In a cave
Brides who long for stalactites in their wedding decor can book in the Ozarks of Missouri. Native American legend has it that a couple first married here in the early 1800s. More than 2,500 couples have done so since then. One pair even flew from St Thomas in the Virgin Islands to be married in the Bridal Cave because beach weddings in their own paradise seemed too familiar and ordinary.
A car museum
Kimberly Dominick Leflore entered into holy matrimony at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. As a car salesperson, she once sold her husband-to-be a new Corvette. “The part my husband would like to tell is how I suckered him into buying the car,” she says. “He had been a friend of the family for years, and my dad has always owned Vettes since I was a little girl, so that was always my dream car.” Another way to race to your nuptials is at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The speedway hosts weddings year-round, but on one day a year, fans can get married for free in the Victory Lane.
Pearson’s Pond, an inn in Juneau, Alaska, helps couples arrange weddings on a glacier. For Amy and Gregory Rhoden, the wedding day began with their arrival with family on a cruise ship, followed by a helicopter flight to a glacier for the ceremony. Because it’s always cold, “long, flowing capes and white fur jackets and hats are popular with the brides,” says inn owner Maryann Ray. What you can’t see in the wedding photos: bride, groom, parents and everybody else on the glacier has to wear big, clunky boots with spikes on the bottom called crampons to prevent slips.
Next to a volcano
Here’s one way to express your molten passion: in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, couples marry with views of Kilauea Caldera, part of a live volcano with plumes of lava flaring against the sky. It’s an ancient landscape that recreates and renews itself daily, says park rep Jessica Ferracane (sounds like a good metaphor for a great marriage to us). And even though it’s still considered an active volcano, there’s no cause for alarm: there haven’t been eruptions there for centuries.
Officials at Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio helped a couple take the big plunge on the Millennium Force rollercoaster immediately after their ceremony on the park’s beach. Why did the new husband and wife want to start wedded bliss on one of the tallest rollercoasters in the world? “I finally got him to marry me, so I was going to do whatever he wanted,” jokes bride Angie Brashares. “He wanted to do the coaster, and I went along for the ride.”
With man-eating animals
Some people say ‘I do’ at Lions, Tigers & Bears, a non-profit exotic-animal sanctuary in east San Diego, California, that’s home to those beasts—plus bobcats, leopards and miniature horses. Wedding guests staying in the sanctuary’s private retreat fall asleep to the sounds of the animals and can feed some in the morning. “The open land, big shady trees and soundscape of the birds was everything and more I could have asked for,” says bride Carissa Payan. Her guests loved the occasional roar of the lions during the ceremony and the peacock that squawked right after an “amen”. Another unusual touch: Payan rented vintage furniture for her outdoor reception in the fields.
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At a Mayan temple
Belize is home to more than 600 ancient Mayan sites that welcome weddings, says travel and wedding planner Lara Goldman. Among the most enchanting and romantic locales is Cahal Pech (try not to think too much about that name, which translates to “place of the ticks”). Goldman can arrange for a Mayan shaman to perform the ceremony if you desire and has organised weddings for both straight and gay partners. “I love that an LGBT couple can stand on a 3,000-year-old temple and have a Mayan shaman perform the commitment ceremony,” she says.
A pirate ship
If your vision of a dream wedding includes a pirate swinging from a ship mast to deliver your wedding rings, get captured with your fiancé on the pirate ship at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. “There isn’t enough rope-sliding acrobatics in your general wedding,” says Bobbi Kelty, who knew that a conventional setting just wasn’t her style. “Getting married on the pirate ship was like stepping into a fairy tale. The ship was beautifully arrayed and the service performed by the captain was divine.” Even Pastor Jerome Blankenship, who’s led weddings here since 1993, says they can be “more energetic and fun” than weddings in a chapel.