No Ordinary Love
You want a fairy tale wedding unlike any other, so why not consider these unique wedding and honeymoon venues?
Every girl dreams of the day she marries: the stunning white dress, the gorgeous flowers, the most romantic music and, of course, the perfect guy. The entire scene plays out in a beautifully decorated locale; maybe it's a church, perhaps it's a ballroom or it even could be a lovely garden. However, when dreams turn into reality, many of today's brides realize they want something a little more unique, beautiful yet unlike anything they have ever seen before. Throughout the Southeast, brides will find exactly what they want in some truly spectacular wedding and honeymoon destinations that are a little off the beaten path.
A Walk in the Park
Located 25 miles from Asheville, N.C., in the Hickory Nut Gorge, Chimney Rock State Park (chimneyrockpark.com) welcomes couples to trade vows in one of several picturesque spots throughout the park. At this outdoor venue, you truly can be on top of the world at an elevation of 2,280 feet that offers 75-mile views from a 315-foot monolith situated on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you prefer something a little more grounded, you can opt for a spot by the Hickory Nut Falls, one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.
Alabama also offers a wonderful outdoor wedding site at Cheaha Resort State Park (www.alapark.com/CheahaResort). Wedding sites include The Restaurant Deck, which overlooks the Talladega National Forest, The Wedding Chapel and Bald Rock Group Lodge, which contains everything you need for your event: ceremony site, reception space and accommodations. The park also contains several pavilions throughout the park that are perfect for more casual affairs.
A Deserted Island
If you're interested in a beach wedding, check out the islands along Georgia's coast. Accessible by ferry, Sapelo Island is home to The Reynolds Mansion (www.gastateparks.org/lodges/reynolds), a beautiful home built in the early 1800s. Today it offers couples a secluded retreat for their entire wedding event–from rehearsal dinner through the honeymoon.
Down the coast of southwest Florida, south of Sarasota, Palm Island Resort (www.palmisland.com) provides another private island experience for both weddings and honeymoons. Accessible by boat or car ferry, the resort prohibits vehicular traffic, so getting around is limited to walking, biking and using golf carts. Lodging accommodations include private pools, spas and barbecue areas, so newlyweds can socialize as little or as much as they desire.
No Place Like a Home
If you dream of a wedding at home but you want something a bit more formal, then consider an event at one of the Southeast's many historic homes. For instance, Woodlands Inn (www.woodlandsinn.com) in Summerville, S.C. (just outside of Charleston), is a beautifully restored Neo-Georgian-style home with 18 guest rooms, including the unofficial honeymoon suite (Room 302) complete with a raised platform where the king-sized bed holds court and a curved staircase to the home's turret, which provides a view of the surrounding grounds. The property also holds a two-bedroom country cottage if more privacy is preferred.
At Richmond, Va.'s Historic Mankin Mansion (www.historicmankinmansion.com), brides can meet their grooms underneath the branches of a 100-year-old sycamore tree and say their vows in the shadows of a 7,000-square-foot brick mansion and its many brick walkways and walls. Among the grounds, guests also will find formal English gardens, a selection of water features, an Italian pergola, a raised bocce court and a grand lawn size chess set.
Another architectural wedding destination, Monmouth Plantation (monmouthplantation.com) in Natchez, Miss., is a beautiful antebellum home that epitomizes Southern hospitality. Ceremony sites include the shade of a Spanish moss-draped oak tree, a Palladian temple, a pergola overflowing with flowers and more. Accommodations are available in both the main house and eight outbuildings, so wedding couples can turn their special day into a memorable weekend for them and their guests.
Located approximately one hour north of Atlanta, Barnsley Gardens (www.barnsleyresort.com) offers a unique twist on the "historic home wedding." In the 1840s, Godfrey Barnsley set out to build a home for his wife, Julia. Unfortunately, she succumbed to illness before the house was completed; however, after encountering her spirit in the formal gardens, Barnsley completed the house. During the Civil War, the house suffered irreparable damage, which was followed by years of disrepair.
In 1988, a new owner revived the gardens and restored the manor ruins at Barnsley, thus establishing a hauntingly romantic venue for weddings. In addition to an onsite wedding coordinator, Barnsley Gardens also enlists the services of a Fairy Godmother, who will be more than happy to help your wedding–and honeymoon–dreams come true.
Truly a Fairy Tale
If you have ever dreamed of a truly one-of-a-kind wedding, then head to Medieval Times (medievaltimes.com) in Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, S.C., or Orlando, Fla. Just imagine: an 11th-century castle complete with a king, trumpeters, knights, horses ands servers outfitted in period costumes. In fact, everyone from the bride and groom to all the guests are invited to dress the part and enjoy this journey back in time as the happy couple starts their new lives together.
For brides who want to be a princess for a day, then head to Orlando and Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons (disneyweddings.disney.go.com). Want to ride in Cinderella's coach and get married near her castle? Done. Or maybe you prefer an international backdrop at one of Epcot's countries? No problem. Perhaps you want the magical elegance of the Wedding Pavilion? Absolutely. Whatever style and location you and your Prince Charming desire, you can bet Disney can deliver. Plus, you can spend your honeymoon with Mickey and Minnie at the Magic Kingdom, cruising the Caribbean on a Disney cruise, or simply relaxing on the beach.
As you can see, the Southeast contains quite an array of unique and interesting wedding and honeymoon locations. The hardest part may be deciding which one to choose for your own special day!
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