Getting Married in the Mountains: The Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

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Winter may be behind us but if you’re considering saying “I do” in the snow, then now is the time to shop for next season! But where to host that quintessential winter wedding?  One with roaring fire pits, s’mores among friends, and a casual, relaxed elegance that makes everyone feel welcome?  Consider a domestic destination wedding in Colorado – Bachelor Gulch to be specific. Tucked into its own mountainside in the Vail Valley, you’ll find The Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, a giant log cabin of sorts (with seven miles worth of logs to build its beautiful structures!). A skiers dream, this property sits halfway up the mountain and at the base of a lift, for ski in and ski out celebrating.  Visiting here is an experience surrounded by the beauty of nature no one in attendance will ever forget!

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Sun or snow, no matter the season, you can say I do outdoors on their skiers bridge, overlooking a gorgeous valley view and just steps from the grand Ritz Carlton ballroom (that seats up to 350) to wine and dine indoors when the deed is done. But before you do that, you’ll want to stop by the outdoor terrace for cocktail hour complete with the scent of a fresh burning fire pit and Aspen trees all around. I recently experienced one such wedding and it was magic on a mountain – the meal even incorporated smoked local meats like bison and elk cooked out back on property for guests to enjoy! Colorado has a bounty of local meats and veggies to delight the biggest foodies in your bunch, and some pretty great craft cocktails, local breweries and even distilleries too! No matter your tastes or your season, the amazing culinary and events team on property helps you design a menu unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else.

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And speaking of season, The Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch isn’t just for winter weddings, in fact, they are most popular in the summer and fall months when it comes to tying the knot in nature. So if sunny 80 degree days are more your style, then settle in here like the original bachelors of the area. Beautiful wildflowers spring up everywhere (or leaves turn to gold in the fall season), giving you a picture-perfect backdrop that needs little décor for a wedding ceremony.

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No need to be a skier to fall in love with this place, your group can hike, bike, star gaze with a guide as you roast s’mores, white water raft by day or spa instead – they truly have it all!  …Like this gorgeous indoor grotto, available for all hotel guests to use in that spa!

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What better way to bond and merge two families together than in the beauty of nature paired with the creature comforts of The Ritz Carlton! For more information on getting married in the Beaver Creek area at The Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, be sure to check them out here. I’ve been in winter and in summer and know I’ll be back soon to experience another season at this spectacular spot!

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All Photos Courtesy of The Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.

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Getting Married in San Diego: The Lodge at Torrey Pines

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Looking to plan a wedding with that vintage craftsman vibe? Perhaps at a property with rustic elegance and a masculine touch overlooking the ocean for your destination wedding?  Have you considered Southern California for a domestic destination I do with sunny skies and near perfect weather year round?  If you want to get away for your wedding, and you want to enjoy the great outdoors but the finer things in life too, then take a look at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in San Diego, CA (La Jolla to be exact).

You might know the name for the historic championship golf course it sits on (great for the guys in your wedding party), but The Lodge is so much more than just great golf and cliffside views of the Pacific…it’s the perfect place for a winter wedding without the snow!  I recently got an insider’s look into planning a wedding at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, and from start to finish, it was a fantastic experience.

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The fireplace-clad suites, stained glass windows and Tiffany lamps in the lobby create this old world feeling for guests to get lost in.  A great place to easily unwind, your wedding will have a relaxed grace to it and a style that’s set apart from other properties around the country.  You can even play croquet on the lawn overlooking the water and golf course, a spot which also doubles as a ceremony lawn for your nuptials.

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The staff at The Lodge at Torrey Pines is one that will welcome you in like family.  The property has 170 rooms and suites, but it feels much smaller than that, in part due to the friendly faces who work there that you’ll see daily.  And their wedding and catering department is no different, you’re in great hands here (ask for Molly!).  You may find yourself enjoying Chef Jeff’s fine cuisine in a private dining room during your tasting when he pops by for a laugh and nice visit.  And when that visit is done, the gentlemen at the front drive will bid you farewell by name and welcome you back each time as if it was your own home.

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One of the unique elements of the property is the location – perched high on the cliffside of the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, CA, it means there’s typically a nice mellow breeze, leaving the groomsmen and guests in a state of perfect temperature for that outdoor ceremony (instead of those unsightly sweaty wedding photos).  If the fog rolls in for your wedding, your photos will be nothing short of magical, but chances are you’ll find sunny skies and weather that’s just right for celebrating.

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With multiple locations to wed, you have the choice of a garden ceremony or my personal favorite, the Arroyo Terrace, looking out over the 18th hole and ocean beyond that.  It also makes for a fun cocktail hour with vintage lawn games, a perfect fit for this property.

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Then for dinner, head inside to one of the beautiful ballrooms, like the Maurice Braun Ballroom which comes complete with a fireplace and chandeliers that look like craftsman lanterns.  It can accommodate weddings up to 220 guests, so you don’t have to cut that destination wedding headcount to wed here!

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With great outdoor spaces attached to the ballrooms, you’ll find that your wedding at The Lodge at Torrey Pines truly feels like a lodge experience.  If you want a residential elegance to welcome your guests to on your big day, then look no further, you’re home.

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For more information about getting married at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, be sure to check them out here.

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Where to Wed in Maui: Montage Kapalua Bay

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Ever called a hotel home before? Well, when you check into your residence at the Montage Kapalua Bay, that’s exactly what you’ll do. They don’t have your run-of-the-mill hotel rooms, they have residences, that you live in, indulge in, rest and relax and even celebrate in, when you touch down on Maui for your destination wedding or honeymoon.

Recently I traveled to the island to experience what Hawaii has to offer us mainlanders looking for an exceptional destination wedding. And it’s called the Montage. A boutique property, with just 50 residences (all suite like homes with full kitchens, dinning rooms and living rooms too – though it’s your massive deck or garden patio you’ll spend the most time in), the property has the offerings and options of a large resort without the crowds or craziness of one. Of course it has its multiple infinity pools, several dinning choices (the Cane & Canoe Bar is a must for a nightcap), and a spa that can properly service the most discerning massage guest.

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And the spa, let me tell you about the spa. If you’re honeymooning or traveling as a pair, the Maui Romance Couple’s Package is a must! It begins with a coconut milk bath for two complete with fresh fruit platter and personalized service in an outdoor private bath, followed by a pair of massages that have notably been called the best on the island.  The best part?  They even take place in a private outdoor hale (house) treatment room!

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But really it’s the wedding staff, the wedding dining, and the wedding locations at Montage Kapalua Bay that make this property so memorable for what we do. Imagine an intimate dinner for 16 guests or cocktails for 40, in small structure perched on volcanic rock with crashing waves below, incredible sunsets on the horizon and whales breaching the waters within earshot outside. This is their intimate events only space appropriately called The Cliff House. Whether you’re hosting dinner for two, a rehearsal or welcome party, wedding cocktail hour, or even an intimate wedding, it’s a truly magical place to celebrate in Maui.  Unlike anything I’ve dined in before, The Cliff House is an idyllic place to celebrate just about anything!

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For larger parties, the Namalu Lawn or The Point with beach to your left and tide pools to your right makes for amazing places to ceremony, celebrate, and even dine under the stars. For late night dancing and parties, retire to their 120 person capacity ballroom with walls that open up for indoor/outdoor living.

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Now matter where you decide to celebrate, I can assure you, then menu will take your breath away. From local lobster to bread made fresh daily with purple Moleki potatoes that is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced – the menu is memorable, and the food will not disappoint even your biggest foodie in the bunch. And the cocktails are just as special! Be sure to order from their secret cocktail menu, a favorite being the 1944 Mai Tai, that now may not be so secret, but something so good deserves to be shared.

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Planning a destination wedding at Montage Kapalua Bay is a breeze, something you’ll enjoy like the trade winds, thanks to Katie Cotton and her team who treat your party as if it was their own. My only disappointment? Leaving.

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For more information on getting married at Montage Kapalua Bay, be sure to check them out here. And don’t be shy about staying on for your romantic Hawaiian honeymoon too!

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Maui Destination Wedding Location: The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua

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Where can you go to get away from it all and still have all the creature comforts from home? The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua is one such place framing a picture-perfect bay formed of volcanic rock on the sleepy side (aka private and relaxing part) of Maui, Hawaii. A dream destination for your destination wedding or honeymoon! I recently got the chance to experience it firsthand and let’s just say, I’m already planning my next trip back!

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The area of Kapalua Bay is its own private-like oasis set apart from the rest of the world. Complete with breathtaking views of two golf courses and a quaint town with a complimentary shuttle to get you around, you’ll feel relaxed and right at home here. I loved the small village vibe, it’s just a few hundred feet from the front door of The Ritz Carlton, allowing you to stock your mini-fridge with a few essential provisions, get out for a night of great sushi (at Sansei), and even pay a visit to The Wine Palette, a place where you can yes, enjoy your wine, while painting its glass! They say location is everything and The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua has that in spades!

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Back on property, I highly recommend you partake in the couples massage experience – it’s a must. You’ll be treated to a treatment for two while listening to the sounds of birds in paradise and winds blowing in the palm leaves around you. The natural soundtrack is something you would bottle up and sell in an app, but don’t pay too close of attention, let yourself go with the soothing hands of the exceptional staff (I highly recommend Chris if he’s available) and then enjoy!

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Then once you’re fully relaxed, it’s time to wed! The events and weddings staff at The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua take your wedding under their wing with a delicate yet commanding touch, making sure no detail goes undone. And at this unique property, that includes every detail – right down to your bridal bouquet. That’s right, they even have floral and décor options for your event, among other amenities, allowing for a one-stop-shopping experience for your destination wedding. This means you don’t have to worry about sourcing and shopping for anything off-property, making planning your wedding something you could do in your sleep! Then say “I do” outdoors on the lawn overlooking the ocean and you’ve created a night you’ll never forget.  Just don’t forget to add in a few Hawaiian traditions (like a blessing during your ceremony and shave ice at your reception) – the resort can arrange all this and more for you too!

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And when the big day is done, be sure to enjoy all that the location has to offer – like a stunning hike along the shore, beautiful beaches to choose from for your lazy days, and fine dinning at one of their six restaurants within the resort. When you touch down at The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua, you’ll find something for everyone in your group to enjoy.  I know I’ll be back to explore some more!

For more information on getting married at The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua, be sure to visit their weddings page here.

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Famous Luxury Resort for Destination Weddings in Florida

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All Resort Photos: The Breakers Palm Beach

Looking for a spectacular stateside destination wedding location?  Just think, white sands and clear blue waters without leaving the country, making planning your destination wedding a breeze!  For a picturesque domestic destination wedding, look no further than Palm Beach, Florida at the world famous oceanfront resort, The Breakers Palm Beach.

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This historic property dates back to 1896, but of course has all the modern amenities and luxuries you would come to expect from a five diamond property. Each year the owners put $30 million dollars back into it to make it better than ever! No corner is left untouched, from the eight bars and restaurants to the new indoor / outdoor fitness center, two championship golf courses, four pools and even a private beach – love and attention goes into every facet of the place. But its real charm is no matter how high tech it becomes to provide you with all the creature comforts; it always leads with its timeless sophistication and grand residential feeling. I’ve been lucky enough to be a guest at this magnificent property, and I can tell you, the relaxed elegance of the rooms and suites will certainly make you wish this was your permanent residence!

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Photos: KT Merry

With 538 guestrooms (including 68 suites), The Breakers certainly has everyone in your bridal party covered! And for those looking for a more boutique experience, they’ve got something new for you too – it’s called Flagler Club, a 25-room boutique hotel experience within the resort.

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Photo: Artist Group Photography

The property really has it all, including a dedicated weddings department too! A wedding at The Breakers means you will be walked through this special time in your life by the delicate touch of an exceptional staff waiting to carry out your every wish (just like they did for Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello who wed there late last year). From tenting the Ocean Lawn overlooking warm waters to serving up individual raw bars of fresh seafood atop custom ice sculptures for your guests, to designing a floral installation fit for royalty, The Breakers Palm Beach makes magic happen for their brides and grooms.

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Photo: Donna Newman Photography

While I love a wedding outdoors in the sunny Florida weather, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to dine and dance the night away in their Venetian Ballroom, complete with floor to ceiling windows looking out at the Atlantic and seating for up to 550.

For smaller events, the Circle Ballroom seats 200 beneath a soaring fresco-painted ceiling and of course, has ocean views too.

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Photo: KT Merry

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Photo: Munoz Photography

Still looking for that perfect ceremony site? How about the Mediterranean Ballroom, a Romanesque-space with fresco-painted renaissance ceilings and views of the courtyard (which makes for a great cocktail hour location too!). In all, there are twelve options and event spaces to choose from, so chances are they have exactly what you’re looking for.

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Above Two Photos: Braedon Flynn Photography

And when all the dancing is done, or to get your beauty prep on before the big day, be sure to carve out some time during your stay for the spa. The Breakers has recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation to the spa, offering you a state-of-the-art indoor / outdoor oasis complete with a heated sand-quartz bed for massages and services designed with couples in mind!

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If you’re looking for a grand venue for your destination wedding, one with beachfront wedding sites as well as glorious ballrooms and exquisite guestrooms for your loved ones, then it’s time to call The Breakers Palm Beach home for your big day.

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Photo: Amy Hill Photography

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