A wedding invitation used to be a good excuse to buy a new party dress; now it’s a great excuse to buy a new vacation wardrobe to go with that new dress. In the last ten years, I have received two invitations to Sri Lanka, one to Mexico, and another to Hawaii to witness nuptials. Though I love my friends dearly, I don’t want to use my vacation time on any old destination wedding. So, I’m dropping subtle hints for engaged friends in the hopes that they will select their destination-wedding site with my daydream vacation photographs in mind!
Barcelona is the hotspot for those who want to tie the knot with a European twist. And since I have yet to take in Gaudi’s architecture and love Spanish guitar on a Sunday morning, Barcelona is an idyllic getaway worthy of my immediate RSVP. The beloveds can choose from a vine-covered estate or a candlelit Baroque chapel to exchange vows and then after the reception run through the cobblestone city streets in search of tapas or boogie into the night at mansion nightclubs. Strolls through Park Guell, the Gothic quarter, Las Ramblas, and further on to more funky architecture along Barceloneta beach, might make some guests (like me) come for the wedding and decide to stay for a lifetime.
Banyan Tree Resort, Seychelles, Africa
My fantasy of an Africa trip is finding my way to Mali or Guinea-Bissau to dance and drum with villagers. Only after that could I easily accept my friends’ invitation to join them off the east coast of mainland Africa to the archipelago nation of the Republic of Seychelles, 155 islands in the Indian Ocean. Couples can design their own beach ceremony, or choose from the culture’s own Creole coconut ceremony, where they drink from a coconut and set it into the ocean, or plant a coconut tree. They can even choose a Tibetan ceremony equipped with chimes and a “five elements ribbon ceremony.” After an island stay in a beachfront spa pool villa, guests can leave the newlyweds to their honeymoon, and head off on a luxury safari in South Africa, Botswana, or Tanzania. I’m going to start saving my pennies now.
Amanjena Resort, Marrakech, Morocco
A water moat surrounds the pink sandstone of this private haven nestled beneath the Atlas Mountains near the bustling passageways of the Medina of Marrakech. Guests will be pampered while the bride and groom prepare for the festivities with massage and henna tattoos. Belly dancers, musicians on horseback, flower water, and dates lead the couple to their carriage to be whisked away into the pink and purple hues of a balmy desert night. Guests won’t be bored as they can spend their days bargaining in the markets, taking tours into the Sahara, and side trips to the oldest medieval city of Fez to take in the blue tiled mosques and pick out their hat before scooting off to recreate their own Bogart and Bergman love affair in Morocco’s largest city, Casablanca.
ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
If my friends can’t stand the heat planning their weddings near family at home, then I will gently nudge them to escape to the arctic temperatures of Sweden’s ICEHOTEL. A snowmobile suit in white for him, and a traditional white gown cloaked in fur for her will be the only way to walk back up the aisle of this annually sculptured ice chapel. Guests can venture out into the cold on a snowmobile, dog-sled, or moose safari while staying in Wilderness Camps and taking in the brilliant sunrises over the ever-flowing Torne River. We’ll have to spend at least one night in the ICEHOTEL for the full experience, try ice driving in a newly-designed Saab, or form our foreign Polar Bear Club by jumping into the frigid waters just like the Swedes do.
Taprobane Island, Sri Lanka
Every time I look at this destination, I feel like the bridesmaid who missed the bouquet. My Australian BBC journalist friend married her American Economist journalist, and I could have been there, having a cerebral chat over global issues with a worldly single man while throwing my head back in laughter atop an elephant as we rode into the sunset. On Taprobane Island, family and royalty can stay with the bride and groom on this private island on the southern tip of Sri Lanka. The island boasts a five-suite five-star hotel, infinity pool, tropical gardens to hold the ceremony, and five staff members to each guest to help with securing the peacocks for photo opps. Guests can parlay this wedding into side trips for cliff-hanging train rides, Austin Healey races in the town of Jaffna, and scuba dives before taking in a game of cricket. Missed all this the first time, but I have plenty of friends yet to be wed …