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Sure, one couple's ideal wedding destination may be a beach, another a tropical rain forest, and other a big city, but top wedding destinations all tend to have a few things in common. A few of these common traits are:
1. Romance. Everyone's definition is somewhat different, but all of the top wedding destinations have it, be it Tuscany, Bermuda, the Canadian Rockies, or Rio de Janeiro.
2. A feeling of being somewhere special. What do the Seine in Paris, a beach in St. Barts, and a Kauai's Fern Grotto all have in common? They all have the magical feeling of adventure, of being somewhere that's decidedly different from home.
3. Easy access. Nothing kills the romance like taking three planes, a ferry, and 18 hours to get to your dream destination. Also, inaccessibility generally translates into expense. Don't expect many of your family and friends to have the time and money to join you at your remote hideaway for your wedding. Instead, choose somewhere that can be reached in six hours and no more than two planes.
Some couples dream of getting married on a far away beach, in a tropical rain forest, or in one of dozens of other exotic wedding destinations. If this is you, consider one of these favorite exotic places to get married:
1. Maldives - This chain of 1190 small islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean is a favorite of movie actors and music stars seeking privacy. The Maldives aren't particularly easy to get to from North America, but the setting and the luxury offered by the resorts there make up for any inconvenience.
2. Bora Bora - Arguably the most scenic of the Tahitian Islands, Bora Bora is known for its picturesque lagoon and its collection of resorts, most of which feature cottage on stilts over the water. Talk about romantic!
3. Costa Rica - This Central American country was a pioneer in eco-tourism. In addition to being just a short flight from Miami or Texas, Costa Rica offers long stretches of relatively undiscovered beaches on two coasts, a cloud forest, a tropical rainforest, and the big city pleasures of San Jose.
4. Scottish Highlands. Madonna got married here and so could you. This remote part of the UK is known for its many lakes, historic castles, and Scotch whisky distilleries. However, it's the rugged scenery that makes this destination a good choice for lovers.
Everywhere is romantic if you're with the one that you love. However, some locales just have that special ambiance, whether its the scenery, the friendly people, and the years of history associated with it. Below are our choices for the top romantic wedding destinations outside of the United States:
1. Tahiti. These islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean have entranced lovers and dreamers for centuries. Explorer James Cook was fascinated by them. So was the French painter Gauguin and more recently, Marlon Brando. Tahiti offers a relaxed, friendly way of life, beautiful vistas, French food and culture (albeit with a South Pacific lilt), and a variety of luxury resorts, many of which offer secluded cottages or huts.
2. Paris. Who doesn't love Paris? France's capital city offers food, fashion, flowers, history, and stunning architecture. Yes, the paperwork can be tricky. (It's best to work with a wedding planner well versed in French destination weddings or have a small, legal ceremony at home before the elaborate, overseas ritual.) The "City of Lights" offers scores of elegant sites for your wedding, from the Luxembourg Gardens to the 19th century ballroom of the Grand Hotel.
3. Niagara Falls. Don't laugh. Niagara Falls is one of the most popular wedding destinations. There's just something about all of that water. After a fallsview ceremony, head a half-hour up the Niagara River to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a restored early 19th century community with a decidedly Celtic flavor. The town also makes a good base for exploring Niagara's many wineries and for enjoying the spring, summer, and fall Shaw Theater Festival.
The old-world architecture and customs combined with gilded halls and centuries of history makes Europe a romantic spot--wherever you go. However, some cities and regions are just made for destinations weddings. Among the most popular European wedding sites are:
1. Tuscany. Ever since Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise chose a Tuscan castle in which to exchange vows, wedding couples have been rushing to this region of central Italy. Who can blame them? Tuscany has wineries, acres of rolling countryside, charming villas and farmhouses, and excellent food.
2. Paris. The "City of Lights" will always be atop the list of romantic wedding destinations. The city is beautiful year round, the food superb, and the class immeasurable.
3. Vienna. This Austrian city was the home of Hapsburg royalty for centuries. They left a legacy of gilded palaces, impressive pastry and other foods, and a soundtrack to enhance any wedding.
4. St. Tropez. On France's Mediterranean coast, this playground of the wealthy and famous has a charming yacht harbor, a string of seaside cafes, and luxury resorts on and off of the beach.
Making overseas wedding arrangements can be slightly tricky. Consider enlisting the aid of a destination wedding planner, such as those with Destination Weddings.com. They can help alleviate much of the stress of planning a European wedding and their services are free.