Getting married far from home is becoming more and more popular, and with good reason. It's much less stressful (and often cheaper) to ship off a small group of friends and family for a mini-vacation somewhere beautiful and fun than to go through the whole rigmarole of planning a mammoth wedding at home.
But hosting a wedding in another country can lead to its own set of headaches. Besides the obvious issues (the language barrier, drastic time differences, helping your 80-year-old grandmother exchange her currency), you've got to worry about international marriage laws and finding a decent reception site in that quaint Italian village.
Romantic ambiance isn't restricted to the Old World. If you want a destination wedding, don't overlook the U.S.! These 50 states offer plenty of diversity for the beach-bound bride, outdoorsy couples who love the mountains and family members who demand superior hospitality.
Coming up are 10 fantastic destination wedding locales that can help you slash the guest list, snag a set of totally unique wedding pictures and trade all the headaches of wedding planning for a quick prelude to the honeymoon.
As far as backdrops for wedding pictures are concerned, Niagara Falls is a hard one to beat. Though it still retains its reputation as the quintessential classic honeymoon spot, the falls are also well-equipped for hosting weddings. While there are plenty of wedding venues in this part of New York, you can also get married right there on the Maid of the Mist tour boat as it travels through the appropriately named Bridal Veil Falls on its way to the main attraction.
Located in the northwest corner of Washington, the San Juans are a group of quiet, forested islands speckled with sheep pastures and sleepy hamlets. Though they've become an eco-tourist hotspot for hiking, whale-watching, kayaking and cycling, the islands themselves have only recently been developed for tourism. They retain that laid-back tranquility of island life and boast rustic Victorian chapels perfect for wedding ceremonies.
Northern California itself is a great place for a destination wedding. There are wineries, surfing, incredible food and more unspoiled wilderness than you can shake a stick at. But if you're really looking for something unique, search no further than the Redwood National Park. There, you can get married in the ancient, mystical presence of the tallest trees on Earth.
In terms of getting married in the grandeur of nature, this is about the next best thing to having the ceremony on the back of a blue whale.
Sure, you could go to Pigeon Forge for the mist-covered Smoky Mountains, world-class music venues and Dollywood (country music sweetheart Dolly Parton's very own theme park), but you'd be missing out on what really makes Pigeon Forge perfect for a destination wedding.
See, unlike most states, Tennessee doesn't require a blood test to issue a marriage license, making it an ideal spot for couples looking to blur the line between destination wedding and elopement. Just find a chapel, walk in single, and leave as bride and groom.
OK, so traditionally Hawaii is the honeymoon destination, not the wedding destination, but why not get started on the honeymoon a little early? For the ceremony, take a boat up to one of the hidden waterfalls that dot Kauai, then head back to the beach for a little post-wedding snorkeling and sun.
Kauai, the most romantic and pristine island in a chain of spectacularly romantic islands, features not only the typical Hawaiian perfect white sand beaches and coral reefs, but also gorgeous natural wonders like the starkly beautiful sheer cliffs of Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali coast.
Not all beautiful destination weddings have to be out in the middle of nowhere. Savannah is one of the prettiest cities in the U.S., and it's got all the picturesque charm and Southern hospitality you need for a perfect wedding.
There's no such thing as a bad venue here -- Savannah's historic district is covered with shady public squares, Spanish moss and cooing turtledoves, and it's hard to walk a block without running straight into an elegant antebellum mansion.
Nestled among the countless secret inlets and magnificent temperate rainforests of southeast Alaska, Juneau is one of the few places in the world where you can actually get married on the face of a glacier. Just make sure the bride's dress isn't so white that she becomes invisible.
Or, if bundling up for a wedding isn't your style, have the ceremony down along the Gastineau Channel, where you can watch for sea otters and humpback whales against the backdrop of virgin forested mountains.
Don't forget about the Caribbean! As a destination wedding spot, Puerto Rico has a vibrancy and flavor that are hard to find stateside. Plus, since Puerto Rico is officially a U.S. unincorporated territory, American citizens don't even need a passport to get there.
From beautiful 400-year-old churches to fantastic beaches, there's no shortage of unforgettable venues. And there's something for everyone -- after the wedding, guests can either relax in a hammock to watch the sun go down with mojitos in hand, or they can hit the casinos and nightclubs for a little after-hours fun.
A lot of the places on this list were chosen for their scenic beauty. And Luray, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley certainly has that in spades, what with being seated at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
But that's just above ground. Underneath are enormous limestone caverns that you can actually get married in. Who needs a wedding in some drab banquet hall when you can get married in a one-of-a-kind natural cathedral of flowstone and mirror-flawless cave pools?
For those couples looking to celebrate luxuriously but keep that rugged Western style, there's no better place than Wyoming. Start off the wedding day with a romantic sunrise hot air balloon ride for two over the Grand Tetons, then touch down for an outdoor ceremony at a secluded ranch with just enough time to watch the sun go down over the mountains.
To round out the evening, guests can take a soak in a hot springs or hit the town for a little post-wedding partying. They'll want to stick around for some back-country fishing or hiking one of the last refuges of the untamed American West.
All-inclusive resorts let you pay one price for lodging, meals and other amenities. After a stressful wedding, wouldn't it be nice to leave the honeymoon details to someone else?