Since I moved to Germany and became a destination wedding photographer, I cannot stop thinking about all the unique wedding destinations in Europe. From breathtaking beaches to ice hotels, from paradisiac lakes to snowy mountains, from castles to abbeys ruins. There is a perfect fit for every taste! But with so many options, how can you even decide where to start?
I know (by my own experience) that it is not easy to plan a destination wedding in another country or continent. Different language, culture, weather. There are so many things to consider that it is a little bit overwhelming. But don’t let these differences scare you away. After all, those distinct aspects are exactly what make each wedding destination unique…
In this article, I will present some information and tips about my favorite European destinations to get married, so you can have a kick-start in planning your special day. So let’s dive into it!
1. Algarve, Portugal
Famous for having sun almost the whole year, Algarve is the ideal wedding destination in Europe for those who don’t want to think about the weather. This extraordinary region is made of beautiful landscapes and paradisiac beaches. But that’s not all. In the countryside, you will encounter the charming quintas – luxury private villas – which are the perfect venue for autumn weddings. Another great aspect is the value: you can find very good deals in Algarve, specially during low season. Good to know, right?
If you want to have a ceremony at the beach, the best time to get married is April to June. It will be already warm but without the big crowds of the summer months. Praia de Albandeira and Praia da Luz are two of the most stunning options. The first one is an idyllic small beach with an amazing transparent green water… Not to forget the huge stone arch that makes the view even more impressive. If your dream is to get married at the church, the second option will make you happy: the so called ‘church on the beach’ make it possible to have a church and beach wedding at the same time!
Another place to say ‘I do’ in the region is the majestic ‘Senhora da Rocha’ clifftop: a breath-taking location, with an inspiring ocean view! Not so far from there, you will find a very unconventional place to get married. The Benagil Sea Cave is a secret sea cave, accessible only by boat!
With so many options, I couldn’t think about a better way of opening this list of unique wedding destinations in Europe.
2. Jukkasjarvi, Sweden
Okay, I will be honest: the city is not here just because of the beautiful nature and wedding venues. But, as you can see in the photo, it has one of the most famous and inspiring Ice Hotels from the world. There you can find a little chapel, which will look different every single time. The Icehotel is ‘a hotel and an art exhibition with ever-changing art made out of ice and snow. It is created in a new guise every winter, completely made out of natural ice from Torne River, one of Sweden’s national rivers and last untouched waters.’
Now imagine this: not only you can get married in a chapel made of ice – which is pretty cool – but you also have a wedding venue that is completely different from what it was in the years before! This is the ultimate definition of having an unique and exclusive place to get married! Couples looking to have an adventurous and unforgettable honeymoon will already be in the perfect place. Sweden is famous for the gorgeous northern lights and huskies tours. And I have to say: this is truly special! Talk about killing to birds with one stone, huh?
3. Allgäu, Germany
The first time I was in the Allgäu region in Germany I was speechless. The area is one of the most popular wedding destinations in Europe, thanks to its outstanding landscape, royal castles and tasteful cuisine. One of the favorite locations to get married is the surroundings of the Neuschwanstein Castle. After all, this is the place Walt Disney found inspiration to create the Cinderella Castle. It’s no small thing!
The region is also famous for its spectacular lakes. The sparkling greenish blue color of the Eibsee laps the foothills of nothing less than the Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany. Looking out to the Bavarian Alps you will encounter one of the most pristine spots to to have an elopement or a small wedding.
Although the Allgäu is a summer paradise, it is transformed in a magical winter wonderland in the colder months. So there is no best time to get married here! In every season you will find unique aspects that makes this one of the best wedding destinations in Europe.
4. England, UK
The UK is commonly known for its gorgeous stately houses, castles and churches – but it is the ruined abbeys that makes my eyes shine. Hauntingly beautiful, the ruins makes us remember of a medieval past filled by knights, kings and prayer. Standing there feels like travelling through time.
The Whitby Abbey is set on the clifftops overlooking the sea. Beneath the soaring arches we can still see the remains of what was before an Anglo-Saxon monastery, whose tales of saints, poets and miracles still survive. From its important role in the history of Christianity in England to the arrival of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Whitby is a destination where history and legend meet.
Bolton Abbey offers so many unique venues for your special day. For many it is a dream come true to make their vows in Bolton Priory Church. For others, the Tithe Barn, built in the early 16th century, is the definition of breathtaking. The hidden gem measures 55m long providing space inside and out in abundance for your wedding celebration!
If you are looking for an exclusive and naturally stunning wedding venue, Jervaulx Abbey is a true finding. The natural beauty around the historic ruins makes the venue a true romantic destination to get married in Europe. Due to the current laws in England it is not possible to legally get married outside, but luckily it is possible to book the Jervaulx Abbey Tearoom for that.
5. Swiss Alps, Switzerland
This might sound a little bit random and, yes, we are talking about a HUGE area. The Swiss Alps cover 65% of the 41,285 km2 surface of Switzerland. But I could not ignore one of the most amazing wedding destinations for those with adventurous hearts! Actually, the country is pretty much all purpose-built for adventure.
One of the most famous spots is the mighty Matterhorn – immortalised by legends like Dr. Seuss or for being… the image used on Toblerone chocolate bars since 1960. The good things it is, that is not so hard to be found, due to its 4.478m high. You can see the Matterhorn from pretty much every angle. Exchanging the vowels with this amazing mountain as backdrop sounds incredible, right? But this is just one of the many possibilities. Remember that Switzerland is more than half covered by the alps!
If you are looking for a location to elope, going somewhere closer to the top is also a great option. Not only you will have the most amazing view, but you will also have a good chance of seeing clouds from above. If you are getting married during winter time, you might want to celebrate the wedding in a closed venue. There are a lot of stunning venues in the surroundings such as Berggasthaus First or Suvretta House. If you have something more intimate in mind, I would recommend considering to book a log-fired chalet.
Just a quick warning: the weather in the alps is somewhat crazy. You can have all the mountains covered in white fog and in the next second the most beautiful view. But keep that in mind: if you like to have full control of details like the weather, getting married at the Swiss Alps might not be the best choice for you.
Elopements are becoming every year more and more common. For those that want to celebrate their wedding, without the hassle of executing a big event this alternative fits like a glove! And guess what is one of the favorite destinations for eloping to Europe? Ireland! If you’ve been to the country or at least saw it in famous movies such as ‘Brooklyn’ or ‘P. S. I love you’, it will not be hard to understand why. There are indeed so many stunning locations to get married at, it is hard to choose one. But I will share with you some of my favorites!
Let’s start with Fanningstown Castle. This small wedding venue looks like a Disney movie construction. It is ideally equipped for intimate weddings or elopements and licensed for Civil wedding ceremonies. The beautiful backdrop is the perfect choice for those looking to have a romantic outdoor elopement: either underneath the huge willow tree or using the ornate ivory wrought iron arch. The castle can sleep up to 10 people in 5 bedrooms and can host receptions for up to 20 guests indoors. The cherry on top is its proximity to the Adare village, which has been repeatedly awarded the title of one of Ireland’s most beautiful towns!
The Cliffs of Moher is certainly the most popular place for elopements in Ireland. Its dramatic and scenic setting will make your wedding day even more special. The Cliffs are situated on the west coast of Ireland and are suitable for legally binding wedding ceremonies held outside O’Brien’s Tower.
I know I already mentioned a lot of abey ruins, but the Muckross Abbey is somewhat special. Located in the heart of Killarney National Park in County Kerry, it houses an ancient yew tree. This is the perfect destination wedding for couples who wish to get married in a historic monument. Although the Abbey is not consecrated, it is without a doubt a great compromise between a civil and religious wedding. It is important to mention that the National Park provides plenty of beautiful backdrop opportunities for your wedding photoshoot!
7. Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Last on the list, but not less important, comes the Rhineland-Palatinate area. This is one of the most populous state in Germany and its natural and cultural heritage includes an extensive wine region, picturesque landscapes, and many castles and palaces. It’s no wonder why you will find there two of the most beautiful wedding destinations in Europe: Wegelnburg Ruins and Burg Eltz.
I know, I have something for ruins. But I can’t stop wondering how many lives and stories were already part of these locations. The Wegelnburg Ruins are open the whole year round, but if you want to enjoy the beautiful mountains backgroups, it is better to make sure to have a clear day. The light of the sunset in sommer, and the magic brought by the snow during winter makes this wedding destination one of my favorite places for elopements.
Burg Eltz makes you fascinated since the first time you look at it. It is not a surprise that it is one of the most famous castles in Germany and brings with it more than 800 years of first-class European cultural history. Somehow their owners managed to ensure this amazing location to not show any sign of decay, for centuries. Surrounded by wild rocks, stunning trees and small hills, this is on of the most magical place to elope in Europe.
Unique Wedding Destinations in Europe
This article was made thinking about locations that usually will not be found somewhere else. If you are looking for more traditional places, you might enjoy reading another post with some of the best destination wedding locations in Europe.
Are you ready to start dreaming you magical destination wedding in Europe? Or maybe you have some questions? Send me a message and let’s start thinking about all the beautiful photos you can have!