January 3, 2020
New year, new plans. If you're on the hunt for the perfect wedding venue in 2020, our destinations are home to some of the most picture-perfect places to tie the knot.
When it comes to getting hitched, we’re not too concerned with the frills and spills – we’re all about the views. Let’s kick things off in the Big Apple…
Plenty of idyllic wedding locations are on offer within New York‘s Central Park but the Conservatory Garden is by far the most popular as it’s the only formal garden in the park. Amid magnolia and lilac trees, with views of Spanish Harlem and the Upper East Side, the garden comprises six acres of 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 urbanites exchange vows 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, along with a striking 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 350 up here, but we think a more intimate seated dinner for 50–60 guests is the way to go.
Las Vegas is home to more than 50 wedding chapels, but none come with views like those on offer at the Stratosphere. The hotel’s Chapel in the Clouds 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 overlooking the twinkling lights of the Strip. Adventurous couples can also opt to get hitched 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 the Lago Di Como towards the Paris hotel’s Eiffel Tower and other Strip landmarks. 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 that sits on a 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.
A short flight from Johannesburg, and owned and beloved by our own Sir Richard Branson, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve is set amid the captivating landscape of the western Sabi Sand reserve, close to Kruger National Park. There can’t be many things more romantic than getting married deep in the heart of the African bush. 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 and 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.
Three hours east of San Francisco lie 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, which accommodates groups of up to 50, while more private affairs can be held at Washburn Point or the tiny brick Geology Hut nearby. All have extensive views towards Half Dome and the High Sierra, 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.
Weddings in the Caribbean tend to be based around a particular resort, but there’s nothing to stop you choosing somewhere more off-radar and private. The rugged south east coast of Barbados is home to some of the loveliest unspoilt beaches on the island, from Foul Bay and Crane Beach, to Ginger Bay and Harrismith Beach just further north. Around the headland from Harrismith is our destination of choice – Bottom Bay – a tropical dream of a white sand beach backed by tall cliffs and 30-foot-tall coconut palms. It’s a more dramatic and secluded setting than the popular beaches along the west coast, and if you’re really lucky you might even spot a whale or a turtle in the background of your wedding snaps.