When planning a wedding, there are a lot of variables and challenges that can determine the timing. What never seems to go out of style are spring and fall weddings. While peak wedding season months are May, June, September, and October, trying to capture the perfect month for the perfect wedding can come at a cost, and be prepared for competition.
Life doesn’t always happen on schedule. And maybe your wedding date doesn’t need to follow traditional norms…good for you, we love rebels!
And just because you’re planning an off-season wedding doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style. Who says you can’t have an outdoor wedding in December?! So, we’ve done a little digging and found some destination inspiration that would be ideal outside of the typical wedding season months, with reasons why you’ll want to consider these off-the-beaten-path locations.
5 off-season destinations for the perfect wedding
Best for: The Insta couple
Main inspo: While half the year can be pretty cold, the nature-filled landscape is the payoff. Fully embracing the scenery and season equals a memorable celebration for those at the altar as well as the guests.
Air travel: There are more than 100 daily flights into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, which is six miles from downtown, with direct service from domestic airports.
Public transportation: Guided tours, rail, chartered buses, public transit, and rental vehicles.
Stay longer: No need to leave space in your luggage for souvenirs; this trip is one for the memory book—with plenty to see and do. Take advantage of outdoor recreation that may not be available back home like alpine skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, or even a dog sledding tour.
Best for: The storied couple
Charleston might be your pick for where to start your story as a couple, and for good reason; this city is rich in history, cultural expression, and of course, Southern charm. The main characters here are live jazz, Carolina Gold rice, folk arts, and Rainbow Row.
For history buffs, there’s plenty to see and tour as there were more Revolutionary War battles fought in South Carolina than any other state.
Main inspo: Named a premier wedding venue by Martha Stewart Weddings and Brides magazine, the William Aiken House is sought after for its 1807 charm. Consider the 200-year-old magnolia tree your “something old.”
There’s also The Cedar Room, built in the late 1800s as a textile mill and operating as a cigar factory for 70 years. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Or if it’s a post-wedding story you’re wanting guests to tell, The View is Charleston’s highest event space. It’s on the top floor of the Morrison Yard building with breathtaking, 180-degree water views of the Charleston Harbor.
Air travel: The Charleston International Airport is 11 miles from downtown Charleston and has daily nonstop flights to 37 U.S. and U.K. cities.
Public transportation: Bus service, free downtown shuttle, and walking.
Stay longer: Charleston really is for (food) lovers. There are enough homegrown restaurants celebrating Lowcountry cuisine to make a longer stay worthwhile. Oysters abound here, and the annual festivals and oyster roasts are a good way to immerse yourself in this local delicacy. The She Crab Soup at 82 Queen and the Cornmeal Fried Catfish at Husk are our other can’t-miss picks. And of course, plan ahead for a life-changing visit to Rodney Scott’s.
Chicago (North Shore), IL
Best for: The entertaining couple
You may be thinking, “wow, they weren’t kidding when they said these destinations were off-the-beaten-path”. But you might know more about the Chicago North Shore than you think. If you’ve seen Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Breakfast Club, then you’ve seen the North Shore. Legendary filmmaker John Hughes filmed many of his movies here in his hometown.
Movies aside, it’s the perfect destination for the couple that loves to entertain and give their guests a variety of options for entertainment.
Main inspo: You get the best of both worlds in the North Shore – lakefront living without the crowds and all of the conveniences of the big city just a short drive away.
Air travel: The North Shore is easily accessed by three airports, including O’Hare, which is one of the world’s largest airports.
Public transportation: Planes, trains and automobiles of course!
Stay longer: Pack a picnic and take in an outdoor concert at Ravinia Festival. Ask any local, and they’ll tell you that the best seats in the house are on the lawn. Whether you’re in the mood for B.B. King, Dolly Parton, 50 Cent or The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia has hosted them all. Nestled in the woods of Highland Park, Ravinia remains the oldest music festival in North America since it opened in 1904.
Cost efficiency: The average wedding in Illinois costs $36,844.
Best for: The literal couple
The romantic fishing village calls to water lovers, but there’s an even slower pace to be enjoyed here, and it centers on sipping.
Sidewalk cappuccinos. Vodka tasting. A wine train (more on this one below).
Main inspo: Say your “I Do’s” and literally tie the knot at Butterflute’s Wedding Chapel, a repurposed boat lettering shop surrounded by gardens (and very reasonable venue rates). This maritime wedding venue has the rarity of being located inside of a working boat yard.
Air travel: Fly into San Francisco and either drive to the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge or take the ferry. They take about the same amount of time, depending on bridge traffic.
Public transportation: Ferries and buses.
Stay longer: Take in an area boat tour, waterfront treasure hunts, or tour some of Sausalito’s floating homes. Oh, and San Francisco is a stone’s throw away for additional site seeing.
Best for: The eloping couple
Main inspo: Hotels in this central Arizona city know how to cater to eloping couples. Bask in the panoramic sunset views from Hotel Valley Ho’s rooftop. The Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows creates an intimate ceremony on its 23 garden acres despite being only a few miles from the Old Town Scottsdale and Paradise Valley entertainment districts. Also in this coveted area is the luxurious The Scott Resort & Spa.
Air travel: Scottsdale Airport is the country’s busiest single-runway airport, but there’s also Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport about 20 minutes away.
Public transportation: Individual neighborhoods’ attractions are walkable, but a car is needed between these pockets of town. And then there are the party bike, electric bike, street-legal golf carts, and Segway tour options.
Stay longer: This is a city for pampering, making it a perfect trip for a couple doing things their own way. Spas, golf courses, high-end shopping, and art galleries will fill the itinerary, then the starry-eyed couple can park at one of many spots for optimal stargazing (including Adero Scottsdale Resort, which is in a Dark Sky Community).
Winter & summer destination weddings have just as much to love
Planning an off-season wedding certainly has its advantages, not least of which is maximizing an underappreciated town others haven’t yet recognized as a hotspot. These under-the-radar destination cities burst with options for a unique wedding followed by a lengthy relaxation stay.
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