private plane. This getaway is barefoot chic and blessedly unplugged from all modern-day noise.
|Sail Away to a Private Beach -- Fiji|
As if getting married on a stunning South Pacific island wasn’t enough, Laucala Island includes in its wedding package a sailing, just for the bride and groom, to a nearby private “dream beach” where only one couple is allowed at a time. Newlyweds can picnic, snorkel, get a spa treatment or…tell the crew to clear off so they can get some privacy? (We’re assuming this last one.) Then comes a sunset champagne cruise back to the resort.
|Caribbean Seaside – Anguilla|
There are lawn weddings and then there’s this lawn at Cap Juluca, a recently renovated luxe favorite on the island of Anguilla. Known for its gorgeous villa-styled architecture, beautiful beaches and French-influenced cuisine, Anguilla is one of the Caribbean’s most idyllic spots. Everyone’s friendly, the food and wine exceed expectations, and the sea is just as clean and warm as the picture promises.
|Hawaiian Romance -- Maui|
When you think about a Wailea wedding, you instantly assume it’ll be on a little wedge of the highly sought-after beach, but Hotel Wailea is a bit of a surprise because it’s across the main road, uphill and on 15 acres well away from the beachfront. Wailea’s beaches seem to be getting smaller and more crowded each year, but this property feels like an upcountry escape… even though it’s just a few hundred yards up. It’s currently undergoing a $15 million renovation, to be completed in fall 2014, so maybe don’t elope here till after summer vacation.
|Bali Seaside – Indonesia|
Pink-and-purple dusks, exotic Balinese architecture, and diverse culture ranging from dive bars to religious ritual dances are a few of the elements that set Bali apart from other breezy blue beach destinations. It’s far more developed than Americans expect, but hidden from the busy streets and concrete-paved shopping areas, there are endless pockets of beauty. The Lembongan Beach Club is the epitome of a luxury Bali resort: Just 26 guest villas, most with their own private swimming pool, are scattered around the serene grounds, while the restaurant overlooks a popular surf beach.
|Design Chic on a Thai Island|
If the Surin Phuket looks a little more cosmopolitan than most of Thailand’s beach resorts, credit should go to Paris-based interior designer Ed Tuttle, who brought some very chic touches to the property’s redesign in 2011. Though the jungle walkways and cottage accommodations are classic Phuket, the property now has a “chill-out lounge” and the rooms are outfitted with private terraces and pearl granite flooring. It’s not just romantic, it’s sexy – and that makes it perfect for a sophisticated wedding on the fly.