Are you scouting for the perfect venue to host a small intimate wedding in 2022? From bucolic mansions to medieval castles, pristine islands, and lakeside county houses, there are all kinds of stunning destinations on this carefully crafted list. By Srushti Kulkarni
International destinations for the perfect wedding
Known for mysterious woodlands and enchanting garden trails, the county of Laois, formerly known as ‘Queen’s County’, is located in the province of Leinster in Ireland. While the town of Abbeyleix beckons with beautifully restored fountains, Heywood Gardens, and one of the oldest pubs in Ireland, Portlaoise delights history buffs with archaeological sites, castle ruins, and Iron-Age ring forts. Say your vows at Ballyfin Demesne, a country-house hotel located at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. You can host the ceremony in its beautiful gardens or by a lake. If you fancy a royal wedding, head to Kinnitty Castle Hotel, a lavish medieval revival castle seated on 650 acres of parkland in the neighbouring county of Offaly.
Kirkby Lonsdale Cumbria, England
At the edge of Yorkshire Dales National Park, in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, sits the quaint market town of Kirkby Lonsdale. It is known for high-street shopping as well as excellent restaurants, cafes, and bars. The area is also dotted with picturesque villages, churches, waterfalls, and monuments like the 14th-century Devil’s Bridge. Ruskin’s View, the breathtaking panorama of the Lune Valley and Underley Hall, is said to have inspired JMW Turner’s renowned painting of the same name. Give your forever the ideal beginning at Broadoaks Country House, a historical structure surrounded by the woods and framed by a river that falls into Lake Windermere. Or opt for the Casterton Grange Estate, which boasts classic modern luxury, a natural aisle decked up in cherry blossoms, and Gothic towers.
Celebrity weddings of ‘Virushka’ and ‘DeepVeer’ have put Italy on the wish list of many couples. And Tuscany is emerging as a favourite, courtesy of its charming towns, vineyards, scenic villages, gorgeous coastline, and atolls. Host an intimate wedding at Villa Medicea di Lilliano, a wine estate near Florence that features 60 hectares of organic vineyards and olive groves. Six beautifully restored private villas are accompanied by a tiered courtyard, a chapel, wine cellars, vast gardens, and a banquet hall. For an intimate affair, get married at Torre Palazzone, a medieval castle set within a nature reserve near the historic city of Siena. The landscaped gardens that surround the castle offer total seclusion.
Port St Johns, South Africa
Get introduced to Xhosa culture, Kwaito music, and the region’s colonial history at Port St Johns, a small coastal town in the Eastern Cape province. Known as the Jewel of the Wild Coast, the town is strewn with the remains of ships that were caught in storms; some of them are quite popular and warrant a visit. The town also offers mighty tides for surfers, a glimpse of rich aquatic life, and white-water rafting on River Umzimvubu. Exchange rings at the Umngazi Hotel & Spa in Mgazi village. The riverfront property has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. N’taba River Lodge & Spa (), nestled between tropical gardens and towering cliffs, offers the best of Wild Coast hospitality.
A suburban sprawl set between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees mountains in southwest France, Dordogne is synonymous with its honey-coloured stone villages. River Dordogne flows through the region, which is home to ancient forests, limestone cliffs, castles, and painted caves. Life in Dordogne is slow and laid-back, making it an apt destination for an intimate wedding. Consider La Maison D’Eté , a 17th-century property in the heart of the Deux-Sèvres countryside overlooking the Dordogne valley. Or try a traditional château like The Fairytale Château, which can host a barn wedding for up to 100 guests. The central round tower and balcony are perfect backdrops for wedding photographs.
If you dream of an island wedding, there is no better destination than the Maldives to make it come true. Hold your nuptials at the Velaa Private Island, a state-of-the-art resort located 45 minutes away (by seaplane) from Malé. Here, you can tie the knot under the sun or the stars with a backdrop of white sand and the azure ocean. Milaidhoo Maldives is a boutique resort that doubles as a magical wedding venue. Go for a beach ceremony in the late afternoon amid archways of tropical greenery and a wedding pergola, or marry onboard a traditional dhoni. A wedding at JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa means your guests can experience distinctive Japanese, Italian, and global cuisine, and fine wines from around the world.
If you want your wedding to be traditional yet elegant, Marrakesh is the destination for you. Wander through the ancient Medina, take a stroll through the fruit gardens and the traditional Moroccan market, and savour the eclectic street food. Toast the beginning of your new life at Riad Dar Zaman, an intimate hideaway in the heart of the Medina that offers a lush courtyard, a sun terrace, a plunge pool, and open fireplaces. Ksar Char Bagh is a stunning private palace inspired by 14th-century Moorish architecture. With just 15 suites set amid 3.5 hectares of citrus orchards, fig trees, and bubbling fountains, the property makes for a beautiful venue.
Planning a tropical wedding? Head to the island of Lombok, a resort destination in the West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. From Ekas Beach in the east to Desert Point Beach in the west, the islet is blessed with breathtaking bays, shallow reefs, and rocky coves. Party till you pass out on the tiny offshore island of Gili Trawangan, or swim with sharks, manta rays, and turtles at one of the many dive sites in the region. Tie the knot at The Lombok Lodge, a hidden gem with nine exclusive Lodge Suites, which is a 10-minute boat ride from Gili Islands. Or get married against a dramatic sunset and stone-and-thatch beach suites of Jeeva Klui, located in a spacious tropical garden on Klui Beach.
Ras al Khaimah, the UAE
This historic emirate is blessed with 64 kilometres of white-sand beaches, terracotta desert plains, deep canyons, and forts. Catch a sunset at Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the UAE, or glide down rugged cliffs on the world’s longest zipline. Set along the Arabian Gulf, The Ritz-Carlton – Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach is an exemplary beachfront destination. Your personalised wedding planner will coordinate important details such as guest reservations in beachfront pool villas, rehearsal dinners, farewell breakfast menus, and venue staging with special lighting and decor. For a more remote setting, there is Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah with palatial suites that look out to the Al Hajar Mountains, vast expanses of desert, and the Persian Gulf.
Indian destinations for the wedding of your dreams
A picture-perfect town in the Almora district of Uttarakhand, Ranikhet serves panoramic views of the snow-clad Himalayas. It is a tiny, hilly paradise full of stargazing sites, trekking trails, and even safaris in forests of oak, pine, and deodar trees that shelter wildlife like leopard, barking deer, and mountain goat. A boutique eco-resort such as Queens Meadows, with its 15 accommodation units spread over 10 acres, allows you a rustic wedding infused with Kumaoni traditions. For nature-loving couples who seek a more secluded arrangement, The Kumaon is a luxe mountain retreat with 10 suites perched in the hilltop hamlet of Kasar Devi.
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Coffee country Chikmagalur is perfect for a cool countryside wedding. Covered in lush greenery, the town offers the best of both worlds with its imperial heritage and creature comforts. Consider Java Rain Resorts, nestled along the Mullayanagiri hills in an active coffee plantation. It has 20 luxurious villas and spectacular views of the Baba Budan hills on one side and a breathtaking panoramic view of Chikmagalur town on the other. Or book The Serai Chikmagalur, an exquisite resort bordered by the Tunga and Bhadra rivers, for an elegant forest-style wedding.
The palm-fringed tropical setting of Alleppey and its backwaters needs no introduction. Despite being dotted with traditional and modern resorts, the town has retained its distinctive charm. Besides picturesque landscapes, the destination comes with the benefit of heart-warming Malabari hospitality and cuisine. Get hitched at the Sterling Lake Palace Alleppey Resort, set on 14 acres of lush greenery and calm water bodies with 58 luxurious suites overlooking Lake Vembanad. The Zuri Kumarakom is a 5-star luxury resort that has a knack for making your wedding memorable in God’s Own Country.
With Ranthambore as your destination, there isn’t much you need to do to make your wedding picturesque. Situated in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, this wildlife destination lures discerning travellers for more reasons than one. Besides its vast jungles teeming with tigers, the region has the Ranthambore Fort and the Padam Talab (lake) at the doorstep of the ornate Jogi Mahal that makes for stunning photos ops. Host a lavish affair at Hotel Juna Mahal, an ultra-luxury hotel offering a rustic environment for 30-50 guests. Or set up your ceremony at Sawai Vilas, which promises an authentic jungle experience with its 60 exquisite villas.
The Andaman Islands, flanked by the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, are perfect for those who seek a beach wedding with international flair but without the need for a visa. The archipelago offers a variety of isles for your special day. Say ‘I do’ amid the pristine environs of Shaheed Dweep (previously Neil Island), home to the Bharatpur Beach teeming with coral reefs and Howrah Bridge, which is a stunning natural rock formation accessible at low tide. Symphony Resorts on the isle boasts 62 suites designed with the novel concept of ‘swim from the room’. Swaraj Dweep (previously Havelock) is another sought-after destination loved for its serenity. The enchanting Munjoh Ocean Resort is well-equipped to help you tailor a beach function or even an underwater wedding!
Sitting at the foothills of the towering Mount Khangchendzonga, Pelling is a small town in Sikkim. Besides Buddhist monasteries, it is known for mountain biking, rock climbing, and pastoral tours. Within the thick forests of the region, one can discover the ruins of the Rabdentse Palace, and the Rimbi River and Waterfall. Host your wedding at The Elgin Mount Pandim, a boutique hotel and royal retreat set in eight acres of virgin forest, or at Magpie Chestnut Retreat, a rustic but luxurious accommodation perched on a hill.