So, you just said yes to forever. Now that you are engaged, it is time to start planning your dream wedding.

While it is important to keep your loved ones’ proximity in mind, don’t forget this day is all about you and your partner. If you love to travel, why not consider a destination wedding?

From a white sand beach at sunset in French Polynesia to a wine estate in Tuscany, there are some genuinely dreamy places on this planet to tie the knot.

And while a destination wedding might initially seem impossibly expensive, there are plenty of affordable, yet still beautiful, locations to say “I do.”

Here are 15 of my favorites places to get married, with lavish options as well more budget-friendly choices.

How to budget for your destination wedding

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Amber Massey, who owns Epic Elopements — a wedding planning service focused on affordable micro-weddings with less than 50 guests — said there is no question weddings are expensive these days. Still, there are ways to make your dream wedding memorable for all the right reasons.

“Many couples try to plan without a budget, but this is a huge mistake. Instead, take time to go over your finances with your partner. Look at what disposable income you have and what you need to save up for,” Massey said.

“I recommend having money automatically taken out of your paycheck. This way, you’ll never see it to miss it, and you will build your wedding fund with much less stress.”

For destination weddings, Massey says there are several ways to make your wedding more affordable, even if you pick a more expensive location or hotel.

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“If you are planning a destination wedding, look for deals or call and ask if they have a slower time of the year and if they have a lower rate. Sometimes, a weekday will often be less than a weekend,” she said.

“There is always a way to make it more affordable; you just have to get creative,” she said. “Just because a wedding is inexpensive, doesn’t mean it can’t be epic.”

Tuscany, Italy

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Have you ever fantasized about marrying at a Tuscan wine resort in late summer when the grapes are plump on the vines and the bright Mediterranean sun paints the landscape golden as sunset approaches?

If this fantasy also involves getting married at an estate owned by Italian fashion royalty, then you will want to plan your wedding at Il Borro Toscana. Owned by the late Salvatore Ferragamo’s family, I fell in love with Il Borro during a September visit.

The Ferragamo family purchased the estate — which included a crumbling 13th-century medieval village that once belonged to the de Medici family — from an Italian prince in 1993.

Related: Everyone is going to Sicily — try these 7 underrated places in Italy instead

Over the last 20 years, the family has lovingly turned the grounds into a Relais & Chateaux hotel with various accommodation options (including 38 suites in the medieval hamlet and a 10-bedroom villa), a sustainable organic farm and a well-known vineyard.

Il Borro also has two restaurants, swimming pools, a wine cellar, a spa with wedding-specific treatments and horseback riding. The property has won an “Italian Weddings Award” for its masterfully planned destination weddings. You can find more information here.

Rates at Il Borro Toscana start at $705 per night.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

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Home to dramatic rock meets ocean landscapes, soaring cacti, seasonal whale watching and excellent year-round golf, the Cabo San Lucas area is an easy destination wedding choice, especially if you live in the western U.S.

Flights tend to be inexpensive and frequent, and transportation from the airport to the resort is usually seamless. There are dozens of resorts in the Cabo area, including plenty of all-inclusive properties.

For a unique, boutique property, look at Mar del Cabo. The adults-only, design-forward property is small-dog-friendly, so you can have your fur child at the wedding (though they are strict about the no guests under 16 rule). It has just 48 artfully decorated suites and is available for wedding buyouts.

What I like most about this property is it’s the perfect dupe for Santorini. One of the last remaining properties from Cabo’s 1960s resort development era, Mar del Cabo has white Hacienda architecture; pink and purple bougainvillea-draped walls, archways and railings; blue-and-white tile work; and wide stone stairs tumbling down to the pool, restaurant and white pebbly sand beach beyond.

Related: The 11 best all-inclusive resorts in Los Cabos

The beach here is not swimmable, but the crashing waves add to its romantic allure. The whale watching can also be spectacular. When I visited, I spent half a day just watching whales float and breach past me from my beachfront cabana.

Wedding ceremonies are usually held around sunset on a grassy area facing the sea. More information on booking your wedding can be found here.

Rates at Mar del Cabo start at $337 per night.

French Polynesia

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Strung across thousands of miles of the South Pacific, French Polynesia’s 118 islands, including Tahiti, are a blissful destination wedding destination. Bora Bora is the most famous romantic island, known for its picture-perfect aquamarine lagoon and luxurious overwater bungalows.

But Moorea is my choice for a more reasonably priced destination wedding. It has an equally impressive lagoon and less expensive resorts than Bora Bora. It is also only a 30-minute ferry ride from Tahiti, where the international airport is located, rather than another flight. Many couples also choose to have their wedding on Moorea and then fly to Bora Bora for the honeymoon.

Related: 11 of the best honeymoon destinations for any budget

The Sofitel Moorea Kia Ora Resort is not the most luxurious property I’ve ever stayed at, but it is still magical and romantic. And the price point is much more reasonable than what you’ll find on Bora Bora. Its location is also dazzling, with the sparkling turquoise lagoon on one side and craggy volcanic peaks and lush jungle on the other.

You will want to stay in an overwater bungalow with a glass viewing panel cut into the floor and a spacious deck with a ladder into the lagoon. However, if your guests are on more of a budget, the Sofitel also has more affordable garden-facing and beachfront bungalows.

The Sofitel is on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach, and the reef here is thriving. I walked into the lagoon and started swimming; within five minutes, the view through my snorkel mask was filled with clownfish weaving through sea anemones and eggplant-hued coral.

The resort has on-site wedding planning and works closely with couples to curate their dream celebration. Find more information here.

Rates at the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort start at $600 per night.

Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic is a well-loved choice for those seeking an affordable Caribbean beach wedding. The island is chock-full of all-inclusive resorts for all budgets that are well-versed in the art of weddings.

Punta Cana is the most popular resort area. Bavaro Beach, with a wide swath of pearly white sand juxtaposed against sparkly turquoise and aquamarine hues, is a beautiful ceremony location.

Planning an adults-only destination wedding and looking for an all-inclusive resort with a party vibe? Then Royalton Chic Punta Cana, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, is a great choice. With its pink neon lights, frozen margaritas on tap, casino and foam pool parties, there’s no question this resort attracts a rowdy crowd. But it also has a stylish ambience, lovely pools and sits right on the beach.

Rooms and suites come in all shapes and sizes, accommodating different budgets. The larger presidential suites are popular for wedding bookings and feature multiple bedrooms and swim-out pools.

If you splurge for the Diamond Club floor, you’ll receive enhanced amenities like butler service, a dedicated beach area with bar service, and complimentary early check-in and late checkout.

The Royalton offers several wedding packages with options for a beach ceremony or garden ceremony and a maximum capacity of 50 people.

Rates at Royalton Chic Punta Cana start at $297 or 77,500 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

Maui, Hawaii

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Hawaii’s second-largest island, Maui, is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, pristine beaches and stunning sunsets.

Whether you are twisting down the famous Road to Hana, hiking to hidden waterfalls, surfing or teeing off on the golf course, there’s no shortage of adventures on this magical island. It also oozes romantic allure, and it’s one of the top wedding destinations in the U.S.

If a wedding on a postcard-perfect beach is your vision, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort delivers. The family-friendly property sits on 15 acres in the 1500-acre Wailea development on Maui’s southwestern coast. Guests have private access to Mokapu Beach, where wedding ceremonies can be arranged. The resort has 320 rooms and suites with private lanais.

Related: The 18 best hotels in Maui, from luxury stays to family-friendly resorts

There is also a collection of residential-style oceanfront villas popular for wedding parties. Andaz Maui is one of the most popular redemptions in the World of Hyatt program, so you will want to book well in advance if you plan to use points. There are quite a few different wedding packages to explore. Find more information here.

Rates at Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort start at $890 or 35,000-45,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Cappadocia, Turkiye (Turkey)

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Cappadocia makes the perfect backdrop for a one-of-a-kind destination wedding. This region in central Turkey is a land of ethereal rock formations known as fairy chimneys, underground cities and ancient cave dwellings.

Floating in a hot air balloon at sunrise is Cappadocia’s most coveted experience. Take it to the next level by exchanging vows in a hot air balloon basket as you drift over the magical landscape below. Several companies, including Turkey Weddings, curate hot-air balloon ceremonies and corresponding receptions. If hot air balloons aren’t your jam, they can plan myriad one-of-a-kind weddings that still showcase the otherworldly scenery.

Cappadocia is also famous for its cave hotels, which are boutique affairs at various price points. I stayed at Elika Cave Suites Hotel & Spa when I visited the region and found it romantic and affordable. The hotel doesn’t offer wedding ceremonies, but most couples who choose to get married in Cappadocia are not looking for a hotel wedding. Each room is set in a cave-style structure with its own color scheme and decor. The spa offers traditional Turkish Hamman and fantastic Balinese massages.

Rates at Elika Cave Suites Hotel & Spa start at $105.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

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A land of rich Native American traditions and otherworldly mystique, no other city in the U.S. looks like Santa Fe in northern New Mexico, giving it a memorable destination wedding vibe.

The all-adobe city dates to the early 1600s and is built around a central plaza surrounded by narrow streets and alleys leading to art galleries, boutique shops and restaurants. It is also famous for its Canyon Road art gallery scene.

One of Santa Fe’s most special wedding venues is the nondenominational Loretto Chapel. Booking your ceremony at the chapel allows you to take your wedding pictures on its helix-shaped spiral staircase — the only time anyone can stand on them. You do not need to have a religious ceremony to get married here.

Have your reception next door at the Inn and Spa at Loretto. Many couples choose to be escorted between the two venues accompanied by a mariachi band. The luxury resort features New Mexican design and Southwestern style. It has 136 rooms and suites, an award-winning spa, a restaurant and a garden area with a pool. There are also indoor halls for hosting a reception. You can find out more about their wedding packages here.

Rates at the Inn and Spa at Loretto start at $200 per night.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

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For a fairytale wedding, it doesn’t get much better than Dubrovnik on Croatia’s southern Dalmatian Coast. The medieval walled city on the Adriatic Sea served as a set location for “Game of Thrones,” and it’s meticulously maintained with polished marble streets and intact walls. Dubrovnik is expensive compared to other Balkan countries but is still more cost-effective than Santorini or the Amalfi Coast.

The seafront promenade at Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik (part of Hilton’s Small Luxury Hotels portfolio) is a dreamy place to exchange vows during the golden hour. The historic hotel is just a five-minute walk from Old Town, but it’s positioned to give both sea and walled city views as a picture-perfect backdrop.

Adding icing to the cake, the sun also sets over Old Town, creating even more visually stunning wedding photos. The Adriatic, accessible via a ladder from the hotel, is crystal clear and warm enough for swimming in summer.

Related: From the coast of Croatia to the mountains of Thailand: The best road trips outside the US

Hotel Excelsior, parts of which date to 1913, seamlessly blends historic charm with contemporary sophistication. From intimate ceremonies to lavish affairs, the hotel offers a range of customizable wedding packages to suit every couple’s needs.

Rates at Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik start at $275 per night.

Banff, Canada

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Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies is a wonderful wedding location for adventure seekers and nature lovers. You can have your ceremony and reception from the top of the Banff Gondola, with 360-degree mountain views from the Sulphur Mountain summit. Available from mid-October through mid-May, the venue (which can accommodate up to 80 guests) also features a reception space at Sky Bistro, which is known for its excellent cuisine. The gondola ride to the top takes eight minutes and affords opportunities for unique photos and videos.

Related: Canmore, Alberta: Come for the breathtaking Rockies scenery, stay for the cool mountain vibes

Banff has accommodation options for all budgets, which gives your guests a lot of flexibility. For the couple, however, it doesn’t get more romantic than the Fairmont Banff Springs. The iconic castle hotel is just a few minute’s drive from town but feels a world apart. It has an elegant vibe and gorgeous views.

Rates at the Fairmont Banff Springs start at $642 per night.

Paso Robles, California

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If you dream of getting married in California’s wine region, but Napa and Sonoma are out of your budget, Paso Robles is the perfect dupe. Known for pushing boundaries when creating varietals, this coastal destination is halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

An unpretentious small town where cowboys, surfers and innovators live in synergy, it has beach access and the opportunity to explore more than 300 wineries. There are numerous wedding venues around Paso Robles, including vineyards.

The Piccolo is a popular venue. The boutique hotel has just 24 rooms and suites, making a buyout quite reasonable. Another option is to have a ceremony and reception (for up to 30 people) at the rooftop lounge with panoramic city views. The Piccolo is a dog-friendly property, should you want your pup to be part of the special day.

Rates at The Piccolo start at $246 per night.

Koh Samui, Thailand

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It is a journey to reach, but Thailand is high on my list for an adventurous, romantic destination wedding. This is especially true if you are having a small celebration and plan to incorporate your guests into the honeymoon. The country’s tourism industry runs like a well-oiled machine, and getting from one part of the country to another is easy and safe.

For the wedding itself, I would head to the Four Seasons Koh Samui, on the island of the same name in the Gulf of Thailand. It is easy to reach with direct flights from parts of Asia and many connections from Bangkok. “Set jetters” will love that the hotel serves as one of the locations for season three of “The White Lotus,” filmed here in February 2024.

On a secluded stretch of sand in northwest Samui, the Four Seasons has a remote and very private vibe. Accommodation is in a mix of pool, beachfront and elevated villas with ocean views. All come with personal pools. If your wedding is micro-sized, you can book one of the over-the-top private residences to house everyone. The largest one has five bedrooms and can sleep up to 15 people.

Related: The 16 best Four Seasons in the world, according to travel experts who have stayed at them

After the wedding, you can spend the honeymoon traveling around Thailand. Begin with island hopping in the Gulf of Thailand (divers will love Koh Tao), then head up to Bangkok for a few nights of culture and partying. Conclude with a journey to the north, around Chiang Mai, which is home to temples, trekking, elephants and excellent night markets.

Rates at the Four Seasons Koh Samui start at $951 per night.

Maldives

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The Maldives is another dreamy and exotic tropical paradise locale for a destination wedding or elopement. Straddling the equator, hundreds of miles from anywhere in the Indian Ocean, the country boasts more than 1,100 islands and coral atolls spread across a vast area.

The warm, clear water shimmers with hues of green and blue, and the underwater world is equally magical. Best of all, nearly every resort occupies its island, so getting married here really gives you a private island experience.

If you elope (and money is no issue), then book the Muraka Suite at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. The bedroom is more than 16 feet below sea level and has you sleeping under a 180-degree curved glass ceiling; you can watch fish, sharks, turtles and rays float by. Rates, which start at around $50,000 per night with a four-night minimum, include a personal chef, masseuse and a film crew to document your entire stay.

The Conrad also has less expensive room options and an underwater restaurant open to all guests. You can find more information on wedding packages at the resort here.

While the Maldives is filled with some of the world’s most expensive resorts, it also boasts affordable choices like Reethi Beach Resort. While it’s not the same level of luxury as many Maldivian resorts, it still offers a chance to sleep in an overwater bungalow on a private island.

If you love to dive or snorkel, its Hanifaru Bay location in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve marine park location is hard to beat. I had the opportunity to snorkel with dozens of nurse sharks and manta rays here, which is one of the travel highlights so far. The resort offers a variety of wedding packages.

Rates at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island start at $1,100 or 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per night. Rates at Reethi Beach Resort start at $225 per night and include all meals and some beverages.

Florida Keys

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If Hawaii is out of your price bracket, and you want a tropical wedding that doesn’t require a passport, consider the Florida Keys. The destination tends to be affordable, and the water boasts stunning turquoise hues. There are around 1,700 islands, but most are not inhabited. The primary keys are connected via a series of bridges. Key Largo is the closest to mainland Florida, while Key West sits at the end of the highway and is the southernmost spot in the U.S. mainland.

There are also many great points hotels in the Florida Keys, including Playa Largo Resort and Spa, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Set on almost 15 acres of oceanfront, most wedding ceremonies take place on the white sand beach.

The resort also has multiple indoor event spaces for receptions. The hotel has 177 rooms, suites, bungalows and a stand-alone beach house. It also features a few restaurants and dedicated activities for children. You can find more specific wedding information here.

Rates at Playa Largo Resort and Spa start at $538 or 88,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per night.

Kitzbuhel, Austria

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With scenery that looks plucked from “The Sound of Music” set, the Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt in Austria’s Tyrolean Alps is another of my top picks for a destination resort wedding. More affordable than similar style properties in France or Switzerland, but no less rustic-luxe, it has long been a favorite with celebrities worldwide — check out the walls of photos.

What really sells it as a wedding venue are the views of the rugged Wilder Kaiser mountains juxtaposed against emerald green fields where cows and Austria’s prized Lipizzaner horses graze.

The family-friendly resort, just outside the chic ski town of Kitzbuhel, offers many activities. These include horseback riding lessons on its Lipizzaners, tennis lessons, golfing, hiking, mountain climbing and e-bike rentals.

There are also six dining options, including a 400-year-old restaurant serving regional specialties. The Stanglwirt hosts many weddings annually, and the event planners are professionals. You can find more information here.

Rates at Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt start at $815 per night.

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