In 2013, Mauritius was Kuoni’s (0844 488 0249; kuoni.co.uk) top destination for exotic nuptials, thanks to a combination of superlative beaches, five-star hotels and straightforward legal requirements.
It’s essential to contact the local authorities in the country you intend to get married in to check the official requirements. Generally speaking, if you adhere to local laws, your wedding will be legal in the UK. Booking with a tour operator can often cut down on having to deal with the legal formalities, as many will offer the services of a specialist team as well as wedding planners.
For lakeside lovers
Slovenian legend has it that it’s good luck if the groom carries his bride up the 99 steps leading to the tiny Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on the island in the middle of Slovenia’s Lake Bled. It’s unquestionably one of Slovenia’s most romantic spots. Thomson Lakes (0871 230 8181; thomsonlakes.co.uk) has church wedding packages from £1,492. Seven nights’ half board at the Pension Mayer in Bled starts from £527 per person, based on two sharing, including flights from Gatwick, half-board and transfers (not currently available for same-sex weddings).
For Manhattan magic
Central Park, Grand Central Station or even the Brooklyn Bridge are just a trio of iconic locations for your New York matrimonial moment. Everything from lavish celebrations to a last-minute dash to the altar can be arranged for prospective heterosexual and same-sex couples by Ultimate USA Weddings (001 212 563 3525; ultimateusaweddings.com). Basic wedding packages including permits start from $895 (£600).
On a mountain
You would be forgiven for feeling a bit light-headed as you exchange high-altitude vows on top of Mount Charles Stewart in Canada. Couples are flown from Banff by helicopter and dropped off on the mountain, where a marriage commissioner conducts the ceremony surrounded by views of Banff National Park. The price of £3,520 includes helicopter flights, a photographer, champagne, flowers and arranging a marriage licence for same-sex or heterosexual couples. Book through Canadian Sky (0843 249 5235; canadiansky.co.uk).
In the Land of the Rising Sun
In a Japanese Shinto wedding, women wear an intricately made kimono and the ceremony involves purification rituals, prayers and a sacred dance. Inside Japan (0117 370 973; inside japantours.com) can arrange a three-day wedding package (which isn’t legally binding), including a ceremony in traditional dress at the ancient Kamigamo shrine in Kyoto. The price of £4,845 per couple includes the ceremony, clothing hire and accommodation. Flights extra.
In Italian splendour
Italy has become one of the key European wedding destinations. Couples who elect to rent one of the stately piles from Tuscany Now’s (020 7684 8884; tuscanynow.com) wedding portfolio get complimentary access to a wedding planner. One villa sure to induce some bridal envy is Palladian Villa Zambonina outside Verona, from £3,614 per week. The price includes a (non-legally binding) marriage blessing, available to heterosexual and same-sex couples.