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When the Wedding Is Also the Honeymoon

In which a destination reception among friends and family — in Bora Bora, in Tasmania, in Wisconsin — gives way to a party for two.


The Four Seasons Bora Bora  

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

An overwater bungalow fantasy

The Wedding: The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora hosts two to three weddings per week, although never on the same day. A full buyout costs upward of $63,000 per night. But for those who haven’t won the Powerball, there are several nonexclusive wedding packages (starting at $2,690, plus room rates), as well as discounts for parties booking ten or more rooms. Couples here have the option to marry in a Polynesian wedding chapel, on a coral beach, or aboard a catamaran. The open-air Otemanu Pavilion, nestled between a lagoon and a garden, fits up to 125 guests for a reception. Special touches include tropical-flower crowns, Tahitian song and dance performances, cocktails served in coconut shells, and canoe transport to and from the ceremony. Traditional Polynesian pareus (wedding costumes) are also available for rental.

The Honeymoon: Book hydrating facials in the Kahaia Spa Suite, specifically designed for couples. Do yoga on a deck over­looking a crystalline lagoon and imposing Mt. Otemanu. Board a 21-foot striper or 34-foot Blackwatch and go fishing, then have your catch prepared by the chef back at the hotel. Go off-roading in a 4x4 to see thousand-year-old Tahitian temples and crumbling World War II sites. Or go nowhere and spend the day swimming in some of the clearest, bluest waters known to man.


Pumphouse Point in Tasmania  

Tasmania, Australia

A faraway lake house on a faraway island in a faraway land.

The Wedding: Yes, this is a long way to ask folks to go for your nuptials. But once everyone gets an eyeful of the enchanting Brothers Grimmsian wilderness, all will be forgiven. Located in Lake St. Clair National Park, two and a half hours from both Hobart and Launceston, Pumphouse Point offers 18 suites divided between two industrial buildings, one of which perches serenely in the middle of a lake. The spacious Shorehouse Panorama room, with its sweeping lake views, is best for couples, and the property’s 787-foot-long pier makes for a theatrical “aisle.” A full-property buyout, catering up to 36 guests, costs $42,000 and includes two nights’ accommodation, plus an extra night for the couple. (Note: Children are not permitted.) An on-site coordinator can arrange a cocktail sundowner for guests, a dinner highlighting Tasmania’s plentiful food culture, and a Champagne breakfast.

The Honeymoon: Nature walks are a big thing here — around the Derwent Basin, if you don’t want to stray too far, or along the 3.1-mile Platypus Bay Walk in Lake St. Clair National Park. Keep your eyes peeled and camera handy for encounters with wallabies, echidnas, and wombats. Farther up the road is the Wall in the Wilderness, where sculptor Greg Duncan has devoted years to carving depictions of Tassie’s Central Highlands’ history into ten-foot-tall panels of fine Huon pine. The mural is double-sided and stretches 285 feet but is still a work-in-progress. (If you’re lucky, you’ll see Duncan himself installing a panel.)


Paradise Beach in Nevis  

Nevis, West Indies

An undervisited speck in the Caribbean

The Wedding: Nevis has never been easier to reach, now that United has introduced direct flights from Newark to St. Kitts. (From SKB, your final destination is just a speedboat ride away.) What awaits the intrepid is a 36-square-mile volcanic isle dotted with candy-colored Colonial houses and more goats and monkeys than people. Six-month-old Paradise Beach features seven Balinese-style thatched-roof villas, each with multiple bedrooms, a private pool, open-air showers, and a butler on call. Weddings are low-key affairs, with rum cocktails dispatched from a thatched-roof tiki bar and local photographers and steel-pan players available for hire. A four-night, full-property buyout for up to 52 guests starts at $66,000.

The Honeymoon: Nevis is catnip for active types. Here you can scuba dive amid Leatherback turtles; bike to the stonework ruins of Cottle Church or the beloved Botanical Gardens of Nevis; catch wild barracuda, blue marlin, and wahoo on a saltwater-fishing expedition; hike to the top of the 3,232-foot Nevis Peak, passing waterfalls and lush vegetation en route; and end the day with a sunset catamaran cruise, bottle of Champagne on ice.


Hacienda Santa Rosa in the Yucatán  

Yucatán, Mexico

An elegant Mayan estate for extreme R&R

The Wedding: Hacienda Santa Rosa, a boutique Starwood property with 11 palatial, open-air guest rooms, is about a ten-minute drive to the nanoscopic village of Maxcanú and four hours from chaotic Cancún (it’s an hour drive from the Merida airport). This is a good thing. Marrieds-to-be can hole up in Casa Maya — a 650-square-foot villa with soaring ceilings, a hanging bed, and a private plunge pool — while their guests take over the hacienda kitchen for a cooking class, tour the on-site botanical garden with herbalist Don Victor, or settle in for a “Four Elements” massage in the spa and library. Ceremonies are usually held in the front garden with the hotel’s eye-popping Frida Kahlo–blue and flamingo-pink exteriors as a happy backdrop; a shamanic blessing can be performed upon request. Property buyouts start at $2,750, plus room rates.

The Honeymoon: Tempting as it is to sip gin-and-tonics by the pool all day, the peninsula rewards those who push themselves (and are willing to drive two hours or more for the best attractions). Day-trip options include snorkeling in the turquoise cenote of Yokdzonot; taking a guided tour of Grutas de Loltún, the largest dry-cave system on the Yucatán; and exploring the sacred architecture of the Chichén Itzá and Uxmal pyramids.


Butterfly Hollow in Gordonsville  

Gordonsville, Tennessee

A mountain retreat in the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau

The Wedding: The 110-year-old farmhouse at Butterfly Hollow (615-784-8551; butterflyhollow.com), an hour outside Nashville, is ideal for small weddings — as in, 25 guests or fewer. You can tie the knot in a flower garden or hillside gazebo and then take over the property’s barn for a reception. There’s a hot tub for midnight stargazing and more than 82 acres to traverse by hiking boot. Couples can hire outside vendors, but most packages are handled in-house, with the bouquet, wedding cake, and officiant all provided as part of a two-night property buyout, which costs around $3,500, plus another $1,000 for a barn reception. Couples must use outside catering.

The Honeymoon: Mountain biking, kayaking, trout fishing, and paddleboating are the choicest ways to spend your first days of newlywed bliss. There’s top-of-the-line antiquing in Gordonsville and nearby Watertown and Lebanon, and your hosts at Butterfly Hollow have already mapped the best route. Arrange a tasting at the Cellar 53 Winery; go horseback riding at Cedars of Lebanon State Park; and book a table at T.B. Sutton General Store in Granville for a traditional meat-and-three meal, soundtracked every Saturday night by a broadcast recording of the “Sutton Ole Time Music Hour.”


Hótel Búdir in Snaefellsbaer  

Snaefellsbaer, Iceland

A hinterland inn dwarfed by epic landscapes

The Wedding: You couldn’t ask for a more dramatic location for a ceremony than the grounds of Hótel Búdir, perched at the edge of Snaefellsjokull National Park in western Iceland. The 28-room B&B hosts about 20 full-property wedding buyouts per year (from $7,282). Ceremonies can be held in the middle of a lava field with the Snaefellsjokull glacier as witness; on a secluded white-sand beach; or inside Búdakirkja, a black church in the middle of nowhere that is exceedingly photogenic. Music, flowers, and other vendors are hired at the couple’s discretion, but catering is handled in-house; groups of ten or more usually go for the multicourse dinner (which can feed 80 people), heavy on lamb and fish, and brunch the following morning. In the event of a buyout, the reception lounge may be converted into a dance floor. Bonfires at the beach and late-night barbecues are also options.

The Honeymoon: Heart-pounding helicopter rides, snowmobile runs, and off-roading super-jeep safaris are the best ways to experience the Middle Earth–like Icelandic landscape; the hospitality team at Búdir can make arrangements for all. There are three golf courses near the hotel, as well as the architecturally stunning Stykkisholmskirkja church an hour to the north and the majestic Hraunfossar waterfalls a two-hour drive east.


Château de Colombières sur Orb in Languedoc  

Languedoc, France

A 16th-century country manor in the scenic south of France

The Wedding: The five gites, or stacked-stone cottages, at Château de Colombières sur Orb fit between four and eight people each, or a maximum of 36 guests overnight. (Up to 100 people can squeeze into the courtyard for an outdoor reception.) A 49-foot swimming pool and cooking classes keep guests occupied, as do a plethora of nearby wineries. Two-day weekend buyouts start at $1,789 in the low season, and the family who runs the château is more than happy to recommend local vendors, such as nearby restaurants Auberge de Combes and Ô Bontemps. They can also handle the cooking in-house (duck, foie gras, Mediterranean fish dishes), with the help of a woman who lives in the village.

The Honeymoon: Visit the hot- and cold-water spa town of Lamalou-les-Bains, less than 15 minutes away, or hike through the Gorges d’Heric in Mons and reward yourself with a cooling dip in its natural pools. Day trips to the fortified city of Carcassonne and the village of La Couvertoirade, plus a tour of the movielike Grotte de Clamouse caverns, are a must.


Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn  

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

Camp for grown-ups

The Wedding: This one is for the couple who don’t mind planning every detail themselves. (The payoff: getting lost with 50 of your BFFs in the Wisconsin sticks.) Forty-five minutes west of Milwaukee is the campground of your Girl and Boy Scout dreams. In its past lives, Camp Wandawega housed a speakeasy and a brothel. Today, the 25-acre facility includes a tree house, tepees, a log cabin and lodge, and a bunkhouse. Traditional wedding services (such as catering) are not provided, but for DIY types, the proprietors can recommend local businesses to set up a fish fry or pig roast. The grounds accommodate up to 150 attendees and as many as 50 overnight. Two-night buyouts start at $10,000.

The Honeymoon: Picture Wet Hot American Summer meets Moonrise Kingdom. You’re trying your hand at archery and shuffleboard, flinging horseshoes, canoeing across the lake or pedaling a Schwinn around it, and barbecuing Piggly Wiggly hot dogs over a grill. For off-site adventuring, couples can pick up walking trails in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest; get to know the local bikers at Elkhorn Saloon; or nab a table at the old-fashioned Mars Resort & Supper Club on Como Lake.


The Miami Beach Edition  

Miami Beach, Florida

A tropical weekend getaway that doesn’t require a passport

The Wedding: The Miami Beach Edition (786-257-4500; editionhotels.com) is Ian Schrager’s sexy new overhaul of the Seville Hotel. More than 20 weddings have been hosted here since it opened in December 2014 — and with good reason. There are 294 guest rooms and no shortage of diversions, including an outdoor movie theater and a bowling alley. Imagining a formal sit-down dinner with Latin and Caribbean flourishes? Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Matador Room delivers. For cocktail hour, choose between the whitewashed glamour of the Tropicale café or the black-walnut paneling of the Matador Bar. After the ceremony (held on La Vista Terrace), 70,000 square feet of pristine beach beckon. Packages start at $199 per person.

The Honeymoon: If you can tear yourself away from the bungalow penthouse with its marble soaking tub and private rooftop pool, there’s a gold mine of Art Deco architecture to be ogled along Ocean Drive. For more contemporary offerings, do the rounds in the Wynwood Art District, home to Wynwood Walls, an ever-evolving canvas for street artists. Newlyweds wishing to extend their honeymoon should keep an eye on CubaKat.com, an operator aiming to run three-hour catamarans between Miami and Havana. The company is still navigating red tape but hopes to launch by summer.


Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino  

Tofino, British Columbia

A wilderness refuge on rugged Vancouver Island

The Wedding: Each of the 75 guest rooms at the Wickaninnish Inn (250-725-3100; wickinn.com) is equipped with a gas fireplace and binoculars for bird-watching. But it’s the Canopy Suite — with its panoramic beach views and twin soaking tubs — that newlyweds will want to lock in. The hotel has wall-to-wall windows — all the better for taking in the landscapes. And because it’s perched at the water’s edge in the stunning Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, with towering forests to your right and a churning ocean to your left. Wedding buyouts are expensive (from $182,500), but the resort offers smaller packages starting at around $1,800. Ceremonies can be held on the Rainforest Loop hiking trail, North Chesterman Beach, or Shell Beach. Up to 50 guests can be accommodated for a sit-down dinner at the Salal Room, as well as other group activities, such as yoga and whale watching.

The Honeymoon: Slip into a neoprene wet suit to take a cold-water surfing lesson with the Bruhwiler Surf School. Or hop a seaplane to Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Provincial Marine Park and trek to a geothermal waterfall with a multilevel spring. Jump on a cultural canoe trip to learn more about the Nuu-chah-nulth, the original tribes of Tofino and Clayoquot, or join a bear-watching tour. However you spend your day outdoors, unwind in the afternoon with dual Hishuk Ish Tsawalk Awakening treatments at the Ancient Cedars Spa. The combo of seaweed exfoliation and a hot-stone massage is inspired by the traditional cleansing ceremonies of the First Nations.

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