When I say that I literally searched the world for the best destination for our wedding, I mean it. Thankfully, one of my most prominent hobbies during quarantine was researching locations you can get married. I find it really interesting what different markets have to offer in terms of wedding vendors. I also think it is fascinating to see how far your money can go in different places. So, when Danny and I got engaged, I wouldn't necessarily say I was starting from square one. My preliminary research helped me narrow down fairly quickly the best spot for us!
Below are the locations we considered for our destination wedding. I would lovvvee to help another bride plan at one of these fabulous places so feel free to reach out if you would like to learn more about any!
the united states
1) El Chorro, Paradise Valley, Arizona
This venue checked ALL the boxes: good views, easy for guests to get to, great weather, awesome food and beverage selections, spectacular options of local vendors...so why didn't I choose it? Well...the price :') Out of all the places we considered, El Chorro was actually one of the most expensive! The estimate for the venue, food, and beverage was about 75% of our budget, leaving no room for fun with floral, rentals, photography, and various other things that I wanted. A spectacular option if it is in your price range, but not for us!
2) Haiku Mill, Maui, Hawaii
One of the dreamiest settings I could find, this venue nailed all my modern fairytale wedding goals. Hawaii is obviously a hike to get to, but it's one of those destinations that has so much to offer for every type of traveler and is 100% worth the haul. By the time I reached out to Haiku Mill, all 2022 dates were filled, and they were not yet open for 2023 bookings. When talking to Danny about this option, he really did not want to wait until 2023 to get married - sooo onto the next one! Again, a stunning venue...I mean just look at these photos. :')
3) Tre Posti, St. Helena, California
Once upon a time, Danny lived in San Francisco and we spent MANY weekends exploring wine country. The Napa Valley area is a beautiful oasis with a lot to offer for the wedding world. There are so many vineyards, restaurants, and private estates that you can rent out for wedding festivities, such as Tre Posti! I personally loved the idea of a Napa wedding, as my family is big into wine; however, Danny's family doesn't share that same interest. Ultimately, we wanted to choose a spot that everyone would be excited for, so we decided Napa was not the best fit. If a winery wedding is in the cards for you, LMK - I have plenty other spots to share!
The Cape, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
If you would have asked me last year where I was going to get married, I would have said Cabo...without a doubt. I fell in love with the area on a recent trip, and found it to be more modern and luxurious than other parts of Mexico. Cabo has a phenomenal selection of local wedding vendors, and some super unique locations you can get married! One of the hotels we looked into was The Cape. With a ceremony overlooking the sea and a rooftop reception, you can create a truly memorable event. This was another place that checked all the boxes...the only drawback? For weddings onsite, they require the majority of your guests to fill a room block. This is a pretty typical requirement for hotel weddings, however the room rates were 3x more than other options we were looking at. Ultimately, it was a significant cost that we did not feel comfortable putting on our guests!
Flora Farms, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
Cabo is also known for having some pretty awesome farm-to-table restaurants, which is where I looked next! Flora Farms is a stunning property filled with gardens, wildlife, and some pretty spectacular food. Their event lawns are lit up to host many weddings each year. To be honest, this was probably my #2 pick and would have been so much fun. Ultimately, the deciding factor between our top choices came down to picking a venue where our guests could also stay onsite. This way, we would not need to worry about shuttling people around. Overall, this dynamic location is the best pick for a foodie who loves classic-garden vibes!
Acre, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
This next venue is actually a neighboring property of Flora Farms - but it has a VERY different vibe! I would describe Acre as a modern tropical getaway. With fun tiled floors, concrete walls, and funky lighting, Acre is one of the trendiest spots you will find in all of Cabo. I love how they utilize 3 different spaces for weddings. Picture this: you begin in the event lawn for your ceremony, with palm trees as your backdrop. Then you move to a poolside cocktail hour, followed by a reception in their mango grove. How fun is THAT? I think the only drawback to this venue was that the trendy vibe didn't align with my vision...would be perfect for a boho bride, but unfortunately that was not me!
Right around the time that Danny and I got engaged, both of our families expressed interest in planning trips to Italy. It was at the top of everyone's list, and I tried so hard to make it happen! I found various Italian Villas that can host weddings, such as Villa Oliviero, Villa Aurelia, and Villa Sabrina. Across the board, I would say that most of the places I reached out to were slow to respond, and unclear in painting an overall picture of what it would cost to host a wedding onsite. This was obviously a bummer as I wanted to make an Italian wedding happen so badly, but it is so important to find vendors who are responsive, easy to work with, and up front/transparent on their costs! Ultimately, after contacting about a dozen places, none of them excited me due to the presumed difficulty I would have planning my wedding from afar. Onto the next country :)
7Pines, Ibiza, Spain
On the evening we got engaged, Danny's brother Ryan was adamant that we should get married in Ibiza. To appease him, I did a little research on the area...and actually found a really solid option! 7Pines is a modern resort with some pretty stellar views. I could definitely picture my wedding there, and it would have been a blast. After speaking with my brother, who had traveled there way back in his college years, he convinced me that a party island would not be the best fit for my wedding. I realized I was looking for a bit more romantic setting that moved at a slower pace. You'll see what I mean next. :)
Rocabella, Santorini, Greece
If you've made it this far....congrats! After telling you about all of the wedding venues we DIDN'T choose, I am finally here to share our winner, Rocabella - a boutique hotel in Santorini, Greece. With its all-white architecture and cliffside views, aesthetically, it was the most intriguing to me. There are 3 different venues onsite that can host small, medium, and large groups - which is great because it was difficult to estimate how many people would attend our wedding! I also really liked the fact that our guests could stay onsite. There are 42 rooms at Rocabella, and the thought of basically taking over a hotel for a weekend with our closest friends and family was very exciting.I received a very prompt response to my wedding inquiry with all the information I could ask for, and more. This was something I did not get from many of the other locations I contacted outside the United States! Working with a venue coordinator that is organized and timely is truly invaluable. After researching the local industry, I found that there were plenty of great options for photographers, videographers, florists, etc. based in Athens, Greece. I felt confident that we could achieve our dream wedding here. When I received the available 2022 dates and noted there was 1 Saturday left that worked with my schedule, I jumped quickly. I knew it was meant to be, and now I just had to make sure everyone was on board with our plan! We did reach out to the soon-to-be members of our wedding party, asking them what their willingness would be to travel far for our wedding. Overall, we received a very positive response - solidifying our decision! Since booking Rocabella as our wedding venue in September, we have had an incredible time working with their team. They have gone above and beyond what a typical venue coordinator would do - connecting me with the best local vendors, and gathering pricing/availability for various products and services! After our wedding, I will definitely write a recap of my total experience with Rocabella, to share more about the planning process as well as the execution of our big day. Looking forward to October 15, 2022 in Santorini, Greece. :)