In recent years, wedding planning has become somewhat of a competitive sport, with couples constantly feeling the need to one-up each other in the quest for the perfect “big day.”
Even though every couple has a different view on what constitutes the ideal venue for their special occasion, the one thing that is consistent among all brides and grooms is the desire for it to be memorable.And who doesn’t get excited at the prospect of being somewhere unique and fabulous to say “I do!”
In the past couple of decades, we has seen a huge shift away from the more traditional big white wedding — and an even bigger aversion to religious ceremonies. This had led to a huge demand for more alternative and unique wedding venues, with even the most obscure of places vying for a slice of the $320 billion pie that is the global wedding industry.
So here are some of our favorite and most unusual venue options for the ultimate destination wedding.
1. Dracula’s castle — Transylvania, Romania
Bran Castle provides a gorgeous setting, with a slightly creepy twist. (Photo: Bran Castle)
It’s every little girl’s dream to get married in a castle fit for a princess. But what about one fit for a pointy-toothed bloodsucker?
Bran Castle in Romania is said to be the former home of Vlad the Impaler, upon whom the character Dracula is based.
The spectacular fortress dates back to the 14th century and is now a museum open to the public. However, for a measly $900,000, you can rent out the ghostly property and throw a lavish, albeit slightly creepy, wedding.
Bonuses include the castle’s own chapel, perfect for hosting the ceremony, and the medieval digs’ very own torture chamber. If you are into that kind of stuff.
2. Kennedy Space Center — Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The Kennedy Space Center could be the perfect location for you to blast off into marriage. (Photo: Phil Whitehouse/Flickr)
For the ultimate stargazer or hardcore Trekkie, what better way to pay homage to one’s obsessions than with a space age ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida?
The world famous NASA facility, which cost a whopping $800 million to build back in 1962, was home to the Space Shuttle program until its termination in 2011. It is still a working facility but on a much smaller scale — and mostly on the research and development side of space exploration.
This means large portions of it have been turned into a visitor center where wannabe brides and grooms can say their “I do’s” in front of space shuttles, satellites, and landing pods.
Couples also have the insane option of getting hitched during a zero gravity flight experience provided by the center, which, at certain points, mimics the feeling being in space. For $5,000 a person — which at a minimum means spending $15,000 for the bride, groom, and officiant — you can float in the air, weightless, while getting wed.
Weirdly, the island is also a national wildlife refuge, where visitors can encounter bald eagles, alligators, diamondback rattlesnakes, wild boar, and even Floridian panthers. Yeesh. Sounds like you might actually be risking your life to get married in this joint.
Oh well. To infinity and beyond…
3. The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary — Kanab, Utah
Famed animal lover and star of “My Cat From Hell,” Jackson Galaxy, got married at The Best Friend Animal Sanctuary in 2014 and you can too! (Photo: Best Friends Animal Society/Facebook)
For a truly feel-good marital experience and for those of us who can’t live without our furry friends being around all the time, The Best Friend Animal Sanctuary, in the stunning Utah backcountry, is the ideal wedding venue. Couples can choose from a variety of rustic wooded outdoor spaces that are part of the charity’s no-kill animal sanctuary – one of the largest in the nation at over 5,000 acres – situated amongst the famous Utah redrocks. Founded over 30 years ago, it is home to over 1700 animals at any one time and receives over 30,000 visitors a year. The best part about holding a wedding here – the ‘rental fee’ is actually a donation that goes straight to helping care for the animals. So you can head off into marital bliss knowing you did a little good for the world.
4. The N Resort — Jamaica
The N Resort provides the perfect backdrop for your au naturel nuptials. (Photo:N-Resort Trelawny/Facebook)
Many women can’t wait to say “yes” to the dress. But at this venue, you are strictly encouraged to just say no. The need to purchase a sparkling white wedding gown and sharp new tuxedo go directly out the window because the N Resort is Jamaica’s premium nudist resort.
Situated on a stunning white beach with turquoise warm waters, the resort provides every amenity expected from a tropical island hotel, including luxury wedding packages that provide the clothing-opposed bride and groom the nuptials of their dreams.
Couples who purchase a weeklong stay receive a complimentary marriage license, minister’s fee, wedding planner, cake, flowers, private dinner, and some fancy fizzy wine.
So for those adventurous, liberated types who like to feel the sand in their toes and the wind in their … uh? hair … this is the place for a carefree experience.
Oh, and you won’t have to worry about tan lines!
5. The Ice Hotel — Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Take the “white wedding” concept to the extreme and get surrounded by by blocks of ice at The Ice Hotel in Sweden. (Photo by Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson via IceHotel/Facebook)
Most people’s idea of a “destination wedding” involves a white beach on some remote tropical island. But what if sunshine, beach hair, and coconut cocktails aren’t your thing?
In the northern reaches of Swedish Lapland, where some say Santa Claus is really from, is the Ice Hotel. Made completely from giant blocks of ice, the majestic construction is like something out of a Disney movie. And because it’s re-created in a different fashion every year, no two wedding seasons there will be the same.
Starting at $7,600, the wedding packages include use of the “Ice Church” (where even the alter is made of ice), which can hold 35-40 guests, suites in the hotel for the wedding night, dinner options, and use of the onsite wedding planner.
Couples can then spend their wedding night snuggled in a specially made polar sleeping bag for two, atop “a thick layer of reindeer skins.”
Clearly the couple that gets hypothermia together, stays together.
6. Ernest Hemingway’s Home — Key West, Fla.
The Hemingway House offers up history, gorgeous gardens, and even some polydactyl cats! (Photo: Hemingway Home Museum/Facebook)
The late, great author Ernest Hemingway landed in Florida, by way of Cuba, in April 1928 with his wife, Pauline, whose wealthy uncle Gus bought them a home there.
The incredible Spanish Colonial property was built in 1851 and was constructed using rock quarried from the grounds. It was the first property in Key West to have an in-ground pool, built at Hemingway’s request in 1937 at the cost of $20,000.
The home, which is now a museum, still has many of the author’s personal touches throughout, including European antique furniture, various African hunting trophies, and dozens of cats, who according to local legend are descendants of Hemingway’s own cat, which had six toes on one of its paws.
Some of these grand-kitties prowling the property have the same six-toe deformity. Weird.
The historic venue, which has both indoor and outdoor options, is available for both day- and nighttime events and can host up to 30 guests for a wedding. Prices start at just $375 per hour to rent the space.