Travel Tips

5 Destination Wedding Options Closer to Home

Locations in this article:  Las Vegas, NV New York City, NY Phoenix, AZ Toronto, Canada

OK, so you’ve popped the questions…now the question is, do you stay or do you go? Destination weddings can be a great way to avoid meddling in-laws while combining your ceremony and honeymoon. In fact, it’s estimated that 2.2 million U.S. weddings will take place this year, with a whopping 18 percent of them eschewing tradition to take place at a destination resort.

But the fact is, not everyone is able to travel to, or splurge on, a wedding in a far-off location. We’ve got some special experiences in five closer-to-home destinations that may involve less time in the air and more time for marital bliss.

1. Vegas-Style Nuptuals, Sort Of

Romantic wedding proposalLake Las Vegas is as close as you can get to Las Vegas without the noise and combustion and thanks to a direct link to the airport, transfers to and from the hotel is a pain-free experience. Loews Lake Las Vegas, about 17 miles from the Strip, is a Moroccan-inspired lakeside resort that is both grand and intimate at the same time. Several packages are available for the soon-to-be married, including a wedding ceremony and one-hour reception package that starts at $65 per guest, going all the way up to an elegant ballroom affair. Multiple wedding sites including the Andalusian garden, a lakeside courtyard, and a ballroom that seats up to 1,200. With the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas closing in May, Loews is the only remaining four-diamond hotel on the lake.

Find Beach Destination Weddings That Won’t Break the Bank.

2. Unleashing Your Inner Belle Down South

Do you dream of being like Scarlett O’Hara? It’s worth a splurge to get married in your own Tara.

Keswick HallKeswick Hall by Orient-Express offers a 19th-century Virginian country wedding experience, plus an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course and impressive gardens all set in 600 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. The dining room can accommodate up to 200 guests who can also enjoy their extensive sport and leisure amenities including swimming pools, tennis courts, fly fishing and a fun croquet green. The estate is located only 20-minutes drive from Charlottesville/Albemarle airport and is a few minutes from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Wedding packages, excluding guest accommodations, start at $10,000 per night for a Friday or Saturday wedding in the high season (June-August). But savvy travelers can save on weekday weddings, which start at $8,000, and even bigger if you say “I do” in the off season, when wedding packages are from $5,000 per night. Room rates start at $395 per night in the high season.

For more, don’t miss our Weddings & Honeymoons section.

3. Wed in a New York Minute Beyond Manhattan

Wedding danceNo need to take Manhattan when there’s a beautiful destination just two hours north. The Emerson Resort & Spa is a wonderfully quiet destination amid the Hudson Valley. Located within the scenic backdrop of Mount Tremper and the Hudson River, the Emerson Resort & Spa offers a package for that most special day.

The two-night, Emerson Elopement Package includes lodge accommodations surrounded by pines and maples or the more upscale inn with oversized windows and private decks.  Your on-site ceremony in the Great Room will also come with celebrant, one-hour professional photography (album of prints and print CD), private massage for two, bottle of bubbly, a five-course tasting menu by The Phoenix restaurant, wedding confections served with dinner, and Continental breakfast every morning. You’ll also receive turndown service complete with rose petals, lit fireplace and candles, and a wedding gift compliments of the property’s Country Store. Mid-week packages start at $1,935 at the Lodge and $2,431 at the Inn.

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4. Weddings Away With Ease in Mexico

Couple walking on the beachThe Real Resorts chain of hotels offers a very thorough wedding service at their elegant beachside hotels in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. What sets this one apart from the dozens of other wedding-friendly hotels in the region is that couples can get married on the fly: the hotel takes care of the chapel, minister, paperwork, and even the all-important blood tests that is required in Mexico, meaning your wedding can be an impromptu, yet legal affair. Also, if you stay five nights or longer in a master or presidential suite at a participating hotel, the wedding itself is free—that includes the ceremony, officiant and wedding cake. Note that fees are added for wedding guests ($5-$10 per person), cocktails and hors d’oeuvres ($10-$20 per person) and other amenities.

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5. Mr. and Mrs. Smith Go North

Toronto skylineThe lovely Park Hyatt in Toronto offers urban weddings with free nights on your honeymoon! Now when you book your wedding at the luxury Yorkville Toronto hotel, enjoy up to five free nights at Hyatt Resorts in the United States, Mexico or Aruba.

The Weddings at the Park package ranges from $165 to $210 per person and includes professional wedding planning, gourmet cuisine and a myriad of complimentary offerings including a suite for the bride and groom, a couples massage, menu tasting for two, champagne toast for guests and all tableware for the reception. Offer valid for weddings held by June 30, 2011 and is based on a minimum amount spend. Honeymoon must be completed by July 31, 2011.

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By Margot Black for