When you hear “destination wedding,” do your thoughts drift to a tropical island with white sands and azure waves, or perhaps an ancient Italian villa nestled among olive groves and stone paths, with 20 of your closest friends and family in attendance?
How about rolling hills and verdant forests; quiet charm embodied in white-steepled churches and vibrant village streets; breathtaking mountain views; food grown merely miles from the hand-hewn tables it’s served on; hiking, biking, skiing, sightseeing and more?
If Vermont holds a special place in your heart, consider making it central to your union with a destination wedding in the heart of the Green Mountains.
A “destination” wedding is, most simply, an event that everyone — including the wedding party and immediate family — travels to. It could include a week packed full of activities, a long weekend with a few key events, or even an intimate getaway for just the bride and groom.
Whatever form your destination wedding takes, there’s a lot to consider when planning your away-from-home event.
Cost and travel
If you’re set on a small wedding, a destination wedding in a remote location, by default, will limit the guest list. Unless the bride and groom are footing the entire bill, the cost of plane tickets and travel time likely will make it difficult for some people to make the trip.
But not every destination wedding requires extensive travel plans. Unlike a tropical locale, Vermont is easily accessible by car if you live in the Northeast, which is good news if you’re hoping for a big turnout.
Less control, more help
When planning the details of a destination wedding, you will most likely need to turn over some of the control to on-site professionals. This may include a wedding planner, vendors, or coordinators at your chosen venue. Depending on your personality, you might love the idea of letting other people do some of the legwork, or hate it.
If you aren’t totally familiar with the area of Vermont you’ve chosen for your wedding, it may be a good idea to leave some of the decision-making to local experts. When choosing a location or package, ask what’s included. Certain venues offer services you’d otherwise have to plan yourself — flowers, table settings, transportation, music, meals, photography, and even officiates.
Topnotch Resort & Spa in Stowe offers a variety of wedding packages, ranging from receptions with hundreds of people to a private destination package for two, including accommodations, a couple’s massage, a sleigh or carriage ride, a small wedding cake, and a justice of the peace and two witnesses to officiate your union.
Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa in Stowe offers something for everyone — a nine-hole golf course, a full-service salon and spa with a mineral pool and a 12-foot indoor waterfall, and even hot air balloon rides. There are numerous areas to accommodate wedding parties of all sizes, from a linen-draped ballroom to a peaceful garden. An on-site restaurant, bar and available catering make a one-stop shop for all your dining needs.
Stowe Mountain Resort, located at the base of Vermont’s highest peak, is a plush destination for mountain-minded visitors from around the world. The resort offers just about any amenity you could wish for — world-class skiing, golf and spa services, tennis, swimming, on-site ceremony and reception venues, a variety of custom culinary and group lodging options, and a dedicated event planner.
Activities for your guests
If you’re choosing Vermont because you love the outdoors, ask around for recommendations on group outings — a guided hike, a zip-line excursion, a kayak trip or bike tour in the warmer seasons, or snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill or Nordic skiing when the snow flies. Vermont is known for its great recreation options, and most local shops and businesses are well prepared to provide you with rentals, guidance, and group requests of all sizes.
Umiak Outdoor Outfitters in Stowe offers a wide variety of rentals and tours, from the conventional (Nordic skiing or a foliage lake paddle with kayaks and canoes) to the unexpected (dogsledding, backcountry telemarking or skinning, or a moonlight snowshoe that ends with ice cream or a fondue party).
The time of year will definitely have an impact on the kinds of activities available to you and your guests. If you’re not set on a certain season, however, you may be able to find some excellent deals in the “shoulder” seasons — although the weather is definitely a gamble in March and April, or November.
Once you’ve settled on a venue, brainstorm your favorite things about that part of Vermont. Many of your friends and family members might not be familiar with the area, so you’ll want to let them know why you love it so much! Consider putting together orientation packets for your guests, with personal touches that help them see why Vermont is so special to you:
• A photo of the first time you and your spouse-to-be visited the area.
• A map (hand-drawn if you’re creative, or Google-mapped if you’re more tech-savvy) featuring your favorite secret spots — a great swimming hole, a perfect bike trail, or the best view in town.
• Brochures and menus from your favorite attractions, restaurants, or shops.
• A list of any local specials or deals you may have found that are in effect during your wedding stay — two-for-one pizza slices? Half-off mini golf? A beer or wine tasting event? A chicken pie supper, or pie for breakfast?
In a vibrant destination like Vermont, there’s always something new and interesting to do.
The Sun & Ski Inn and Suites on the Mountain Road in Stowe offers more than just a nice place to rest your head. Between the Stowe Golf Park, which features “golf in miniature,” and the new Stowe Bowl, a boutique bowling alley with eight cherry-wood lanes and a retro-chic lounge and bar, there’s a whole lot of fun to be had.
If you’ve fallen in love with Vermont and professed your love here, you’ll surely want to return again and again. You may want to explore new places, climb new mountains, and see new sights, or revisit the place where you said “I do.” Many hotels offer a sweet deal — or even a free night’s stay — for your first anniversary!
Unlike other hard-to-reach destinations, Vermont can be more than just a beautiful backdrop for a one-time event. It can be a reflection of who you are as a couple and an important part of your love story for years to come.