Wedding Destinations for History Buffs
Let the past inspire your upcoming wedding.
Ancient castles with time-worn stones, icy landscapes where Vikings roamed and Mayan ruins surrounded by Caribbean waters—if you’re a history buff, consider a destination that’s rich in the romance of the past for your wedding day. Castle image courtesy of Chelsea LaVere.
When you’re ready to exchange vows, Megan Velez, of DestinationWeddings.com, recommends these historical settings. Before you travel, make sure you know what you must do to get married in another country, and whether your marriage will be legally recognized when you return home.
"Rich in art and architecture, Rome is the ideal destination for any history-loving couple as they can take in a blend of the old-world feel of classical Italian culture and the ancient mystique of numerous ruins," Velez says. "History buffs will marvel at grand cathedrals, fountains and monuments, while foodies can take part in the local cuisine from handmade pastas to refreshing gelato." In this image, courtesy of Rochelle Cheever, a couple ties the knot in San Camillo de Lellis, a church in Rome. Under construction from 1906 through 1910, this basilica church was built in Romanesque-Lombard style.
Greece, says Velez, "offers couples the chance to experience old-school hospitality and marry with spectacular backdrops like the Acropolis and the Parthenon." Santorini, photographed here by Chelsea LaVere, is actually a group of islands formed by volcanic eruptions that occured over many thousands of years. Before or after your ceremony, you and your guests can visit a number of churches, vineyards and museums filled with treasures from prehistoric times, as well as ecclesiastical icons from the 17th and 18th centuries, sculptures from the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods, and much more.
"With one of the most well-known and longest standing monarchies in the world, England is a destination wedding location fit for a King or Queen," Velez says. "Whether it's the beautiful stone work and Gothic architecture in London or the rolling hills of the English countryside, there is something for every history lover." Consider holding your wedding in an historic English manor, castle or chapel. At Leeds Castle—once a Norman stronghold and home to six of the country’s medieval queens—you can dress for your wedding day in a stunning State Room and host a wedding buffet in the Henry VIII Banqueting Hall. Image courtesy of Chelsea LaVere.
Velez says Iceland is rich in Viking history and volcanic activity dating back millions of years. "Iceland offers views that will take (your) breath away and colorful cities filled with interesting architecture." If possible, schedule your wedding to see the Northern Lights wash across the sky. Velez says Iceland is unrivaled for hospitality.
Katie Stoops Photography
Hallgrimskirkja, an Evangelical Lutheran church in the heart of Reykjavik, is a popular wedding venue, and a great site for history buffs to visit. A statue of Leif Eriksson, the first European to discover America, stands in front of the church, which was named for a beloved Icelandic poet/clergyman. Bride image courtesy of Olivia Reed of Studio Niche. Church image courtesy of Katie Stoops Photography.
"History lovers looking for that classic destination beach wedding can have both if they set their sights on Central America, which is rich in history and culture," Velez says. "You can always take a break from enjoying the calm Caribbean waters to visit ancient Mayan ruins."
Columbus was the first European to set foot on what’s now known as Costa Rica, which became a Spanish colony for three centuries. The island still reflects that part of its past. While Costa Rica doesn’t have any Mayan ruins, you can find the remains of pre-Columbian civilizations in other Central America countries, such as Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador. This image, shot in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is courtesy of Wedding Day Story.
Wedding Day Story
The history of the American West inspires many couples to have their weddings amid its spectacular natural scenery. Colorado’s Estes Park is a small mountain village and the base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park. This off-the-beaten-path destination, which will celebrate its centennial anniversary in 2017, is home to the Stanley Hotel, known for its antique whiskey bar, grand ballroom and breathtaking views. It's also said to have inspired author Stephen King's novel, "The Shining."
You’ll also find the Historic Park Theater, the oldest motion picture theater in the country, in Estes Park. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it still screens movies, and you can rent it for your wedding and hold a reception in the lobby. Or reserve space at MacGregor Ranch, and experience an authentic homestead ranch from the 1870s. While it doesn’t offer indoor wedding space, the Ranch—which is still a working cattle ranch and youth education center—provides a beautiful setting for your ceremony, and an optional outdoor reception area is available.
The Smith Fork Ranch, about 8 miles east of Crawford, Colorado and 20 miles from the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park, is a luxurious getaway for honeymooners—but it accommodates only 28 guests at a time, so book ahead. Colorado’s original residents, the Ute Indians, once lived near the Ranch, which features an authentic Ute tipi, as well as cabins that date to the late 1800s.
Jeff Panis/Smith Fork Ranch Six Hill House
In Oregon, the Sunriver Resort is a popular wedding destination thanks to its magnificent Great Hall with exposed beams and grand fireplaces. Constructed in 1944 by the Army Corps of Engineers, it's all that remains from a former Army training camp. The resort is situated in a lush meadow where Native American once lived and settlers, trappers and explorer traveled.
Steve Tague/Sunriver Resort, Oregon
Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers, Forida
The historic Edison & Ford Winter Estates, once the winter vacation homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, offer acres of botanical gardens and nine historic buildings for history-minded couples. A museum here contains a large collection of original artifacts, including Edison’s first telegraph and telephone, as well as Ford’s custom-made Model T. Wedding spaces include Mina’s Moonlight Garden, where fragrant flowers spill their perfumes in the evening air; Edison’s Coconut Grove, a beautiful lawn dotted with coconut palm trees; Ford’s Riverside Lawn by the Caloosahatchee River, and more.
Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel
You’ll need a boat or plane to visit this “old Florida” island, north of Sanibel and Captiva. The island is primarily an Indian shell mound, and its historic Cabbage Key Inn offers couples and their wedding guests a choice of six rooms or eight cottages. The Dollhouse Cottage, built in the early 1930s as a children's playhouse, is the most popular with honeymooners. Ernest Hemingway, native Floridian mystery writer John D. McDonald, broadcast journalist Ted Koppel and actresses Katharine Hepburn and Julia Roberts have all visited the island for its vintage charm.
Len Kaufman Photographer/Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel