Choosing a wedding destination is one of the hardest steps in the planning process, especially if you want an original and memorable venue. We scoured the country to find out-of-the-ordinary picks that will make your big day stand out from the rest. Consider planning a getaway to any of these seven romantic locations for a unique destination wedding.
The Inn at Leola Village, Leola, Pa.
Amish country may not spring to mind as a wedding destination, but The Inn at Leola Village makes it an under-the-radar spot to tie the knot. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel blends old-fashioned hospitality with unforgettable elegance and has options for weddings of all sizes. The “vows” garden provides a romantic setting for an intimate ceremony, and the historic barn venue features restored tobacco barns, antique cottages and acres of perennial and herb gardens that are ideal for photo shoots. The La Festa di Amore package includes a nine-course feast beside the flickering stone fireplace in the Casa di Fiori space, while the richly brocaded Bella Giardino venue glows with natural light during the day and offers enough room to dance the night away. The inn’s two eateries are both excellent options for rehearsal dinners, with Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star TÈ Restaurant offering upscale garden-to-table Italian cuisine and the more rustic Osteria Avanti serving Italian countryside fare. Also at the hotel, the Village Bakery creates wedding cakes (try fun flavors like butter-amaretto or cassata, an Italian rum-spiked sponge cake with ricotta filling), and a floral designer assembles arrangements and bouquets. Put guests up in restored farmhouses or cottages, or whirlpool or poolside suites. Newlyweds can wind down with luxurious couples treatments at Destinations Spa before escaping to the Lancaster House or Coach bridal suites, which have dual-head rain showers and a whirlpool for two.
Keswick Hall at Monticello, Charlottesville, Va.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Keswick Hall at Monticello is an Italian-esque villa nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Charlottesville, Virginia, just minutes from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate and Virginia’s rich wine country. The 48-room mansion sits on 600 expansive acres that boast a chef’s garden, golf course, tennis center, gorgeous indoor/outdoor pool and horseback riding trail. Each couple works with the wedding director to plan a customized event. Several elopement packages let you celebrate with anywhere from two to 10 people, incorporating elements such as hair and makeup, wine tours, a couples massage, seasonal floral arrangements (designed in house) and photography. The Ultimate Takeover package allows wedding guests to reserve all suites, rooms and restaurants, ensuring the utmost privacy and flexibility. The Once in a Lifetime Wedding Experience combines welcome events such as bridal teas and groom wine tastings with yoga for wedding party members and decadent late-night dessert buffets. And Keswick Hall will expertly break the ice among attendees with anything from Iron Chef tournaments to skeet-shooting and fly-fishing outings.
Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites, Naples, Fla.
If the harsh winter has you craving a warm-weather destination, head to Florida, specifically the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites in downtown Naples. After a recent renovation, the rooftop lounge deck and hot tub have become quite the hot spot, and the hotel can house plenty of guests in its 119 rooms and suites. To ensure you’ll be the center of attention, the hotel only hosts one event at a time. The Palm Ballroom can seat up to 120 guests under beautiful crystal chandeliers; the rooftop Courtyard can hold up to 250; the Queen Palm room is best for 80 guests; and the Royal Palm space can fit 30. Inn on Fifth expertly caters each wedding, and the new Avenue 5 restaurant provides you with an island bar, private dining areas and an amazing view of the Naples skyline. The Spa on Fifth incorporates Eastern philosophy into its menu of extravagant selections in case you need a little pampering before or after the big day.
The Inn at Dos Brisas, Washington, Texas
Located on 313 acres of rolling hills between Austin and Houston, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Inn at Dos Brisas provides a picturesque setting for an opulent Western wedding. Its three event spaces can accommodate up to 300 people, and the entire inn may be reserved for guests to enjoy exclusive access to onsite amenities and activities such as horseback riding, fishing, clay shooting, biking, gardening lessons and wine tastings. Wedding attendees can hole up in Spanish-style haciendas and casitas featuring stone fireplaces, French oak floors, cathedral ceilings and French doors opening to private poolside patios. While the inn only offers nine luxury accommodations, it also provides a convenient shuttle to pick up and drop off guests at nearby hotels and bed and breakfasts. This may be the closer for foodie brides- and grooms-to-be: The hotel also has the state’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant, which uses produce grown in the property’s greenhouse as well as on the certified-organic farm and orchards. (The rose, herb and vegetable gardens make a lovely backdrop for a ceremony or photo shoot, too.) The Spanish-style dining room — with an 18th-century fireplace and a 7,000-bottle wine cellar — is a warm, intimate place for a rehearsal dinner. Chef Zachary Ladwig and his skilled culinary team create individualized catering menus for all of the event spaces. For a memorable venue, book the two-acre indoor riding arena. One of the largest privately owned indoor arenas in Texas, it can also be transformed into an event space for the ultimate cowboy dream wedding.
Blantyre, Lenox, Mass.
Escape harried New York City and Boston for a ceremony halfway between the two cities. Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Blantyre is a romantic Tudor-style mansion located on 117 lush acres in the Berkshires. Known for its French-American cuisine and top-notch 12,000-bottle wine cellar, Blantyre offers up several different venues. Host a cocktail reception in the Main Hall, Upper Terrace or Covered Terrace before a dinner reception in the Four-Star Dining Room at Blantyre and glass-enclosed Conservatory, which looks out onto idyllic gardens. Then finish the night with dancing in the Old World-inspired Music Room, which has two fireplaces, a Steinway piano and French doors leading onto a terrace. For larger parties, supplement by adding tents on the vibrant green lawn. While staying in the 21 luxury guest rooms throughout the Main House, Carriage House and Cottages, guests can enjoy a variety of seasonal activities. Summer means tennis, swimming, hiking, croquet and golf on the neighboring 18-hole course, and winter brings cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, sleigh rides and skiing nearby. Blantyre also adds charming touches such as Sunday afternoon tea, snow barbecues and a warming hut for keeping toasty in the winter months.
Pratt Place Inn and Barn, Fayetteville, Ark.
For a country-chic wedding, head to Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Pratt Place Inn and Barn. Just minutes from downtown Fayetteville, the boutique hotel is tucked away on 140 woodland acres in northwest Arkansas. The historic Spanish-tiled Cassius L. Pratt Wine Cellar is great for an intimate wedding or rehearsal dinner, and the Magnolia Dining Room can accommodate a larger event, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Sassafras Hill and French doors opening onto a flagstone terrace and wraparound columned porch. The classic red Pratt Place Barn can hold up to 350 guests (or more, with the addition of tents on the surrounding pasture). The expansive two-level barn provides a refined space with a countryside twist. Catering kitchens in all the spaces allow you to customize food service provided by the chefs of your choice, and the grounds also offer three parlors, a cigar room and a lounge. Guests can check into any of the inn’s seven unique suites, which have French armoires, Persian rugs and whirlpool tubs, but keep the singular private cottage to yourself for wedding preparations. Newlyweds relaxing for the weekend can request spa services from nearby East Meets West Spa Salon in the comfort of their own room or cottage.
Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, Bluffton, S.C.
Not only does the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Inn at Palmetto Bluff exude Southern charm and hospitality, but it’s situated on 20,000 breathtaking acres where marsh meets land and river leads to forest. This magical place seems much farther away than 30 minutes west of Hilton Head. Fifty elegant cottages and cottage suites welcome wedding party guests with vaulted ceilings, fireplaces, luxurious linens and rocking chairs on the screened-in porch. The hotel’s quaint Waterside Chapel, which looks out across the May River, is surrounded by live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Riverside receptions can be hosted beneath the canopy of oaks providing the ultimate Lowcountry experience. The Oak Ballroom provides beautiful views of the May River in an elegant setting with plenty of verandas for lounging. The inn’s wedding design studio takes the stress out of planning (the studio’s planners attend to every detail); instead, spend your time exploring the area by kayak or horseback, followed by a relaxing Bath on the Bluff (a scented soak on a private veranda amid the lagoon and trees) in Four-Star The Spa at Palmetto Bluff.
Photos Courtesy of Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Keswick Hall at Monticello, Inn at Dos Brisas and Pratt Place Inn and Barn