Take a deep breath — an underwater wedding won’t soon be forgotten. (Photo: Alamy)
Tying the knot? You might not want to indulge the traditions from which this phrase arose; that is, being tightly tied up to your new spouse, as was the way of weddings in ancient Celtic, Hindu and Egyptian ceremonies. However, you may want to wager your marrying odds on something equally as surreal.
Marriages featuring sharks, midair vows, and brides and grooms who are naked, caked in mud or wrapped in tree bark are not uncommon for those willing to bet that a little wackiness at wedding time bodes well for a lifetime of marital bliss.
Here are seven seductive wedding options for those who want to take their nuptials to new places and design a truly memorable day.
Weddings in the Raw
As wedding costs continue to soar (the average wedding runs $28,000 according to recent statistics; and wedding attire runs around $2,600), some couples are finding an easy way to avoid those costs and still have a dream wedding by opting for ceremonies in the nude.
Several resorts in Cancun and the Caribbean are all too happy to oblige, with dedicated wedding planners and even post-ceremony sailings into the sunset. Nude beaches in St. Martin are famous for their clothing-optional endless sands. Adults-only resorts in Jamaica, Curacao and Cancun can create memorable nude affairs, as well. Couples who do not want to stray far from U.S. shores can opt for Haulover Beach in the Bal Harbour section of North Miami.
For couples that may want to wear mud to a marriage, New Zealand has the answers. Rotorua, a North Island eco-wonderland of boiling lakes and steaming geysers, offers the option to exchange vows in aptly named Hells Gate, where there are plenty of natural mud pools.
Obliging nearby venues provide a variety ceremonial accoutrements and post-ceremony showers for couples and their guests.
Weddings in the Ocean
Thailand is a great place to go for those who want to start their marriage underwater. Trang Province on the Andaman Sea offers Underwater Wedding Ceremonies to pre-certified divers that include all the gear plus elements of traditional Buddhist nuptials. A group event takes place annually around Valentine’s Day, with more than 500 people married since the tradition began in 1997.
The group ceremony is a three-day event that starts with each couple planting a tree in the botanical gardens followed by a parade through the streets of the main town in traditional Thai ceremonial dress.
Monks pour blessed water over the couple’s hands in accordance with local custom and then there is a traditional pre-wedding party in the evening.
The undersea ceremony itself happens on the second day, when couples take a longboat to Kradan Island and are married in the calm, warm waters around 30 feet below the surface.
In the evening, there’s a dinner, music, dancing and fireworks, after which newlyweds are escorted to their honeymoon suites by older married couples.
Weddings with Kava
Getting married in Fiji is easier than you might think. Ceremonies offered by a number of resorts and tour companies and can be adapted to the interests of the couple. For couples that want to go local, a traditional Fijian wedding may be the order. These are beach weddings where the bride and groom wear bark. They are ordained by a priest, drink mildly narcotic kava from a coconut shell, and are waved on their way aboard a longboat paddled by hunky tattooed warriors.
Weddings with Sharks
If you want to get married with sharks in tow, the sharks in Bora Bora can be quite accommodating. You can marry on a catamaran in warm island waters with Mount Otemanu providing a striking profile in the background and then dive in to watch circles of sharks, from black-tipped reef sharks to lemon sharks to hammerheads and grays, joining your great day.
Worry not — the sharks hang out far below snorkeling depths, and tours do not go where more predatory species lurk. Don’t forget to swim with turtles and feed the stingrays.
Getting married in Tahiti, still a French protectorate, is widely practiced by westerners but remains a bit complicated. Best to work with a wedding company that knows the ins & outs.
Weddings with Elephants
You can hop on a pachyderm and ride your way into marital bliss on the back of an elephant in Thailand.
An elephant wedding package offered by Phuket Discovery provides a mixture of Western-style nuptials with Thai-style surroundings, as couples ride through the jungle on an elephant draped in white, give their vows by a waterfall, toast to their moment and take a plunge in a crystal-clear swimming pond by the falls.
Ceremonies are offered in Phuket, Krabi or Khao Lak Beach and come with a generous lineup of inclusions.
Weddings in the Castle
Ok, it’s not so wacky, but it is still pretty outrageous: a Disney wedding inside the Sleeping Beauty Castle. It’s many a little girl’s dream to marry in an enchanted castle, and now Walt Disney Parks & Resorts offers Fairy Tale Weddings with all the pomp, including a horse-drawn carriage, Disney characters and fantasy honeymoon stays at nearby Disney-themed properties.
Weddings in the Air
Destination Vows out of Toronto, Canada, can accommodate nearly any airborne wedding venture, whether a couple wants to take the plunge by skydiving into their marriage or jumping off a bridge or cliff in a bungee-focused act of commitment.
They’ll even help plan a wedding in the sky using a crane to hoist a platform 150 feet in the air over an idyllic setting. The couple and up to 20 guests take part in vows and a memorable gourmet meal in the clouds.