Destination Wedding Ideas Right Here in the U S of A

Martha Stewart Weddings, Special Issue 2009

From sea to shining sea, the United States is home to some of the world's most diverse terrain. Whether you're after breathtaking beaches, monumental skylines, spellbinding deserts, or awe-inspiring mountains, you'll find your own little slice of heaven right here within our borders. So put away your passports and book your destination wedding -- itineraries to follow -- at one of these all-American hot spots.

Country
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
With its working ranches and rugged peaks, this valley evokes the spirit of the Old West. You'll feel like a cowboy (or cowgirl!) exploring wildlife-rich Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks or strolling the saloon-filled streets of Jackson. Cuddle up by the fire in a room at Spring Creek Ranch, spread over 1,000 acres, or unwind in the rooftop hot tub at the eco-friendly Hotel Terra.

Welcome 
Saddle up. Spring Creek Ranch arranges guided horseback rides along scenic trails, like the one that meanders atop 7,068-foot-high East Gros Ventre Butte, with expansive views of the National Elk Refuge.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Join a caravan of horse-drawn covered wagons for a chuck-wagon campfire meal -- barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, baked beans -- in Cache Creek Canyon with Bar T 5.

The Big Day 
Take the Bridger Gondola halfway up Rendezvous Mountain and exchange vows on the wildflower-bedecked patio of a wood-and-stone lodge with views of the winding Snake River.

Sonoma, California
An hour north of San Francisco, Sonoma's celebrated vineyards, world-class dining scene, and romantic inns make it the perfect setting for a sophisticated wine-country wedding. Wrought-iron accents and Craftsman-style furniture are hallmarks of the Spanish-style Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, while Vintners Inn, a 44-room boutique hotel, attracts foodies to its John Ash & Co. restaurant.

Welcome 
Host a wine tasting at Chateau St. Jean, a restored 1920 mansion, where you'll sample award-winning winemaker Margo Van Staaveren's Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and reserve Malbec, and snack on artisanal cheeses.

Rehearsal Dinner 
At El Dorado Kitchen on Sonoma's historic town plaza, dine on chef Justin Everett's seasonal fare, like endive salad with Point Reyes blue cheese, and homemade charcuterie.

The Big Day 
At the base of the Mayacamas Mountains, St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, with its Tuscan-style villa and bell tower, is an idyllic nuptials venue. Then settle into an alfresco dinner with St. Francis wines, including the winery's signature merlot.

Manchester, Vermont
Deep in the Green Mountains, this quintessential Vermont town is rich with Colonial-style buildings and steepled white-clapboard churches; antiquing and apple picking are just a few activities to enjoy. Stay at the Equinox Resort & Spa, which has hosted the likes of Teddy Roosevelt. At the Dorset Inn, built in 1796, rooms with village-green views come with four-poster beds and fireplaces.

Welcome 
Learn how to fly-fish catch-and-release style at Equinox's Orvis Fly Fishing School, which arranges half-day angling lessons for your group at its private ponds, stocked with rainbow and brown trout.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Step back in time amid the Americana antiques at Ye Olde Tavern, operating since 1790, and taste traditional New England lobster bisque, stuffed trout, and cranberry-apple crisp.

The Big Day 
Tie the knot in the hilltop gazebo at White Rocks Inn on a 23-acre former farm in Wallingford, then enjoy a reception (pig roasts are popular) in the Gothic post-and-beam barn.

Aspen, Colorado
This ultra-glam ski resort in the Rockies is a magnet for movie stars, but it also draws nature lovers who appreciate the former silver mining town's sylvan scenery. Try an Aspen Crud -- a bourbon milkshake -- at the Victorian-style Hotel Jerome's beloved J-Bar. Or, for the ultimate in Aspen glitz, there's The Little Nell, a ski-in, ski-out hotel with an outdoor Jacuzzi and pampering apres-ski spa treatments.

Welcome 
Hop aboard the Silver Queen Gondola and hire a private guide to lead your group schussing down 11,212-foot Aspen Mountain, better known as Ajax. When the lifts close, sip a hot toddy on the heated deck of The Little Nell, legendary for its post-ski scene.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Snuggle during a horse-drawn sleigh ride around Pine Creek Cookhouse, a log cabin in the woods outside Aspen (daredevils can cross-country ski or snowshoe in), and savor wild-game dishes like roasted elk loin.

The Big Day 
Dreaming of a winter-wonderland wedding? Sip hot cocoa on a gondola ride up, then say "I do" by the fire in the candelit Living Room of the exclusive Aspen Mountain Club atop Ajax.

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Beach
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Key West, Florida
The Sunshine State's southernmost point personifies a low-key lifestyle. Everyone from pirates to painters has been seduced by the Conch Republic, so it's a natural for those seeking a seaside wedding. Stay at Ocean Key Resort & Spa, a waterfront resort in the Old Town. Or try the friendly Marquesa Hotel, a group of restored tin-roof houses, circa 1884.

Welcome 
Organize a private charter with Old Town Trolley Tours and hear witty commentary on some of Key West's top attractions, including Hemingway's home and the "90 Miles to Cuba" buoy.

Rehearsal Dinner 
To truly appreciate the island's beauty, see it from the water on a Danger Charters sunset sail. Enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres as the schooner glides past uninhabited keys under a blazing tangerine and crimson sky.

The Big Day 
Throw beachside nuptials at the point where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic in Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, then sip mojitos and nibble coconut shrimp on Ocean Key's Sunset Pier to the tune of a Jimmy Buffett-style band.

Maui, Hawaii
Waterfalls, volcanoes, bamboo forests, turquoise beaches -- the Magic Isle is chock-full of dazzling natural wonders. Adventurous types can hike up 10,000-foot Mount Haleakala; more relaxing environs offer pampering spas. Stay at the luxurious beachfront Fairmont Kea Lani. Nearby are the beautifully landscaped golf courses of the Grand Wailea.

Welcome 
Spend the day snorkeling Molokini, a volcanic crater off the coast, from the sleek catamaran Kai Kanani. After swimming among yellow tangs, parrot fish, and moray eels, the boat heads to Turtle Town, a reef where green sea turtles congregate.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Learn about Hawaiian history through hula -- dancing, chanting, and drumming -- at Old Lahaina Luau. At this traditional feast, sample Kalua pua'a, pork cooked in an underground oven, and haupia, coconut pudding.

The Big Day 
The tiki-torch-lined Pacific Terrace at the Fairmont is a picturesque ceremony spot. Exchange vows under a floral arch before moving to the manicured Polo Lawn for macadamia-encrusted mahimahi.

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Off the coast of Cape Cod, this exclusive New England summer playground has no chain stores or fast-food restaurants and few cars -- just pristine natural beauty and a vibrant arts community. Stay in Edgartown's Harbor View Hotel, an 1891 gray-shingled resort -- ask for a room with a view of the lighthouse. The adults-only Relais & Chateaux Charlotte Inn has English countryside decor.

Welcome 
Rent a bicycle at Edgartown Bike Rentals, and follow the three-mile Katama Road Path that leads to South Beach -- be sure to bring a towel in case you want to take a dip.

Rehearsal Dinner
Feast on creamy clam chowder and seafood at State Beach at an authentic New England clambake with Lobster Tales.

The Big Day 
Walk the aisle with a restored pipe organ as your backup at the Greek Revival Old Whaling Church, built in 1843; next door is the Dr. Daniel Fisher House, whose Library and Grand Parlor prove an elegant setting for cocktails.

Santa Barbara, California
Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, this sun-drenched city is awash with Spanish history (some of the old missions are now museums) and wine-producing valleys. In neighboring Montecito, the Four Seasons Biltmore is the area's most luxurious resort, with an exclusive beach club and secluded cottages. Downtown, consider the Canary Hotel, which has Spanish/Moroccan accents and an open-air rooftop pool and lounge.

Welcome 
Join a whale-watching cruise aboard the high-speed catamaran Condor Express, where you might also spot frolicking dolphins.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Dine at the ever-popular Bouchon, which sources ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and ranchers.

The Big Day 
Get wed before breathtaking ocean vistas on the stone terrace of Art Deco-styled La Pacifica Ballroom at the Four Seasons Biltmore.

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City
New York
Nonstop energy, world-class museums, trendy restaurants -- the City That Never Sleeps more than lives up to its nickname. But romance also abounds, thanks to Central Park, cobbled Greenwich Village streets, and the Empire State Building. Stay at the Empire Hotel across from Lincoln Center; after a dip in the rooftop pool, enjoy a fancy dinner at Michelin-starred Jean Georges nearby. Or try the W Times Square and its always-bustling Blue Fin sushi restaurant.

Welcome 
See the Great White Way. Choose a theater-district classic or a current hit, like Billy Elliot: The Musical, then experience Times Square -- now a pedestrian-only zone -- in all its neon glory.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Take in the city's famous skyline aboard a luxury dinner cruise with World Yacht, where you'll eat filet mignon before hitting the dance floor for Sinatra's "New York, New York."

The Big Day 
Cast-iron jockeys greet customers at the 21 Club, a former speakeasy and Manhattan landmark. Be sure to get a tour of the wine cellar, accessed by a brick wall "door" used during Prohibition.

Miami 
With a sultry Latin American influence and Deco glamour, this sun-soaked playground gets an infectious party vibe and cosmopolitan feel from its global restaurants and vibrant cultural scene. It peaks each December, when Art Basel comes to town. Stay at The Setai, an Asian-inspired oasis in South Beach. Downtown, the Mandarin Oriental has rooms with skyline views overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Welcome 
Begin your day of cultural exploration at the Museum of Contemporary Art and end in the up-and-coming Wynwood Art District, where you'll find dozens of unique galleries.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Enjoy chili passionfruit martinis at The Setai, and indulge in an array of palate-pleasing pan-Asian small plates. Then, party at the sexy cocktail lounges and nightclubs in nearby South Beach.

The Big Day 
Experience Gilded Age grandeur at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a mansion built in 1916. After vows in the formal garden amid Italianate statues and fountains, celebrate on the bay-facing East Terrace while sipping mojitos.

Chicago 
It's easy to fall for Chi-Town's energetic cultural scene, superb shopping (Magnificent Mile, anyone?), and stunning architecture -- not to mention the deep-dish pizza. The Hotel Burnham boasts design-centric elements like mosaic-tiled floors and marble walls. You'll be greeted by white-gloved doormen at The Peninsula, an uber-luxurious Asian-inspired hotel where the rooms feature jaw-dropping views of the 100-story John Hancock Center.

Welcome 
Grab beers and hot dogs at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, the second-oldest ballpark in the U.S. Post-game, hit some of the surrounding bars, including local favorite The Cubby Bear.

Rehearsal Dinner 
The first Morton's opened here in 1978. Share a double porterhouse (carved tableside) with your groom and take in the brick walls and dark wood of the basement setting.

The Big Day 
Say "I do" underneath an arbor in the idyllic East Courtyard of Galleria Marchetti, then get the party started in the tented pavilion's wrought-iron chandeliers.

Charleston, South Carolina
It's little wonder couples choose this southern belle for storybook weddings. Make like Scarlett and Rhett (minus the drama!) and fall for the antebellum mansions and cobblestone streets of this genteel colonial city. Social hub Charleston Place has a grand lobby staircase, the elegant Charleston Grill, and tapestried bedrooms. Nearby Wentworth Mansion, formerly a private residence, has Tiffany stained-glass windows and marble fireplaces.

Welcome 
Not easily spooked? Arrange a private ghost tour of the historic district for guests with Bulldog Tours and hear chilling tales of pirates and Civil War prisoners in one of the city's oldest graveyards.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Enjoy mouthwatering Low Country cuisine, including okra soup with cornbread croutons and buttermilk-fried oysters, at High Cotton, in a historic building near the harbor.

The Big Day 
Get married under an oak tree dripping with Spanish moss at Middleton Place, an 18th-century plantation. After, take a horse-drawn carriage to your fete at the glass-walled Pavilion.

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Desert
Sedona, Arizona
Dramatic canyons, buttes, and spires -- orange and crimson monoliths particularly bewitching at sunset -- have long held a magnetic pull over Native Americans, New Agers, and those seeking spiritual rejuvenation. Enchantment Resort has 71 pueblo-style casitas tucked into a box canyon. Or soak up the view from the stylish rooftop terrace of Mediterranean-inspired Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa.

Welcome 
Lace up your hiking shoes for a walk among juniper trees and cacti to Red Rock Crossing, whose highlight is the breathtaking view of Cathedral Rock. Pack a picnic lunch of chipotle chicken wraps and hummus platters from Heartline Cafe.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Gather for an alfresco Italian dinner at Cucina Rustica, whose foliage-filled patios are warmed by fire pits.

The Big Day 
Dance and dine under the stars on the Patio de las Campanas at Tlaquepaque, a quaint Mexican-style arts and crafts village.

Palm Springs, California
This desert haven in the San Jacinto Mountains, a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, exudes an aura of Old Hollywood glamour -- Gable, Sinatra, and Monroe used to hang here. Today, it's a retro-cool hideaway whose mid-century-modern architecture attracts design buffs. Stay at the classic Parker Palm Springs, with four pools, red-clay courts, and private villas. The chic Colony Palms Hotel, a speakeasy back in the day, is now a Moroccan-inspired sanctuary favored by celebrities.

Welcome 
Take a scenic ride aboard the Aerial Tramway, which travels up rugged Chino Canyon to the 30-degree-cooler slopes of Mount San Jacinto, where palm trees are replaced with pines.

Rehearsal Dinner 
The romantic mountain-facing tiled patio at Copley's on Palm Canyon, on the former estate of Hollywood legend Cary Grant, is an ideal setting for a prenuptial dinner.

The Big Day 
Recite your vows beneath the natural arch created by two massive olive trees on the Croquet Lawn at the Parker Palm Springs. After the cocktail hour on a private enclosed lawn, head into the Ballroom for dinner and dancing into the wee hours.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pueblo architecture, spectacular sun-baked landscapes, and spicy Southwestern cuisine make this city an exceptional destination-wedding choice. Painted stucco walls and Native American artwork grace the upscale pueblo-style Inn and Spa at Loretto. The Inn on the Alameda has casitas with gas-lit kiva (adobe-style) fireplaces and hand-woven rugs.

Welcome 
Swoon over sweeping desert vistas on a sunrise hot-air-balloon flight with Santa Fe Balloons; bubbly and snacks await below.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Treat guests to spicy pork tamales at La Plazuela, an enclosed courtyard restaurant with hand-painted glass panels lining the walls, in La Fonda on the Plaza in the city's main square.

The Big Day 
Make it official in the Gothic-style Loretto Chapel, known for its stained-glass windows and spiral wooden staircase; then head next door to the Zuni Ballroom at the Inn and Spa at Loretto.

Las Vegas
A lot has changed since Bugsy Siegel opened a casino in the middle of the desert. Nowadays, Sin City is as vital as ever -- and its "anything goes" spirit and popular Elvis officiants live on. Stay at the elegant Bellagio, modeled after a Lake Como village, or try the glitzy Wynn, whose namesake owner spared no expense on over-the-top amenities, like the golf course and Ferrari dealership.

Welcome 
Take in the Strip's dazzling neon lights on a Heli USA Airways chopper tour.

Rehearsal Dinner 
Sip drinks at Mix, a see-and-be-seen balcony bar high atop Mandalay Bay, before dining at the Michelin-starred restaurant by the same name, helmed by none other than famed French master chef Alain Ducasse.

The Big Day 
Let handblown glass chandeliers bear witness in the elegant South Wedding chapel at the Bellagio, then raise a glass on the Terrazza Di Sogno, the open-air patio with prime views of the famous "dancing" fountains. End the evening's revelry at one of the resort's restaurants: Le Cirque, Picasso, or Prime Steakhouse.

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