North America

Bliss in Our Own Backyard

written by | Posted on June 1st, 2010

Couples have enough to think about when planning the big day, so a destination wedding right here in the U.S. makes total sense – there’s no worry about passport regulations, easy air connectivity is pretty much guaranteed and with its varied topography , the country offers a collection of pretty sites from beachside to hillside.

the setaiGlimmering glass tower outside, subdued Asian-inspired elegance inside—The Setai in Miami Beach is a beauty and the attention to detail and service (think airport pick-up for wedding guests) are a guarantee that nuptials here will go without a hitch. Intimacy is key at The Setai, so think small—but fantastically elegant—ceremonies ideal for chic couples (maybe more adult-centric than kid-friendly). The resort showcases its oceanfront location with a beachfront ceremony venue—here, the white sand beach and blue-hued Atlantic Ocean, as well as a flower-laced wedding arch, frame the happy couple during their “I dos.” Or, clients can opt for a penthouse wedding, or pretty much any other spot in the hotel that catches their eye. Within its coveted walls, The Setai’s Zen-like ambiance is an ideal refuge for couples with pre-wedding jitters. There’s an Asian-inspired lobby as well as 85 guestrooms and 45 suites with teak floors and dark-toned furnishings, complemented by city or ocean views and an in-room bathtub (ideal for spa treatments, too). Stolen kisses can be had at the courtyard or by one of the three pools, and don’t forget dinner at The Restaurant, where Asian cuisine is masterfully prepared. Wedding guests can enjoy the famed South Beach nightlife or luxuriate in the opulent surroundings, including the highly recommended spa. The new Wedding Ceremony and Festivities package, which includes everything from the cake to a 4-course lunch or dinner, runs $8,850 for 10 persons, $495 per additional person. Room rates start at $550.

hawks cay resort A sunset beachside wedding on a secluded 60-acre key—Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key delivers picture-perfect nuptials along the Florida Keys. Here, couples can choose from a variety of stunning indoor and outdoor settings with views of the Gulf or Atlantic Ocean, including a full-service marina, the Dolphin Connection program, Calm Waters Spa and more—think “I dos” at the oceanfront gazebo. The resort recently catered an Indian-themed wedding, so nothing is too far-fetched at Hawks Cay. In fact, here the bride and groom get their own personal wedding attendant to liaise with the hotel’s key departments to care for every need on the big day. And, while the newlyweds are off preparing for their nuptials, oh, the delights their guests will be having. Recommend clients stay for more than a couple of days as this is a wonderful resort to just kick off one’s shoes and indulge in the watersports, including diving and fishing, and the aforementioned Dolphin Connection, where one can interact with bottlenose dolphins (one experience that’s a must during a visit to the Keys). When it comes to accommodating large wedding parties, the accommodations here—a total of 402 luxurious havens—can’t be beat. Book the 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom villas set within four separate Villages. They come with complete kitchens, as well as oversize decks. Wedding packages start at $2,000 for up to four guests, with a bevy of goodies, including Hawks Cay wedding cookies. Room rates start at $149 during the summer; villas at $319.

the ritz-carlton, amelia island Imagine an island wedding without the need of a passport. At the 444-room Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, located on Florida’s northeast coast and which looks out over 13 miles of pristine beach, that’s exactly what couples will get. This is a gem of a hotel with lots to do and a bevy of wedding venues and packages. Want a Seaside wedding? No problem—they start at $475 for two guests (with up to 10 guests permitted) and include a dedicated wedding planning team. Or, one can opt for the Grand Ballroom, although more intimate ceremonies can be held on the private terrace of an oceanview suite. The special events department stresses they serve all-sized wedding parties—from romantic elopements to grand affairs—and cater to any unique experience the couple might have in mind, including an oyster roast on the beach or formal black tie. And they’ll take care of everything—from the bridal/bachelorette parties to a farewell brunch. The resort itself is a natural wonderland, offering guests a variety of excursions thanks to the island’s history and nature. One must is riding horses along the water’s edge; Amelia is one of the few places in the U.S. where this is allowed. The rooms, too, are a delight and a few to recommend for wedding parties are the coastal-view rooms, the oceanfront suites or the garden-view suite. Dining options abound, as well, although guests can’t leave without trying the chef’s adventure menu at Salt. Room rates start at $289.