Want to tie the knot in style? Consider saying your vows in one of these lovely retreats in New Zealand, Scotland, or South Carolina. If these splendid digs don’t scream your name, there are plenty of others to check out in Fodor’s Destination Weddings, a guide to getting hitched in some of the world’s most extraordinary places.
Carrington Resort, Kaitaia, North Island
The subtropical Northland of New Zealand promises visitors a contrast between the relative sophistication of the east coast and the soulful simplicity of the west coast. Much of its extensive coastline remains unspoiled, and it’s an aquatic playground for adventure activities and escapist relaxation.
The Lay of the Land: The Carrington Resort is superbly situated on the magnificent Karikari Peninsula. Private, sumptuous, sophisticated, the resort is set in the middle of the Carrington Farm Estate, a 3000-acre ecologically planned property of secluded virgin beaches and restored natural wetlands in the warmest area of New Zealand closest to the equator. Luxury accommodation is provided in a choice of 10 air-conditioned lodges or 14 villas, with private verandas or porches looking out over the ocean or native bush and vineyard.
Tying the Knot: Marriages can take place anywhere on the resort — overlooking the vineyards, on the secluded beach (photo, top), or in front of the dining room with its stunning views. The hotel has a wedding coordinator, but couples need to arrange a celebrant who will look after all the legalities. After your specially created post-nuptial dinner in the evening, you can return to the privacy of your room, where you’ll find a bottle of local wine to sip under the stars.
After the Wedding: There’s plenty to do onsite at Carrington, ranging from golf, horseback riding, tennis, swimming in the heated pool, a gym, wine-tasting tours, boat excursions, canoeing, or picnics to some secluded cove. Alternatively, you can just unwind and appreciate the stunning natural landscapes.
Pawley’s Island, South Carolina
One of the original colonies, and one with a rich history and culture shaped by European, African, and Caribbean influences, South Carolina offers a charming setting for a wedding. Litchfield Plantation, on Pawley’s Island, is set on 600 acres and surrounded by majestic, moss-draped oaks and flowering dogwoods and azaleas.
Lay of the Land: This property is made for romantics. There are only 32 rooms and retreat cottages on the site. Rooms and suites abound with Southern charm and offer an escape that many only dream of. The Ballroom Suite is perfect for honeymooners with its large living area, four-poster king-size bed, fireplace, and bathroom with oversize whirlpool tub for two. Renowned for fine food, the hotel’s Carriage House Club restaurant is a fabulous dining experience, with magnificent views, antique furnishings, and paintings.
Tying the Knot: Litchfield Plantation has an onsite wedding coordinator and you have a choice of three wedding packages. Ceremonies on the beach or in a shady oak grove are conducted by a religious or civil official. And to give your special day a touch of the splendor of the Old South, weddings can include a horse-drawn carriage ride and a candlelight dinner at the Carriage House Club.
After the Wedding: Take a jeep safari to Myrtle Beach, tour Charleston, take a waterways boat tour, watch a theater performance, or just enjoy the Southern legacy of gracious living at Litchfield Plantations.
Ardanaiseig Hotel, Kilchrenan
The West Highlands of Scotland have a romantic ambience all their own. Over the centuries the region has captivated artists, writers, and poets, and the countryside is some of the grandest in Scotland. At every turn the sea-fringed landscape is steeped in history. From the clear waters of Loch Awe, with its many islands and ancient lake dwellings, the landscape rises through forest, moor, and heath to the high summit of Ben Cruachan.
The Lay of the Land: Set amid this natural beauty is Ardanaiseig, a Scottish baronial manor built in 1834. Ardanaiseig is a wonderful place for weddings and honeymoons. The exterior of this heritage property remains unchanged and the hotel retains the atmosphere of a private house. The 100-acre wild woodland gardens are regarded as one of the natural splendors of Argyll and have their own romantic charm.
Tying the Knot: Marriages at Ardanaiseig can take place in the drawing room or out in the open-air lochside amphitheater. For a taste of true Scotland, a traditional piper can be provided at the ceremony. There is a wedding coordinator to help you plan your day, and the ceremony can be conducted either by the registrar or local minister.
After the Wedding: During your stay there are romantic adventures to be had, such as a boat trip to Loch Awe with a picnic basket for two, stopping off on Inishail Island. Or indulge yourself in a private sightseeing tour with the hotel’s own chauffeur and car. Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, and the Victorian port of Orban with regular ferries to the beautiful islands of Skye, Mull, and Iona are all within easy reach.