The number one perk of having a destination wedding is that the best day of your life is combined with an amazing location, creating one unforgettable experience. When planning your destination wedding, the first order of business is to decide exactly where you want to go. If you don’t already have a specific location in mind, your destination wedding is a great reason to travel to a new and unexpected place—somewhere that might even become your home away from home once you’re married. While there is arguably a lot of work that goes into planning a destination wedding, it’s completely worth it in the end. But to make your life easier, consider choosing an all-inclusive resort that offers Destination Wedding packages and on-site coordination, so you can truly focus on enjoying your trip and most importantly, getting married!
Here are some of our favorite unexpected beach destination wedding spots.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
There aren’t many locations in the world where you can get married with Mayan ruins as your ceremony backdrop. The 24-hour all-inclusive Occidental at Xcaret Destination is first on our list of unexpected destination wedding locations for this exact reason—the venue’s most coveted ceremony location sits in front of a Mayan temple on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Located in Riviera Maya, the Occidental at Xcaret Destination is the perfect setting for an intimate ceremony in one of Mexico’s most beautiful regions. Choose from the resort’s five wedding packages, which include coordination services and décor, including flowers, linens, dance floors, cake, sound systems, and other various amenities. During your downtime, relax at Carmen Beach, explore the Xcaret eco-archaeological park, or go ziplining through the jungle.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
If you dream about waking up to a perfect ocean view, head to the 24-hour all-inclusive Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort in Punta Cana – comprised of the Barceló Bàvaro Palace and the adults-only Barceló Bàvaro Beach. This stunning area in the Dominican Republic is known for its constant sunshine and picturesque beaches lined with palm trees. With more than 80% of the resort’s rooms offering an oceanfront view, you and your guests can enjoy a piece of true paradise if you choose to get married at the Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort. This resort also provides four different wedding packages to fit any style or budget. There are three wedding spaces to choose from, including the beach, a secluded Catholic chapel and a garden gazebo. To experience a bit of local Caribbean flavor, explore the San Juan shopping center in downtown Bávaro, watch a show at Coco Bongo Disco, or take a surfing lesson at Macao Beach.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
With protected national parks, lush rainforests and precious wildlife (including leatherback turtles and capuchin monkeys), Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s oasis. Couples looking to host an adults-only destination wedding in Costa Rica will find their dream venue at the all-inclusive Occidental Papagayo, located in Guanacaste on the country’s Pacific Coast. This spectacular venue has so many amenities to brag about, from its two à-la-carte restaurants and bars to an on-site nightclub, tranquil spa, and tropical villa-style rooms. You can get married on the beach or on the hotel’s private lawn, which overlooks the ocean. For indoor ceremonies, there is also a traditional banquet hall that holds up to 30 guests. Various wedding packages at Occidental Papagayo include a wedding planner and a selection of décor, from linens, dance floors, centerpieces, and more. Round up your guests for a group outing and take advantage of the resort’s excursion trips to check out volcanos, hot springs, canyons, and animals.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
On Mexico’s west coast, you’ll find the Bay of Banderas, a gorgeous 60-mile shoreline with panoramic views of tropical mountain cliffs on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Puerto Vallarta is the main town in this region and is home to the all-suite, all-inclusive Barceló Puerto Vallarta, a AAA Four-Diamond resort that overlooks the bay’s dark turquoise water. Offering amenities for both kids and adults, this venue is ideal for couples who have a large and diverse guest list (the beachfront ceremony space alone can fit up to 600 people). There is also an oceanfront terrace, four swimming pools, 316 balcony suites, a live performance theater, children’s club, and a spa. Wedding packages at the resort range from basic dinner receptions to customized dining events. With waters deeper and calmer than the average bay, the Bay of Banderas is a popular breeding ground for humpback whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife—ensuring that you’ll leave with some unforgettable memories after getting married here.
Palm Beach, Aruba
While Aruba is a hotspot for honeymooners, this Dutch island is surprisingly not as popular as other Caribbean countries when it comes to destination weddings. We’re not sure why, because the tropical locale is as close to paradise as you can get. Aruba has sunny blue skies almost every day of the year, with average temperatures in the low 80s. Unlike its northern Caribbean neighbors, Aruba lies outside of the Atlantic hurricane belt, lowering its chance of a direct hit from storms. Aruba’s powdery white beaches, trade winds, gentle waves, and less-frequented tourist attractions make it an ideal destination if you’re looking for a serene and quiet spot for your wedding. At the all-inclusive Barceló Aruba, you can get married on the beach just steps from the crystal-clear water and enjoy breathtaking ocean views as the sun goes down. The venue offers a variety of amenities and facilities, and specializes in intimate weddings. While you’re sightseeing around the island, head to Oranjestad for some local shopping, and look closely in the mangroves to see if you can spot one of Aruba’s feathery pink residents—flamingos!