Planning a wedding is serious business, with the process often beginning before there’s even a wedding to plan. It must be memorable, they say; it must be spectacular, unforgettable. That requires hard work. The first of the five W’s is obviously the Who. But once you have a prospective bride and groom begins the process of deciding the Where. Getting married in the bride’s city continues to be the most common option, but there are others who step out of their home cities to combine the very best parts of a vacation with the very best parts of a wedding — a vacation wedding or… a destination wedding. From the palaces of Udaipur to the scenic backwaters in Kerala, the options are endless. We offer a few of our favourite destinations — both in India and on international waters — to help you decide your venue.
The Royal Wedding
The palaces across Rajasthan are the most obvious association you’d make on hearing of a destination, and with good reason. These palaces offer their regal structures and grandeur to enhance the experience of a traditional wedding. The Lake Palace in Udaipur provides a majestic setup along with the scenic backdrop of the vast expanse of the lake, while organising a wedding at the Raj Palace in the Pink City (Jaipur) is also a much sought-after option, as is the Neemrana Fort. These are busy destinations, so one must keep in mind that they will require lots of proactive groundwork. Bookings of rooms and other arrangements may need to be made even a year in advance thanks to the popularity of these venues.
Alternatives to the bustling city wedding — while still retaining the majesty of a grand wedding in Rajasthan — are the divine land of Pushkar or the sun-kissed havelis of the mighty deserts in Jaisalmer.
The Beach Wedding
Wouldn’t the soothing breeze of the sea be the perfect antidote to the pre-wedding palpitations that usually go hand in hand with excitement? Beach weddings are a relatively new but very, very popular concept, most of them unfolding in Goa. Setting up the entire thing on white sand beaches as the ocean shimmers at the back, and the golden sun floods the horizon, sounds irresistable (not to mention fun). Calangute, Baga, Palolem and Colva beaches have emerged as the top contenders among wedding destinations in Goa. If you are looking to take a break from the usual, Kerala is another great option for water-side weddings. With a glut of beaches in the state, such as Kovalam, famous for its endless expanse of sugar-white sandy shores and sparkling waters, or the beautiful Varkala, overlooking a mountain cliff.
The intimacy of smaller weddings feels even more pronounced at, say, Havelock Island in the Andamans, a long but worthwhile journey. Or you could host a pristine temple wedding at a in the highlands of Himachal, with Shimla and Munnar being suitable options.
The Intimate Wedding
The turnout at a wedding seems to matter quite a bit for many families, equated as it is with social status and affluence. But there are enough people who’d much rather host a close-knit wedding with only their immediate family and close friends. The intimacy of smaller weddings feels even more pronounced at, say, Havelock Island in the Andamans, a long but worthwhile journey. Or you could host a pristine temple wedding at a in the highlands of Himachal, with Shimla and Munnar being suitable options. A limited guestlist at a cosy (or chilly) getaway allows for personal attention and participation from all the people, naturally leading to a cherished experience with bonding over ceremonies, an air of relaxed happiness and, as importantly, no (or very little) chaos.
The Wild Wedding
For nature lovers, there’s always the option of pitching fancy tents in a jungle or a national park to host a wedding in the wild. The Taj has properties in the Kanha National Park and the Bhandhavgarh National Park, situated within the reserved forests, offering lush green surroundings and a quiet venue. Other interesting options include the Corbett Hideway by Leisure Hotels at the Corbett National Park or the Fern Gir Forest resort at the Gir National Park. With an abundance of natural streams, wildlife and a crazy variety of flora, a wedding in the wild may seem like an outrageous idea, but it’s also just as exciting, and very much doable. Just make sure your menu doesn’t involve aromatic dishes, unless you want to tie the knot in the company of leopards and tigers popping by to see what’s up.
The International Wedding
Once the domain only of wild bachelor parties, Bangkok or Amsterdam have, in recent times, become hotspots on the wedding map as well. The ever-increasing budgets that enable individuals to conceptualise weddings at overseas destinations is one obvious reason for the shift. You have the traditional sights of Sri Lanka, the cultural sensibility of Istanbul or the quiet and unspoiled backdrops of Greece, all of which are are gaining popularity as international wedding destinations. The Philippines, Bali, Monaco and Mauritius also see a lot of Indian weddings.
The Adventure Wedding
Exchanging vows on a hot-air balloon in Kenya or under water in Krabi Island sounds extreme. But it might be exactly what you might need, especially if you’re looking for that extra rush of adrenaline. For now, these adventurous innovations are more popular for pre-wedding shoots, owing to the impossibility of carrying out cumbersome Indian traditions in such a setting. But one could always go a step further and change the nature of the traditions themselves to fit the scenario. Throw in a couple of themed bachelor parties, choose a wacky dress-code, create a story that’ll be repeated for years to come.