#WeddingWednesday: Best United States Destination Wedding Spots

Ditch the passport and go domestic with one of these mainland United States destination wedding locales.

Napa Valley, California

Why: The Napa region is filled with stunning landscapes -- rolling hills, lush valleys, and acre upon acre of vineyards. Of course, the main thing that draws pleasure seekers to the area is the abundance of delicious wine produced here, and the world-class restaurants that make food worthy of accompanying it. In the rare moments when you and your wedding guests aren't savoring all that food and wine, explore the charming towns in Napa Valley (filled with chic boutiques, galleries, and gourmet stores), indulge in spa treatments, play golf, or even take a hot-air balloon ride.

When to go: Summer and October are the best times to visit the region. September can be beautiful, but you may have problems with availability, and rates will be at their peak because it's harvest season. Even though you're in California, temperatures can drop at night (mid-50s in the summer -- good for grape growth), so be sure your guests know to bring sweaters and wraps for the evenings.

Guest activities: You can't visit Napa without touring vineyards, sampling their products, and, more than likely, ordering a case or two to be shipped back home. The sheer number of vineyards in the area is totally overwhelming, so give guests an info packet filled with suggestions. One of the most popular wineries to visit is Rubicon Estate (owned by Francis Ford Coppola), which contains memorabilia from the famous director's movies as well as a store selling gourmet goodies and stylish home accessories.

Best Spots for Weddings:

Meadowood ( Hidden on 250 private acres, this resort has eighty-five rooms in a variety of sizes, including freestanding cottages. And the hotel takes pride in their top-quality food, much of which (including the heirloom tomatoes, olives, and honey) is grown or produced on the premises.

Applewood Inn ( Lush gardens and sunny terraces abound at this historic bed-and-breakfast. Many couples opt to get married at the site's beautiful gazebo, tucked away in an enchanted "fairy circle," surrounded by whimsical statues and flowing fountains.


Why: The East Coast’s northernmost state is bursting with natural beauty -- a rugged, winding coastline complete with sheltered coves and wildlife-packed state and national parks. It also boasts lots of charming New England towns filled with antique stores, classic roadside diners, and an impressive selection of art museums and galleries. If you dream of swapping vows in an old-fashioned country church, you’re certain to be able to find one here.

When to go: Summer is when the state attracts the most visitors, especially in July and August, when the weather is warmest (average highs are in the high 70s, average lows in the high 50s), but you should consider having your wedding in September instead, when it’s less crowded and the crisp fall weather (highs around 67, nighttime lows in the 50s) lights up the foliage.

Guest activities: In the summer, the state offers the perfect chance to enjoy water sports such as sailing, canoeing, and kayaking. Nature lovers will want to hit the hiking trails in one of Maine’s many parks and nature preserves, such as Acadia National Park, a 35,000-acre spread of mountains, woodlands, lakes and oceanfront that contains 120 miles of hiking trails. Culture vultures will want to check out local art landmarks, such as Winslow Homer’s studio in Prout’s Neck, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland (which is chock full of work by the Wyeth family), and Portland’s Museum of Art. Everyone should dine on lobster rolls and blueberry pie, two of Maine’s scrumptious signature dishes.

Best Spots for Weddings:

White Barn Inn ( New England charm at its most quaint and elegant, both the individually decorated rooms in the inn and the waterfront cottages two-tenths of a mile away from the main property are charming. The kitchen here is also a real foodie mecca in Maine.

Spruce Points Inn ( Sitting on 57 acres of green lawns and gardens overlooking Boothbay Harbor, this lodge offers accommodations for more than one hundred couples. Whatever outdoor venue you choose as your ceremony location, the breathtaking Atlantic Ocean serves as your backdrop.

Newport, Rhode Island

Why: Newport offers the perfect mix of New England charm and old-fashioned glamour. This seaside community was the playground of the fabulously wealthy at the turn of the last century, when captains of industry from Boston and New York built huge mansions meant to rival the castles of Europe on Newport's cliffs. Today, Newport is still a favorite summer destination of the well-heeled, and it offers a plethora of activities -- from sailing to high-end shopping -- for wedding guests young and old.

When to go: As with Maine and most of the Atlantic coast, it's warmest, and busiest, during the summer months, when the highs average near 80. But the shoulder season months of May and September are beautiful times to visit as well. (In May, the average high is 63 and the average low is 48; in September, the high is 71 and the low is 58.) For a few days each August, the Newport Jazz Festival fills the town with musicians and music lovers -- which means you and your guests will have lots of great music to listen to, but the town will be more crowded than usual.

Guest activities: History and architecture bugs will want to tour some of Newport's historic mansions, such as the Breakers and the Astor's Beechwood. Outdoorsy types can take to the water in a sailboat or a motor yacht, or arrange to go fishing, sea kayaking, or windsurfing. And all of your friends and family will love Newport's evening scene, which involves sipping sunset cocktails while watching boats return to the harbor, dining on lobster and other seafood taken from the water just hours before it reaches your plate, and listening to live blues, jazz, or rock at one of Newport's many music-centered bars and lounges.

Best Spots for Weddings:

The Chanler at Cliff Walk, ( Built in 1865 as the first mansion on the famed Cliff Walk, the hotel offers an oceanfront ceremony and a tented reception in its Japanese gardens, with catering by the highly-rated Spiced Pear restaurant.

Vanderbilt Hall Hotel ( This building -- a 1908 Georgian Revival mansion donated to the city by the Vanderbilt family -- features rooms decorated with antiques, armoires, and fabrics with period patterns. Your reception dinner at the hotel's restaurant is served on Wedgwood china, but this place is anything but stuffy -- the menu includes chicken potpie and macaroni and cheese.


Why: With its sunny weather and beautiful beaches, Florida competes with the Caribbean and Mexico in beach appeal and is likely to be cheaper and easier for your guests to travel to. In addition to sand and surf, it boasts world-famous amusement parks and great access to golf and other outdoor sports. Each Florida location is a unique experience: Head to Palm Beach for a preppy country club-style affair, Miami for an event with international flavor, and the Keys to soak up a laid-back island vibe.

When to go: North Florida’s high season runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, while southern Florida’s high season is December through April. The summer months are also beautiful and may be less expensive (although it can be very hot). Be sure to keep hurricane season in mind (officially June through November). And you may want to avoid spring break destinations such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale during February and March, when those cities tend to be overrun with partying college kids.

Guest activities: Coastal Florida is all about the beach, so guests can lie on it lazily or head into the water for waterskiing, fishing, sailing, and parasailing. Golf addicts will have plenty of greens to choose from, and the area surrounding Orlando is theme-park central, perfect if you have lots of little kids in your family and circle of friends. With its big-city sophistication and lengthy beaches, Miami has it all. The tropical setting is lush and the sunsets are romantic. From shopping to snorkeling, this famous honeymoon destination has you covered.

Best Spots for Weddings:

Delano Hotel, Miami ( For seekers of hip, chic surroundings, it doesn’t get more South Beach Miami than the Ian Schrager-designed Hotel Delano. Case in point: the underwater music piped into the pool, the all-white decor (how bridal), and the state-of-the-art David Barton gym.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key ( Arrive by boat to this beautiful, secluded island, which can accommodate weddings with up to 40 guests. After an afternoon on the beach or in the Indonesian-themed spa, retire to your private bungalow suite to witness breathtaking views of the setting sun.


Las Vegas, Nevada

Why: Drive-through chapels, Elvis impersonators as officiants, your first wedded moments spent at a blackjack table -- Las Vegas offers all of that, but there’s a whole other side to Sin City. You’ll also find elegant ballrooms, a destination your guests will love, and sophisticated, traditional receptions too.

When to go: You and your guests can have a ball just about any time, but try to avoid the hottest summer months (June, July, and August); spring and fall, however, are gorgeous. Prices spike and availability plummets on holiday weekends, big-deal sports weekends (like the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four), and times when there are giant conventions or events scheduled.

Guest activities: Hit the Strip. (New York-New York, Paris Las Vegas, the Bellagio, and Caesars Palace are all centrally located resorts.) Casino buffets are a staple, so dig in before you head out for a show (Bally’s is the only one with the old-school feather girls), and on your way out, sacrifice some small change to one-armed bandits. Beyond the casinos are Elvis and Liberace museums and the roller coasters at the Stratosphere Tower. Vegas’ version of laid-back is found poolside.

Best Spots for Weddings:

Bellagio ( Bellagio was one of the first hotel casinos to understand that Vegas needed more wedding options than the Little Church of the West and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on a boom box. The amenities are vast, and the accommodations luxe. This is a place for a very grown-up Vegas wedding.

The Mirage (

The exotic South Seas, complete with a regularly exploding volcano, have found a stateside home in Las Vegas. The hotel and casino are top-notch, the location is convenient for guests, and there’s an entire company within the resort devoted to event planning -- they sweat the details so you don’t have to.


Why: Due to its popularity and prime location, Cape Cod in Massachusetts offers a plethora of resources, from elegant catering to yacht clubs, clambakes, resorts, and gardens. This region can easily play host to small private gatherings, large elegant affairs, and everything in between. The Berkshires is home to several sophisticated, low-key mountain towns and some of the best regional music and theater that the country has to offer.

Guest activities: In coastal towns sampling a little authentic clam chowder and lobster is a must. Each of the Cape’s islands and towns has its own attractions, from the art scene in Provincetown to the Salty Dog Oceanfront Cottages near Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket ferries. The Freedom Trail in Boston is a walk through both history and the city. Inland hiking and biking and other outdoor activities take priority, and there’s almost always something worth seeing at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox.

Best Spots for Weddings:

Wheatleigh, Lenox ( With a grand staircase, lit by Tiffany windows, and out-of-this-world service, the architecture of this mountain getaway was inspired by a French country chateau. Between the setting and the service, you’ll feel like a worldly princess.

Winnetu Oceanside Resort, Edgartown ( This new (for Martha’s Vineyard) hotel opened in 2000 and has been gaining rave reviews ever since. The charming seaside location and staff that’s ready and able to create a custom reception will make for a headache-free wedding weekend.

Aspen, Colorado

Why: This Rocky Mountain town possesses the perfect mix of natural beauty, rustic charm, and posh amenities. Aspen’s gorgeous mountains and valleys will thrill any outdoors enthusiast, while its ample selection of high-end shops and swank restaurants can keep indoors types more than entertained.

When to go: While many couples book their event sometime in November through early March to create the winter wonderland wedding of their dreams, keep in mind that summer and fall are also gorgeous times of year here also.

Guest activities: The main focus of the winter and early spring months in Aspen is skiing and snowboarding, though the daring can try more extreme activities, like paragliding and even dog sledding (and everyone can enjoy toasty après-ski drinks at the famous Ajax Tavern). But the less-crowded summer season actually offers a broader range of options -- cycling, horseback riding, hiking, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, and just about any other al fresco activity you can think of. At any time of year, your guests will love Aspen’s nightlife options, especially the J-Bar, a Western-style saloon at the Hotel Jerome.

Best Spots for Weddings:

Hotel Jerome ( Located right on Main Street in the heart of town, this is Aspen’s ultimate old-school hotel. The ballroom accommodates 250 for dinner, and the adjacent garden terrace makes the perfect spot for your cocktail reception (it can be tented and heated during the winter months).

The Little Nell ( This posh Relais & Chateaux property is situated right at the base of Aspen Mountain, but its biggest attraction for brides and grooms may be that it offers you the chance to say your vows at 11,200 feet.