A Travel Expert's Top DestinationsWords by Eva LaRue
Photos courtesy of Eva LaRue
I’m a self-professed travel junky, so it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m a big fan of destination weddings! The perks? First, you can invite everyone with impunity! You know, your boss and associates or those super distant relatives you haven’t seen since your first birthday, but your mom is afraid of insulting if you don’t include? Well, here’s the best part, if you have a destination wedding, you can invite your brains out and only the people who really love you will come! It’s a fantastic self-wedding process. Not to mention, how exciting it is to travel with everyone you adore, making life long amazing memories?
All of my top destination wedding spots double as perfect honeymoon getaways. I’m going to go out on a limb and push outside the box since you don’t need me to tell you about all the fantastic but overly written about spots in Mexico or the California vineyards.
Four Season’s Tented Elephant Camp Golden Triangle or Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp, Chang Rai, Thailand
Sleep in one of the 18 gorgeous, tented accommodations with every possible luxury amenity at the Four Season's Tented Elephant Camp Golden Triangle. After spending the day interacting and learning to ride one of their magnificent elephants through the jungle, go into the Mekong River for more playtime and a bath. The Anantara Golden is a larger resort with 80 lovely rooms, set amongst lush-green rice paddies.
Nearby excursions from the property are a day visit to the famed “Long Neck” hill tribe, and a trip to the larger city of Chang Mai to visit the Tiger Refuge. Weddings here are extravagantly magical and exotic, replete with riding beautifully decorated elephants to the ceremony on the highest spot in the valley overlooking three countries where you can have a ceremony that includes a traditional Buddhist monks blessing.
Add on nearby Siem Reap, Cambodia to your Thailand itinerary.
Less than an hour flight from Bangkok, the World Unesco site of Angkor Wat and the amazing, Lara Croft-like jungle temples are an absolute must see! Take a helicopter ride to the otherwise unreachable, more remote jungle temples, for a picnic and exploring.
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana
For glamping at its finest! Your choice to stay in designer, river front tents with private in-suite bathrooms, stocked with all your favorite complimentary snacks and wines or in one of their beautiful log homes. At The Ranch at Rock Creek, there are tons of activities to keep everyone on your trip more than thrilled! Everything from cattle drives, blue ribbon fishing and archery to ropes courses, skeet and clay shooting, rodeo’s, barn dances and more! Nuptial highlights; If you choose a meadow wedding in front of the lake, they will release 100 head of horses to run through the background as you seal the deal with a kiss—It’s a truly spectacular sight!
Bora Bora, Tahiti
Any of the luxury resorts here are sure to match your interests! Bora Bora is arguably the most beautiful island in the world, housing some of planets most famous beaches. It could easily be described as the center of the romantic universe, where luxury resorts and spas dot the seemingly illuminated turquoise lagoon with overwater bungalows, thatched roof villas and enchanting ambience.
Unbelievable snorkeling in coral gardens, fishing trips that end with your captain cooking your catch on a private beach for lunch, and don’t miss the opportunity to feed and swim with the manta rays and nurse sharks—it’s safe, they’re docile and don’t bite, but you’ll sound like you were living on the edge when you repeat the tale!
Four Season’s Manele Resort and Four Season’s Lodge at Koele, Lanai
Love Hawaii, but don’t love crowds? Lanai is the least touristy of the Hawaiian Islands, with two phenomenal properties offering Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus golf courses, and incredible activities. Sitting on a gorgeous white sand beach in a protected bay is the Four Seasons Resort Lanai. The Lodge at Koele has a unique, country manor feel, complete with a lacy gazebo perched perfectly in front of the resorts lake. Walk through a bamboo forest to a tiny island, perfect for "I do’s,” with a natural waterfall as a backdrop. For a welcome gathering, rehearsal party or reception, opt for amazing gourmet picnic baskets for each guest set out on blankets and pillows near the lake.
Giraffe Manor in Kenya, Kleins Camp & Kirawira Luxury Camp, Tanzania and Londolozi, South Africa
I absolutely adore Africa and can’t get enough of it. No photo or video can accurately depict the overwhelming feeling of being there—it just changes your molecules! The service, the food, the animals, the experiences, the rush. There is just nothing like it in the world. Wouldn’t really choose it for a destination wedding (though I have friends that have), it might just prove to be a logistical nightmare. But man, what a honeymoon!
Giraffe Manor would be my first stop, where these beautiful, towering animals stroll in every morning and evening looking for a treat. You literally share breakfast with a giraffe who has just poked his head through your bedroom window or through the dining room door!
From there I would head on to the view the great migration on the Serengeti in Tanzania. Klein’s Camp or the luxurious Kirawira Serena Camp would be my choice, and I highly recommend spending a day visiting the beautiful Maasai people in their village and learning about their culture and way of life!
If you are only going to hit one spot, then I’d have to go with Londolozi. It's a gorgeous, privately owned safari camp outside of Krueger National Park in South Africa, that provides an experience so enchanting that you will literally grieve when you leave!
Important Travel Tip: Wherever you decide to stay in Africa, make sure the camp/resort is on a private land concession. If it’s inside a national park, the game viewing is severely restricted because the drivers are not allowed to go off-road for up-close encounters.
And, what could possibly be better than getting one of these trips for free? Luckily, most great travel agencies have wedding registries, making it a very real possibility. Thus, providing the opportunity to begin your lives together with all the joyousness and magic of adventurous hearts.
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