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A beach wedding -- in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexico, or other scenic spot -- is an ideal place to bend the traditional wedding dress code. You'll still want to look lovely and elegant, but you can replace the standard white, heavily-constructed gown with something a little more flowing, fun, and affordable. Here are some ideas:
1. A white or off-white sundress. This can be silk, chiffon, or even linen. All shades of white fit into the sun-drenched sand, sun, and water motif.
2. Bare feet. Three-inch heels on sand? Are you crazy? Go barefoot or wear simple strap sandals instead. Not only do heels look out-of-place in a tropical setting, but they can be downright dangerous.
3. Pareos and sarongs. Pareos are those brightly-colored, cotton wraps that can be tied in a number of different ways -- over one shoulder, above the bust line for a strapless look, or at the waist as a longish skirt. Sarongs are similar, Polynesian-style wrap dresses and skirts. Both offer a minimum of coverage and support and therefore are best suited to thin brides. Some companies even make special bridal pareos and sarongs.
4. Accessories. Keep the accessories to a minimum at a beach wedding. Why try to compete with the beauty of the bride and the beachfront setting? Use flowers as accessories, with a gardenia behind your ear or a sprig of blossoms pinned to your dress-strap.
4. For the groom. The groom doesn't have to get dressed up in a tuxedo for a beach wedding. In fact, such attire would look out of place in a seaside setting. A white linen suit or a casual white shirt over linen pants are acceptable looks. For a more formal wedding, add a white jacket.
A Hawaiian wedding mixes American culture with exotic, tropical beauty. The islands are easily accessible from the west coast of the United States, English is spoken, and you don't need a passport or visa to travel there. Hawaii also offers a wealth of dramatic wedding locales. Just a few of these are:
1. Fern Grotto on Kauai. There's a reason that Kauai is named the "Garden Isle" of Hawaii. The small, less commercial island is lush with tropical forests, flowers, and even a canyon that rivals the Grand Canyon. Kauai is also home to the fern grotto, a natural inland lagoon that has been a favorite of wedding couples for generations.
2. Waikiki Beach. Hawaii's most famous beach lines the waterfront in Honolulu. The wide expanse of white sand offers a romantic ocean view with Diamond Head peak in the background and the cityscape in the foreground. What's more: the nightlife and fine restaurants of Honolulu are just steps away.
3. Atop Mount Haleakala on Maui. Maui's inactive volcano, Mount Haleakala towers more than 10,000 feet over the beaches, golf courses, and tropical forests of Maui. Intrepid visitors rise before dawn and peddle down its slopes while enjoying the island sunrise. Wedding couples can incorporate this rugged beauty into their ceremony by planning their wedding on these same slopes.
4. On the black sand beach on the island of Hawaii. The big island of Hawaii is known for its black sand beaches, a remnant of centuries of lava flows. These dramatic sands make a spectacular setting for an island wedding.
Have you always longed for a wedding that's different from the traditional church wedding? Perhaps this is your second wedding and you want it to be unique from your first wedding ... or you're an over-forty bride who desires a small ceremony with just a few friends in attendance. If so, then an adventure wedding is for you.
Wedding adventures can be as simple or as elaborate as you desire. It can be a simple ceremony on the beach in Hawaii with just you and two witnesses or a celebration for 100 or more of your friends and family in a villa in Tuscany, complete with music, a feast of local foods, and fireworks to cap off the ceremony.
Planning a wedding adventure is easiest and less stressful if you enlist the aid of a destination wedding planner. These travel professionals have access to inside knowledge about resorts and activities. In addition, because they deal with wedding adventures on a regular basis, they are in an ideal position to learn about new resorts and pricing as soon as it becomes available. The best part of using a destination wedding planner is that their services are free to you. (They are paid by the resorts and services that they recommend.)
A Caribbean resort wedding offers a dramatic setting combined with a fun and interesting vacation for you and your wedding party and guests. Many resorts offer special all-inclusive wedding packages as well as discounts to wedding parties that stay a certain number of days after the wedding.
Resort companies, such as the 13 Sandals resorts, Club Med resorts, and the 12 SuperClub resorts, offer one-price Caribbean resort wedding packages that include all of the basic components: paperwork, the services of an officiant or clergyman, flowers for the bride and groom, a Caribbean wedding cake, and the decorated wedding site. Of course, you can add extras, such as live music, photography, and food and beverage services. Many resorts also such things as a wedding gift or breakfast in bed for the wedding couple.
Staying at a Caribbean all-inclusive resort gives your wedding guests and party something for every taste without their having to spend extra. Most all-inclusive resorts include transportation to and from the airport, accommodations, all meals, bar drinks, a variety of watersports and activities, live entertainment, taxes and tips -- all in one price.
Those planning a Caribbean resort wedding are also wise to inquire about wedding specials. Many resorts offer discounts to wedding parties of a certain size staying at least three nights after the wedding. Other resorts offer gifts to the bridal couple for staying during the off-season or booking their honeymoon in conjunction with the wedding. It pays to ask.
An outdoor wedding is romantic, scenic, and often exotic. From the Caribbean to the South Pacific, beaches, forests, and other outdoor venues offer a special alternative to the traditional church wedding. Among the top places to have an overseas, outdoor wedding are:
Tahiti. The islands of Tahiti have captivated visitors since Paul Gauguin escaped France to paint the islands' beautiful landscapes. Today, Tahiti boasts many secluded beaches and luxury resorts, such as the Bora Bora Resort with its over-water cottages. Tahiti is also known for its friendly hospitality.
Jamaica. Known for its all-inclusive resorts, picturesque beaches, "no problem, man" hospitality, and lush tropical foliage, Jamaica is a favorite of couples looking for a "one-price-covers-everything" wedding and honeymoon. Resorts vary from basic accommodations to the most luxurious, such as the Tryall Resort or Sans Souci.
Turks and Caicos. Located just southeast of South Florida, Turks and Caicos are easy to reach from the United States and remain relatively undeveloped. The six-mile beach on Providenciales is one of the most lovely in the Caribbean and that island's Grace Bay Resort offers romantic suite accommodations and a charming seaside, open-air restaurant.
Scotland. The Scottish highlands offer another sort of romantic spot for an outdoor wedding. The dramatic hills, lakes, and forests make a spectacular wedding setting. Add a bagpipe player and have the groom wear a kilt and you've got a scene worthy of "Brigadoon."
Bali. Dubbed "Paradise on Earth," the Indonesian island of Bali is a favorite of Hollywood and music stars. The tropical island combines the colorful island history and cultural arts with long stretches of white sand and a carefree attitude.
Ideas for adventure-themed weddings are limited only by your imagination (and your budget). Such weddings can be as simple as a romantic wedding on the beach in Jamaica or as exotic as a native wedding ceremony in the Amazon jungle.
To begin planning your adventure-themed wedding, brainstorm with your fiance to come up with a few ideas that reflect your tastes and interests. Are you both scuba fans? Consider an underwater wedding. Wine lovers? Perhaps a wedding in a hot-air balloon over the rolling hills of Provence is best for you. Almost any sport or interest can be transformed into a unique and memorable wedding.
Adventure weddings are best planned with the assistance of a destination wedding planner. Not only are their services free to you, but their contacts, ideas, and experience are invaluable. Because adventure weddings require coordinating a number of details, it's best to contact a wedding planner around a year in advance.