Among the Reefs, Ruins, and Rainforests, "I Thee Wed"

Brides and grooms are increasingly and “wildly” interested in experiencing new horizons in Central America, where Costa Rica and Belize are the destination wedding favorites.

kanantik reef & jungle resortThere may be a certain cache to getting married four miles from the world’s only Jaguar Reserve, and when out for a tour, newlyweds may even spot the big cat, but there will be other special memories for those getting married atKanantik Reef & Jungle Resort, located in Hopkins Village, Belize. This is a secluded and beautiful place, surrounded by 300 acres of pristine jungle. The luxury lodge treats its guest to hexagonal, thatch-roofed cabins with king-size beds, showers built of smooth river stones, and baths with stylish Italian fixtures. The owner is Italian and maintains a top-notch chef who creatively oversees the all-inclusive meal features. Resort amenities include a pool, jacuzzi, free use of kayaks and hobie cats, and a full-service dive operation. Kanantik makes taking the big step easy, lovely and fun with its 7-night Romantic Beachfront Wedding and Honeymoon package, which includes all wedding arrangements (from marriage license to wedding cake). The honeymoon bit includes roundtrip air ticket between Belize Airport and Kanantik’s private airstrip (Friday through Monday only); welcome cocktail; accommodations in a beachside cabana with king-size, four-poster bed; flowers, flowers and more flowers; candlelight dinner by the sea, full meal plan; three tours—Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve, snorkeling on the Barrier Reef, and a full-day tour to the Xunantunich Mayan ruins; and laundry service. The cost per couple is $5,730.

lodge at chaa creek For delivering a luxury jungle experience on a 365-acre reserve in the highlands of Belize, the Lodge at Chaa Creek, located near San Ignacio, deserves its many awards. Guests sleep in palm-thatched cottages, enjoy Spa-time treatments promoting health and well-being, and chill out over exotic cocktails. A beautiful river meanders by, monkeys peer out from the trees, and Mayan ruins and rainforests wait to be explored. Chaa Creek welcomes couples to tie the knot right here and stay on to honeymoon. Three 5-night packages are available, reflecting three distinctly romantic wedding choices: the Rainforest Wedding Vacation package, officiated in the spa gardens, the butterfly hill overlooking the Macal River Valley or other lovely garden options; the Maya Wedding Vacation package, with the wedding held at the nearby Mayan temple ceremonial sites of Xunantunich, Cahal Pech or Chaa Creek’s non-excavated site; and the Butterfly Wedding Vacation package, officiated at the spa gardens or butterfly hill, with Blue Morpho butterflies released during the ceremony. Package features include customary wedding day arrangements and trappings, including cake and photos, a bride’s day at the spa, 5-night Cottage accommodations, and all meals with a special candlelight dinner one night. Respective prices are $2,400, $2,465, $2,610 per couple, including taxes/service charges. Note: Have an online peek at the Treetop Suites, set high along the steep forested banks of the Macal River. Large, airy and elegant, these 1-bedroom accommodations come with private jacuzzi set into a large verandah—perfect for star gazing.

hotel makanda by the sea Now who but very experienced hoteliers would think of offering an Elopement package in their mix of the picture-perfect wedding options they have been delivering for years? The answer is Hotel Makanda by the Sea, secluded and surrounded by the natural beauty of Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park, whose lush rainforest by the sea creates the ideal setting for the exchange of vows. An intimate, exclusive, adults-only resort, Hotel Makanda offers 11 elegantly designed luxury villas and studios, with vaulted ceilings, minimalist decor melding Milan with Kyoto, and ocean and forest views—here, dazzling sunsets take your breath away. Beyond the villas’ Japanese gardens lies a pool suspended on the hillside, with whirlpool tub and adjoining poolside bar and grill. In these choice wedding environs, an onsite wedding planner attends to every detail, from rehearsal dinner aboard a yacht to wedding ceremonies seaside, at sunset, in the rainforest, or by the infinity pool. Both the wedding couple and their guests will appreciate the varied activities available including fishing and whitewater rafting, horseback riding and kayaking, or relaxing in a bubbling jacuzzi or on a white sand beach. When a couple decides to fly away and just get married, Hotel Makanda is ready with its 3-night Elopement package, including villa accommodations (close to 1,000 sq. ft. with all amenities), breakfast served daily in the villa, flowers and champagne in room, massage for two, wedding cake, and all legal expenses/marriage certificate filings/marriage ceremony official. The package is priced from $2,035.