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Jet-setting to the Bahamas for your big day can make for an incredibly picturesque wedding, but doing your research and springing for a locale that’s lesser-known can make for a more bespoke experience for you and your guests. Under-the-radar destinations present you with opportunities to truly celebrate like a local and immerse yourselves in the area’s culture! Our destination wedding experts share their some spots to consider in 2019.

New Orleans

What many have always considered to be Mardi Gras territory, New Orleans has become a hot spot for destination wedding couples in recent years. Emily Sullivan of Emily Sullivan Events is based in NOLA, noting that it’s the perfect go-to for couples looking to pull out all the stops for their wedding trip – especially if you’re looking for a multi-day getaway.

“The culture, food, music and overall feel of the city lend itself to a fun wedding weekend that your guests won’t soon forget. Our couples are wanting to immerse themselves and their guests in the city so we are seeing a rise in welcome parties that include crawfish boils, swamp and history tours, roaming after parties following the wedding and brunch the next morning to kick off the fun again.”

Livermore, CA

Looking for California weather and the romantic feel of wine country? Livermore, CA is for you, nestled just a half an hour away from the Bay Area, with over 40 wineries to choose from. Celebrating your love with delicious food and wine while overlooking a vineyard sunset is the perfect setting for your destination wedding.

Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards notes, “Opting for a Livermore winery is a no-brainer for couples that desire more of a hands-off destination wedding experience from start to finish. So many of the wineries are rich with family history. Wente, for example, offers full-service catering options, wine-blending and tasting classes, as well as locally-grown ingredients and hand-crafted menus. Providing a custom local experience with sights and sounds for you and your guests will make for a memorable wedding.”

St. Lucia

While the appeal of a tropical locale is undeniable, St. Lucia is the perfect choice for couples, especially those that are looking for the backdrop of white sand beaches and crystal clear waters with a smaller price tag. Megan Velez of Destination Weddings Travel Group says that this more intimate location has recently made the move toward more all-inclusive packages as opposed to its once high-end price restrictions. Meaning – this luxurious destination is accessible for you and your guests, even on a smaller budget.

“Hands down, this is the spot for any couple wanting an intimate destination for their big day. With tropical scenery and colorful wildlife, couples can choose their wedding décor sparingly and let the natural beauty of St. Lucia speak for itself! There is plenty to see and experience – ideal for taking your guests on immersive excursions around the properties during your trip.”

South Africa

When selecting a destination wedding locale outside of the US, you’ll also want to consider if they are welcoming of the LGBTQ community, whether for you and your partner or for your guests.

With that in mind, Brittny Drye of Love Inc. says South Africa is trending as one of the more popular locales with LGBTQ couples flocking to what’s considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world. “While most countries in Africa are unwelcoming to LGBTQ couples, South Africa is the exception,” shares Drye, noting that this hot spot is perfect for adventurous couples, as well as wine enthusiasts.

Choosing a hidden-gem destination for your wedding ensures that you have a unique experience and memories for years to come. You’ll be able to enjoy the culture and culinary offerings unlike any other, and you’re free to customize the celebrations to your heart’s content.

Photography provided by Kate Anfinson Photography, Josh Williams / JBW Photography, Bay Productions, Ariel Renae Photography

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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