Top States for Destination Weddings
For their breathtaking landscapes, natural beauty, rich history, cultural allure, and diverse entertainment offerings, here’s our list of the top 10 states for destination weddings.
1. Nevada: Las Vegas, often called the "Wedding Capital of the World," is famous for its swift, simple, and frequently impromptu weddings. The city's numerous chapels, combined with its entertainment and nightlife, make it the #1 destination for out-of-state weddings. However, beyond the Strip, Nevada also boasts stunning desert landscapes and luxury resorts. For couples beginning their planning, the Las Vegas tourism board's wedding guide is an excellent starting point.
2. Hawaii: With its tropical beaches, lush landscapes, and romantic sunsets, Hawaii is a top choice for many couples. Each island offers a unique backdrop, from the dramatic cliffs of Kauai to the bustling beaches of Waikiki. There are no state residence or U.S. citizenship requirements to get married in Hawaii. Couples can find everything from caterers to florists and photographers on the Go Hawaii website.
3. Florida: Popular spots like Miami, the Florida Keys, and various Gulf Coast locations attract out-of-state couples (particularly those from the Northeast), seeking a sunny and sandy wedding. The state also boasts numerous luxury coastal resorts and, of course, there’s Disney World. The Visit Florida wedding planning guide provides details on getting married in Florida and offers ideas and inspiration for exceptional venues.
4. New York: Beyond the allure of a New York City wedding, upstate New York offers beautiful venues in the Catskills, the Adirondacks, and the Finger Lakes wine region. With its iconic landmarks and cosmopolitan charm, New York City is especially popular among international couples traveling to the U.S. to tie the knot. New York State was one of the first states in the nation to legalize marriage for LGBTQ individuals. I Love NY’s LGBTQ New York Wedding Guide incudes details about licensing rules and LGBTQ-friendly venues.
5. California: No other state offers such a diverse landscape and range of options for destination weddings. From beaches to the wine country of Napa and Sonoma, coastal towns along the Pacific Coast Highway, glamorous spots like Beverly Hills, and rustic settings in the majestic Redwoods or Sierra Nevada mountains – the choices are vast. Visit California provides dozens of venue options to help you craft the perfect celebration.
6. Colorado: For those seeking a mountain backdrop, Colorado provides breathtaking venues in places like Aspen, Vail, and Estes Park. Whether in summer or winter (indeed, even winter), Colorado is the destination for high-altitude weddings. If you’re eager to wed in Colorado but mountains aren’t your thing, Colorado offers an array of venue options from dude ranches and historic hotels to luxury resorts.
7. South Carolina: Exuding Southern charm, South Carolina boasts beautiful beachfront, coastal, mountainous, and urban settings to say “I do.” Charleston, especially, has surged in popularity in recent years. With its historic ambiance, cobblestone streets, and moss-draped oak trees, it ranks as one of the premier wedding destinations in the Southeast. TheKnot provides a comprehensive guide to assist couples in obtaining a marriage license in South Carolina.
8. Louisiana: With its rich Cajon and Creole heritage and Bayou beauty, Louisiana presents diverse settings that make it an excellent choice for destination weddings. New Orleans stands out, especially its historic French Quarter, vibrant music scene, and festive atmosphere, as a favorite for many out-of-state couples. Moreover, the state’s world-renowned cuisine, featuring dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys and beignets infuse a distinctive flavor into wedding feasts. The Ultimate Guide to New Orleans Weddings offers resources ranging from help obtaining a marriage license to arranging a second line and assistance with your group hotel reservation.
9. Arizona: Home to some of the country's most picturesque landscapes, from the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon to the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona offers a unique and stunning backdrop for any wedding. Additionally, with over 300 days of sunshine each year, Arizona is a dependable choice for outdoor ceremonies. However, be mindful of the extreme temperatures in the summer! Whether you prefer a luxurious resort in Scottsdale, a rustic ranch setting, or an intimate desert ceremony, Arizona is an excellent choice. If you’re contemplating tying the knot in the desert, the Brides guide to planning a successful desert wedding offers helpful tips and recommendations.
10. Alaska: This choice might be unexpected and less conventional, but for adventurous couples, seeking a truly unique experience, Alaska presents an opportunity to marry amidst majestic glaciers, snow-capped peaks, tranquil lakes and picturesque rivers. In certain parts of Alaska, during specific times of the year, the sun barely sets. This provides extended daylight for festivities and unique photography moments. However, Alaska’s weather is unpredictable, so it’s crucial to be prepared for a range of conditions, even in summer. “Anything can happen in the great wide open” notes Alaska Bride. Check out their tips for planning an outdoor wedding. Finally, it’s worth noting that some of Alaska’s most breathtaking locations are remote, potentially leading to higher travel costs and time for guests attending the celebration.
Naturally, "top destinations” is subjective and this list may change based on trends, economic factors, and global events like pandemics. Ultimately, it isn’t just about the scenery, weather or cultural significance of a location; it’s about what’s best for you, your partner and the loved ones celebrating with you. Finally, before you get too far down the road with planning, be sure to check and know the current marriage license requirements. Happy wedding planning!