Aside from the picking a bride or groom, choosing a location is the most important part of the wedding planning process. It basically dictates the date, the guest list, and the catering, not to mention the amount of fun had by all.
As a trend, destination weddings are on the rise, because if you’re going to ask your friends and family to take a few days off of work, you might as well make it a vacation for everyone. And with Paris flooding, and Mexico still under a travel warning due to a spike in gang-related crime, a lot of the usual suspects for a romantic nuptial getaway are out this year.
So why not consider something a little closer to home? After all, there are tons of stunning cities in the US where you can tie the knot for relatively cheap, which is important for an industry in which the average couple spends about $35,000 on their big day. But it’s not all about money. Some places are really convenient to get to, which is another significant thing to take into consideration in an increasingly globalized world where everyone is spread all over the place. Then there are the resources to consider. How easy is it to get a musician, event planner, or photographer?
It’s a lot to consider when you’ve already got, well, a lot to consider, so the personal-finance website WalletHub did the work for you. In their report on 2018’s Best Places to Get Married, Wallet Hub compared more than 180 of the biggest U.S. cities across 23 key indicators of cost-effectiveness, convenience and enjoyment, and came up with the following list of the best places to tie to knot. Here they are their top spots, ranked from 20 to one. And if you’re already hitched, here are the 50 Best Ways to Keep Your Marriage Fresh.
Sacramento has all of the great weather of San Francisco, but way cheaper. Lying at the confluence of the Sacramento River and American River, the waterways make it endlessly romantic, as do the wooden sidewalks and wagon rides that harken back to the city’s Gold Rush era. No wonder it’s one of the 100 Happiest Cities in America.
Whatever myths you may have heard about “boring” Ohio, Cincinnati is a major party town, landing in rankings for the 50 Hardest Partying Cities in the US, as well as lists for the best cities for singles in America.
New Orleans, LA
With the legendary vices of Bourbon Street, the cheap drinks, and the 24-hour nightlife, it’s no wonder New Orleans tops the list of The 50 Hardest Partying Cities in the U.S. But its classy jazz scene, dreamy lantern-lit alleyways, and world-class dining also makes it the perfect place for romance.
It’s certainly not the cheapest on the list, thanks to the fact that Denver is a world-class ski destination, but at least that makes it easy to get to! Once you arrive, there’s no shortage of cozy hotels nestled among snow-capped mountains and hillside restaurants with fireside dining that offer awesome wedding packages, which is why it scored so high on the list for “facilities and services.” Thanks in large part to its outdoorsy culture, it also happens to be one of The 50 Fittest Cities in America, which makes it a huge hit with couples who like to work out.
St. Louis, MO
The paddlewheelers that ply the river, offering gorgeous views of the city skyline and its iconic arch, make this southern capital a real romantic getaway.
Did you know that Houston is home to a house adorned with a staggering 50,000 beer cans, which are used to line the roof and walls? It’s one of the best roadside attraction in America, but it’s just one of the many attractions in this cosmopolitan wonderland. Some other hot spots include the renowned Houston Grand Opera in the Theater district, the 19th century architecture of the Historic District, and the Space Center (cue the line, “Houston, we have a problem”).
Don’t let the hot weather scare you; home to the University of Arizona, Tuscon is basically a college town wrapped inside a city, which is why it’s both cheap and a major party town. And if you fall in love with it so much on your wedding day that you decide to stay, remember that Tucson is one of the best places in America to raise a family.
Less touristy than Orlando and far less raucous than Miami, Tampa is perfect for everyone who wants all the fun of Florida without the screaming children and hard-partying college kids. It’s also got loads of cultural attractions, like the historic Ybor City neighborhood, and the world-famous, African-themed Busch Gardens amusement park.
Washington has the most event planners per 100,000 residents, 103, which is 17.2 times more than in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the city with the fewest at 6. And in addition to being famous for some of the best coffee in the country, this city is known for its incredible craft beer.
Austin has become pretty popular among coastal millennials over the last few years, thanks in large part to its eclectic live music scene. But it’s also got a surprising amount of luxury hotels, and the Lake Austin spa is one of the 15 Most Luxurious Spas in America. So you could say it’s got something for every guest, from your hipstery cousin who wants to jam to some blues, to your neurotic aunt who desperately needs a massage.
Portland International Airport consistently ranks as one of the best airports in America, which means it’ll be a pleasant experience for any out-of-town guests. It’s also famous for its incredible microbreweries and coffeehouses, and has a thriving art and music scene.
New York, NY
Even though New York still has one of the highest average wedding costs in the country ($88,176 for Manhattan) you can’t really beat New York. And if you want to get hitched in the vicinity, Westchester is almost half the cost ($45,709). Not only that, but Yonkers, has the most photographers per 100,000 residents, 183, which is 36.6 times more than in Laredo, Texas, the city with the fewest at 5.
Chicago is basically a compact, cheaper version of New York. It’s got an incredible theater, literature, and jazz scene, not to mention it’s Barack Obama’s hometown. The El train makes it super easy to get around, and it doesn’t get much more romantic than walking by the river and watching the amber lights of street lamps shimmering in the water below and reflecting off of the glass skyscrapers above.
Its Art Institute has one of the largest collections of impressionist art in the world, and its zoo (which is totally free) is a joy for kids and families. No wonder it scored so high in Wallet Hub’s ranking of activities and attractions!
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco has the most musicians per 100,000 residents, 22, which is 66.7 times more than in Anchorage, Alaska, the city with the fewest at 0.33. No wonder it ranked number one in the Facilities and Services rank in the study!
San Diego, CA
San Diego is one of the 50 Healthiest Cities in America, thanks in large part to the incredible weather, along with its beaches, parks, and harbors that beckon you to spend the day outside. For out-of-town visitors, there’s no shortage of attraction, like the world-famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, and the USS Midway, an aircraft-carrier-turned-museum.
Chic and sleek, Miami is home to some of the best hotels in America, and the nightclub scene has been immortalized in rap and hip hop tracks. It might be one of the more expensive locales on this list, but if you want your wedding to be the party of a lifetime, there’s no better place.
Los Angeles, CA
In addition to having some of the most churches per capita, LA has no shortage of incredible restaurants, tourist hot spots, and swanky hotels. No wonder it ranked number one on the Wallet Hub study for “Activities and Attractions.”
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, there’s a magical treehouse in Atlanta that has to be one of the coolest Airbnbs in the world.
Las Vegas, NV
Getting married in Vegas; sounds like a cliché, right? But when you consider the insane amount of hotel and dining options, the capital of drunken marriages starts to look pretty damn good. Not to mention, the very name itself is synonymous with a good time.
El Paso, Texas, scored the lowest average cost (at $13,513, it’s 3.2 times lower than in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the city with the highest average cost, at $43,165), but its inconvenient location and lack of resources means it didn’t make the cut for the top 20. Of the ones that did, Orlando had the lowest average cost, at around $18,797. On top of that, you’ve got loads of resorts, sunny beaches, and the magical kingdom that is Walt Disney World, which offers a plethora of affordable wedding packages sure to delight both kids and adults.
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