One & Only Ocean Club Bahamas
About a third of the movies in the James Bond series has featured the Bahamas, and for good reason. Everywhere you turn, white sand beaches and brilliant blue waters greet you, providing a jaw-dropping backdrop to a beach paradise wedding. However, at this stately colonial plantation manor in Nassau restored by the super-luxury One & Only hotel group, you may choose to hold something more special than a typical seaside party. The Ocean Club Bahamas also features a 12th century Augustinian cloister and exquisite a Versailles-inspired garden – both excellent wedding nuptial venues and able to accommodate up to 120 guests. Exchange vows under the dramatic arches of the sunbaked ancient cloister, which sits atop the Versailles Garden, then adjourn to your dinner reception in a large white tent pitched within the romantic manicured grounds showcasing an eight-tier terrace leading to a sparkling pool. From staging spectacular firework shows, flying in celebrity performers to transforming the Versailles Gardens into a mini golf putting green for a cocktail reception, onsite Celebrations Specialists will grant your every wish. Even if it involves procuring gowns or customising a menu by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten – consider it done. Lavish opulence aside, Ocean Club celebrates the little things in life with surprise gifts throughout a couple’s stay. Other treats you will enjoy here include romantic turndowns, exhilarating watersports, and relaxing treatments at the Ocean Club Balinese spa. A recent partnership with renowned wedding planners, Weddings and the City, has also produced a look book featuring a variety of interesting venue design options for prospective couples.
Banyan Tree Ringha
Located in the tranquil snow-capped mountains of Shangri-La in Tibet, Banyan Tree Ringha offers perhaps one of the most meditative and spiritual wedding experiences in the world. The stresses of planning a destination wedding will be reduced to piffling obscurity here, at 3,200 metres above sea level. Begin the day with a traditional ceremony, where you’ll be draped in Tibetan costume, to pay respects to the Stupa, a revered Tibetan spiritual monument. Head for a calming spa treatment at the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa afterwards. Once you're rejuvenated, it’s time for a Tibetan Betrothal Tea Ceremony with your elders, followed by a Shudugang Cocktail Party by the Shudugang River. Here, enjoy a folksong and dance ceremony performed by local villagers before starring in a grand Tibetan wedding dinner. Local cuisine such as Shangri-La trout and Tibetan Yak butter tea, a lama’s blessing and the ritual of horseback riding are just some of the exotic highlights. Finally, retreat to your bespoke bridal suite with relaxing music and essential oils that have been specially formulated to evoke romance and inner peace. Banyan Tree Ringha offers the Tibetan House, which can host 35 to 50 guests, or a wonderfully rustic courtyard, which can seat 50 to 90 guests. A videographer, Tibetan wedding certificate and bespoke venue decorations are also included. For the rest of your stay, go on a Spirit of Shangri-La tour to the picturesque countryside and mountains with your own personal guide.
Masseria Torre Coccaro
Puglia, the shapely heel of southern Italy, is the olive oil and pasta capital of Europe and the Italians’ best-kept secret. Eclipsed by the bright lights and over-the-top monuments of Venice, Florence and Rome, this Mediterranean coastal region flaunts a sumptuous medley of Baroque churches, whitewashed villages, traditional conical dwellings (called trulli), the finest country cuisine, gorgeous beaches and the kindest villagers. For a lively Godfather-style wedding, look no further than Masseria Torre Coccaro. Previously a farm and fortress founded half a millennium ago, the charming hotel is situated between groves of 1,000 years old olive trees and the arresting Adriatic coast. A nuptial celebration here involves cool aperitifs by the pool; guests dancing the Tarantella (fast-paced folk dance) to the tunes of a Taranto band in the background; and a feast of the freshest Apulian antipasti and firewood pizza at the old square. But this being Italy, the party surely does not end here. The festivities continue with dinner at Sala Franciolo, a rock cavern dining hall, with the traditional cake-cutting ceremony back at the old square where music and crackling flames will accompany the bridal posse deep into the night. Masseria Torre Coccaro can accommodate up to 120 guests for a wedding at the old square, while a modern beach party at its Coccaro beach club can house over 280 guests. Continue your honeymoon here, of course, and remember to visit the local wineries and olive gardens or even attend a Serie A football match.
Cidade de Goa
For lovebirds seeking a tropical nirvana with a twist, the Cidade de Goa should be at the top of their list. The property in the colonial Portuguese western Indian state boasts 16 hectares of lush greenery flanked by an ivory white beach, exotic Portuguese flamingo-pink architecture and interiors, and legendary Goan hospitality. Breathtaking scenery aside, Cidade de Goa’s wedding planners are on hand to whisk you right into a technicolour Indian wedding of stunning saris and uplifting music. In the spirit of traditional Indian customs, pre-wedding proceedings at Cicade de Goa host up to 200 guests and are no small affairs. Along with relatives and friends on the first day, you will be treated to an intimate Mehendi hand- and feet-painting session, with entertainment provided by a local folk band. The next evening, party and drink to your heart's content at your own sangeet, which is the Indian version of a hen party (the men het a bachelor do, too). The following day, recharge with a rejuvenating spa session before the wedding ceremony, which is held in a flower-bedecked mandap set against the beautiful Arabian Sea. The newlyweds can choose to perform either four or seven pheras (vows) around the fire, an act believed to bring them closer in blessings and devotion. Dinner is then served by the award-winning Alfama restaurant before the grand hurrah of more dance and song.
The Snow Village in Iceland is one of the most ethereal, temporal structures in the world, and if you’ve entertained fantasies of being a princess in a faraway land, this could very well be the fairytale wedding of your dreams. Made entirely of ice, the SnowHotel and ice chapel last about five months every year before a new structure (the designs varies from year to year) is built come winter in November. A dedicated onsite wedding coordinator can arrange for a snowmobile or a husky or reindeer sleigh to serve as your bridal cavalcade. The wedding ceremony takes place at the ice chapel, a sculptural marvel capable of seating 60 guests. The space within boasts elegant craftsmanship and Scandinavian minimalism, but for weddings, it is decorated with a tasteful combination of lilies, soft reindeer skin and glowing candles. The chilly temperatures of -2 to -5°C in the hotel and chapel also means ditching the conventional lace and tulle wedding gown for a custom-made winter gown with matching boots instead. After the ceremony, continue the festivities at the beautiful ice bar next door, which can be transformed into a disco igloo serving food and drinks. Finally, behold your very own fireworks show over the brilliant night sky, then retreat into your ice dome suite.
Imagine getting married in a scene right out of a pretty Japanese woodblock print – and you more or less have an idea of what a wedding at Asaba would be like. Located in the tranquil onsen village of Shuzenji in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture, this heritage ryokan is a two-hour train ride out of Tokyo. Generations of Asabas have been hosting guests since the 1500s at the property, which is just minutes from the Katsura River where Kobo Daishi, the founder of Japanese Buddhism, was believed to have bathed every morning. A traditional Japanese wedding at Asaba begins with the ferrying of the bride and her father across a willow tree-lined lagoon on a wooden boat, the act of which symbolises the crossing of a “virgin road”. Their arrival will be greeted by a Shinto priest and guests on a floating cypress wood stage. The solemnisation is quiet and austere, but is followed by a classical Japanese performance and the serving of Dom Perignon and other aperitifs. Asaba could arrange for your bespoke kimono and floral decorations, but you may use your own wedding planner if you like. One of the special offerings here is classical kaiseki cuisine, including a celebratory sea bass, prepared by the celebrated house chef. The ryokan accommodates anywhere from two to a maximum of 60 guests, and should you book the entire inn, you are entitled to its 19 tatami rooms. In addition to the wedding itself, highlights include a soak in the onsen or an unhurried stroll in the scenic countryside and old temples.