There are a lot of perks to a quick weekend elopement -- no stressful planning, no weird cousins in attendance, no massive checks to hand over... So we rounded up six diverse destinations that make it easy for couples to combine their private "I dos" with a romantic weekend hotel stay. All you have to provide is the getaway car, rings, and happily ever after.
Rendezvous spot: Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls is a traditional honeymoon destination, but lots of brides and grooms let this somewhat kitschy spot serve double duty by "taking the plunge" here as well. Heavenlee Weddings can arrange nuptials for two anywhere from on board the Maiden of the Mist to in a helicopter hovering over the falls. Of course, if you want a quiet chapel ceremony and then an epic photo shoot in your wedding duds alongside the thundering waters, that can be arranged too. We recommend getting married on the New York side of the falls for legal reasons, then driving the short distance over the border to a Canadian boutique hotel for an international wedding night.
Romantic hotel pick: Sterling Inn & Spa
This upper-middle-range intimate boutique doesn’t have a traditional honeymoon suite, but Deluxe King Rooms include fireplaces and enormous whirlpool bathtubs. Splurge on a couple’s massage at the on-site spa and cuddle up behind a curtained-off table for two at the red rose-colored (and chandelier-studded) AG Restaurant. The falls are within hand-in-hand walking distance from the inn.
Rendezvous spot: Big Sur, California
If scenic Big Sur is your ideal spot for a private elopement, we suggest not mentioning it to your friends and family; otherwise, your quiet ceremony will quickly turn into an over-the-top extravaganza as everyone will want an invite! This idyllic spot is located where the mountains meet the Pacific, south of San Francisco. Rent a convertible and roll up with the top down for an added dash of romance and fun.
Romantic hotel pick: Post Ranch Inn
This five-pearl hotel is one of the most beautiful in the world, so it’s no surprise that it offers an elopement package. The resident interfaith officiate presides over vows on the gorgeous terrace of the standalone cottages or tree houses. Extras include a flower arrangement, made-to-order bridal bouquet and boutonniere, bottle of champagne, and etched crystal champagne flutes. Afterwards, couples can have signature spa treatments, swim in the infinity edge pool, and dine at one of the best restaurants in California (which happens to be on-site). All this luxury (and those have-to-see-them-to-believe-them views) comes at a very high cost. But who can put a price on love?
Rendezvous spot: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
For Midwest couples, Wisconsin Dells is only a three-and-a-half hour drive from Chicago. This cute little town is big on fun and natural autumn beauty -- with gorgeous views of the Wisconsin River gorges and a campy main street stocked with handmade fudge shops, old-time photography studios, and fun restaurants. Dells Bells Chapel organizes three ceremony packages, but we like the Vegas Style Package best since it includes 30 minutes inside the cute yellow chapel. The elopement service also offer a “minister to-go” if you prefer to elope elsewhere in the Dells. Spend the day enjoying the area, then hightail it to Chicago for the luxe lodgings a wedding night deserves.
Romantic hotel pick: Dana Hotel and Spa
Dana Hotel and Spa is one of Chicago’s most luxurious boutiques; a true urban retreat. The Nirvana Suite includes a tub for two and spa-style showers. Crack open a bottle of champagne from the minibar and enjoy it on the private patio, with views of Chicago. The Spa at Dana has a couple’s treatment room for aromatherapy massages and body treatments. Vertigo Sky Lounge on the 26th floor hosts a nightly DJ, and the Velcro VIP Room has a definite sexy vibe.
Wisconsin Dells photo credit: Mellydoll, Flickr Creative Commons
Rendezvous spot: The Graceland Wedding Chapel, Las Vegas
What’s more iconic than eloping in Vegas with an Elvis impersonator as the officiate? The Graceland Wedding Chapel has been cranking out unforgettable wedding ceremonies on the Las Vegas Strip for over 50 years. The recognizable chapel was featured in two Hollywood movies, and Jon Bon Jovi tied the knot here in 2001. Today, guests can live stream their ceremony on the website for friends and family to watch back home.
Romantic hotel pick: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Say goodnight to Elvis and jump in a limo to keep the rock 'n roll party going on your way to The Cosmopolitan. A private Poolside Bungalow makes for the ultimate decadent wedding night. It has a private heated plunge pool, marble tile bathrooms with double showers, and an outdoor kitchenette and bar. You can dance all night at exclusive Marquee (on-site) or hit the hotel's super popular pool party. See if you’re lucky in more than just love at the casino, or shop for his-and-hers designer towels with your new moniker at Monogram, one of the many luxe shops at the hotel.
Rendezvous spot: Arch of Reno Wedding Chapel or Lake Tahoe
If the glitz and the glamour of a wedding in Las Vegas are too much for you and your honey, consider a low-key ceremony in nearby Reno. The Arch of Reno Wedding Chapel is quiet, cute, and friendly on the wallet. It can provide extras like a limo, flowers, and photography services. Officiates will travel, if you prefer a scenic wedding for two on Lake Tahoe.
Romantic hotel pick: Franciscan Lakeside Lodge
Nature-loving couples should consider a cozy wedding weekend at a sweet lakefront cabin on Lake Tahoe, less than an hour’s drive from the Arch of Reno Wedding Chapel. Be sure to book a cabin with a fireplace, then sip early morning coffee with your brand-new spouse on the front porch. A full kitchen means you can cook a romantic dinner, and activities like rowboat rides on the lake or dips in the pool abound. There are barbecue facilities if you prefer to cook outdoors.
Rendezvous spot: The sandy beaches of Playa del Carmen
If you’ve ever dreamed of a perfect tropical wedding for two on powdery white sand while the sun sets, then book early morning flights to Cancun, hop in a rental car, and be on the beach in time for afternoon cocktails in Playa del Carmen, known as Cancun’s more sophisticated sister city. The Royal Hideway Playacar offers four different wedding packages. Even the simplest option includes fun extras like a special turndown wedding night service, honeymoon gift, and chilled sparkling wine for a wedding toast.
Romantic hotel pick: The Royal Hideaway Playacar
It doesn’t get much more convenient than a simple ceremony on the sand and then a dual honeymoon/wedding weekend at this five-pearl, adults-only, all-inclusive luxury resort. Newlyweds won’t have to worry about little ones splashing in the infinity edge pool, which is a huge perk. Las Ventenas has a fun Chef’s Table option and masseuses at the small spa can work out any post-flight kinks. Luxury Rooms are stocked with Bulgari toiletries, rain head showers, and private balconies. Muy romantico! With eloping options like these, you just might be planning your babymoon sooner than you’d imagined.