When planning a destination wedding, the first locations that come to mind are likely postcard-perfect beaches in the Caribbean or some other exotic sandy setting. However, if you’re not quite ready to spend a fortune — or you don’t want to put that burden on your guests — there are tons of gorgeous, inexpensive (or shall we say, less expensive) destinations in the U.S. that make for memorable weddings. And it’s always nice a change of scenery! Just because you’re not Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner doesn’t mean you can’t have your own beautiful destination wedding, so we’ve put together a list of our favorite spots for a more affordable event to help you decide.
Destination #1: Vermont
Vermont, with its quaint villages and scenic landscapes, is probably your best bet for a back-to-nature inspired wedding. If you can totally see yourself posing for the pre- or post-wedding photos along tumbling streams, thick woodlands and gorgeous views, search no more. Its small, cozy inns and B&B’s are perfect for intimate weddings and small receptions, and the green meadows and steep mountains make for great backgrounds when saying your “I Do’s.” You will probably need a car or a shuttle to move your guests around, as Burlington’s is the only major airport serving the entire state, but the scenery and the vibe will prove to be well worth it.
Oyster’s Fave Value Wedding Spot: Swift House Inn
The historic Swift House Inn is located within walking distance of downtown Middlebury, a picturesque New England town, with traffic-free streets lined by locally owned shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The hotel’s 20 rooms are spread throughout the Main House (formerly a Governor’s Mansion), the Carriage House, and the Gate House. Room decor varies, allowing guests to choose a room depending on personal style. Some rooms offer a classic New England B&B vibe with floral wallpaper, fireplaces, and four-poster beds, while others are more understated, with soft-toned walls and tasteful furniture. One of the inn’s highlights is its delicious and free breakfast, and an on-site restaurant, Jessica’s, is a popular destination for both guests and locals.
Destination #2: Savannah
Savannah, settled in 1773, is one of the best-preserved spots in the South; those planning a classic, traditional wedding will probably find Savannah to be their perfect match. With its gorgeous historic mansions, quaint cobblestone streets and pretty public squares, the city provides a beautiful backdrop for the big day. While it’s not known for its nightlife, it’s legal to consume alcohol outdoors in the downtown area, so you can even take the post-rehearsal dinner party outside if the weather is still nice. For the best photos, head to Forsyth Park, famous for its serene tree-lined walking paths and its legendary fountain.
Oyster’s Fave Value Wedding Spot: The Marshall House
Savannah’s oldest hotel is a wonderful pick, with a great location in the heart of the Historic District and elegant rooms that feature gorgeous architectural details like high ceilings, hardwood floors, and decorative fireplaces. For a good meal before the ceremony, don’t miss the 45 Bistro, which offers a seasonal menu and an extensive wine list. Fun fact: this charming 68-room property housed Union soldiers during the Civil War, and some guests say their spirits still walk the hallways.
Destination #3: Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is probably better known for its slopes than its wedding parties, but there are tons of facts that make it a wonderful option for those planning a destination wedding, including around 300 days of sunshine a year, a wide range of picturesque, value hotels, and lots to do in the area. Imagine saying “I do” against a backdrop of one of the most beautiful lakes in the U.S., holding the reception in a charming alpine lodge-style venue, and then spending your first day as a married couple hiking with your guests amid striking forests. That’s Lake Tahoe for you.
Oyster’s Fave Wedding Value Spot: Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort
The four-pearl Tahoe Mountain Resorts Lodging offers direct access to Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort, with plenty of nearby upscale shopping and dining found via cobblestone streets. Housed in separate lodges in the quaint Village at Northstar, the spacious, luxe rooms include kitchens, surround-sound TV systems, and fireplaces. A heated pool, underground parking, and the beautiful mountain setting are added bonuses. But the full-service spa offering salon services is the cherry on the cake for those planning a wedding.
Destination #4: Maine
Maine is the destination for those who want it all – or who haven’t decided yet if they want a seaside, rural or urban wedding. This is one of the prettiest and most diverse states in the U.S. For those planning a wedding this could be both a blessing and a nightmare, as it makes it hard to pick only one spot. However, the good news is that whether you end up going for a low-key ceremony and reception in a rustic lodge in the mountains, or for a full-on party in a coastal town, Maine is sure to offer the perfect spot for you. Here are our top picks: Portland for foodies, Ogunquit for the chill type, and Arcadia National Park for outdoorsy couples.
Oyster’s Fave Wedding Value Spot: Parsons Post House Inn
Don’t let the intimate size of the Parsons Post House Inn fool you: Most of the cozy rooms have a modern look, sporting a subtle beach theme with comfortable white linens and light sand-colored walls. The bathrooms are clean and a little cramped, but they do have soft towels and good water pressure, perfect for relaxing before the big day. The small but charming outdoor patio is great for taking advantage of the sea breeze coming from the beach, just a block away. If you’re looking for a true Ogunquit experience, this is one of your safest bets.
Destination #5: Sedona
Sedona is becoming an increasingly popular destination for weddings, not only because it’s relatively more affordable than other areas nearby, but also because of its stunning desert-meets- forest scenery. Sedona’s famous red rocks are the perfect backdrop for the ceremony — especially at sunset — and the region’s numerous resorts offer all a couple might need before, during and after their wedding day. There’s so much to do and see here — from hikes to the red rocks to guided tours to Sedona’s “vortexes” (concentrations of spiritual energy) and great shopping — that guests will probably be more than happy to even take a few days off to celebrate with you.
Oyster’s Fave Wedding Value Spot: Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort
The middle-range Ridge is just off Highway 179 in the Village of Oak Creek, with 118 rooms housed in 23 tan stucco buildings on a sprawling property. The red rocks are far from the Ridge, so views of them are limited, but good views exist of the surrounding desert landscape, especially from the two heated pools. Large, clean rooms have kitchenettes and flat-screen TVs, and can sleep between four and eight guests, perfect for families and groups.