Some brides wouldn’t dream of having their big day anywhere but their hometown. Others know that when it comes time, their “I dos” will be said in the city in which they live, or at a meaningful place that predates the actual engagement. But if you’re not already sold on one particular place, consider a wedding destination that may be new to you or your loved ones.
If you’re dreaming of a destination wedding, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, nearly a quarter of all couples who wed last year opted for a far-off location. Looking for some inspiration on the best destination weddings? Search no further.
Let’s have a look at the best wedding destinations in Europe we’ve rounded up for you:
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 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.” And dramatic settings for your walk down the aisle abound, from breathtaking cliffs to Tudor-style churches and the hallowed splendor of a 15th-century castle.
Because it’s such a manageable size, the guests can easily explore more of the island on their own. The mix of culture, museums, pubs and golfing will keep guests busy between wedding events.
The best weather is usually from May to September, but short showers are common throughout the year. Some accommodations close from October through March, especially in west and northwest Ireland.
Loire Valley – France
Just two hours outside the world’s most romantic city (well the list of romantic destinations in Europe is long but this one is Paris) is the chateau-rich and rolling Loire Valley, cherished for its castles, historic villages, charming people, wines and food. So basically, you’ve got everything you need for a dream destination wedding. You and your guests can also enjoy the country life: Go for a wine-tasting tour, pay a visit to the Chateau d’Ussé,—said to be the setting of the French fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” in the village of Rigny-Ussé—or take a taste (or two) of the beloved tarte tatin (upside-down apple tart), which also makes a great dessert alternative.
Your best bets in terms of timings are April through June, and September through early November. While the weather is mild year-round, the rainy season varies by region and runs from mid-November through February. Don’t book your nuptials for July and August unless you want to deal with huge crowds.
Rome – Italy
In the Eternal City, old-world culture mixes with a modern, energetic metropolis and historic attractions for a truly unique affair.
For centuries, world travellers have ventured to Rome to discover the city that has been transformed by many of history’s most significant figures, including Julius Caesar and creative geniuses Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. With more artistic monuments than just about any other city in the world, Rome offers the ultimate wedding photo op.
Create your own moment of history by escorting your guests and future husband or wife to this timeless city. It contains as many perfect backdrops for romance as it does churches and ancient ruins from a centuries-old cobblestoned piazza to a baroque palace or even a rustic castle or villa just outside town. With stunning sights, including the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, and Spanish Steps, hiding around every corner, a wedding in Rome will be nothing short of incredible. Plus, you’ll have some a-maz-ing wine, not to mention a selection of authentic Italian fare to serve your guests. For a complete list of backgrounds and best things to do in Rome for your guests, here is our guide!
The best times are April through June, and September and October. In the fall, temperatures are cooler, and the city is lively but still manageable. July and August can be unbearably hot, and most Italians go on vacation in August. So many shops, hotels and restaurants may be closed.
Santorini – Greece
For a romantic destination that matches seamlessly with any bride’s white dress, Santorini lies in wait. Definitely a candidate for the 1st place in the list of best wedding destinations in Europe, in Santorini, whitewashed houses cling to the breathtaking cliffs, while their famous cobalt blue roofs match the endless expanse of the glittering ocean below. Turn up the heat with a ceremony on one of the island’s volcanic sand beaches while a fiery copper sunset creates a truly unforgettable wedding moment. For something different, head to the black sand beaches of the East coast or the red beach of the South.
If you’re seeking a unique wedding destination, Spain has something for everyone. For lovers of art and architecture, the city of Barcelona is a hub of modernism and surrealism, hosting work by Dali, Gaudi and Picasso. If regal, manicured gardens, provincial palaces and a thriving city are more your style, then Madrid is the destination for you. Finally, for those who venture to Southern Spain, there are the beautiful, Moorish influenced cities of Granada, Seville and Malaga, which are each uniquely reminiscent of fairytales. Once you’ve selected which magical city simply enroll in salsa or flamenco lessons to add some flair to your reception.
For a complete guide for best things to do in Barcelona, check here!
One of the world’s first modern resort destinations, the French Riviera was a favourite vacation spot for royalty in the 19th century. What later became a hotspot for prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse is nowadays the home to celebrities such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot. With 310 to 330 days of sunshine per year and 115 km of coastline stretching across Saint Tropez, Cannes, and Monaco, it’s clear why the world is in love with this stunning location. If you envision lush forests, breathtaking cliffs, sparkling blue water and bright flowers at your wedding, put this area at the top of your wedding destinations list.
Croatia is fast becoming one of the most coveted and budget-friendly wedding destinations. Famed for its astoundingly beautiful rugged coastline, Croatia also offers blissful lakes, pine groves and nature reserves. So there will be no shortage of fantastic settings.
Civil ceremonies here take place in beautiful old buildings, while receptions can draw on local traditions. Think toasts with rajika brandy and seafood wedding breakfasts with a soundtrack of tamburica folk music.
BONUS – Sicily, Italy
Surrounded by the sparkling Meditteranean sea, Sicily’s gorgeous beaches are not the only thing that makes it one of the world’s best wedding destinations, not only Europe. Harnessing all of the elements, this island combines pristine waters with breathtaking mountains, a smoking volcano, and fresh island cuisine. If that isn’t enough to lure you to Sicily for your wedding, also consider the rich culture and history . Set your wedding against a backdrop of Byzantine mosaics, Mount Etna or a Baroque palace for an unforgettable experience.
Personally speaking, the wedding I attended in lovely Taormina was one of my unforgettable memories. Thanks to amazing landscape, breathtaking Mount Etna, delicious italian pizzas and sea food and crisp Italian wines. I guarantee there is an activity for your guests of all tastes. Check the complete guide to best things to do in Sicily here.