February 14, 2012
We all know what day it is today, and if you’re lucky enough to receive a (wanted) Valentine’s Day proposal, then you might be on the hunt for the perfect wedding venue in the not too distant future. Here at vtravelled, we’re not too concerned with the frills and spills – we’re all about the views. So here’s our pick of some of the most picture-perfect places to tie the knot in and around our destinations…
There are plenty of idyllic wedding locations within Central Park but the Conservatory Garden is by far the most popular as it’s the only formal garden in the park. With views of Spanish Harlem and the Upper East Side beyond the magnolia and lilac trees, the garden comprises six acres of beautiful seasonal plants divided into three styles: Italian, French and English. Spring weddings are popular in the French garden where tulips bloom in abundance but the clever planting offers something special throughout the year. The garden is located at Fifth Avenue and 105th Street and a wedding permit is required.
Over on the other side of the park, hip young things may want to get hitched at the Upper West Side’s Empire Hotel on West 63rd Street, where the fantastic rooftop has sweeping views over Broadway and the Lincoln Center, not to mention a genuinely cool backdrop for your wedding photos; the hotel’s original neon sign. If you don’t mind standing, you can have a reception for more than 400 up here, but we think a more intimate seated dinner for 50 – 60 guests is the way to go.
The Stratosphere hotel’s Chapel in the Clouds actually comprises two modern chapels; Bella Luna Salon for small weddings of up to 20 guests and Bella Vista Chapel for groups of up to 90. Both are located on the 103rd floor of this Las Vegas landmark, with panoramic windows over the twinkling lights of the Strip. Extra-adventurous couples could even opt to tie the knot on the tower’s indoor or outdoor observation deck, or if you’re particularly crazy you could choose the private balcony on Level 112, where you’ll be able to hop directly into one of the Stratosphere’s thrill rides after saying ‘I do’.
Back on firm ground and altogether more sedate, the luxurious Bellagio offers weddings on the elegant Terrazza Di Sogno with views over its very own Lago Di Como to the Paris hotel’s Eiffel Tower and other famous buildings of the Las Vegas Strip. For a memorable finale to the ceremony, the lake’s famous fountains – one of the best free sights in Las Vegas– will soar into the air just for you at the very moment you share your first kiss as a married couple. Weddings on the terrazza can accommodate up to 34 guests.
The Cliff House is a famous restaurant which sits on the headland just north of Ocean Beach on the western edge of San Francisco, overlooking the rocky shoreline and the ruins of the Sutro Baths. It has been one of the city’s landmark buildings since 1858, although it’s been through a number of incarnations since then including a complete rebuild after it was burned to the ground in 1907. The restaurant’s Terrace Room has floor-to-ceiling windows and access to a private outdoor verandah, making it the perfect location for an unforgettable Pacific sunset ceremony.
Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are located in the world’s most famous harbour, just behind the Opera House. Within the gardens, there are a number of selected wedding lawns to choose from, all of which have outstanding views of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with speciality gardens including the intriguingly-named Succulent Garden and the sunken Pioneer Garden. Alternatively, if you don’t want to risk getting caught out by one of Sydney’s famous rainstorms, err on the side of caution and opt for one of the historic garden pavilions.
Owned by our very own Richard Branson, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve is set amidst the captivating landscape of the western Sabi Sand reserve, close to Kruger National Park in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province. There can’t be many things more romantic than getting married deep in the heart of the African bush, and at Ulusaba your ceremony will be announced by the beat of African drums and take place underneath an Amarula tree, illuminated by flaming bamboo torches. To top things off in style, treat yourselves to a helicopter flight through the Blyde River Canyon to take in the beauty of God’s Window, followed by a cosy picnic for two. You won’t want to leave, so you might as well stay on for your honeymoon too.
There can’t be many places more beautiful (and windy) to get hitched than at the top of Table Mountain. With various gusty overlooks, you can take a cable car ride to the top and make your vows against a backdrop of central Cape Town and the jutting peak of Lion’s Head, or in front of the glorious, golden curve of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. Either way, you’ll certainly get some dramatic shots of the big day, especially if you arrive in time for sunset or when the mountain’s famous cloudy ‘tablecloth’ is rolling in.
There are a number of wedding locations within Yosemite National Park but we think Glacier Point is hard to beat. OK, so it’s not possible to get married here all year round because of the annual closure of the Glacier Point Road, and you can’t have your ceremony in July or August either. But if you can get your timings right, this is simply one of the most awe-inspiring venues on earth. Larger events take place at the atmospheric stone amphitheatre where groups of up to 50 can be accommodated, while more private affairs can be held at Washburn Point or the tiny brick Geology Hut nearby. All have extensive views across the High Sierra and Half Dome beyond, and if you can’t bear to leave afterwards you can stay overnight in one of the High Sierra Camps… not a bad way to wake up to your first day of married life.
For flights to all of the above destinations, log on to www.virginatlantic.com. If you want help arranging the perfect wedding, including the Stratosphere and Bellagio Las Vegas, Table Mountain or Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, the Central Park Conservatory Garden in New York and a range of Caribbean beaches, then visit Virgin Holidays Weddings.