For brides- and grooms-to-be, there are few aspects of the wedding-planning process as exciting as choosing where to walk down the aisle. Many people dream of planning a wedding in an exotic destination, a beachfront setting, a scenic mountaintop or a remote island, but dismiss the notion of going to a far-off retreat assuming such elaborate fetes are restricted to the rich and famous. Sure, destination weddings can be pricey, but with some legwork, you can land a dreamy location at an affordable price. Here are 10 under-the-radar places to plan a destination wedding that won't break the bank.
Blue Waters Antigua
Blue Waters Antigua offers an array of cost-effective wedding packages for the 2017 season, starting at $899. Couples can customize their wedding with special packages that include a dedicated wedding coordinator and cover the cost of a marriage license registration fee as well as accommodations. With the chance to enjoy well-planned ceremonies in a gazebo gazing over the Caribbean's pristine waters and plenty of pampering with Champagne breakfasts and indulgent treatments at the Spa at Blue Waters, Blue Waters Antigua appeals to couples of all kinds. What's more, honeymoon packages are also available, and include services such as a private sunset cruise with cocktails and canapes and a private chef's dinner for two.
Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino
Curacao's tropical scenery offers a breathtaking backdrop for destination weddings. Whether the bride walks down the aisle on the resort's Infinity Beach, elevated above the ocean, or with the sunset above the historic Rif Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site, couples can count on celebrating in a picturesque and cultural-rich locale. Wedding packages at Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino start at $2,165, and a la carte wedding services are available to personalize the day.
Fiddle Lake Farms
The endless mountains region of northeastern Pennsylvania has become an increasingly popular and affordable wedding destination. Located around 150 miles northwest of New York City, Fiddle Lake Farms is a historic farmhouse in Thompson, Pennsylvania overlooking Elk Mountain. The Farmhouse and nearby Lake House offer two lodging options for the bride and groom's guests. Best of all, if you book the facility for multiple days prior to the wedding, Fiddle Lake Farms allows you to decorate and coordinate the details on the property grounds in advance.
Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort
At Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, not only can couples walk down the aisle in a unique venue inspired by the region's local flora and fauna, they can also tailor their experience to their tastes and budget. Wedding packages start at $1,500, whether you and your better half are seeking an intimate elopement or an elegant celebration with close family and friends. With the package, couples have access to an on-site wedding coordinator, a romantic ceremony venue, in room amenities and more.
The YMCA of the Rockies
At 8,698 feet, this outdoor chapel in Estes Park in the Colorado Rockies is one of the most popular wedding destinations in the state. The stunning views and altitude are breathtaking. When you're not celebrating your nuptials, you can embrace the great outdoors with some snowshoeing and ice skating in winter and hiking and fly-fishing in the warmer months.
Casa Lucila, an intimate boutique in Mexico's serene resort town of Mazatlán, offers a breathtaking backdrop with Pacific Ocean views. Located in the vibrant Centro Historico (historic downtown), the property sits within steps of vibrant art galleries, museums, restaurants and boutique shops. Originally built in 1823 as a mansion, the eight-room, family owned retreat features elaborate architectural details, along with a rooftop infinity pool ideal for an intimate ceremony and cocktail hour. Plus, Lucila's Restaurant -- located on the ground floor of the property -- makes catering and reception arrangements a breeze. What's more, wedding parties receive a 10 percent discount on guest rooms, and a full property buyout is available starting at $1,417 per night, which provides overnight accommodations for up to 18 guests.
There's a reason New Orleans is often called the "Paris of the South." Here, couples can exchange vows under centuries-old oak trees before tying the knot in a unique, history-filled venue. Take the Streetcar Charter Wedding package, where you can recite your vows in a streetcar with up to 52 guests for $1,000. For a more conventional aisle, check out lovely parks such as Jackson Square, Audubon Park and City Park that allow you to obtain a permit for a specific shelter and host the ceremony under the oaks (or in front of the St. Louis Cathedral), with a small reception within one of the pavilions.
South Fork Lodge
Imagine being surrounded by picturesque landscapes as you say your vows alongside a flowing river, overlooking mountain vistas or among uninterrupted views of lush green valleys? Couples can rent South Fork Lodge, a top fishing lodge in Idaho for $3,000. With the wedding rate, you can enjoy 20 rooms and the entire property for your wedding property. What's more, the area features striking mountain views, providing an excellent backdrop for memorable wedding photos.
A North Dakota Ranch
With the rising popularity of country-chic weddings, North Dakota -- home to one of the best national parks in the U.S., rolling plains, jaw-dropping sunsets and the iconic Badlands -- offers a perfect backdrop for a rustic-chic barn wedding. And, surprisingly enough, tying the knot in North Dakota is relatively inexpensive. Take Black Leg Ranch, located near Bismarck, North Dakoka. Here, you can book the Two Night Weekend Destination Wedding package, which includes overnight accommodations for two nights for up to 32 guests, a wedding party bonfire, a rehearsal dinner, an on-site wedding coordinator and a reception in the Grand Lodge, Hitchin' Post, Prairie Rose or the Copper Jewell Barn. And you can secure all of this for $8,900 for up to 300 guests.
[See: 8 Unconventional Honeymoon Ideas.]
Peter Island Resort & Spa
This 1,800-acre private island resort in the British Islands has a variety of idyllic wedding locations to choose from, including five pristine beaches, three luxury villas with superlative views, a beachfront restaurant and an upscale dining venue with stunning vistas overlooking the Caribbean Sea within steps of the resort's harbor. Plus, you can secure excellent pricing. The You & Yours Wedding Package -- a romantic beachside luxury private island wedding for two -- starts at $1,500. Meanwhile, the Hibiscus Wedding Package -- for a wedding of up to 20 family and friends -- starts at $4,500.
Sheryl Nance-Nash is a freelance writer, specializing in travel, business and personal finance. Her travel articles have appeared in Upscale Magazine, Orbitz.com, Cheapoair.com, The Tennessean, BeachDeals.com, Lincoln Star Journal, Knoxville News Sentinel, the Williamsport SunGazette and TheRichest.com. Her business and personal articles have appeared in The New York Times, Money, Forbes.com, DailyFinance.com, Newsday, ABCNews.com, Black Enterprise, Essence and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
More From US News & World Report