6 new, improved destination wedding locales perfect for parties large or small

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe for destination weddingCourtesy photo

It can be like a honeymoon for your guests. Whether you invite hundreds or a cherished few, the following new and improved destination wedding locales cover the range of romantic affairs from beachfront to mountain high.


Mexican Fiesta, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Originally built as a hideaway for an Italian duchess and refashioned into a beachfront boutique, Hotel Esencia on Mexico’s Riviera Maya has just expanded with 11 new suites, six of them directly on the sand with double bathtubs in view of the sea. At 40 rooms spread across 50 acres, it’s still small enough for a complete buyout and spacious enough for an intimate affair. An organic spa dispenses Mayan healing treatments, a hammock garden entices afternoon siestas and a new Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant caters memorable meals. Rooms from $615; 011-52-984-873-4830, hotelesencia.com.


Wine Country Wedding, Willow Grove, Virginia

Get hitched in the heart of Virginia’s wine country at the Inn at Willow Grove, an 18th-century converted plantation house. The property has just opened 24 new guestrooms and cottages, a spa for pre-ceremony pampering and a second restaurant located off site called Forked On Main, an ideal option for rehearsal dinners or day-after brunches. Say “I do” in a boxwood-edged garden and stage the reception in a restored barn with a massive stone fireplace and spacious veranda overlooking the rolling terrain. Rooms from $265, 540-317-1206, innatwillowgrove.com.


All-inclusive Nuptials, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Make it a honeymoon for you and a vacation for your guests at the new Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa in Jamaica. The all-inclusive resort encompasses a 30,000-square-foot spa with a salt therapy lounge and couple’s steam and sauna features, 12 dining options and 217 suites, each with butler service. Hold the ceremony on the sand, on the lawn in view of the ocean or in the intimate gazebo. Wedding packages bundle all services from the cake and photographer to a full Jamaican steel drum band. Rooms from $518, 888-797-2735, jewelgrande.com.


Italian Holiday, Monteverdi Tuscany

Why not take over an entire medieval hilltop town to celebrate? Monteverdi Tuscany strews its 12 rustic-meets-refined rooms across the hamlet of Castiglioncello del Trinoro. Another six are set to open this spring along with a culinary school for savory diversions. Couples can get married in the village’s 12th-century chapel and have their choice of town piazzas and terraces for cocktail parties and dinners amid the lush Tuscan landscape. There’s more to explore in the village-cum-resort, including the acclaimed Santa Maria Novella spa and a fine dining restaurant. Rooms from 575 euros ($706); 866-644-0787, monteverdituscany.com.


Mountain High Marriage, Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

The rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains and the continent’s largest alpine lake backdrop weddings at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The 170-room resort located midmountain at the Northstar California Resort has just opened the Lake Club, a lakefront cedar-wood-and-ledge-stone-built venue that includes an event lawn running to water’s edge, a private boat dock and reception areas both on the ground floor and the scenic upper deck. Formal dinners are held back at the mountain resort, 15 minutes away. Meanwhile, the destination offers loads of recreational options for guests including hiking, golf and mountain biking. Rooms from $449; 530-562-3000, ritzcarlton.com/LakeTahoe.


Ranch Romance, Magee Homestead

Entice your wedding party of up to 24 people to the wide-open spaces of Wyoming at Magee Homestead, a luxury lodge near Laramie with nine historic log cabins refashioned into luxurious residences and full resort amenities including a swimming pool. By day, the all-inclusive ranch entertains guests with horseback riding, hiking, fly-fishing and spa services. On the big day, parties will assemble on the prairie where a new event tent has recently been added for candlelit dinners at communal tables. Rates from $1,250 per person, including all food, drinks and activities; 307-327-2031, mageehomestead.com.


Elaine Glusac is a Chicago-based freelance writer.





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