Bliss in Our Own Backyard

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mansion on forsythe park How much more Southern charm could we ask for—a wedding in historic Savannah and at the Victorian-Romanesque Mansion on Forsythe Park, which harks back to 1888 and looks out over Forsythe Park. The view of the park itself, with one of the city’s most magnificent fountains and live oaks draped with Spanish moss, is enough to tempt the soon-to-be-wed couple. But blushing brides will also love the building’s original oak millwork, mahogany and teak paneling and moldings, its hardwood floor and grand staircase, all complemented by contemporary and opulent interiors accentuated by over 400 pieces of original art. The piece de resistance, though, is the Marble Garden Courtyard, ideal for a lovely open-air ceremony. This AAA four-diamond, 126-room property is just perfect for celebratory moments, with classically elegant guestrooms; a restaurant serving up a Savannah-style menu; the Carriage Wine Cellar; the indulgent Poseidon Spa; and one of our favorite places in Savannah, the 700 Kitchen Cooking School, where couples can let off some steam before or after the big day with unique hands-on cooking lessons. The Mansion on Forsythe Park lets your clients make their big day as simple or as lavish as they want, with a horse-drawn carriage ride and all. A sample Intimate Wedding package starts at $3,800 for up to 10 guests, and includes overnight accommodations for the couple, a courtyard ceremony and exclusive wedding ceremony coordination, as well as a few other essentials. Regular room rates range from $159- $299.

the plaza Any bride with a sense of flair will go gaga over The Plaza—where Eloise was “born,” Truman Capote threw his decadent Black & White ball, and over which, more recently, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson had a cat fight in the “Bride Wars.” This Fairmont-managed property drips with history—102 years, in fact—and luxury—it recently garnered AAA five-diamond status—and it is not made for the meek bride. Think the grandest of Grand Ballrooms—it’s a New York City landmark that retains the neo-classic decor of its original design with elaborate chandeliers, balconies with curved railings and stunning murals. Another onsite hotspot for weddings is the Terrace Room, with Italian renaissance-style figural paintings adorning the ceiling, and crystal chandeliers made by Charles Winston (brother of jeweler Harry). The hotel’s wedding department promises that it attends to every detail as if it were the most important wedding ever held. The wedding packages, of course, spare no detail—from the hotel’s signature wedding cake to a separate dressing room for the bride, as well as a pre-wedding personal training session. The hotel’s 282 guestrooms, meanwhile, including the 102 suites, are done up in Louis XV-style decor, and we highly recommend the newlyweds spend their first night as a married couple in one of the Terrace Suites, measuring 1,500 sq. ft. and with views of the city skyline. And in the spirit of Eloise, exploring this property is a given—with the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, featuring an 800-sq.-ft. wine lounge; the Champagne Bar; and afternoon tea at the Palm Court. Terrace Suite rates start at $2,425 per night.

inn and spa at loretto With its direct access to a Gothic-inspired chapel—dating back to 1878 and modeled after Paris’ Sainte-Chapelle—and its Elopement package, the Inn and Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico, knows how to take the heavy price tag off a wedding—rates for the package start at $350—without making the big day any less grand. The Loretto Chapel, featuring dramatic 19th century wooden doors, 150-year-old stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings, and a spiral staircase, is enough to lure couples to this southwestern state, but the 134-room Inn itself is no less of a gem. Here, an authentic Santa Fe decor and ambiance welcomes couples with high-beamed ceilings, kiva fireplaces and accommodations done up in hues of deep terracotta red, Navajo gold, black and white—commonly used in Anasazi pottery and blankets—all complemented by soft lighting and flickering candles, as well as views of the inspiring Sangre de Cristo Mountains, lavender-scented gardens, or chapel. A must is a Native American-inspired spa treatment in The Spa at Loretto’s couple’s suite, and cultural hounds will love exploring Santa Fe’s famed art galleries. The Elopement package includes overnight accommodations, as well as a 20 percent discount at The Spa at Loretto, the Luminaria restaurant or in-room dining, full wedding planning services (although cost for items such as wedding cake are not included), and other delights. And those couples not opting for a chapel wedding, can choose to say “I do” on the mountain-view rooftop terrace, the garden or the Living Room lounge.

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