BCME Luxury Destination Wedding Inspiration
“Gone are the days of massive weddings with hundreds of guests. In today’s experiential landscape, couples are seeking more intimate weddings in unchartered territories that create unique memories with their closest friends and families,” says Lauren Grech, CEO and Co-Founder of LLG Events, an international event management and design firm specializing in luxury destination weddings and experiential events in New York City and worldwide. We connected with Lauren to develop a curated list of the hottest destinations to say “I do” and incorporate unique, bucket-list experiences into your celebration for a wedding to remember. Enjoy! …
♡ ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ♡
Imagine an exclusive tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, one of the world’s largest mosques with 82 white domes, precious white marble floors and chandeliers with over 40 million Swarovski crystals (talk about luxe!). Follow that by a safari tour in the world’s largest sand desert, where you are led on camelback to a glamorous Middle Eastern-style tented site where you can relax in a romantic spa with Moroccan hammam (similar to Turkish baths) and desert rose rituals. These are just two of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that Abu Dhabi has to offer destination couples and their guests.
Abu Dhabi is more accessible than ever with an extensive list of new hotels opening. With flights from most major cities, couples can be put at ease when considering the travel experience for their guests with small children or elderly family members. Bonus points: it also ranks as the safest city in the world! Couples can pick from an array of accommodations and venues in different landscapes, all within the same country. Immerse yourself in authentic tradition and a rich representation of Emirati culture at the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, the first 5-star hotel of the region that sits nestled between a pristine stretch of white sand with luxury views and a direct glimpse at the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The St. Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi offers an exclusive experience with the largest suspended suite in the world, complete with its own in-room spa, bar, cinema, and ballroom. Yes, you read that right: you’re own private in-suite ballroom! The St. Regis Abu Dhabi is also home to the highest active helipad in the Middle East, perfect for private sunset cocktail hours, with a saxophone player providing background music to views of the UAE’s capital. For those who prefer the ultimate exclusivity (or perhaps have a fear of heights), Zaya Nurai Island can only be accessed by boat and has massive villas complete with endless sea views where you can watch dolphins frolic in the waves.
The experiences for you and your guests are also abound, from private Aston Martin racing on the Formula 1 track at Yas Marina Circuit to an evening spent in a local Emirati house learning about their hospitality, fashion, and more with The Emirati Experience.
♡ BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA ♡
From swimming with sharks and stingrays in the crystal blue waters of Bora Bora right outside your overwater bungalow, to canoeing to a private white-sand motu where you’re greeted with champagne and a French-Polynesian drum ceremony before your personalized dinner under the Tahitian sky…Bora Bora is no longer just a honeymoon destination.
Bora Bora serves beyond elopements to larger groups of friends and family, with bucket-list activities taking over the itinerary. The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora offers an array of extreme watersports for all ages, including private waverunner tours of the mainland Bora Bora, jetboarding, wakeboarding and wakesurfing. You can also snorkel through the resort’s blue lagoon and learn about adopting a piece of coral— in our opinion, the perfect (and totally sustainable) wedding favor! Instead of giving your guests something to take home, leave something behind in their name that will help maintain the beauty of the island for years to come. For those who can’t get enough of the tranquil turquoise waters, travelling by boat is the norm from the minute you arrive at the Bora Bora airport, so there is no shortage of breathtaking, scenic views during your celebration. Rehearsal dinners can be held on a starlit beach as the sun sets over Mount Otemanu, followed by a fire dancing show. Overwater charcuterie boards at a private island can be enjoyed as a farewell brunch for you and your guests.
With the option of private beach villas or overwater bungalows, the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora can accommodate destination weddings of all sizes, perfect for both those who have trouble cutting their guest list and couples seeking a more intimate group to celebrate with. They can also arrange tours of mainland Bora Bora where you can get a taste of the famous celebrity hide-out, Bloody Mary’s restaurant.
♡ CATSKILLS, NEW YORK ♡
While it may be an expected destination for New York City couples, LLG’s couple who married in the Catskills were both from outside mainland U.S. – with the bride being from Hawaii and the groom from Holland. One of the wedding guests even traveled in from India and their officiant was from London! They decided that New York would be the ideal middle ground for their wedding guests, but since they live in New York City, they didn’t want a cliche city wedding. The solution? Bringing New York City vendors upstate to transform a traditional barn in the Catskills into a unique, chic, fall foliage wedding celebration.
The bride chose a roster of vendors who had all been featured in Vogue as she used this celebrated magazine as a source of wedding inspiration. She wore a simple and elegant Carolina Herrera wedding dress with Christian Louboutin shoes and later changed into a couture Emilia Wickstead gown. Using her love for Great Expectations as inspiration, the bride requested black tie attire for the evening and dark green silk dresses for her bridesmaids (her bride’s guy rocked a matching tie!). Envision guests in floor-length gowns and black tuxedos while hanging out in the lush green fields, under Edison bulbs, in the middle of the Catskills with ultimate privacy and exclusivity…The perfect destination fall celebration!
♡ SWITZERLAND ♡
The hills are alive with the sound of wedding bells! The Swiss Alps are known to be a winter wonderland with the world’s most iconic snow-capped mountains and glaciers, but the country has so much more to offer for couples who aren’t keen on the cooler climates. Fun fact: it only takes three to four hours by high speed train to travel to a new city with a completely different landscape, making it super easy and convenient for you and your guests to see multiple spots throughout the country in one weekend! Different regions of the country even speak different languages, showcasing the varied culture you’ll encounter.
Whether you envision a cosmopolitan city or peaceful setting in nature for your big day, you can enjoy the cleanliness and safety of Switzerland with whichever region you decide upon. There’s also the choice of serene versus adrenaline-pumping activities to consider for an enhanced experience. There are numerous luxury hotels and castles with abundant spa offerings, as well as thermal water and thalassotherapy experiences. And hosting the adventure capital of the world in Interlaken, couples can opt for canyoning, rafting, paragliding, and more with their closest friends and family for a bucket-list celebration.
While the country is progressive and legally recognizes same-sex marriages, allowing couples to truly make their nuptials their own, the Swiss also have their own unique wedding traditions and customs that can be incorporated for a unique experience. Their weddings revolve highly around nature and the outdoors. Trees play a significant role in their ceremonies, as Evergreens are a symbol of fertility and luck. Fresh Evergreen boughs are often laid out in the aisle for couples to take their first steps as newlyweds across the hopeful greenery. Also, when a newly-married couple first arrives in their home together, they are encouraged to plant a pine tree in their yard as another representation of fertility and hopes of their future together.
♡ BALI ♡
An oasis for all water-lovers, Bali is the perfect spot for couples who want to combine their ceremony and honeymoon with one destination trip. Another country with transformative landscapes, couples marrying in Bali can say their vows atop a cliff with the sounds of the Indian Ocean making waves against the rocks in the background. Choose to tie the knot right out of the ocean on the white sand beaches inside a natural grotto or cave lit by flame torches and tea lights or on a canoe in the middle of a quiet volcanic lake high in the mountains.
With the growth in wellness trends, the country is the perfect welcoming after a long flight. They have local priests who double as traditional healers for chakra rebalancing and energy clearings to start your wedding celebration off with pure bliss and zen. Certified yoga and meditation teachers can help you de-stress before the ceremony and reflection pools at numerous of the luxury resorts provide the perfect tranquil escape to peacefully write your personal vows to your partner.
Bali is also accepting and open to all religions. Those wishing for Western-style ceremonies can have their pick of chapels made entirely of handcrafted clear glass with views of the ocean below or a cliffside chapel adorned with white dove sculptures. Couples looking to adopt the local customs can have a traditional Balinese wedding in a Hindu temple where the brides dress in a gold and red goddess costume.