Sure, destination weddings can be incredibly romantic, festive and adventurous, but they can also be a big, boring challenge for bride, groom, and guests: planning from afar can complicate the process and take the pleasure out of an already stressful life experience.
But don’t give up the faraway dream just yet. You can actually arrange for the romance of a getaway wedding weekend without renewing your passport. You want waterfront? Quaint brick-lined streets? Eighteenth century mansions? Breathtaking water views? No, not Nantucket. We mean Annapolis, our slightly better-looking cousin to the southeast, a million miles from the look and feel of urban Baltimore, but a mere 30 miles from the city.
Over the years, Annapolis has become an increasingly popular place to tie the knot. Fondly referred to as the City of Flowers by the Bay and voted one of the East Coast’s prettiest towns by Forbes Traveler Magazine, Annapolis offers an out-of-town backdrop for the big day and venues to suit water lovers, eco-conscious couples, history buffs, and diehard romantics.
In recent years, museums have become a chic and sophisticated choice for a wedding reception site, but few can compete with the front and center water view of the Annapolis Maritime Museum. Located alongside the Chesapeake Bay in the area’s last operating oyster-packing plant, the museum offers an authentically maritime experience.
Need to get even closer to the water? How about a ceremony or reception aboard a luxury yacht? Watermark Cruises offers a fleet of top-notch yachts to make a wedding truly special. If sailing is more appealing, The Liberte, a majestic 74-foot schooner, also accommodates wedding parties. So, too, do the Woodwind & Woodwind II, also 74- foot schooners designed to show guests a good time, not to mention panoramic views of the Chesapeake Bay.
Herrington Harbour South Marina Resort combines the best of two worlds. Not only does the venue double as a breathtaking and pristine waterfront resort, it also engages in multiple, on-site sustainable practices to ensure the preservation of its natural environment.
Plenty of brides and grooms prefer to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground, especially that on which our forefathers once treaded. These couples may want to consider the 18th century pleasure garden on the grounds of the former home of William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence (and the namesake of the Baltimore thoroughfare). With three descending terraces each with its own unique scenery, this natural oasis in the heart of Annapolis has satisfied the wedding dreams of many couples.
If you’re looking for a fairytale-like wedding backdrop, Historic Londontown fits the bill. Imagine getting married on a high bluff with unparalleled views of a river below. That’s the scene at the romantic 23-acre waterfront venue. All the props for a perfect wedding day come in one package: sweeping views, beautiful gardens, historic structures, and a 185-foot pier jutting out over the Chesapeake Bay.
For guests and members of the wedding party who want to complete the “destination wedding” package, an overnight stay is a must. As many terrific venues that Annapolis offers for wedding ceremonies and receptions, it’s got even more lodging options: More than 11,000 hotel rooms in Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay area plus dozens of bed and breakfasts accommodate overnight guests. A couple of favorites:
- The Annapolis Marriott, the only waterfront hotel in downtown Annapolis
- The Westin Annapolis, a brand new hotel in downtown Annapolis.
- Historic Inns of Annapolis, a collection of three distinct, beautifully restored boutique hotels in downtown Annapolis.
Sold on Annapolis as the quintessential destination wedding spot? It’s always best to check out these things in person. So make the trip; it’s under an hour. But hurry. Wedding season is right around the corner. You’ll want to book soon.