For better or worse: wedding destinations with a difference

Kim Wildman
Empire State Building

Maybe you do, but I don't! Unusual wedding venues explored.

Valentine's Day may start out with chocolates and roses, but most romantics hope it will end with a walk down the wedding aisle. While many couples long for a traditional white wedding, with so many unique and tantalising options available around the world, more and more couples are eager to skip the fuss and jump right into the fun. So if you're looking for somewhere truly memorable to get married, here are a few of our favourites.

At the top of the Empire State

Take your love to new heights and say "I do" at the top of New York's proudest symbol — the Empire State Building. Each year on Valentine's Day 14 lucky couples are married on the 80th floor of this world famous landmark, each automatically become members of the Empire State Wedding Club, with free entry every Valentine's Day. Since 1994 some 200 love-struck couples have made their union an 'affair to remember' by making their wedding vows on Valentine's Day at the Empire State. If you want to be in the running next year, you need to apply in writing by November 30.

A reindeer farm in Lapland

If celebrating your nuptials in the middle of an Arctic winter surrounded by Santa's reindeer sounds appealing, then head to Hotel Kakslauttanen in Finnish Lapland where you'll be whisked through a snow-covered forest by a team of huskies to a special service on a reindeer farm. Afterwards, you can get up-close-and-personal with the reindeer or kick-start newlywed life by taking another plunge — this time into the icy cold waters of the lake at the nearby Igloo Village. It's then a brief dash to the smoked sauna to warm up before slipping into an arctic-ready sleeping bag in your honeymoon snow igloo.

Underwater on the Great Barrier Reef

How deep is your love? On Australia's magnificent Great Barrier Reef happy couples are lining up to dive in and answer this question with an underwater wedding. The whole wedding, from the exchanging of rings and vows (said with the aid of a special underwater communication device) to the signing of a waterproof marriage certificate, is all performed underwater amid a wonderland of breathtakingly beautiful coral reefs. With schools of tropical fish as your guests, this is one wedding that certainly brings new meaning to taking the plunge.

Swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas

With its pristine white beaches and stunning turquoise waters, the Bahamas has long been a popular choice for weddings. But if you don't mind getting wet, skip the idyllic beach setting and share your love and kisses with the dolphins. While the ceremony takes place on a floating platform, the highlight is the presentation of the rings by the dolphins. Afterwards, the entire life-jacketed bridal party is then invited to join you as you celebrate your betrothal by swimming with the dolphins.

In an Inca chapel in Ecuador

For an off-the-beaten-track wedding, you can't beat the Inca chapel at the Hacienda San Agustin de Callo in Ecuador. Located in the foothills of Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world, San Agustin offers one of the most unusual and spectacular settings for a wedding. Built on the site of an ancient Inca Palace, this one-time Augustinian convent was once owned by former Ecuadorian president General Leonidas Plaza Gutierrez. Surrounded by the perfectly carved Inca volcanic stone walls of the chapel you can declare your love then spend your first matrimonial night together in Inca House, with its Spanish courtyard and warm, romantic atmosphere.

Atop an elephant in Bali

From a traditional Balinese wedding to getting hitched on a yacht there are number of unique wedding options available in Bali. The most fantastic option, however, would have to be exchanging your vows atop an elaborately decorated Sumatran elephant at the Elephant Safari Park in Taro. After the ceremony, the newlywed couple, dressed in full ceremonial attire, are escorted on a 20-minute elephant ride around the park by four Balinese flower girls and two umbrella boys while Rindik musicians play.

Floating in a balloon in New Zealand

Just imagine — it's sunrise and you're wafting peacefully through the clouds in a hot-air balloon toasting the dawn of your new life together by saying "I do" 30,000 feet above the earth's surface. If you're looking for somewhere unusual to set your love afloat, Canterbury on the south island of New Zealand is guaranteed to fulfil your wedding dreams. There is no other place in the world where it is possible to fly from the centre of the city toward snow-capped mountains all within view of the early morning sun as slowly it inches its way above the ocean's horizon. It's an experience that'll be forever ingrained in your memory.

Be sure to check out our photo gallery of the craziest 'I do' spots by clicking here:

Where's the craziest place you've heard of a couple getting hitched? Tell us about it.

User comments
My wife and i decided to spend the 40k on trip around the world instead of a wedding but we planned to be in Paris for Valentines day so we found online a wedding planner in Paris who organised our wedding car, flowers (as per pictures we emailed) an english speaking celebrant, photographer and tickets for the Eiffel Tower. My wife's dress was made of crushed silk so it travelled well. Not including the dress the wedding cost us about 5k and now we have awesome photos of us up the Eiffel Tower, Notre dame etc. We did not have family or friends there because we saw the day as being about us and we did not want to spend big bucks on everybody else while we were stressing they were having a good time. 3 years later we do not regret doing this and most peole we speak to wish they did it that way too!

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