When it comes to planning a dream wedding, couples with sophisticated taste and a passion for luxury seek the ultimate total experience. From breathtaking locations to impeccable service and attention to detail, booking the perfect wedding venue sets the stage for an extraordinary celebration.

Applying my many years of experience shooting extraordinary destination weddings, I’ve selected 20 luxury wedding venues in North America that offer an unforgettable wedding for couples with a refined and cultured lifestyle. These venues offer a combination of amenities and sophistication, ensuring that your wedding will be one that your friends and family always remember. Please note, these are my personal opinions and I have not been sponsored or compensated in any way for this article. Here’s the list… dream on! 

Luxury Wedding Venues

Sea Island Resort – San Simons, Georgia, USA

Nestled along the pristine coastline of Georgia, Sea Island Resort embodies timeless elegance with old-school family beach town fun. I’m captivated by its stunning historical architecture, long sandy beaches, lush gardens, and world-class amenities.

What you may not know about the Sea Island Resort is that it offers several wedding venues all within just a few miles of the Cloister Hotel, the heart and soul of the resort. Sea Island itself is a private, gated island accessible only to guests of the resort and Sea Island Club members.  Having a wedding there provides your guests with access to these exclusive locations and associated amenities. 

Here is a roundup of  unique venues for your ultimate Sea Island wedding weekend. 

  • Spanish Lounge with its incredible windows has been the backdrop to some of my very favorite photos at Sea Island. This versatile small space is perfect for cocktail hours or a small reception. And of course, be sure to reserve it on your wedding day so it’s available for photos! 
  • The Cloister Ballroom is designed for large events and receptions with all the advantages a ballroom offers. 
  • The Cloister Lobby – it’s RARE but for this wedding I shot for VOGUE, the Lobby transformed into the most gorgeous ceremony space. 
  • The Cloister Chapel is a storybook non-denominational chapel, complete with steeple and low country architectural details that is perfect for a small ceremony. 
  • Black Banks Terrace right on the intercoastal waterway offers outdoor splendor with water breezes. 
  • Cloister Wine Cellar is best for small groups and evening parties. 
  • Rainbow Island with its marsh views and rustic architecture  is an amazing venue for a rehearsal dinner or rustic wedding. I’ve done many events here and though the weather can be mercurial in the South, I’ve always had terrific weather here – must be a lucky venue! 
  • The Beach Club – when only oceanside will do! The beach club is a very popular choice and for good reason since it has so much to offer with indoor and outdoor spaces and plenty of room for your custom tent.  
  • Ocean Forest Golf Club, an exclusive golf club with vast locker rooms and all the indoor and outdoor spaces you’d expect for a large wedding reception. I especially like the courtyard and loggia in the front of Ocean Forest. 
  • The Cloister Belle is a terrific party boat that I’ve seen used for festive bridal luncheons or afternoon cruises. Great for smaller parties. 
  • The Sea Island Golf Club driveway is famously known as the Avenue of the Oaks. Even if you don’t host your wedding at the club, it might be worth your time to swing by for a few pictures there. 

In summary Sea Island Resort is a luxury wedding venue that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and refined sophistication. Couples can exchange vows overlooking the ocean, under the Spanish Moss of live oaks,  or choose from the resort’s elegant indoor spaces, ensuring an unforgettable celebration in an idyllic setting. Plus your guest will enjoy all the amenities the island offers. 

Washington National Cathedral – Washington, D.C., USA

The historic Washington National Cathedral in the heart of the nation’s capital provides a majestic backdrop for sophisticated weddings. The history of this Cathedral is beautiful in itself and only amplified by the soaring stained glass windows, and meticulous craftsmanship that went into the years of this structure.

Getting married here is as close as you can get to having your own “royal wedding” with a processional down the incredible nave. Decorated with beautiful stained glass and distinctive stone carvings, this space is truly a national treasure.

For pictures, I highly recommend securing permission to take photos on the top floors where you get an abundance of natural light and amazing architectural detail. Also taking photos in the adjacent  “Bishops Garden” is also a must (shooting permit required if you aren’t getting married at the Cathedral)! 

Weddings by Liz Banfield at the Washington Cathedral

Summer and Nick’s Wedding at the Washington Cathedral

Santa Lucia Preserve, Carmel-by-the-Sea – California, USA

The picturesque coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California offers a visually spectacular setting for couples seeking a luxury wedding immersed in natural beauty.

It’s a reasonable drive from San Francisco airport. And for those lucky enough to get an invitation to play, Pebble Beach is the ultimate golf experience for any golfer. 

Carmel-by-the-Sea offers a range of exquisite celebrations, whether it be a spectacular beachfront or the nearby redwood forests. If you are considering Carmel, you must check out the Santa Lucia Preserve. This private club is available for extraordinary weddings.

The 100+ year old historic Hacienda is a terrific backdrop for pictures as is the Preserve’s exclusive access to a clearing in the redwoods nearby that is ideal for a ceremony in a “cathedral” of nature. The wedding I shot here is among my most re-grammed gallery of images.

Don’t forget to send your guests to Point Lobos State Park for accessible hiking with world-class views of the Pacific coast. 

Meadowood Napa Valley, Napa, California, USA

This beloved resort, Meadowood Napa Valley, burned to the ground in 2020 and came back even better as an elegant, 250-acre wine estate spread among the hillsides of Napa Valley. It’s an ideal retreat for weddings with world class service and spaces that are made to highlight the surrounding landscapes.

I have shot many weddings at the original facility and I’m looking forward to returning to capture it’s renewed splendor. 

San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco, California, USA

I’m often asked, what is my favorite location in the world and the answer is this: San Francisco City Hall. Its supreme combination of extraordinary architecture and gorgeous light make it a photographer’s dream.

Fun fact, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were married here in January of 1954! 

Blackberry Farm – Walland, Tennessee USA

Tucked away in the scenic foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains), Blackberry Farm is a hidden gem that offers a luxurious and rustic retreat setting for high-end weddings. Note, you must commit to a complete buyout of all the hotel rooms in order to host a wedding here.

But if budget allows, its sprawling estate, farm-to-table cuisine, and world-class accommodations ensure an exclusive and memorable celebration.

Blackberry Farm offers a picturesque setting for your dream wedding, with options ranging from countryside ceremonies to grand receptions in the Barn. The vast property exudes understated luxury, providing an delightful atmosphere for your special weekend.

Amangani – Jackson, Wyoming USA

This peaceful Western mountain escape is perfect for the couple that craves exclusiveness and privacy. The setting at Amangani provides an unforgettable view of the Teton foothills with the ultimate luxe accommodations. Combined with the free spirited cowboy downtown of Jackson, the ski mecca of Jackson Hole, Yellowstone National park (all nearby) your guests can alternate between doing everything or doing nothing by the extraordinary outdoor Amangani pool, heated year round. Not that you’d want to leave your room, which includes a fireplace and panoramic views.  

The Carlyle Hotel – New York City, USA

Situated in the heart of New York City, The Carlyle is an iconic and old-school classic venue for luxury weddings. With its sumptuous dining spaces, legendary architecture, and unparalleled service (it’s a Rosewood hotel), The Carlyle promises a wedding experience that is both glamorous and sophisticated. 

The rooms in the hotel have sweeping views of the City and Central Park. The bridal suite is no exception – its astonishing views will make you never want to leave.

Don’t forget that the Carlyle also houses the eponymous Bemelams Bar, an upscale piano bar adorned with renowned children’s book author and illustrator Ludwig Bemelman’s famed original illustrated murals on all the walls. This room alone is a national treasure and also the perfect landing spot for your after-party! 

The Breakers – Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Located along the white shores of Palm Beach, The Breakers is a legendary historic resort renowned for its “Old Florida” elegance and luxury. With its breathtaking ocean views, meticulously manicured gardens, and palatial ornate ballrooms, The Breakers provides a fairy tale setting for opulent seaside weddings. 

You can indulge in the resort’s world-class amenities, including exceptional food, spa services, pools, and beautiful rooms, ensuring an overall travel experience that exceeds your highest expectations. Furthermore The Breakers is easy for your guests to access, a reasonable one hour drive from Miami International, one of the largest airports in the world. 

Gasparilla Inn – Boca Grande, Florida, USA

This small Florida town on an island on the Gulf of Mexico has an outsized following for good reason. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Gasparilla Inn offers sophisticated lodging with a New England flair.

Golf carts are the main mode of transportation between the top facilities including a gorgeous oceanside Beach Club, Tennis Club and Golf Club. It’s also a great way for your guests to get to the ice cream shop in town! With legendary sunsets and numerous spots for scenic backdrops, The Gasparilla Inn is an ideal location for a destination wedding. Be sure to book early as this spot is popular in high season. 

The Biltmore Estate – North Carolina, USA

Speaking of backdrops, the historic Biltmore Estate in North Carolina is set against the  magnificent vista of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve shot weddings here as well as been a guest at a spectacular party on the lawn and I can tell you The Biltmore is truly one of a kind.

The sprawling estate is on the National Register of Historic Places, with its grand mansion and meticulously manicured gardens, exudes old world elegance. The spectacular architecture evokes craftsmanship of a bygone era. Within the vast estate, there are several locations that can host a  dream wedding in this bucolic setting: 

  • The Inn on Biltmore Estate
  • Cedric’s Garden
  • Angler Hill Barn
  • Deerpark
  • Lioncrest
  • Diana
  • Walled Garden
  • Biltmore House & Gardens

Couples can choose from a variety of stunning venues, from intimate garden ceremonies to lavish receptions in and around the opulent home. The Biltmore Estate promises a wedding experience that is nothing short of extraordinary.

The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel – Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Okay, technically not in North America but you can hardly skip talking about Hawaii when it comes to considering your dream wedding. This amazing historic hotel on the “Big Island” of Hawaii is positioned over a perfect swimming bay, Kaunaoa, on the Kohala Coast.

The mid-century architecture by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill is both serene and quintessentially Hawaian. As you walk through the main spaces, you’ll have scenic vistas of the coast and also manicured Koi ponds. So beloved for its unique offerings, it’s been inducted into the Historic Hotels of American by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition to beach time, your guests will relish the renowned golf course. 

There are several wedding spaces at Mauna Key Beach Hotel, including:

  • New Third Tee
  • Original Third Tee
  • North Pointe Lawn
  • South Pointe Lawn
  • Manta Ray Lookout – North Pointe Lawn
  • Kauna’oa Ballroom
  • Garden Room
  • Luau Grounds
  • Vista Decks

The 1 Hotel – Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i Hawa’ii, USA

This eco hotel is situated on what might be the most beautiful place on earth, Hanalei Bay, on the North shore of Kaua’i. Seeing is believing! This is a place that every guest at your wedding will feel was worth the effort.

Also fun fact, The 1 Hotel (formerly the St. Regis) was featured in the backdrop of several beach scenes of the George Clooney movie The Descendants. The bay itself also plays a part in the film. An Oceanside ceremony is your move here. Don’t forget to arrange to take photos at the incredible Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens.  

The Paradero – Todos Santos, Mexico 

The brand new hotel has a quiet elegance amid the Mexican landscape. A spare, modern design lends a serenity unlike most seaside hotels I’ve experienced. Todos Santos is a quaint artsy town about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas. If you like bright sunny days and cool desert nights, the Paradero is a great option for a luxury wedding.   

Hotel San Cristobal – Todos Santos, Mexico 

Positioned right on the Pacific Ocean on the Baja Peninsula, Hotel San Cristobal is gorgeously designed resort will infuse your event with contemporary, effortless style.

Host your wedding in the many spaces designed for a fun loving, fashionable crowd. It’s an easy one hour shuttle north from the Cabo San Lucas airport. The warm welcome and high level of service will be everything you need from a luxury wedding destination. 

The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek / Avon, Colorado, USA  

Quintessential mountain hotel, the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch has a traditional cozy style that will make your wedding feel like it might be a Ralph Lauren editorial shoot. Perfect for either winter or summer celebrations, the resort has all the amenities that a destination wedding would require.

And if you want a chapel for your ceremony, be sure to reserve the non-denominational Beaver Creek Chapel which is only a short drive away. The “skier bridge” is another alternative if you wish to have a mountain view ceremony on site of the hotel. The ballroom is large enough to host a big reception, rain or shine. 

Hildene, A Lincoln Family Home – Manchester, Vermont, USA

Vermont is an ideal wedding location for a relaxed, nature inspired escape. The extraordinary home known as Hildene was originally built by President Lincoln’s son and is currently a working museum with extraordinary grounds that are available for weddings.

From its perch, you can see the Taconic Mountains to the west and the Green Mountains to the east, with stunning views of the Battenkill River Valley. Since you can’t stay overnight on site at Hildene, you’ll want to check out the historic luxury Equinox Resort & Spa for accommodations, a storied hotel with over 200 years of history hosting guests including many Presidents and dignitaries. 

Lowndes Grove, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

I’ve shot dozens of weddings at Lowndes Grove and it’s always a spectacular wedding location. The centerpiece is the gorgeous Georgian home set amid the classic low-country grounds, including the intercoastal waterway with sunset views over the marsh.  

The Maidstone Club, East Hampton, New York, USA

You’ll need to find a member-sponsor but if you can swing it, the Maidstone is one of the most exclusive clubs on the East Coast. And for good reason, it has ocean views and easy access to the jewel of the Hamptons, East Hampton. 

The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, Wyoming USA

From my own personal bucket list, I’ve been dying to shoot a wedding at Brush Creek Ranch since the day it opened. This ranch has received raves from everyone I know who has stepped foot there. I’m captivated by the western luxury vibe and modern amenities. 

Connect with Liz Banfield

As a wedding photographer for over 20 years, I’ve seen trends come and go – but one thing I have not seen go away is the quiet elegance of the couples I’m fortunate to photograph. If you would like for your wedding to be photographed with the detail and finesse that it deserves, you can connect with me here. I’m looking forward to capturing your event.


20 Best Luxury Wedding Venues in North America: Exquisite Settings for Sophisticated Dream Weddings

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