Beyond Vegas -- 4 great elopement destinations
When we think of running off to exchange vows, Las Vegas is the first place that comes to mind. We're not trying to unseat it as the quickie wedding capital, but we'd like to point out that there are elopement alternatives to suit every style. If you want to skip the (expensive!) trappings of a traditional ceremony, why not consider one of these romantic sites, depending on your interest?
Where: If starlit skies and serene desert canyons sound like the perfect setting, you should go to Sedona, Arizona. Known for its mystical energy, it has long been a Native American sacred spot.
To stay: Surrounded by stunning sandstone formations, Enchantment Resort is Sedona's most elegant hideaway. Start the day with a canyon hike to see the sunrise of a lifetime.
Wedding plans: Choose from a number of breathtakingly gorgeous red-rock locations or hold the ceremony at the chapel in the Arts & Crafts Village of Tlaquepaque. An outdoor elopement ceremony starts at around $1,475.
Romance tip: Do a couples' spa session. Mii Amo offers a range of treatments to get your physical and spiritual selves aligned. Options include astrology readings, crystal therapy and deep tissue massage.
Where: You're happiest tasting vintages, talking about terroir and driving through the hills of wine country. Why not run away to Napa?
To stay: Set in a private canyon, Calistoga Ranch has an onsite vineyard and offers lovely mountain and lake views.
Wedding plans: Calistoga Ranch offers an elopement package for up to 12 guests that includes a minister, flowers and more. It starts at $3,395.
Romance tip: Biking is a great way to see Napa. Getaway Adventures offers daylong vineyard tours that cover 15 to 20 miles.
Where: Salty sea air and bracing breezes. National parks and quaint fishing villages. If a rugged coastline makes you melt, Maine (above) is your spot.
To stay: The Samoset Resort first opened in the 19th century but underwent a full-scale renovation last year. Its exclusive Flume Cottage is a 1,500-square-foot hideaway perched over Penobscot Bay.
Wedding plans: The Samoset can arrange for nuptials anywhere on the grounds, including on the Rockland Breakwater. The nearly one-mile-long granite structure leads out to a circa 1900 lighthouse.
Romance tip: Board a sunset sail departing from nearby Rockland, the schooner capital of the world. You'll see the area's famous lighthouses from the deck of an elegant windjammer.
Where: If your tastes and interests run the gamut from live music to history to amazing food, New Orleans is the place for you.
To stay: Book a suite at the centrally located Marriott. James Beard Award-winning house chef Mark Quitney is known for his personalized creations. Put in an order for breakfast in bed or chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne.
Wedding plans: Say your vows outdoors in the French Quarter. From off-the-beaten-track alleys to hidden courtyards, there are plenty of places for a small private ceremony.
Romance tip: Take a carriage ride through the Garden District and ask your driver to fill you in on the local legends. End the night at August for a truly remarkable dining experience.